Opera San Antonio

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?

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