Peter Kazaras
Distinguished Professor - Director of Opera UCLA

Peter Kazaras is the Director of Opera UCLA and was the Inaugural Susan G. and Michel D. Covel MD Chair at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music from 2016 to 2021. A stage director and Professor of Music, he was also Artistic Director of the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program from 2006 to 2013. Earlier in his career, he received worldwide acclaim as an operatic tenor, performing at the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, and Vienna State Opera, among many others.

Since starting at UCLA in 2007, he has directed, supervised, or produced over 40 productions.  Recent initiatives have included productions of three world premieres of operas by women composers with women librettists.  The first two were Lost Childhood, by Jan Hamer and Mary Azrael, based on the memoir by Yehuda Nir (Spring 2019); and Juana (based on the life of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz) with music by Carla Lucero and a libretto by UCLA Professor Alicia Gaspar de Alba (Fall 2019, directed by Sara Widzer).  In Spring 2023, Opera UCLA produced Quake (a modern retelling of the Odyssey with an LA twist) by UCLA Professor of Composition Kay Rhie and Amanda Hollander.  Professor Kazaras looks forward to producing and directing the world premiere performances of Richard Danielpour’s new opera The Grand Hotel Tartarus in Spring 2024.

In addition to his work at UCLA, Kazaras recently directed La bohème for Los Angeles Opera, The Dallas Opera, and Washington National Opera; Cendrillon for The Juilliard School; The Rape of Lucretia, a double-bill of Gianni Schicchi/The Medium, and a triple bill of La serva padrona/Savitri/The Bear for the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera; the world première of a revised version of An American Tragedy and a new production of Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie for The Glimmerglass Festival. For Seattle Opera, he also was responsible for The Consul as well as the world premiere productions of Jack Perla and Jessica Murphy Moo’s An American Dream, an opera based on real life narratives concerning the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese-American nationals during World War II.

Over the past few seasons, Professor Kazaras has directed Samson and Delilah, The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro (Washington National Opera); The Ghosts of Versailles (Chautauqua Opera); A Quiet Place (Tanglewood Festival Leonard Bernstein Centennial); The Turn of the Screw and The Marriage of Figaro (Seattle Opera); and Korngold’s first opera, The Ring of Polykrates (The Dallas Opera). He also directed a production of Eugene Onegin for Music Academy of the West in 2022, in celebration of both the 75th anniversary of the founding of that institution as well as a return to live operatic performance post-pandemic.  He has also given master classes for the Washington National Opera Young Artists as Artist-in-Residence, and also for Young Artists at Glimmerglass Festival.

Of a production of Norma with the Seattle Opera, The Seattle Times said “his direction was remarkably good, theatrical and natural at the same time.” Likewise, of a production of Le nozze di Figaro for the Seattle Opera Young Artist program, he was praised for his “robust and lively” direction and his “clever, fast-paced staging” with reviewers noting that “Staging [Le nozze di Figaro] is a considerable challenge, one to which Kazaras adroitly rises. A dozen sly little gestures quickly establish character — and you can see every one of those gestures in the intimate ambience of the theater.”  Of a recent production of the same opera in a different production at Seattle, a reviewer noted “…the keenness of desire that courses through director Peter Kazaras’ staging — not just in the erotic sense, though that abounds, but a desire to grasp for meaning, for some sort of reassurance amid the bafflement.”

Over the past fifteen years, he directed over twenty productions for Seattle Opera’s main stage and Young Artists Program, plus productions for Opera Cleveland, Madison Opera, Eos Orchestra, Red: {an Orchestra}, the Santa Fe Pro Musica, and festivals at Cabrillo and Caramoor. He directed for educational programs such as Merola at San Francisco Opera Center, the Wolf Trap summer program, the Chautauqua Institute Voice Department, the Academy of Vocal Arts, the Hartt College of Music, and Florida State University.

A frequent panelist on the Toll Brothers Metropolitan Opera Quiz, Professor Kazaras is also in demand as a judge for international competitions. He has adjudicated all three iterations of the International Wagner Competition at Seattle Opera. He was a judge for the first Elardo International Competition in New York, Marilyn Horne’s competition at Music Academy of the West, the José Iturbi Voice Competition at UCLA, the Les Azuriales Festival in Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat in France, and has adjudicated twice at The Juilliard School and as well as for the Corbett Opera Competition at CCM, at the National Opera Association competition, and at the Washington International Competition of the Friday Morning Music Club in Washington DC. He has also served as a judge for District and Regional Auditions of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition. In the summer of 2015, he returned to Les Azuriales Festival as a Master Teacher. In 2016 he taught in Busseto Italy at Aprile Millo’s Operavision Academy.  He has been invited to give Master Classes at USC, at Les Azuriales Festival, and has offered audition feedback for advanced participants at Songfest LA.  He was the honoree at the 2017 Viennese Luncheon of the Loren L. Zachary Society for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles.

Professor Kazaras is a member of the Glimmerglass Festival Artistic Advisory Board as well as the New York Festival of Song Advisory Board. He maintains an active commitment to the fostering of new operatic work.

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