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AZO Cast Members & Creatives

Kathleen Kelly

Kathleen Kelly enjoys a wide-ranging and dynamic musical life as a pianist, opera coach, conductor, and master teacher. The first woman and first American named as Director of Musical Studies at the Vienna State Opera, Kathleen recently returned to the United States to join the faculty at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin. She reenters American musical life at full speed, conducting Ariadne on Naxos at the 2014 Glimmerglass Festival, as well as the West Coast premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s A Coffin in Egypt, starring Frederica von Stade. She continues her other musical pursuits as well, accompanying recitals, giving master classes, and training aspiring opera professionals across the country.

Kathleen joins the Domingo-Cafritz program at the Washington National Opera as a regular guest coach, and also works with the young artists at the Los Angeles Opera, the Chicago Lyric Opera, and the Houston Grand Opera. At UT Austin, she is the principal teacher of the graduate opera coaches, and works with the graduate singers of the Butler Opera Center in addition to conducting part of the Opera Center’s season. Recitals in 2014 include a program of American works with baritone David Small and a German program with the prominent soprano Christine Goerke.

Kathleen Kelly was trained in the Merola Program at the San Francisco Opera, after which she joined the house music staff as pianist, rehearsal conductor, and prompter. She was an assistant to James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera from 1997-2006, specializing in the works of Wagner, Strauss, and Berg. During that time, due to her success as a prompter and musical assistant, she was the focus of a Wall Street Journal article and a Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast feature. From 2003-2008 Kathleen was also the Music Director of the Berkshire Opera, conducting two productions each summer and overseeing the young artist program.

Kathleen moved on at the invitation of Maestro Patrick Summers to become the music director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio as well as that company’s Head of Music Staff from 2006-2010. Highlights of these years include conducting her own chamber music arrangement of Hansel und Gretel in remarkable production by Basil Twist, serving as pianist each year for the Eleanor McCollum competition, and curating the HGOS recital series at Rienzi.

At the Vienna State opera from 2010-2013, Kathleen oversaw the daily musical life of more the fifty ensemble singers in more than fifty operas, the world’s biggest and busiest season. At the Staatsoper she also curated a recital series in the house’s famous Mahlersaal, and served as the series’ principal pianist. She was the recitative accompanist for new productions of Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni, and assisted Maestro Franz Welser-Möst on new productions of Kat’a Kabanova and Z mrtvého domu.

Kathleen Kelly has also been notably associated with the Glimmerglass Festival’s Young American Artist Program, the CoOperative Training Program at Westminster Choir College, the Seattle Opera, Opera Australia, and the Moscow Conservatory. As a recital pianist she has appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and Vienna’s Musikverein. She has given master classes at universities and conservatories around the country.

Kathleen makes her home with her husband, Paul Chuey, in the Texas Hill Country.


Past Seasons