Welcome to Austin Opera's 2022-2023 Long Center Season
Our new season at the Long Center is opera at its best – thrilling voices, spectacular theater, glorious music – a transcendent experience you won’t want to miss!
I’m thrilled to present our 2022-2023 Season at the Long Center. After the starts and stops of the past many months, we committed to bringing you a season of fully-staged opera at our home venue, and we couldn’t be more proud of how it has taken shape.
The generosity of our patrons allowed us to honor contracts and keep artists working during the disruptions of the pandemic, and this commitment has enabled us to attract a remarkable roster of artists for our upcoming seasons. To have superstars like Will Liverman, Lauren Snouffer, Kevin Burdette, and David Portillo on stage in the same season, with two of them making company debuts, is a remarkable testament to the growing reputation of our company, all made possible by our patrons and subscribers.
In addition to these exciting company debuts, the 2022-2023 Long Center Season offers several more “firsts” – Stephanie Rhodes Russell will be the first woman on our podium in more than two decades, and we will present our first-ever offering by Sondheim, as well as our first production of Bizet’s sumptuous The Pearl Fishers. I’m so grateful to my artistic planning partners – Timothy Myers and Nathan DePoint – for their brilliant contributions in bringing these productions together. Creating an opera season is the most epic of group projects, and the Austin Opera team strives to set the bar higher every time.
Of course, Austin Opera’s season extends far beyond the Long Center. The announcement of Opera ATX in 2018 has infused the company with a spirit of exploration and innovation that has led us to new venues and communities, all with the aim of better reflecting and serving our city through the exceptional medium of opera. Stay tuned to hear about the rest of our 2022-2023 Season, including more company “firsts,” in the coming months.
General Director & CEO
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville
The 2022–2023 Long Center Season opens in November with Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, a witty tale of bribery, deception, disguise, and of course, true love. With all the essential components of the best comic operas, Barber drops us into a forbidden love story between the rich-nobleman-disguised-as-poor-student Count Almaviva and the vivacious-but-orphaned Rosina, as they try to work out how to escape from the grasping hands of her cantankerous guardian, Dr. Bartolo. To solve the problem, in steps the wiliest of sidekicks, local barber and handyman Figaro, who plots and schemes with the young couple to make sure that true love triumphs in the end, though only after numerous mischievous escapades and near-misses. With such complex music and action, Barber requires not only exceptionally talented singers but also natural comic actors, and this cast is packed full of such talent.
Austin-native, soprano Lauren Snouffer returns for her live production debut as Rosina following her Austin Opera screen debut in the Lauren + Mark Digital Concert Event. She’ll welcome Austin newcomers, baritone Emmett O’Hanlon, as the deviously charming Figaro, and Jack Swanson as the love-struck Count Almaviva.
Rossini’s comic masterpiece fizzes with some of the most memorable melodies in opera, including the famous “Figaro, Figaro, Fi—ga—ro” aria which many people first heard being sung by Bugs Bunny. This vibrant production is conducted by Stephanie Rhodes Russell and directed by Gregory Boyle, both making their Austin Opera debuts. In this colorful, comic, and frenetically updated staging of Rossini’s farcical romance, they bring together the extremes of extraordinarily energetic music with hilarious physical comedy for a highly entertaining show which will delight audiences of all ages.
Click on the video to preview Lauren Snouffer singing “Dunque io son” from The Barber of Seville
Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd . . . the dark and brooding, yet sharply comic, story of love, revenge, and meat pies. In his multiple-Tony-Award-winning musical, the late and much-beloved Stephen Sondheim created what Washington Post classical music critic, Anne Midgette, calls “the great American opera of the late 20th century.”
At the broken heart of the story is the wrongly exiled barber, Sweeney Todd, as he returns to London to seek revenge on the lecherous Judge Turpin who ruined his life and destroyed his family. When Todd reunites with the ever-resourceful and ever-unscrupulous Mrs. Lovett, the owner of a local pie shop, his razor-sharp need for vengeance soon supplies Mrs. Lovett with as much meat as she needs for her new and highly popular range of delicious meat pies. But Sweeney’s desperate hunger for revenge cannot be satiated by a meat pie, however tasty.
Wielding his ruby-dripping razors as Sweeney Todd will be bass Kevin Burdette, who audiences will remember climbing the slopes of Everest in January 2020. Grinding up the worst type of mystery meat will be Grammy-winning soprano, Mela Dailey, as Mrs. Lovett, making her long-awaited return to Austin Opera since The Manchurian Candidate in 2016. Baritone Mark Diamond (the other half of the Lauren + Mark Digital Concert Event) makes his live production debut as Anthony. Making her Long Center Season debut is Raven McMillon as Johanna. Raven last appeared in Austin Opera’s The Impresario, December 2020.
Wielding a searing baton, rather than a blood-soaked razor, is Sarah and Ernest Butler Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor, Timothy Myers as Doug Scholz-Carlson directs this blood-chilling and darkly hilarious production which spirals through the gaudy filth of 19th century London. As Sondheim’s distinctive music blends beautiful melody and harsh discordance, the electrifying action drives its disturbing tale from the veiled brutality of upper-class houses through the violent underbelly of the city’s working-class streets and docks, and ultimately, to its inexorably tragic conclusion in Mrs. Lovett’s bakehouse. As Sweeney himself says, “There’s a hole in the world that’s a great black pit, the vermin of the world inhabit it, and it goes by the name of London.”
Hear Mark Diamond sing “Johanna” from Sweeney Todd
Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers
Bizet’s luscious opera, The Pearl Fishers will bring to Austin the beauty of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in this heart-rending struggle to the death between friendship and love.
In the instantly recognizable duet, Au fond du temple saint, best friends Zurga and Nadir swear that their friendship will never again be challenged by the love of a woman. Of course, as with all good foreshadowing, the arrival of a veiled and anonymous priestess does exactly that. As the men each realize that the priestess is in fact Leïla, the woman they both once loved and fought over, the triangles at play in the opera are not simply between the three main characters. A battle also ensues between friendship, love, and vows made in faith, and as secrets are revealed and vows are broken, love can only be won through sacrifice. But who must ultimately lose everything to allow the others to find love and happiness?
Vowing friendship and vying for love will be two Austin newcomers. Baritone, Will Liverman, who will play Zurga, recently received enormous acclaim for his performance as Charles in the Metropolitan Opera’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones. Zurga’s best friend and love rival, Nadir, will be sung by internationally-renowned tenor and San Antonio-native, David Portillo. The priestess, Leïla, will be performed by soprano, Madison Leonard, who sang Gilda in Austin Opera’s Rigoletto in 2019 and who will have most recently played Chrisann Brennan in Mason Bates and Mark Campbell’s The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs in early 2022.
The vividly lush jungles, soaring palm trees, and scorched golden sand of this tropical island are vibrantly and delicately designed by acclaimed British 60s-wild-child fashion designer, Dame Zandra Rhodes. The Sarah and Ernest Butler Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor, Timothy Myers, conducts this poignantly moving production.
Get a preview of what is to come to the Long Center stage with Madison Leonard, David Portillo, and Will Liverman below.
Current subscribers will receive renewal forms in the mail starting Mid-January to secure their seats for the complete 2022–2023 Season or can renew online using their Austin Opera ticketing account.