From huge festivals with famous headliners to as-of-yet-undiscovered bands playing neighborhood bars on a Monday night, Austin is known for its phenomenal music scene. But there’s one kind of musical performance that doesn’t always get the same recognition: Austin’s stellar opera scene.
Austin Opera (formerly known as Austin Lyric Opera) is celebrating its 30th anniversary season this year. That’s 30 years of putting on thrilling live musical experiences ranging from Italian classics to hip, modern creations. Austin Opera seeks to thrill diehard opera fans and newbies alike with an “art form as spirited and adventurous as Austin itself.”
New to Opera?
There are some unfortunate myths about opera, like that it’s only for the affluent and stuffy. I see it more as enticing (and sometimes silly) melodrama set to a transcendent musical experience. Opera can make a fantastic romantic date night or just a casual Sunday afternoon.
There is no dress code at Austin Opera. You can roll in wearing a ball gown, your work clothes, or jeans and a t-shirt, and you will be equally welcomed. It can be fun to dress to the nines to go to the opera on a Saturday night (and it’s entertaining to people-watch everyone’s outfits). But if you want a low-key, comfy matinee with great music, there’s no need to get all gussied up.
The operas are sung in the languages in which they were written, but you don’t need to brush up on your Italian, French or German in order to enjoy them. Every performance features supertitles (an English translation that appears above the stage). A synopsis of the plot is also included in the program, to help you follow the story. If you really want to go the extra mile to learn about what you’re seeing, Austin Opera provides free 30-minute pre-opera lectures one hour before every performance. Or you can skip all of that and just kick back and get carried away by the music. There is no wrong way to opera.
Fostering Opera Enthusiasm for Everyone
In addition to showing three operas each season, Austin Opera hosts a number of special events and programs to foster a deeper connection with opera and the arts. There are events for all ages and interests. For opera goers with young ones who aren’t quite ready to sit through a multi-hour performance, Sunday Matinee Music Camp offers on-site childcare for kids ages 4-10 during the performance. The children enjoy music, games, arts and snacks while their parents get a worry-free day at the opera. Austin Opera also hosts Opera Adventures!, a summer camp for kids ages 8-12 that encourages the development of creativity and problem-solving skills while learning about opera.
Additionally, La Noche de Opera provides social and educational activities for opera lovers and opera newbies in the Hispanic community. And for the opera-goer who wants a little networking with their night out, you can purchase tickets to UrbanNites at the Opera and enjoy wine, hors d’oeuvres and chit chat with other patrons of the arts before the show.
Austin Opera Doesn’t Break the Bank
Opera tickets actually make an affordable night out. Saturday night shows start as low as $35, and tickets for weeknight shows and Sunday matinees start at $25. Austin Opera also offers $15 tickets to students, active military, veterans and first responders. Subscribing to Austin Opera to attend multiple performances in a season can save you up to 35 percent off tickets. In other words, you can get several hours of incredible performance for little more than the cost of a movie ticket and beer.
Austin Opera’s 30th anniversary season has just begun. Coming in February 2017, you can see Donizetti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment” and in May they are performing Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly.” To buy tickets, visit the online box office. Performances are held at The Long Center for the Performing Arts (701 W. Riverside Dr.) in the acoustically noteworthy Dell Hall.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What’s your favorite opera?