Austin Opera + Washington National Opera + Collaborators
Serving Central Texas since 1986, Austin Opera inspires audiences with its trademark blend of innovation and artistic excellence. With the leadership of General Director & CEO Annie Burridge and the Sarah and Ernest Butler Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor Timothy Myers, Austin Opera presents a curated season of grand opera productions at the Long Center, the crown jewel of Austin performing arts venues. Combining the finest American and international stars with the outstanding local talent of our Orchestra and Chorus, Austin Opera’s productions include accessible takes on classic operas as well as challenging new works that reinforce the continuing relevance of opera.
Opera ATX, powered by Austin Opera, brings groundbreaking new works, emerging artists, exciting composers, and dynamic directors to Austin. By tapping into the city’s live music DNA, Opera ATX reflects the spirit of the city and the pioneering image it is known for. The Company creates the conditions for operatic experiences completely new to Austin—and perhaps completely new to the art form—by exploring alternative venues and unique local partnerships. Driven by Austin Opera’s love of opera, love of audiences, and love of Austin, Opera ATX shows how Austin is shaping its opera company and inspiring innovative experiences.
Austin Opera is also a force in hundreds of classrooms across Central Texas, nurturing the next generation of opera audiences through its award-winning education programs. The Opera works directly with educators, community leaders, students, and parents to make opera relevant, educational, and entertaining for students of all ages.
In 2020, Austin Opera was voted “Opera Company of the Year”—and Timothy Myers was named “Conductor of the Year”—in the BroadwayWorld Opera Awards.
Washington National Opera
Founded in 1956 as a modest but intrepid ensemble known as the Opera Society of Washington, Washington National Opera (WNO) is today one of America’s largest opera companies. WNO draws inspiration from a rich legacy built on the values of artistic excellence, engagement with a broad community, and a thriving future for the art form of opera and its audiences. As an artistic affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, WNO performs fall and spring seasons in the 2,200-seat Kennedy Center Opera House. WNO also offers performances on Millennium Stage and at other venues at the Center and throughout the city, and offers training, educational, and enrichment programs year-round.
WNO’s artistic profile is marked by numerous highlights, including more than 100 new productions of world and American premieres, while also commissioning 28 chamber operas through its American Opera Initiative. With a commitment to presenting dramatically compelling works executed at the highest levels of artistry, the company balances the standard repertory with new and infrequently performed works. Some of opera’s most renowned artists have collaborated with WNO, including Gian Carlo Menotti, Franco Zeffirelli, Eva Marton, and Igor Stravinsky in the company’s early years, and more recently, José Carreras, former General Director Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Juan Diego Flórez and Anna Netrebko, among many others.
In the past decade, the company has stepped into the international spotlight with ambitious projects such as a company-wide tour to Japan in 2002; international broadcasts; the acclaimed “American Ring” cycle; and the inauguration of wide-reaching education, training, and community enrichment programs.
Since its inception, WNO has actively fostered the careers of promising young artists, and many major artists appeared with the company early in their careers. WNO’s commitment to young talent was formalized in 2002, when Plácido Domingo founded WNO’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, which today stands as one of the premier training residencies for artists on the verge of international careers.
Beyond the Opera House, WNO engages a broad public. Free and low-cost audience development programs such as Artist Q&As, lectures, master classes, BravO (a discount ticket program for young professionals 40 and under), and partnerships with other local cultural organizations ensure that WNO performances are accessible to all. The company was among the first to simulcast its productions, bringing free opera broadcasts to tens of thousands in an annual program known as Opera in the Outfield at Nationals Park. Coupled with award-winning youth education programs serving public schools in the District, Maryland, and Virginia, WNO’s programs are a vital resource not only for opera lovers, but for students and arts educators throughout the metro region. WNO productions have been heard nationally and internationally through radio and television broadcasts on NPR, XM Satellite Radio, and PBS, as well as through commercial audio and video recordings.
In addition to the hundreds of artists who appear with WNO each season, company members include the Washington National Opera Orchestra and Chorus; singers and coach/accompanists of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program; and a corps of dedicated supernumeraries. Prior to onstage rehearsals and performances, these artists work at the WNO Studio at Takoma, which also houses WNO’s Costume Studio. Artistic and administrative leadership includes Timothy O’Leary, General Director, and Francesca Zambello, Artistic Director. They carry on a legacy established by the company’s founders and fostered by leaders such as former General Directors Martin Feinstein and Plácido Domingo.
Soprano Tamara Wilson continues to garner international recognition for her interpretations of Verdi, Mozart, Strauss and Wagner and is the recipient of the prestigious Richard Tucker Award. Other recent honors include an Olivier Award nomination and Grand Prize in the annual Francisco Viñas Competition held at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain.
21/22 season highlights include debuts at Teatro La Fenice for Fidelio, The Santa Fe Opera for Tristan und Isolde, and returns to the Bayerische Staatsoper for Ariadne auf Naxos, LA Opera for St. Matthew Passion, Houston Grand Opera for Turandot, and The Cleveland Orchestra for Otello. On the concert stage she will give a solo recital at Oper Frankfurt and Cleveland Art Song Festival and record a duet orchestral concert with Russell Braun at the Canadian Opera Company.
Recent performances include returns to the Canadian Opera Company for her role debut as Turandot, Deutsche Oper Berlin for Un ballo in maschera, and Oper Frankfurt for Don Carlo. In concert, she sang Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in a special Christmas performance and television broadcast with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Franz Welser-Möst.
Recent performance highlights include a return to The Metropolitan Opera for Aida, Il trovatore at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Otello at the Canadian Opera Company, Ariadne auf Naxos at Teatro alla Scala, and Elektra at Opernhaus Zürich. In concert Ms. Wilson presented Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and at the Edinburgh International Festival, as well as with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She also sang Bruckner’s Te Deum at Teatro alla Scala, and Ariadne auf Naxos with The Cleveland Orchestra. She debuted at Arena di Verona in Aida followed by a special guest performance at the Santa Fe Opera’s Summer Gala and a recital at the Song Source Festival.
Tamara Wilson opened the 2017/18 season as Aida at the Washington National Opera in a production by Francesca Zambello. She then returned to her home company of Houston Grand Opera for her role debut as Chrysothemis in Elektra. She also made her New York Philharmonic debut in Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony (Symphony No. 3) with Leonard Slatkin in celebration of Bernstein’s Centennial.
Ms. Wilson made her acclaimed debut at The Metropolitan Opera in Aida and her London debut in Calixto Bieto’s new production of La forza del destino at the English National Opera, for which she received an Olivier Award nomination. She also inaugurated the new opera house in Kyoto, Japan with Seiji Ozawa in Die Fledermaus. She was heard at Oper Frankfurt for her first performances as the Empress in Die Frau ohne Schatten conducted by Sebastian Weigle and subsequently released by Oehms Classics. She recently debuted at the Bayerische Staatsoper and Opernhaus Zürich conducted by Fabio Luisi, in Don Carlo. She debuted at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in Un ballo in maschera, triumphed in Act 3 of Die Walküre as Brünnhilde with Mark Wiggleworth and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at Royal Albert Hall, and debuted with the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev in Act 3 of Die Walküre as Sieglinde.
A noted interpreter of Verdi roles, she has been seen in the five-act French Don Carlos (Houston Grand Opera); Un ballo in maschera (Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and Teatre Principal de Maó in Menorca); Ernani (Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse); Don Carlo (Bayerische Staatsoper, Zurich Oper, and Oper Frankfurt); I due Foscari (Théâtre du Capitole, Teatro Municipal de Santiago and Netherlands Radio Orchestra); Il trovatore (Gran Teatre del Liceu, Houston Grand Opera, Théâtre du Capitole under Daniel Oren and Palma de Mallorca); Otello (Cincinnati Symphony and James Conlon); Falstaff (Washington National Opera debut, Berkshire Opera Festival); Simon Boccanegra (Canadian Opera Company); Aida (Opera Australia, Teatro de la Maestranza, and Teatro Municipal de Santiago); Un giorno di regno (Wolf Trap Opera); and Il corsaro (Washington Concert Opera). Other notable performances include her debut in Norma at Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona; Die Fledermaus at the Canadian Opera Company; her German debut at Oper Frankfurt in concert performances of Wagner’s early opera Die Feen under Sebastian Weigle; Idomeneo under Harry Bicket at the Canadian Opera Company and under James Conlon at the Ravinia Festival; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni under James Conlon and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as with Edo de Waart and the Milwaukee Symphony.
On the concert stage, Ms. Wilson debuted with the Cleveland Orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 under Franz Welser-Möst, the National Symphony in Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 (“Lobgesang”) with Matthew Halls and with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Verdi’s Messa da Requiem conducted by Marin Alsop at the BBC Proms, which was recorded for commercial release.
With a “heroically shining tone of exceptional clarity and precision” (Opera Magazine) and “gorgeously burnished power” (The New York Times), American tenor Russell Thomas uses his signature elegance and intensity to create vivid character portrayals on the world’s most important stages.
In the 2021/22 season, Mr. Thomas returns to several of his most celebrated roles in important international venues. He first brings his critically acclaimed portrayal of Florestan to a new production of Fidelio at San Francisco Opera, conducted by new SFO Music Director Eun Sun Kim. He then appears as Cavaradossi in Tosca at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Radames in Aida at Los Angeles Opera, and as the title character in Verdi’s iconic Otello at Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Elsewhere, Mr. Thomas makes his Fort Worth Opera debut in a 75th Anniversary Concert, joins Lyric Opera of Chicago for a concert of Verdi favorites, and performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Orchestra Miami. He also appears at Seattle Symphony for Das Lied von der Erde and sings the title role in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen.
During the hybrid 2020/21 season, Mr. Thomas starred in two operatic films: performing opposite John Holiday in Dallas Opera’s Vanished, based on Janáček’s song cycle The One Who Disappeared, and singing Canio in Pagliacci with Lyric Opera of Chicago. He also appeared digitally in concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra and at galas for Los Angeles Opera and San Francisco Opera. He returned to live in-person performances with the title role in Oedipus Rex at LA Opera and reprised his Alvaro in La forza del destino at Deutsche Oper Berlin.
During this time, Mr. Thomas also began his tenure as Artist in Residence at LA Opera, where he plays a substantial role in artistic planning and casting. In addition to hosting and curating the company’s After Hours recital series, he has spearheaded new training programs designed to serve outstanding singers from historically Black colleges and universities and Los Angeles public high school students from underserved communities.
Acclaimed for his “voice of intrinsic warmth and refined sense of style” (Opera News), Mr. Thomas has enjoyed a string of operatic triumphs in key Verdi roles, including debuts as Otello at Canadian Opera Company, Manrico in Il trovatore at Bayerische Staatsoper, Radames in Aida at Houston Grand Opera, Stiffelio at Opera Frankfurt, and Don Alvaro in La forza del destino at Deutsche Oper Berlin. An alumnus of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Program, Russell most recently returned there as Rodolfo in La bohème. Other important role debuts include Idomeneo at the Salzburg Festival, Roberto Devereux at San Francisco Opera, Florestan in Fidelio at Cincinnati Opera, and Adorno in Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. His portrayal of Tito in the new Peter Sellars production of La clemenza di Tito at the Salzburg Festival drew praise from The New Yorker, which noted, “Thomas’s penetrating tenor, which has lately acquired richness and heft, anchored the evening.”
Mr. Thomas’s “ardent expression and spine-tingling high notes” (Cincinnati Enquirer) have been heard in the Verdi Requiem with the New York Philharmonic and the national symphonies of Washington, D.C. and Barcelona. He has appeared as tenor soloist in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and the symphonies of Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, and Houston; and in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the New York Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, BBC Proms, and Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. Mr. Thomas created the role of Lazarus in the world premiere of The Gospel According to the Other Mary, a passion oratorio by John Adams and Peter Sellars, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Future seasons include appearances in Berlin, Paris, London, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York.
An internationally recognized director of opera and theater, Zambello’s work has been seen at the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the Bolshoi, Covent Garden, the Munich Staatsoper, Paris Opera, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and English National Opera. She has staged plays and musicals on Broadway, at the Royal National Theatre, BAM, the Guthrie Theater, Vienna’s Raimund Theater, the Bregenz Festival, Sydney Festival, Disneyland, Berlin’s Theater des Westens and at the Kennedy Center. In May 2011, Zambello was appointed Artistic Advisor to Washington National Opera, and became Washington National Opera’s Artistic Director January 1, 2013. She received the San Francisco Opera Medal for Artistic Excellence for her more than 30 years of artistic contributions to the company, including serving as Artistic Advisor from 2006-2011. In 2020, she received the Knighthood of the Order of the Star of Italy for her contribution to the promotion of Italian culture and heritage.
She has been awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for her contribution to French culture, and the Russian Federation’s medal for Service to Culture. Her theatrical honors include three Olivier Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, two French Grand Prix des Critiques, Helpmann Award, Green Room Award, Palme d’Or in Germany and the Golden Mask in Russia. She began her career as the Artistic Director of the Skylight Opera Theatre and as an assistant director to the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. She has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Juilliard and Yale. An American who grew up in Europe, she speaks French, Italian, German and Russian. She is a graduate of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.
Her directing work at Glimmerglass includes: Iphigénie en Tauride (1997); the world premiere production of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s A Blizzard On Marblehead Neck and Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun (2011); Verdi’s Aida (2012); Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman and David Lang’s the little match girl passion (2013); Strauss’ Ariadne in Naxos and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly (2014); Bernstein’s Candide (2015); Robert Ward’s The Crucible (2016); Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (2017); Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais (2017); Bernstein’s West Side Story (2018); Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (2018); Kern and Hammerstein’s Show Boat and Verdi’s La traviata (2019).
- Beethoven in Virtual Reality: FIDELIO￼ (Fusebox 2022)