Texas Hill Country: Once A Mecca For Opera
There's an Opera Company you may not know about, playing in places that seem highly unlikely: the Hill Country. But if you think opera’s new there—nope.
“Oh no—not at all. In places like Sisterdale, Fredericksburg, Comfort, Texas, all around the Hill Country, they brought with them culture from Europe.”
Arden Dorn is the President of Hill Country Opera and he’s talking about the mid 1800s. “They would have opera singers entertain every week. They originally had seven resident opera singers in the Sisterdale area.”
The region’s original white inhabitants were largely German Freethinkers.
"It was interesting that those German Freethinkers didn’t want churches in Sisterdale because they had been so oppressed theologically, that they thought ‘we don’t want that, but we want great music.’ They realized early on that music—great music—is so healthy for any community.”
Dorn has staged opera all over the Hill Country—from New Braunfels’ Brauntex Theater, to Fredericksburg’s Nimitz Hotel to Uvalde’s Opera House. And to its oldest venue: Cave Without a Name, where they'll be performing on Saturday, APril 18.
“They have a beautiful room called the Throne Room. It’s just perfect acoustics, so we’re doing an Italian evening—'Pops, Pasta and Puccini.' Starting with a wine reception at 5:30, then dinner by Big Guido’s, then we’re having a performance in the cave starting at 7:30, sung by John and Shannon Kestler Dooley from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”
I noted to him that The Cave Without A Name is by far the oldest opera house in the Hill Country.”
“Oh yes, that has got to be the oldest opera house,” he concurred with a smile.