Austin Opera Chorus

The Austin Opera Chorus is comprised of singers from across Central Texas providing the chorus and ensemble for Austin Opera’s Season. Each season, the Austin Opera Chorus performs alongside principal artists and with the Austin Opera Orchestra to bring opera to life in Austin Texas.

Chorus positions are filled by audition. Check back for information about Austin Opera’s 2024-2025 Season Auditions.

Austin Opera Chorus Section Leaders

Elise Leung Kotara, Soprano, is an active performer and private instructor in the Austin area. Originally from Tyler, Texas, she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from The University of Texas at Tyler and her Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from Texas State University. She has performed numerous roles throughout the United States and Europe as well. Highlights include Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Paquette (Candide), and Laetitia (The Old Maid and the Thief). Along with performing, Elise also has a passion for educating new generations about opera. She has been involved in Austin Opera’s school outreach program and also local opera group, One Ounce Opera. This will be Elise’s 10th season singing with Austin Opera.

Mezzo-Soprano Allyssa Kemp has been an avid performer and teacher within the Austin community since moving to the area in 2018. She joined the Austin Opera chorus in the same year, and has been a section leader for the last 3 seasons. In addition to performing in Austin Opera’s Sweeney Todd and Les pêcheurs de perles this spring, Allyssa was recently invited back to sing a second performance of Marc Hoffeditz’s Deborah in Non Motus with One Ounce Opera and was a featured artist with Inversion Ensemble in their performance of Timothy C. Takach’s a capella choral work, Helios. In the upcoming season, Allyssa will continue in her position as the alto section leader for the Austin Opera chorus and will be an outreach artist for Opera San Antonio.

Allyssa is a full-time faculty member at Velocity Music Academy teaching voice and piano. Allyssa works as a mentor to new incoming teachers and her studio has over 40 students across two campuses. Her high school level students have gone on to receive collegiate music scholarships and pursue music at the collegiate level. Allyssa received a Bachelor of Music from Stetson University and Master of Music from the University of Michigan. She currently resides in Austin, TX with her husband, dog, cat, and guinea pig.

A singer, music educator, and Austin native, Michael Kelley Dixon graduated with honors from Stephen F. Austin State University with a Bachelor of Music in Choral Conducting, studying voice under Debbie Berry. Beyond various principal and chorus roles at SFASU including Tamino in The Magic Flute, Michael’s professional solo work includes most recently in 2023 Nanky Doug in Gilbert & Sullivan Austin’s reimagined The McAdo.  In 2019, he performed the US debut of Australian composer Evan Lawson’s oratorio, Orpheus, in the title role.  Michael has sung in the Austin Opera chorus since the 2018-2019 season and has had the pleasure of singing various small and solo roles with the company as well. In addition to Austin Opera, he is also the tenor section leader for Chorus Austin and a member of the Texas Bach Festival Choir.  When Michael is not performing, he teaches elementary music with AISD and loves to spend time with his wife and four cats.

Bass section leader Stephen Maus is starting his 11th season with Austin Opera.  He is a versatile performer whose work includes opera, oratorio, choral repertoire, and musical theater, and ranges from medieval chant to newly composed works.  Select roles include Golaud in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, the title role in Le nozze di Figaro, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, Vodnik in Dvorak’s Rusalka, and Alberich in Das Rheingold.  Solo oratorio credits include Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St. John Passion, and Haydn’s Theresienmesse.  Stephen has been a Young Artist with the Aspen Opera Center, Opera NEO, and Charlottesville Opera, and a Guest Artist with Spotlight on Opera.  As a teaching artist, Stephen has given master classes with Youth Opera of El Paso and the Aspen Music Festival.  In addition to Austin Opera, Stephen has performed locally with Gilbert & Sullivan Austin, LOLA, and Austin Cantorum.  He holds degrees in voice from Texas Tech University and Bowling Green State University. In addition to performing, Stephen maintains a private voice studio of about sixty students, accompanies several area choirs, and is a cantor/choir director/organist at St. Mary Cathedral.

Cina Crisara, Chorus Master

Cina Crisara has recently been named the Chorus Master of Austin Opera.  Previously she held the position of Chorus Master for Opera Omaha spanning 17 seasons.  She was also serving as a full-time faculty member at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Concurrently she completed 16 seasons as the Chorus Master for the Omaha (Nebraska) Symphony, culminating in Cina becoming the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Omaha Symphonic Chorus.  She made her conducting debut with the Omaha Symphony in 1999. Cina Crisara is also a professional singer, and has been a member of the Conspirare Symphonic Choir and Company of Voices since 2009. She has served as a Section Leader/Rehearsal Conductor for the Conspirare Symphonic Choir, and has performed on 10 Company of Voices recordings, including the Grammy award-winning “The Sacred Spirit of Russia”.

Presently, Dr. Crisara is the Director of Music at Saint John’s United Methodist Church in Austin.  In addition to regular Sunday services, she designs and directs special musical events and services which are offered throughout the year.  A production of the musical Godspell was given recently.  In the summer of 2016, several members of the Saint John’s Chancel Choir combined with singers from the Conspirare Symphonic Choir to perform in Italy with Craig Hella Johnson.  Cina co-directed concerts with Craig Hella Johnson in Australia in the summer of 2018.

Cina Crisara has a Master of Music in Piano Performance from New York’s Ithaca College, and she earned a DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of Texas at Austin, having studied with Dr. Morris Beachy and Dr. Fiora Contino.