Jan. 24, 2024

Butler Studio Artist Emily Treigle: My Concert of Arias Story

EMILY TREIGLE (Left) Third-Year Butler Studio Artist. Third-Place Winner, Concert of Arias 2021. 2023-24 HGO roles: Meg Page in Falstaff and Suzuki in Alt-cast Madame Butterfly; covering Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. Photo Credit: Lynn Lane

The mezzo-soprano Emily Treigle is a second-generation Butler Studio artist, and a third-generation opera singer. Her mother, the soprano Phyllis Treigle, trained with the Studio from 1982 to 1985; her grandfather was the great bass-baritone Norman Treigle.


“I grew up with my mom talking about her time in the Studio being the best time in her entire life—how much she learned and grew in the program,” says Treigle. “And I knew it was something that I really, really wanted for myself.”


She came to Houston from her hometown of New Orleans to study at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and once she got here, never missed an opportunity to attend Concert of Arias, always imagining herself up on the Cullen stage. In 2019, she spent a week training with HGO’s Young Artist Vocal Academy for talented singers at the undergraduate level.

“That was my first connection with the Studio,” she remembers. “I loved working with all the coaches. I absolutely adored my experience.”


Treigle auditioned to compete in the Concert of Arias during a COVID year: 2021. She submitted her application online and was thrilled to hear she’d advanced as a finalist. But unfortunately, she had a couple of things working against her. First, she was recovering from a pre-vaccine case of COVID. Second, she’d broken her ankle in two places trying to give Cory McGee—a Butler Studio artist at the time—a piggyback ride. “Everyone was like, Cory, why are you breaking the finalists?” she remembers with a laugh.


Treigle had to practice for the competition with post-COVID lungs, healing from surgery as she retaught herself to sing while standing on one leg. The concert was streamed online, with the mezzo-soprano making her entrance on the Cullen stage, one leg balanced on her scooter, and, appropriately, McGee following close behind, holding the train of her gown.


“I’d worked my whole life for the day I would be able to be on the Concert of Arias stage. I’d always dreamed about my chance…And by some miracle, even on one foot, post-COVID, I still managed to place third, so that was great. But the goal for me was always the Studio.”


When Treigle got the call inviting her to join the program, she cried, so overcome with emotion that she had to call back for the details. Now in her third year with the Butler Studio, she jokes that she wishes she could stay for a fourth. “Every day when I walk into the Wortham, I think, how did I pull this off?


It’s tough, she says, to pick a favorite role from her time here. From performing with Christine Goerke in Dialogues of the Carmelites to appearing alongside Angel Blue in La traviata, the experience has been incredible. But, she says, her ultimate favorite is the role of Meg in Falstaff. “The music is so hard that it was especially gratifying to do,” she shares. “It’s exciting to perform at such a high level.”


By Colin Michael Brush, Butler Studio Director, and  

Catherine Matusow, Communications Director

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