Opera San Antonio | Texas Public Radio

Opera San Antonio

Jack Morgan

This weekend, you can learn more about unique Chicano art. You can rediscover Romeo and Juliet. And then you enjoy an elegant and creative take on baroque music.  


Opera San Antonio opens its season at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts this Thursday and Saturday night with “La Traviata,” a doomed romance by Giuseppe Verdi that’s nevertheless full of life. It’s one of the most popular works in the operatic repertoire.

Baritone Weston Hurt, from Texas, plays the role of Giorgio Germont, father to Alfredo, played by San Antonio native David Portillo. In the story, Germont is the one who tries to keep Alfredo and his love, Violetta, apart.

OPERA San Antonio

OPERA San Antonio is about to stage its first production in the upcoming season.  

Nathan Cone / TPR

This week, Opera San Antonio brings its second major production of the season to the stage of the Tobin Center, Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Opera San Antonio has assembled a cast that conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing says is “to die for,” headed by Dolora Zajick as Azucena (in the role that launched her career back in the 1980s). It’s also worth noting that two Texas voices will be on stage as well, Thomas Soto and Kara Smoot, in small roles.

Earlier this year it looked like Opera San Antonio, the 2009 start-up company that won a residency at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, was in trouble. In February the company announced that its high-profile artistic director, composer Tobias Picker, was leaving. Its first season at the Tobin was well-attended, but the cost of three brand-new productions, two of which were staged in the smaller Alvarez Theater, was taking its toll.

Siggi Ragnar

While opera & ballet companies as well as symphonies struggled to maintain financial viability in other markets, San Antonio opened a new home for the city's arts organizations. 

The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts turns one-year old this month. San Antonio's performing art and architectural gem provides a space for several organizations. What impact has the new institution had on the arts living under its roof? 

Five years ago, Opera San Antonio hired Tobias Picker as their inaugural Artistic Director. As of January 31st, he’s no longer with the company. Picker, who’s also a composer, knew from the start his time in San Antonio would be limited.

“He essentially put various commissions that he had working on hold and the time arose where he felt as though he was compelled really, to go back and tend to those responsibilities,” said Mel Weingart, Opera San Antonio Board Chair.

I asked, “Given that it came at the end of a 5-year contract it probably wasn’t that big a surprise?”

Karen Almond

For years now, I keep coming back to a jazz composition by composer/jazz educator and good friend Dick Goodwin. He wrote the piece back when I first got to know him, in the late '60s, calling it “What I Think About When I Hear 'Bye, Bye, Blackbird.'” It's funny how utilitarian the concept is: “What I Think About When I Hear Beethoven 5th,” or “Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Scheherazade.'” Or what about the visual?

San Antonio Symphony

The San Antonio Symphony and Opera San Antonio have teamed up for a production that debuts this week.

“It’s a wonderful, very compact, intense evening.”

San Antonio Symphony Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing talking about Salome.

"We are very fortunate to have a fabulous cast, a wonderful set, great costumes, and of course, the wonderful San Antonio Symphony."

The Strauss Festival begins on Thursday, and in a very big way.

Devon Cass

More than a century after its premiere in Germany, the Richard Strauss opera "Salome" can still stir something deep within. In the opera, Salome, who is leered at and lusted after, famously dances for her father Herod in exchange for the head of John the Baptist. 

“This is a very dysfunctional family,” laughs soprano Patricia Racette. Racette is performing the title role in Salome next week at the Tobin Center for Opera San Antonio

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