Opera Triumphs at the National Opera Association Competition 

Desktop News | February 2023

The University of Alabama’s Opera Theatre won first place in the National Opera Association’s Division II Opera Productions Competition. The program set out to tackle the challenging production, with its mature themes, of Tobias Picker and Gene Scheer’s Thérèse Raquin based on Emile Zola’s 19th-century novel of the same name.  

Dr. Paul Houghtaling, a professor and director of opera at UA, was overjoyed as he witnessed his students receive acknowledgement for their tireless efforts. The students had spent months meticulously preparing for their performance, focused on accurately portraying Picker’s story while implementing innovative safety measures to ensure the safe execution of mature themes within the production. Despite the challenges of a pandemic world, the program’s director used stylistic elements and digital projections to bring the story to life while maintaining those safety precautions. As a result, the production was a huge success, impressing the judges of the National Opera Association competition, where they earned first place.  

Houghtaling was reminiscing about the program’s recent victory when he revealed that they had placed second in a competition eight and five years ago but had never won first place. The winning submission, which was pre-recorded and not a live performance in front of an audience, competed against about 100 other productions.  

“I’m so proud of the work and it’s musically spot on and the singers knew exactly what they were doing,” said Dr. Houghtaling. 

It was a proud moment for the program and well-deserved recognition for the hard work and dedication of the student singers and orchestra. The director, Dr. Houghtaling, was presented with a certificate at the 2023 National Opera Association conference in Houston, and the achievement is now proudly displayed for all to see.  

“It’s a big feather in the cap of the program, and I was really pleased. The original certificate is pinned on the bulletin board down the hall,” said Dr. Houghtaling.  

For more information about future Opera productions, visit the Opera Theatre page