The UT Butler School of Music Opera Program

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The UT Butler School of Music Opera Program is a world-class program that produces operas and musicals.


The UT Butler School of Music Opera Program is one of the most unique and important programs at the University of Texas at Austin. It is one of the few collegiate opera programs in the United States that offers an immersive experience for its students, who not only study and perform opera, but also live and work together in an intimate community.

The program was founded in 1972 by Dr. Richard Aslanian, who served as its first director. Dr. Aslanian was a passionate advocate for opera as a living art form, and he believed that young singers should have the opportunity to experience all aspects of the art form, from performance to production to stagecraft. Under his leadership, the Opera Program quickly became known for its excellence, and it soon attracted some of the best young singers in the country.

Since its inception, the Opera Program has produced more than 100 fully-staged operas, including many world premieres. The program has also been home to many internationally-renowned artists, including conductors James Levine and Sir Colin Davis, directors Francesca Zambello and Frank Corsaro, and singers Renee Fleming and Susan Graham.

The UT Butler School of Music Opera Program is committed to training the next generation of opera stars, and our alumni can be found performing on stages all over the world. We are proud to be a part of The University of Texas at Austin, one of the leading academic institutions in the country

What is Opera?

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theatre. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance. The performance is generally given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble.

Opera is a demanding art form both for the performers and for the audience. It can be loud and spectacular, or intimate and moving. It can make us laugh or cry. It can be tragic or comic. It is always dramatic.

The History of Opera

Though it is generally agreed that the first grand opera was Jacopo Peri’s Euridice, which premiered in Florence in 1600, the history of opera as we know it today began in the late 17th century with a group of Florentine intellectuals known as the Camerata. Inspired by ancient Greek drama, particularly the works of Euripides, the Camerata believed that all music should be based on text—that is, on a story that could be told through words and music. This belief directly contradicted the then-prevalent idea that music should be an end in itself, unsullied by any concerns other than its own beauty.

The UT Butler School of Music Opera Program

The UT Butler School of Music Opera Program is one of the most respected programs in the country. It is a highly competitive program that attracts some of the most talented students from around the world. The program offers a unique blend of training in both opera and musical theater. It is one of only a handful of programs in the country that offers this type of training. The program has a long history of producing successful opera singers and musicians.

The Future of Opera

There is no question that opera as an art form is in decline. Ticket sales have been decreasing for years, and opera companies are struggling to find ways to attract new audiences. Some believe that opera is simply too old-fashioned and inaccessible to modern audiences, while others believe that it can be revitalized if it evolves to meet the needs of 21st-century audiences.

Opera companies are experimenting with new ways to produce and present opera, from immersive experience productions that place the audience in the middle of the action to “micro-operas” that are shorter and more focused on storytelling. These new approaches to opera may help to increase interest in the art form and attract new audiences.

The future of opera will likely be determined by the ability of opera companies to adapt to the changing needs of their audiences. Opera has a rich history and has been a part of human culture for centuries; it would be a shame to see it disappear completely. With a little creativity and innovation, there is hope that opera can be preserved and even thrive in the years to come.

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