The Moores Opera Center was founded by director Buck Ross in 1986. From humble beginnings as the University Opera Theatre, it began with a production of Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All produced in Dudley Recital Hall with costumes, a few props, and a piano. The following year brought a complete season of three fully produced operas in various performing spaces around campus. Through the generosity of patron Edythe Bates Old, an endowment was set up that now provides approximately 35% of our funding. With the opening of the Moores Opera House in 1997, the name was changed to the Edythe Bates Old Moores Opera Center and we started doing four major productions a year. That season included our first production of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, which put us on the national opera radar. Since then notable contemporary productions have included Dominick Argento’s Miss Havisham’s Fire and Casanova’s Homecoming (released on the Newport Classic label), Conrad Susa’s The Dangerous Liaisons, Christopher Theofandis’ The Thirteen Clocks, Robert Nelson’s A Room with a View (released on DVD by Newport Classic), and Jonathan Dove’s Flight. More recent seasons have included William Bolcom’s A Wedding and a new second production of The Ghosts of Versailles. We were the first university to produce Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath, Robert Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry, and Daron Hagen’s Amelia, and only the second to produce Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas. Mr. Catán was so impressed by our production of Florencia that he asked us to do the second U.S. production of his new opera Il Postino right after its premiere in Los Angeles with Placido Domingo. We are currently continuing a project to produce all of Catán’s operas, which will conclude with Rappaccini’s Daughter (La Hija de Rappaccini) in the 2014-15 season. Our productions of Il Postino and Amelia recently won first place awards in the National Opera Association’s production competition and our production of Der Rosenkavalier took second place.
In addition to the expected standard operatic repertory, other memorable Houston premieres included Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, Weber’s Der Freischütz, Barber’s Vanessa, Massenet’s Chérubin, Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims, Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Mozart’s Lucio Silla, Shostakovich’s Moscow, Cheryomushki, and Mechem’s Tartuffe.