Support HGO Studio
  • Opportunities exist to underwrite positions within our Studio faculty and leadership. For more information, please contact Development Officer Veronica Kannan at 713-546-0235.

    FULL-TIME HGO STAFF (2 positions) - $50,000 each

    Laura Canning, Director of the Studio
    Ms. Canning is responsible for the long-term planning and strategic management of the HGO Studio. She helps Studio artists with career management and development. She is responsible for recruiting artists to the program, through her appearances on competition judging panels (such as The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and The Richard Tucker Award) and her connections with music schools and conservatories.

    Eric Melear, Music Director of the HGO StudioMr. and Mrs. Albert B. Alkek Chair
    Mr. Melear returns to Houston Grand Opera after a year on the music staff of the Wiener Staatsopera (Vienna State Opera). He was former associate conductor/assistant chorus masters at HGO and head of music staff and studio manager at Wolf Trap Opera. An HGO Studio alum himself, he oversees the selection and pedagogy of the Studio artists. He gives them individual coaching, music advice, and discusses repertoire development. He also programs Studio concerts and recitals.

    VOCAL COACHES (3 positions) - $25,000 each

    Craig Kier - Mr. and Mrs. James A. Elkins, Jr. Endowed Chair 
    Peter Pasztor - Sponsored by Louisa Stude Sarofim 
    Bethany Self

    Full time HGO staff members Peter Pasztor, Bethany Self, and Craig Kier, coach Studio artists (both singers and pianists) individually on specific pieces of music, concentrating on interpretation and diction. Each artist works with a vocal coach, for approximately one hour every day, on forthcoming roles for HGO as well as new arias and future repertoire. Vocal coaches also work with the pianists on score analysis and how to turn an orchestral score into a piano piece in order to help singers prepare a work of music. Because the coaches work with the artists on a regular basis over two to three years in the Studio, the coaches understand their history and long-term goals and can participate in the long, hard process of slow improvement.

    DIRECTOR OF VOCAL INSTRUCTION (1 position) - $25,000

    Dr. Stephen King 
    Director of Vocal Instruction Stephen King focuses on the physical technique of singing. He meets with artists individually each week to work on the “nuts and bolts” of singing, such as breathing technique, positioning of sound and methods of sound production.

    DIRECTOR OF SHOWCASE AND DRAMA COACH (1 position) - $15,000

    Louisa Muller
    Ms. Muller has served on the HGO directing staff for seven seasons, most recently directing Madame Butterfly at Miller Outdoor Theater. She has also served on the directing staff for The Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera. Ms. Muller works one-on-one with the young artists on acting skills such as text analysis, focus, gesture and dramatic methods, in order to prepare for auditions, competitions, or other performance opportunities. Ms. Muller will also direct the 2013 HGO Studio Showcase in March. 

    GUEST COACHES (4-5 per year) – $5,000 each

    Deborah Birnbaum - James J. Drach Endowed Chair
    Corradina Caporello
    Martin Katz - Sponsored by Brian Hencey and Charles Ross Jr.
    Pierre Vallet - Evans Family Endowed Chair

    Guest Coaches are well–respected experts in their fields and coach regularly at the best opera houses around the world from The Met to Vienna. They offer focused instruction in a particular subject area and are able to bring a fresh perspective and “eureka moments” to the Studio artists. They teach group masterclasses as well as individual one-to-one sessions in their time at HGO (usually between three and five days).

    LANGUAGE INSTRUCTORS (4 positions) - $5,000 each

    Brigette Crull, French - Sponsored by Jennifer Sickler
    Enrica Vagliani Gray, Italian - Sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Michael A. Weill
    Jonathan Ludwig, Russian
    Richard Spuler, German

    Every Studio artist has two hours of one-to-one language classes a week. Individual artists choose which languages to study (some focus on one language, while others may divide the two hours into two or more languages). The lessons focus on grammar, conversation, and vocabulary. The individualized attention allows the teacher to tailor the lessons to each artist’s learning style. Understanding the language helps the artist not only with pronunciation, but with understanding the libretto, and communicating meaning on stage. It is also a vital tool for working successfully abroad. Artists can request multiple languages. We also offer ESL for non-native English speakers.

    PIANO INSTRUCTOR (2 positions) – $3,000 each

    Brian Connelly
    Timothy Hester 
    Sponsored by Marsha L. Montemayor
    Piano instructors works specifically on pianistic technique and interpretation with the Studio pianists.


    A contribution of $1,500 designated towards the HGO Studio supports the general operations of the program.


    A contribution of any amount to the Travel Fund can help current HGO Studio artists offset the cost of travel to key auditions, competitions and programs. These opportunities can greatly enhance their development and accessibility as professional artists and are critical to their success. The Travel Fund can also accept contributions in the form of airline miles.


    A contribution of any amount can help recent graduates of the HGO Studio program as they continue their professional development beyond the walls of HGO. The Alumni Fund helps support the continuation of their training by providing funding for activities such as voice lessons, language study, special coaching, role study, competitions, or audition tours.

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    Houston Grand Opera Salutes our Sponsors

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