Stage director, choreographer, and bass-baritone Paul Houghtaling has worked extensively on the world’s leading stages, including productions at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Central City Opera, The Bard Music Festival, The Santa Fe Opera, and The Center for Contemporary Opera in New York.
Of his new production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, The New York Times wrote, “It was an exhilarating event. You couldn’t monetize it. You couldn’t commodify it. You could only experience it.” Fall 2016 engagements included a return to Mobile Opera to direct a new production of Douglas Stuart Moore’s The Devil and Daniel Webster and the world premiere of Amir Zaheri’s Freedom and Fire! A Civil War Story with the University of Alabama Opera Theatre. He made his debut at Red River Lyric Opera in July of 2017 directing Handel’s Alcina, returned for H.M.S. Pinafore in 2018, and La Cenerentola in 2019. He made his directorial debut with Opera Mississippi in the Fall of 2018 in a new Gilbert & Sullivan review called The Hilarious World of Gilbert & Sullivan and directed and performed in opera and musical theater reviews for the company in 2019 and 2022. In October of 2018, he created an in-the-round production of West Side Story for the UA Opera Theatre which was extremely well received. The 2019-2020 season with UA included two world premieres, produced and directed by Paul: Joseph Landers’ Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, with the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, and Michael Ching’s RSBE: Remove Shoes Before Entering, the latest in the composer’s “New Works” genre, similar to his popular Speed Dating Tonight. The Landers was recorded for Alabama Public Television and was broadcast in September of 2020. In 2021-2022 Paul directed Handel’s Alcina and Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin at Alabama, and he returned to Mobile Opera to direct Tosca. He directed Tosca again in May of 2022 for the first production of the newly-formed Druid City Opera, a professional company now in residence at UA, and directed Lucia di Lammermoor 2023 and will helm Rigoletto for that company in 2024. The Picker production was the First Place winner of the 2022 National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competition, Division II. In 2024, Paul will make his debut with Opéra Louisiane as stage director for Il barbiere di Siviglia and will stage L’elisir d’amore at Alabama.
In 2013, Paul made his debut with Opera on the James directing new productions of Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica. For Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Paul has directed The Gondoliers and Cosi fan tutte, which was described as “grand entertainment from beginning to end, staged brilliantly by Paul Houghtaling.” In 2014, Paul returned to Natchez Opera to direct H.M.S. Pinafore and was invited back for The Pirates of Penzance in 2015.
Other credits include Carmen for Music on Site, Inc. in Wichita, Kansas; Candide for Mobile Opera; Argento’s Postcard From Morocco for Chamber Opera of Boston; Don Giovanni for Ars Nova in Huntsville, Alabama; Telemann’s The Schoolmaster for Anchorage Opera; Shall We Dance for the Abilene Philharmonic; Let’s Fall in Love for the Tuscaloosa Symphony; and Café d’amour for the Alaska Dance Theater.
Paul serves as the Director of Opera Theatre at the University of Alabama, and he is the Director of Druid City Opera, a new professional company in residence at the university. The company is the former Druid City Opera Workshop, a nationally-recognized young artist program which Paul founded and headed successfully for over a decade before pivoting the organization to a new model. Druid City Opera debuted with Tosca in May of 2022, presented Lucia di Lammermoor in 2023, and will offer Rigoletto in 2024. His work with the UA Opera Theatre has won prizes at the National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competition (2nd place, Amir Zaheri’s Freedom and Fire!, world premiere, Fall 2016; 2nd place Jeremy Gill’s Letters from Quebec to Providence in the Rain, Fall 2017; 1st place, Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin, Spring 2022) and Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition, and that group’s outreach work in conjunction with National Opera Week has caught the attention of Opera America. He is a Past President of the National Opera Association (NOA) having served in that office from 2018-2020.
Additional productions at Alabama have included Gianni Schicchi, Die Fledermaus, Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, Semele, The Consul, The Merry Widow, Pagliacci, Suor Angelica, The Gondoliers, Patience, Così fan tutte, The Mikado, A Little Night Music, and Street Scene, the last of which was supported by a major grant from the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music.
Houghtaling holds a BA from The College of the Holy Cross, a BM from The New England Conservatory of Music, an MA from Hunter College of CUNY, and a DMA from The City University of New York.