University of Alabama honors opera director with Blackmon-Moody Award

University of Alabama honors opera director with Blackmon-Moody Award
University of Alabama President Stuart R. Bell, left, presents the Blackmon-Moody Award to Dr. Paul Houghtaling. (University of Alabama)

Dr. Paul Houghtaling, coordinator of voice and director of opera at the University of Alabama, has received the 2019 Blackmon-Moody Outstanding Professor Award.

“Paul is widely recognized as one of the most successful, innovative and respected opera directors and educators in his field on an international level,” said Dr. Charles Snead, director of UA’s School of Music in the College of Arts and Sciences. “His success at UA has been ongoing and consistent, and it has increased the productivity, reputation and national standing of our opera program.”

Houghtaling joined the UA faculty in 2007 and earned a doctorate at the City University Graduate Center in New York. He has turned the UA Opera Theatre during his tenure at UA into a program that emphasizes the whole musical performer demonstrating a range of skills.

“I wanted to build a training program wherein students would dive into acting and movement and dance and improvisation and stage combat and lots and lots of music,” Houghtaling said. “Thirteen years later, that’s what my program is most known for – it’s what the students learn in the program about the transition of skills onto the stage – that’s what is very special about the UA Opera Theatre.”

Houghtaling recently was elected president of the National Opera Association.

“I feel it has been Dr. Houghtaling’s combination of skills learned from his successful performance and directing career, a passion for education and the ability to motivate others to strive for excellence that have marked his time as president of the National Opera Association,” said Dr. Ryan Landis, instructor in voice at Mississippi State University. “As his student, Dr. Houghtaling challenged me to strive for excellence and for innovative and  imaginative solutions within the Vocal Studio and on the stage. As an educator and colleague, he continues to push me to see what is possible.”

Dr. Paul Houghtaling, University of Alabama opera director, accepts the Blackmon-Moody Award as outstanding professor of 2019. (University of Alabama)

At UA, Houghtaling also received the 2019 President’s Research Award as Senior Scholar for the Arts and Humanities and the 2015 Morris Lehman Mayer Award. Also in 2019, he premiered in the role of Mr. Murphee in Joseph Landers’ “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” with the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra. The project celebrated the bicentennial of Tuscaloosa and Alabama and was recorded by Alabama Public Television.

In 2020, the UA Opera Theatre will premiere “Remove Shoes Before Entering,” a one-act opera commissioned from composer Michael Ching.

“New opera is all the rage,” Houghtaling said. “Not that we’ve stopped doing or loving Verdi, Puccini or Handel and others, but there’s something in the water out in the opera field where new operas are being triumphed and paid for and written and loved and attended. It’s really quite extraordinary.”

In addition, Houghtaling, a bass-baritone, is the founder and artistic director of the Druid City Opera Workshop, a weeklong young artist training intensive held at UA. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Houghtaling and several student members of the UA Opera Theatre represented UA as finalists in the National Opera Association’s Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition at that organization’s national conventions in Atlanta, San Antonio and Memphis. The ensemble placed second or third each year.

The Frederick Moody Blackmon and Sarah McCorkle Moody Outstanding Professor Award is presented annually to a UA faculty member judged to have made extraordinary research contributions that reflect credit on the individual, his or her field of study and on the University. The honor was created by Frederick Moody Blackmon of Montgomery to honor the memory of his grandmother, Sarah McCorkle Moody of Tuscaloosa.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

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