A Night at the Opera

Austin Lyric Opera kicks off season with spectacular stars, Don Carlo and a night to remember

Austin Lyric Opera kicks off season with spectacular celebration

HI RES Rodrigo played by Michael Chioldi and Don Carlo played by James Valenti
Rodrigo, played by Michael Chioldi, and Don Carlo, played by James Valenti Photo by Mark Matson
ALO Opening Night 2013 Bryan and Anastasia Bourgeois
Anastasia Bourgeois, Bryan Bourgeois Photo by Tony Spielberg
ALO Opening Night 2013 Scott Ballew and Graydon Parrish
Scott Ballew, Graydon Parrish Photo by Tony Spielberg
ALO Opening Night 2013 James Leasure and Courtney Clark
James Leasure, Courtney Clark Photo by Tony Spielberg
ALO Opening Night 2013 Joe and Kate Specter
Kate Specter, Joe Specter Photo by Tony Spielberg
ALO Opening Night
The red carpet at ALO's Long Center season opening Photo by Tony Spielberg
ALO Opening Night 2013 Van and Jeanne Hoisington
Van Hoisington, Jeanne Hoisington Photo by Tony Spielberg
ALO Opening Night 2013 Wendi and Brian Kushner
Brian Kushner, Wendi Kushner Photo by Tony Spielberg
ALO Opening Night 2013 Hardy and Susan Thompson
Hardy Thompson, Susan Thompson Photo by Tony Spielberg
HI RES Elisabetta played by Keri Alkema
Elisabetta, played by Keri Alkema Photo by Mark Matson
HI RES King Phillip played by Peter Volpe and Rodrigo  played by Michael Chioldi
King Phillip, played by Peter Volpe, and Rodrigo, played by Michael Chioldi Photo by Mark Matson
HI RES Rodrigo played by Michael Chioldi and Don Carlo played by James Valenti
ALO Opening Night 2013 Bryan and Anastasia Bourgeois
ALO Opening Night 2013 Scott Ballew and Graydon Parrish
ALO Opening Night 2013 James Leasure and Courtney Clark
ALO Opening Night 2013 Joe and Kate Specter
ALO Opening Night
ALO Opening Night 2013 Van and Jeanne Hoisington
ALO Opening Night 2013 Wendi and Brian Kushner
ALO Opening Night 2013 Hardy and Susan Thompson
HI RES Elisabetta played by Keri Alkema
HI RES King Phillip played by Peter Volpe and Rodrigo  played by Michael Chioldi

The Austin Lyric Opera kicked off its season in its usual grand style last Saturday with an ambitious and successful staging of Don Carlo, the Verdi composition about star-crossed lovers set in the middle of the Spanish Inquisition. The opera is notoriously difficult to put on; in a Facebook post wishing ALO General Director Joseph Specter and company “In bocca al lupo” (basically “good luck”), Metropolitan Opera Radio host Will Berger likened opening the season with it to “beginning your exercise routine by running the Marathon.”

But run the marathon they did, starting with a red carpet procession outside the Long Center. ALO stars and patrons, including Anastasia and Bryan Bourgeois, Hardy and Susan Thompson, Van and Jeanne Hoisington, Brian Kushner and Wendi Kushner, Scott Ballew and Graydon Parrish, entered to the sounds of Margot — An Operatic Quintet and passed champagne for a season-opening cocktail reception and toast upstairs.

Guests then enjoyed a predinner with more toasting, a few words from Specter and conductor Richard Buckley (celebrating his 10th year leading the ALO orchestra) and great conversation from devoted ALO supporters and fans, including Larry Steinman, Cass Haecker, Marilyn McGaffin and Nell and Dean Sanders.

It was a tough act to follow, but ALO’s presentation of the massive spectacle that is Don Carlo — featuring principals James Valenti, Keri Alkema, Michale Chioldi and Peter Volpe — was up to the task. Transitioning from the spectacular performance, guests were treated to an afterparty with the cast before departing back to the everyday world.