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About Butler Studio

Each season the Sarah & Ernest Butler Houston Grand Opera Studio provides eight to twelve young opera professionals with the opportunity to study and perform under a highly respected professional staff of teachers and performers. They receive a salary and benefits, and become employees of HGO for one to three seasons. 

History of Butler Studio

Founded in 1977 by composer Carlisle Floyd and HGO's then-General Director David Gockley, the mission of the Butler Studio is to provide comprehensive career development to young artists who have demonstrated potential to make major contributions to the field of opera. The Studio's goal is to develop well-rounded professionals by providing the highest quality training combined with a wide range of performance opportunities.

One of the most respected young artist programs in the world, the Butler Studio is distinguished from many other young artist programs in the level of integration between the Studio members and main stage artists and production teams. From the beginning, Studio artists have been granted generous performance opportunities working alongside such renowned singers as Joyce DiDonato, Lawrence Brownlee, Christine Goerke, David Portillo, Jamie Barton, Luca Pisaroni, and Andriana Chuchman as well as renowned conductors, directors, and designers.

Butler Studio Life

Auditions for the Studio are held each fall.

Members of the Butler Studio are provided with:

    • Stipend: $34,000 for 2021–22 Season
    • Health insurance         
    • Career development fund used to assist with costs of audition  flights, scores, additional coaching sessions, headshots, etc.
    • Scholarship opportunities for study abroad and specialized training

Studio members commit themselves to an intense, individualized study program while in residence in Houston from late August through May. Because the training process is progressive and each member's artistic development is unique, the Studio program allows artists to continue their training over a two to three year period with opportunities for advanced study abroad.

The core of each studio member's training includes:

    • Weekly voice/piano lessons       
    • One-on-one language lessons       
    • Extensive coachings with HGO Music Staff, visiting coaches, and conductors       
    • Mainstage rehearsals as a supporting role performer and/or principal study cover       
    • Individual career counseling sessions       
    • Performances (mainstage, recitals, scenes programs, etc.)       
    • Auditions for artist management, visiting general and artistic directors, and guest conductors

All training is provided free of charge. 

Additional compensation for performances is only available in special circumstances.

Additional sessions are held throughout the season by field experts in:       

    • Acting       
    • Stage movement and fight choreography       
    • Audition techniques       
    • Alexander technique       
    • Performer's stress management       
    • Taxes and personal finances       
    • Public Relations       
    • And, agent representation

For a list of Staff, Instructors, and Visiting Coaches, click here.

Performance Experience 

Based upon their level of ability, Studio artists are assigned supporting roles in HGO's mainstage productions. Additional performance experience includes:       

    • Principal roles in student matinees       
    • Study cover assignments of major roles       
    • Studio Showcase scenes program       
    • Studio Recitals        
    • Public performances for a variety of HGO departments       
    • Concerts       
    • And occasionally, full scale productions.

These assignments provide an opportunity to learn major roles, expand repertoire, and demonstrate individual abilities.  The mainstage performance exposure also enables Studio artists to work with world-renowned artists, directors, and conductors, and be reviewed individually by local, national, and international press.  Given HGO's commitment to commissioning and producing new works, Studio artists are also given opportunities to create new roles and premiere new pieces.

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