AZO Cast Members & Creatives
Conductor and pianist Eric Melear has carved out an operatic career as a versatile performer and administrator, dividing his time between conducting, coaching and playing, and having overseen the musical activities of both Houston Grand Opera and Wolf Trap Opera. In 2015-16 he is thrilled to return to Japan to share conducting performances of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortileges with Seiji Ozawa as part of the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival. He also returns to Wolf Trap Opera to conduct Gassmann’s L’opera seria and makes his debut with Arizona Opera leading Verdi’s Falstaff. Based in Vienna, Austria, he serves on the music staff of the Vienna State Opera, where he assists on numerous productions, helps prepare the world-class ensemble, and shares conducting responsibilities for the stage music.
Melear’s 2014-15 season began with conducting the San Francisco Opera Merola Program’s Schwabacher Concerts in July 2014, a diverse collection of extended, staged scenes that inspired the SF Classical Music Examiner to remark that it “was a performance in which no aspect of craft was ever overlooked or bypassed.” After spending the fall as a guest staff member of the Vienna State Opera, assisting conductors such as Semyon Bychkov and Christoph Eschenbach, he then served as Musical Advisor to Maestro Seiji Ozawa in Japan for multiple performances of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges. He finished the season with the artistic highlight of conducting John Corgliano’s Ghosts of Versailles at Wolf Trap Opera, “drawing highly-charged playing from the orchestra in a performance that felt like a new artistic milestone for Wolf Trap” (Opera Magazine), and with his wife, Louisa Muller, directing.
In his three seasons as HGO’s Associate Music Director, Eric Melear oversaw the HGO music staff and worked closely with Artistic Director Patrick Summers in overseeing the musical activities of Houston Grand Opera. He served as music director of the renowned HGO Studio, auditioning singers, guiding their musical development on a daily and seasonal basis, and programming their role assignments, recitals, Studio Showcase, and major concerts. As a member of the Artistic Planning committee, he was active in casting and choosing future repertoire and helped lead the company to its celebrated performances of The Passenger at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York. He also conducted performances of A Little Night Music and La bohème and collaborated in recital with Susan Graham, Brandon Jovanovich, Ryan McKinny, and Tamara Wilson.
In 2010-11 Mr. Melear was on staff at the Vienna State Opera, where he conducted performances of Iván Eröd’s Pünktchen und Anton and Wilfried Hiller’s Das Traumfresserchen. He assisted on over 14 productions and worked closely with some of the world’s best conductors, guest artists, and the State Opera’s ensemble singers. He was also featured on continuo for Don Giovanni, L’italiana in Algeri, Il barbiere di Siviglia, and L’elisir d’amore.
During Mr. Melear’s previous eight seasons with Houston Grand Opera, he conducted performances of Tosca, L’elisir d’amore, Rigoletto, Beatrice and Benedict, Aida, Carmen, and Le nozze di Figaro. He assisted Patrick Summers, Carlo Rizzi, and Edoardo Müller and led the workshop of Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers, in addition to preparing two other world premieres. As Assistant Chorusmaster, he worked closely with the HGO Chorus on many productions, including Lohengrin, Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci, and Chorus! In addition to working regularly with the celebrated HGO Studio, he also performed in recital with Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Ana María Martínez, and Chad Shelton.
Mr. Melear made his conducting debut in 2005 with Oregon Lyric Opera’s La traviata and subsequently served as their Resident Conductor. In 2006 the Sir Georg Solti Foundation honored him at a gala event in Chicago featuring Renee Fleming and Lady Solti and presented him with the prestigious award for young conductors. Consequently, he traveled to London as a guest of the late Sir Charles Mackerras, to Ann Arbor to study privately with Gustav Meier, to San Francisco to shadow Patrick Summers on Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, and to Siena to intensively study Italian. In 2008 he conducted a gala performance with the Los Angeles Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artists. At Wolf Trap Opera he led new productions of Alcina in 2008 and Il turco in Italia in 2010, for which he received praise in Opera News: “Conductor Eric Melear always allowed room for lyrical phrases to bloom…But above all, he emphasized momentum and sparkle. The performance went by in a flash.”
As Head of Music Staff and Studio Manager at Wolf Trap Opera, Mr. Melear assisted Director Kim Witman in auditioning singers and determining the season’s repertoire, and was instrumental in developing the Studio Program for young singers. In his eight seasons there, he served as chorusmaster for nine productions, assisted Stephen Lord on Carmen and La bohème with the National Symphony Orchestra, and prepared regular season productions.
An accomplished amateur photographer, his work can be seen on the covers of HGO’s commercial recordings of André Previn’s Brief Encounter and Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers and has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Observer, and in numerous promotional materials for HGO, Wolf Trap Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Arizona Opera.
A native of Moline, Illinois, Mr. Melear was a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program. His studies also included graduate work with esteemed pianist Martin Katz at the University of Michigan and a double major in music and math from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.