The 2015-16 season will kick off with a special Season Opening Gala Concert on September 26 that highlights the great talents of the Austin Opera Orchestra. Rising dramatic soprano Heidi Melton will be joined by Rachele Gilmore, and Liz Cass, led by principal conductor Richard Buckley, in selections from beloved operas by Wagner and Strauss including Tristan und Isolde, Der Rosenkavalier, Salome, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg & more.
Wagner – Rienzi Overture
Wagner – Tristan und Isolde, Prelude and Liebestod
Strauss – Der Rosenkavalier excerpts, includes presentation of the Rose and the Trio
Strauss – Salome, Dance of the Seven Veils
Strauss – Salome, Final Scene
Wagner – Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
For Gala Packages, including concert tickets and an elegant post-concert dinner on stage with the musicians, please call 512.610.7668.
Vocal selections from the Season Opening Gala Concert will be sung in German with the English translation projected above the stage.
Learn more about the featured Season Opening Gala Concert artists.
Heidi Melton, soprano – The young American dramatic soprano Heidi Melton has been called “the Wagnerian voice we have been waiting for since Flagstad and Nilsson” (La Presse), a voice that is “big, gleaming and tonally resplendent” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Melton’s recent appearances include her return to the Deutsche Oper Berlin in two Ring Cycles, a debut as Sieglinde under the baton of Zubin Mehta at Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia. Ms. Melton sang her first Siegfried Brünnhilde in concert with Opéra National de Bordeaux, as well as the “Immolation Scene”and “Liebestod” for Wagner concerts in Bordeaux and on tour in France. Ms. Melton debuted at North Carolina Opera as the Foreign Princess in a concert performance of Rusalka and in excerpts from Un ballo in maschera and Tristan und Isolde with the Alabama Symphony.
Ms. Melton recently had a successful return to the Metropolitan Opera as the Third Norn in the new Robert Lepage production of Götterdämmerung under Fabio Luisi and subsequently returned for complete cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen. Ms. Melton was a member of the ensemble at Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe where she sang new productions of Lohengrin as Elsa, Les Troyens as Didon, Venus/Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes, as well as revival performances of the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier and Der Ring des Nibelungen.
In concert, Heidi Melton made her Italian debut under Kirill Petrenko and Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI in Torino as Gutrune and the Third Norn in a concert performance of Götterdämmerung. In the summer of 2013, Ms. Melton made her debut at the BBC Proms as Elisabeth in a concert performance of Tannhäuser with Donald Runnicles and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. She also returned to the Festival de Lanaudière in Québec singing Elsa in Lohengrin under Yannick Nézet-Séguin with his Orchestre Métropolitain and then to the Aspen Music Festival for a Verdi/Wagner program with bass-baritone Eric Owens and conductor Robert Spano.
Deutsche Oper Berlin, Die Walküre – “Heidi Melton’s Sieglinde stole the show with her huge, expressive voice and powerful singing…she was never once drowned out by the orchestra, as were some of the others. Further, she’s a good actress, and brought across Sieglinde’s hope, fear, and grief very well.” – Operapalais
Aspen Music Festival, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 – “The soloists, who each got a turn at the forefront, all acquitted themselves admirably, especially Heidi Melton, a last-minute substitute for Angela Meade. Melton’s muscular, cutting sound had a creamy sheen that made it rich and warm, ideal for the role of Magna Peccatrix.” – Harvey Steiman, Aspen Times
Rachele Gilmore, coloratura soprano – Rachele Gilmore has established herself as one of America’s most sought after coloratura sopranos, and continues to thrill audiences around the globe combining what Opera News describes as a “silvery soprano..with an effortlessness that thrills her audience.” She is regular performer in America, Europe, and Asia and is consistently praised for being “the vocal standout” and a dynamic actress; “displaying more talent and charm than any one person should be allowed to possess.”
Rachele Gilmore’s recent engagements include the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor for her debut at Opéra de Lille; La Monnaie in Brussels for Ophélie in Hamlet; Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann with the Bayerische Staatsoper; Gilda with Opera Colorado; and a return to the Glimmerglass Festival, as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos. Future seasons include performances with Opera Omaha, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and NCPA Beijing. Ms. Gilmore made a “show-stopping” debut with the Metropolitan Opera in the role of Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffman, according the Classical Source. “She brought down the house with her flawless coloratura,” solidifying her position as one of the most exciting young coloraturas to watch.
Other notable appearances included: her European debut with Deutsch Oper am Rhein, singing Blondchen in Die entführung aus dem Serial, a return to Toledo for Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with the Toledo Symphony, Adele in Die Fledermaus with Opera New Jersey, her debut with Opera Hong Kong for a series of Opera Gala Concerts, and two Carnegie Hall appearances performing Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass.
Opera Omaha, Rigoletto – “Rachele Gilmore, who sang the role of Gilda, was the audience favorite. Her crystalline voice and sensual shaping of ‘Caro nome’ had just the right amount of desire and innocence to realize her character vividly.” – Kevin Hanrahan, Opera News
Boston Lyric Opera, Ariadne auf Naxos – “As Zerbinetta, soprano Rachele Gilmore, in sunglasses and Gibson Girl bloomers, displayed more talent and charm than any one person should be allowed to possess. In her hands, “Grossmächtige Prinzessin” was not merely an astonishing pyrotechnical display (although it certainly was that) but a joyous expression of Zerbinetta’s character, the bushels of notes and baskets of embellishments an overflowing abundance in keeping with her view of life and love.” -Kalen Ratzlaff, Opera News
Liz Cass, mezzo-soprano – Liz Cass is a mezzo-soprano of unique brilliance, depth, and agility. Her voice adapts easily to fit a wide array of repertoire and styles. Ms. Cass has star quality that radiates through her portrayals on the operatic stage, in concert, and beyond.
Liz makes her home in Austin, Texas and is a regular soloist with Austin Opera, The Austin Symphony, Austin Chamber Music Center, Austin Classical Guitar Society, and Chorus Austin. Each year, Ms. Cass travels to Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala to perform Handel’s Messiah. Liz Cass formed the brilliant and dynamic operatic quintet, MARGOT, in April of 2013. Members include Julia Taylor, Liz Cass, Paul Sanchez, Phillip Hill, and Cynthia Wilson. MARGOT is quickly becoming a sought after chamber ensemble.
In addition to keeping up with her busy performance schedule, Liz is the Community Liason with the Armstrong Community Music School where she maintains a large and diverse vocal studio. Ms. Cass is a producer of the Opera Lady video series and executive producer of Local Opera Local Artists (LOLA) who recently produced an all-female production of La Bohème called La Femme Bohème.