Student Opera - University of Houston
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Moores Opera Center is a nationally recognized opera training program led by founding Artistic Director Buck Ross. Students learn their craft through four fully staged productions with orchestra per year, including one opera written in the last twenty years. With fewer than 100 voice majors, including approximately 25 graduate students, we can ensure that our students get more stage time and experience than their peers in other programs. Our imaginative productions regularly win National Opera Association awards in the most competitive division in the United States. Auditions are heard in April and August of each year and are open to all students.

Buck Ross

Buck Ross
Director of Moores Opera Center
phone: 713-743-3162
office: MSM 184

Welcome to the Moores Opera Center! While our primary goal is your education, we treat our program as a professional regional company to make sure you are adequately prepared for professional work once you leave school. Our commitment to producing at least one opera per season that was written in the last twenty years means that you will be up to date with current trends in opera and will contribute to the vitality of the art form. 

We work very hard, and we attract dedicated performers. But we also laugh a lot on the way. Being part of an opera can be a joyous, thrilling and life-altering experience. Join us!




Auditions for Moores Opera Center productions are open to all UH students and occur in April and August. In the April audition, current students audition for the Fall show, though incoming graduate students are also considered for roles in the opening production based on their entrance auditions. The remainder of the season is cast after an additional audition during the first week of classes in August. For more information about auditions and how to sign up, contact the director. 


Voice scholarships are available, and you'll be considered for a scholarship automatically as part of the admission process. Work-study positions are also available. Apply for one through the University Career Services office once you are admitted. For nonresident students, merit-based scholarships may make a student eligible to receive a tuition waiver. For graduate students, there is also an Opera graduate assistant position to which you may apply and most of our graduate students are eligible for an nonresident tuition waiver. 


Learn from Experts! You will study and coach with expert faculty in Voice, Opera, Acting, Stage Directing, all of whom have a network of connections to leverage on your behalf once you have graduated. We offer a positive learning environment. Our voice faculty members are collaborative, and input from other teachers on the faculty is always welcomed. Students are encouraged to attend studio classes with different teachers. Our voice professors are professional singers with nationally- and internationally-recognized careers. This assures that you are being held to real-world performance standards.

  • Opera Role Performance

    Preparation and performance of a role or chorus as assigned in an opera. Fulfills the large ensemble requirement at the graduate level.

  • Acting for Opera

    Acting instruction includes physical awareness, improvisation, focus, gesture, spoken monologues, dealing with props and much more.

  • MUSI 6181 – Directing for Opera

    Basics of producing and directing an opera or musical. Topics include script/score analysis, research, pre-production planning, casting, set, costume and lighting design, scheduling, surtitles, blocking, rehearsal techniques.

  • MUSI 4380/6380 – Opera Literature

    Survey of opera literature from its Baroque era beginnings through the present day.

Faculty & Staff

Cynthia Clayton, soprano

Joseph Evans, tenor

Timothy Jones, bass-baritone

Jeb Mueller, Director of University Men's Chorus and Concert Women's Chorus

Betsy Cook Weber, Director of Choral Studies  


Melanie Sonnenberg, mezzo-soprano

Hector Vasquez, baritone

Zachary Averyt, tenor

Dominique McCormack, soprano


Be successful! Moores Opera Center alumni are continually among those who are selected for apprentice programs, win competitions, and are cast in roles with leading opera houses around the world. The training you receive and the connections you make in our program will put you on a path to success as a vocalist and performing artist. Our alumni do great things!


Houston at night

Exposure! We are located in the fourth-largest city in the U.S., offering access to a bustling arts scene for you to experience and perform in. With internationally renowned companies like Houston Grand Opera, and local opera organizations like Opera in the Heights, opportunities abound to learn from and participate in the voice and opera scene here. Houston also has a first-class symphony orchestra, inventive chamber music, two professional early music groups, musical theatre, drama, dance, and art museums.