Faculty & Staff | Moores Opera Center - University of Houston
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Faculty & Staff

Opera Faculty/Staff

  • Buck Ross, Director and Producer, has staged productions for the Houston Grand Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, the Houston Symphony, San Antonio Opera, Kentucky Opera, El Paso Opera, Utah Opera. For many years he was Director of Dramatic Studies for the Houston Opera Studio and co-director of the apprentice program of the Des Moines Metro Opera. Librettist for opera adaptation of E.M. Forster's A Room With a View with music by Robert Nelson. Author of English singing versions of several operas including Don Pasquale, La Finta Giardiniera, and Orpheus in the Underworld. He holds degrees in music and theatre from Bucknell University, and an MFA in stage direction from the University of Minnesota where he was an assistant to H. Wesley Balk.
  • Raymond Harvey, Music Director, was born in New York City, and received his MM in choral conducting from Oberlin College and his DMA in orchestral conducting from Yale University. He served as Music Director of the Kalamazoo Symphony (MI) for 18 years. Prior to that, Dr. Harvey held similar positions with the Fresno Philharmonic (CA), Springfield Symphony (MA), and El Paso Opera (TX). He has appeared as guest conductor with more than 90 orchestras, including those of Philadelphia, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Detroit, and Minnesota, as well as the New York Philharmonic's Young People's Concerts and the Boston Pops. Abroad he has conducted the Maggio Musicale Orchestra (Italy), Pusan Symphony (South Korea), and National Symphony Orchestra (Costa Rica). He regularly performs as a pianist, both in chamber music and as pianist/conductor in works of Gershwin, Mozart, and Rachmaninoff. At the Moores School of Music, Dr. Harvey prepares and conducts four fully-staged operas per year, and offers private lessons for DMA conducting students, concentrating on opera performance. He serves as a member of the Graduate Studies Committee.
  • Nicole Kenley-Miller, Production Manager, has been working in the Houston area in opera and higher education for almost twenty years. As Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Sugar Land Opera, she helped to establish the former Imperial Theatre, the first professional theatre space in Fort Bend County. She is very much at home both on and off the stage as a singer, stage director, production manager, and creative artist. Nicole has directed La RondineThe Secret Marriage, and Gianni Schicchi for Moores Opera Center; Hansel and GretelThe Impresario, and the US premiere of Howard Blake's The Station for Sugar Land Opera; the Texas premiere of Alice Parker's choral opera, Family Reunion, for Houston Baptist University; as well as other productions throughout the greater Houston area. She received her DMA from University of Houston, with a concentration in opera directing, where she wrote her dissertation, Voicing Virginia: Adaptation of Woolf's Words to Music. She also holds a Master's degree from Eastman School of Music and a Bachelor's from Hardin-Simmons University, both in vocal performance.
  • Kevin J. Miller, American pianist and collaborator, is acclaimed for his dynamically artful performances. Recent collaborations include recitals with international tenor Lawrence Browlee at Carnegie Hall, countertenor John Holiday at the Kennedy Center, Joseph Calleja and Nadine Sierra at the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as an appearance with Mr. Calleja on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Mr. Miller prepared soprano Jessye Norman for performances of Laura Karpman’s production of Ask Your Mama, which was performed at Carnegie Hall.  He also collaborated with the acclaimed countertenor David Daniels in a recital at the Glimmerglass Festival. He can be heard on piano on the recording Been in da Storm So Long, which features baritone Kenneth Overton. This New York native has been on the fast track to success since his days as a student at the Boys Choir of Harlem.  Beginning his musical studies at the age of 8, Mr. Miller was frequently a featured soprano soloist - most notably in Vivaldi’s Gloria and Lake George Opera Association’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While in the Boys Choir, he studied piano with the late conductor and pianist Warren Wilson. It was during these years that Mr. Miller also began his work as an accompanist, playing for the choir on its tours of Europe, Israel, Austria, and Japan. Mr. Miller studied at the Mannes College of Music, where he received a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano. He continued his studies at the University of Michigan School of Music where he received both a Master of Music degree and the Artist Diploma in Collaborative Piano under the tutelage of Martin Katz. In addition to his formal studies, Mr. Miller has been a participant in some of the country’s most prestigious festivals and young artist apprenticeships, including The Tanglewood Institute of Music, Aspen Summer Music Festival, The Cleveland Art Song Festival, San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program, Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and the Glimmerglass Festival. Upon completion of his apprenticeship at the Glimmerglass Festival, he was invited to join the music staff as a vocal coach.

Voice Faculty 

  • Cynthia Clayton, soprano, is an audience favorite in opera houses throughout the United States and abroad for her critically acclaimed performances of roles including Puccini heroines Tosca, Manon Lescaut, Mimi, Musetta, Liù, and Madama Butterfly; Mozart heroines Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, Pamina, Countess Almaviva, and Fiordiligi; Verdi heroines Desdemona, Leonora, and Violetta; as well as Nedda (Pagliacci), Micaela (Carmen), Marguerite (Faust), Janáček’s Jenůfa, Floyd's Susannah, and Catán’s Florencia. She has bowed in leading roles at New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, Utah Opera, Cleveland Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Opéra en Plein Air (Belgium), Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Grand Rapids, and Central City Opera, among many others. She has been a member of the faculty at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston since 2005, and has earned the rank of Associate Professor. Her upcoming credits include the release of an album of the music of composer Daniel Catán on the Albany label later this year, and a debut as Alice Ford (Falstaff) with Opera Colorado this spring.
  • Joseph Evans, tenor. Among his appearances as a leading tenor are those for La Scala, Ireland's Wexford Festival, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera de Nantes, Orleans, and Nancy, La Fenice, Theatre de Geneve, New York City Opera, eight seasons, Houston Grand Opera and the companies of San Diego, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Boston and Cleveland; performances with New York Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic, orchestras of Cleveland, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and others; recordings, Sony Classics, CBS Masterworks, Cybellia and Gasparo labels.
  • Timothy Jones, bass-baritone. Acclaimed throughout the United States, Canada, South America and Europe, Timothy Jones is rapidly emerging as one of the leading bass-baritones of his generation. His eagerly anticipated performances combine intelligent musicianship, commanding vocal technique and a unique ability to connect with audiences. He is a champion of opera, the concert stage, chamber music, solo recitals and the premieres of contemporary works.
  • Jeb Mueller, Director of University Men's Chorus, Concert Women's Chorus, helps prepare opera choruses, and teaches choral music education courses. In addition to his teaching duties, he is an active clinician, adjudicator, and conference presenter. Mueller taught high school choral music in the Houston area for six years. His choirs consistently earned superior ratings at contests and were twice chosen the Overall Best Choir at state and national choral festivals. Dr. Mueller holds degrees from The University of Miami, The University of Texas, and Texas Tech University.
  • Melanie Sonnenberg, mezzo-soprano. International appearances include leading roles with Teatro San Carlo, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Graz Oper, Salzburg Festspielhaus, Tokyo Yoyogi Arena, New York City Opera, Dallas Opera, Seattle Opera, Washington National Opera, Edmonton Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Edmonton Opera, Opera Ontario, New Orleans Opera, San Diego Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Indianapolis Opera, among others, and soloist with Opera Orchestra of New York, Grazer Philharmonic, Little Orchestra Society of New York, San Antonio Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, Fort Worth Chamber Orchestra, and Princeton Festival Orchestra. Featured in broadcast performances via "Live from Lincoln Center" and "Great Performances", the ORF-Austrian Radio and Television, and NPR. Commercial recordings with Albany, Reference, and House of Opera. She is the Director and Co-Founder of Le Chiavi: The Institute of Bel Canto Studies, a national adjudicator for Classical Singer, National Association of Teachers of Singing, and the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions and has led master classes and lecture demonstrations in Europe and the United States.
  • Hector Vasquez, baritone. Leading roles, Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Cleveland, Orlando, and Houston Grand Opera in addition to his appearances as baritone soloist with Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Houston Philharmonic/Symphony Orchestras, among others. Featured artist at Music Festivals of Berlin, Ojai, Aspen, Carmel, Santa Fe Chamber, and the Hollywood Bowl Summer Season. Voice instructor at University of Southern California and California State University, Los Angeles; clinician, Opera America. National and international adjudicator, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Recordings on Kultur Video, Sony Classical and Albany records. Broadcasts appearances include Live from the MET, Live from Lincoln Center and NPR radio.
  • Zachary Averyt, tenor. Zach made his operatic debut in 2001 as Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, and has continued to delight audiences ever since. He appears frequently with some of Houston’s most notable ensembles, and was recently hailed by the Houston Chronicle as a “strong, clear and bright tenor,” praising him for the “warmth and ardor of his singing.” Averyt’s recent operatic credits have included principal roles in Die Zauberflöte, Cosi fan tutte, La clemenza di Tito, Don Giovanni, I Capuleti e I Montecchi, Anna Bolena, Manon, and The Crucible. His diverse repertoire also includes operas by Handel, Weill, Bellini, Charpentier, Offenbach, Rossini, Puccini, Cimarosa, and Strauss. An avid concert singer, Averyt has explored a range of styles, singing mass settings by Charpentier, Beehoven, Mozart, Schubert, Stravinsky, Howard Goodall, and Robert Ray. Other oratorio credits include Carissimi’s Jephte, Handel’s Susanna and Messiah, Beethoven’s Christ on the Mount of Olives, Haydn’s The Creation, Rachmaninoff’s Vespers and Orff’s Carmina Burana. Other recent highlights include a tour of the Mediterranean with Garrison Keillor and the cast of the hit American radio program "A Prairie Home Companion," and world premiers of major works by composers Kyle Kindred and Karim al-Zand. 
  • Dominique McCormack, soprano.
  • Betsy Cook Weber, Director of Choral Studies. Director of internationally-recognized Moores School Concert Chorale; Director of Houston Symphony Chorus; successful music teacher in the public schools at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels, during which time choirs there won numerous competitions and awards; active at local and national levels as a conductor, presenter, and clinician; curates the Betsy Cook Weber Choral Series for Alliance Music Publications; degrees from North Texas State University, Westminster Choir College (Princeton, NJ), and University of Houston.

Moores Opera House

  • Kristin Johnson, Manager, Moores Opera House.
  • Jason Burton, Assistant Manager, Moores Opera House.