Butler Opera students perform in a production of Eugene Onegin

Butler Opera Center

The Butler Opera Center ranks among the top opera programs in the United States. Under the direction of Tamara Sanikidze, the program prepares emerging vocalists, vocal coaches and opera stage directors for careers in music. Each year, while pursuing academic classes, graduate students participate in at least three fully-produced mainstage operas accompanied by a full orchestra. With a curriculum based in both the traditional operatic repertory and progressive contemporary works, the program attracts students and faculty from a diverse background. Enrollment for each degree is limited to ensure personalized, intensive performance and training opportunities for each student.

Garnett Bruce

Resident Stage Director, Butler Opera Center

Read More about Garnett Bruce

Tamar Sanikidze

Director, Butler Opera Center

Professor of Opera Studies
Principal Opera Coach
Division Head, Voice

Read More about Tamar Sanikidze

Douglas Kinney Frost

Principal Conductor, Butler Opera Center

Read More about Douglas Kinney Frost

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Butler Opera Center productions are primarily open to Butler students in an opera degree program.  

 


Course

BOC PRODUCTIONS ENS 188P
M-T-W-Th-F, 3:30-6:30p
PAC 3.412

BOC STUDIO ENS 188S
M-W-Th, 1-2p
PAC 3.412

 


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Follow Helen Sohyun Park, a second year DMA student in opera directing, as she directs Georges Bizet's "Carmen." Under the guidance of Butler Opera Center's outstanding faculty, students at the doctoral level have the opportunity to direct their own major productions, providing them with invaluable first-hand experience.

The Story of the Butler Opera Center

The Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin in 2004 received a $2 million gift from Dr. Ernest and Mrs. Sarah Butler to endow the Opera Theatre program. In recognition of this gift, the program was re-named the Sarah and Ernest Butler Opera Center.

The endowment provides a stable funding source for the Butler Opera Center, which already ranks among America’s best, making it possible for undergraduate and graduate students to work with outstanding faculty, accomplished composers,

librettists, guest conductors, and other opera professionals. The gift ensures that students will receive valuable training in opera, opera performance, opera directing, opera coaching, opera production and a comprehensive, professional-quality opera education, while also funding scholarships to attract outstanding opera interest talent to the School of Music.

“Over the years, opera at UT ranked as one of the prominent educational opera programs in the country,” said Dr. Robert DeSimone, former Director of the Butler Opera Center. “The confidence, investment and trust reflected in Sarah and Ernest Butler’s gift has insured continued quality and development of a greater vision for the program. Their endowment and scholarship funding continues to touch the lives of many emerging operatic talent at the university, and has supported the creation of the Artist Diploma program and most recently the addition of graduate degrees in Opera Coaching.”

This gift is the largest in a series of contributions the Butlers have made to The University of Texas at Austin. In the past years they have given more than $3.2 million to the university, including the current gift, six Endowed Presidential Scholarships for voice students in opera at the Butler School of Music, a gift for the dynamic Focus Gallery in the Blanton Museum of Art building, and numerous other contributions to various areas of the university.

“Ernest and Sarah Butler have been wonderful supporters of the arts in Austin for many years through gifts to the Butler Opera Center, Austin Symphony Orchestra, the Austin Lyric Opera, Ballet Austin, the Blanton Museum of Art and the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music” said DeSimone. “They are extremely committed to nurturing young operatic talent and providing the best educational and performance opportunities for future singers.”

“Over the years we have followed the growth and development of Butler School of Music graduates, and particularly of those voice students who have participated in the opera program. Many of them have carried their talent to young artists programs and to national and international opera companies. We value the contributions and influence the Butler Opera Center program has had on Austin’s opera and beyond. The faculty, the students and professional guests are all a source of enrichment for our community,” said Sarah Butler. Because opera remains the most comprehensive of all the performing arts, endowing the university’s opera program was one of the primary goals of the capital campaign initiated by the College of Fine Arts in 1997.

“Opera production is a collaborative effort involving not only student singers, but other musicians, actors, and graduate talent in costuming, scenery and lighting design from across the College of Fine Arts,” said Robert Freeman, former dean of the college. “Opera brings to bear all the creative forces of music, drama, dance and visual arts.”

Upcoming Performances

a mysterious tree in a dark forest, surrounded by floating fairy lights
Event Status
Scheduled
October 19 - 21, 2022
Scenes from Othello,
A Midsummer Night’s Dream,
Falstaff, and more
A singer performing on stage in front of a piano and a colorful abstract projected background
Event Status
Scheduled
November 17, 2022, 7:30 - 9:00 pm
Song Reimagined Series

Schumann
Dichterliebe, Op. 48

Liszt
Tre sonetti di Petrarca

+ more...

a cottage sits on the edge of a wooded cliff, beneath a stormy sky. A ghostlike figure descends from the storm toward the cottage.
Event Status
Scheduled
February 16 - 19, 2023
by Missy Mazzoli
libretto by Royce Vavrek
New Music Ensemble, opera orchestra
Helen Sohyun Park, director
Douglas Kinney Frost, conductor

 

profile of a mechanical doll in front of a steampunk background of cogs and sprockets
Event Status
Scheduled
April 14 - 23, 2023
Les Contes d’Hoffmann
by Jacques Offenbach

Garnett Bruce, director
Douglas Kinney Frost, conductor
production photo, a man singing while demons surround him
Aristocrats in formalwear huddle around a newspaper to read a story
Two woman on stage amidst a wash of vibrant blue light
Three women in cartoonish buffants sing on a cartoon stage
A woman on the couch is serenaded by a man down on knee
A sad woman in a red dress on stage, flanked by two men in tuxedos.
Two Children kneel and pray with cunning smirks while adults fret in the background
A female ghost cries out
A woman in a black dress stands on stage with colorful silhouettes behind her
A cast of aristocrats in formal dress sing a big ending number

Previous Seasons

21/22

Gaetano Donizetti
L'elisir D'Amore

Viktor Ullmann
Der Kaiser von Atlantis

Georges Bizet
Carmen


Song Reimagined Series: 

Maurice Ravel
Shéhérazade

Benjamin Britten
A Charm of Lullabies, Op. 41

Modest Mussorgsky
Songs and Dances of Death

19/20

W.A. Mozart
Don Giovanni

Jonathan Dove 
Mansfield Park

Benjamin Britten
The Turn of the Screw

18/19

W.A. Mozart 
La Clemenza di Tito

Thomas Pasatieri
The Women

Gian Carlo Menotti
The Telephone

Leonard Bernstein
Trouble in Tahiti

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 
Eugene Onegin