Biography

[Note to presenters and producers:  For program-length bios in various word counts, please contact Mr. Houghtaling directly. He will be happy to send you an updated biography in your desired length. Thank you!] – May 2021.

For Paul’s stage directing bio, please visit paulhoughtalingdirector.com

Bass-baritone PAUL HOUGHTALING has enjoyed success in a variety of stage roles, as well as concert repertoire ranging from works of Bach and Handel to Cage and Crumb, and has delighted audiences across the United States and Europe with his innate theatricality, commanding presence, and distinctive style. Career highlights include European tours as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Teatro Lirico d’Europa (“…an extraordinary Papageno of comic sensitivity, naivete and tenderness, served by a superb voice and a remarkable physical agility.” Salon de Provence); a debut with the Bard Music Festival and the American Symphony Orchestra in Haydn’s L’Infedeltá Delusa (“…revealed a striking and flexible baritone.” Opera News); Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King with ALEA III in Boston (“…singing forcefully, in eerie falsetto highs and chesty baritonal lows … the Davies sent you home stunned.” The Boston Globe); Mozart’s Requiem and Bach’s Magnificat with the Cecilia Chorus of New York at Carnegie Hall; works of Bach with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s “Bach Cantatas in Context” Series, American Classical Orchestra, Amor Artis Baroque Orchestra, and others; United States tours with the Waverly Consort, including Kennedy Center appearances; “Opera Buffa: Comedy On Stage” on Lincoln Center’s “Meet the Artists” series; and his acclaimed Gilbert & Sullivan interpretations with the Anchorage, Cedar Rapids, Knoxville, Saratoga, Mississippi, Nashville and Central City Operas, among other opera companies and orchestras throughout the United States. Houghtaling was a frequent studio artist with Philip Glass and Looking Glass Studios and can be heard as a featured vocalist on Glass’s soundtrack to Reggio’s film Naqoyqatsi on the SONY label, and as the Laughing Sun and the Ogre in the Glass/Beni Montresor collaboration, The Witches of Venice, recorded for Euphorbia. He frequently toured and soloed with Alice Parker and Melodious Accord in a variety of American repertoire and performed with that ensemble in a still-popular 1992 episode of Prairie Home Companion. Recent seasons included recital appearances in Des Moines, Iowa for the Des Moines Symphony Academy, Mobile, Alabama (Mobile Music Teachers Association at University of Mobile), and performances at the national conventions of the College Music Society in Portland, Oregon (music of Virgil Thomson), and the National Opera Association (NOA) in Atlanta, Portland, New York, Greensboro, Indianapolis, Santa Barbara, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, and Cleveland.

The 2015-2016 season included performances of Schumann’s Dichterliebe in Alabama and at Bucknell University, Hunter College in New York, and the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts; and Messiah with the Blacksburg Master Chorale in Roanoke and at Virginia Tech University.  The 2016-2017 season included a return to Ko-Ko in The Mikado with Mississippi Opera, and his role debut as Dulcamara in L’elisir d’Amore with Opera Birmingham on which Arts Birmingham reported: “Houghtaling was an impossible-to-ignore Dulcamara. Stealing the night … he gave more depth to the character than one could expect.  His voice was commanding and communicative, his patter articulate … ‘Udite, udite, o rustici’ was a tour de force.”  The 2017-2018 season included a return to Mississippi Opera as The Major General in The Pirates of Penzance along with the role of the Ghost in Mark Adamo’s Avow with the UA Opera Theatre.  He also sang the premiere of two more songs from the new song cycle by Linda Lister, “Flags: Summer of 2015,” a setting of speeches given and supreme court opinions rendered in 2015 with regard to same-sex marriage, the Confederate flag, and other issues of the day.  The 2018-2019 season included a Gilbert & Sullivan review for Opera Mississippi, the Key Note Address at the West Central NOA Regional Conference, and scenes from Joseph Landers’ new opera Let Us Now Praise Famous Men which will receive its world premiere in the fall of 2019.  The 2019-2020 season included two world premieres: the role of Mr. Murphee in the Landers in October of 2019, in collaboration with the UA Opera Theatre and the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra; and Professor Henry in Michael Ching’s RSBE: Remove Shoes Before Entering, also with the UA Opera Theatre.  Additional recent engagements include another opera and musical theater review with Opera Mississippi, the Vann Vocal Institute Celebrity Recital, and the complete video version of Linda Lister’s Flags: Summer of 2015, premiered in December of 2020.

In the fall of 2010, Mr. Houghtaling made his debut with Mobile Opera as both the stage director and Maximilian in Candide, and returned to Carnegie Hall with the Cecilia Chorus of New York as soloist in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. The spring of 2011 included recital appearances in Binghamton, New York and Lafayette, Louisiana, and a debut with the Alabama Symphony as soloist in Duruflé’s Requiem. 2012 brought a return to the Alabama Symphony as soloist in the Fauré Requiem, a recital and residency at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and a return to the Natchez Opera Festival as Ko-Ko in The Mikado. 2013 brought recital appearances on Mississippi Opera’s “Opera Underground” series, the University of Texas at Brownsville’s “Patron of the Arts” concert series, and on the Saratoga Arts Fest, Saratoga Springs, NY, presented by Hubbard Hall Opera Theater. The 2013-2014 season included recital and master class appearances at Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, and SUNY Brockport.  The 2014-2015 season was highlighted by a staged performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Helena Symphony in Montana, and the Song Collaborators Consortia and Art Song Festival in Canyon, Texas.

Opera003Other engagements include music of Bach, Bernstein, Brahms, Isaac, Ives, Mendelssohn, Rutter, Schumann, Stravinsky, Vaughan Williams, Walton, and many others as a faculty artist at the University of Alabama, Sir Joseph in H.M.S. Pinafore with Nashville Opera, Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore with Anchorage Opera, a return to the Harmony Hall Regional Center in Maryland in a new program of classic songs from classic movies and to The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts for Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, and Handel’s Judas Maccabeus with Amor Artis Baroque Orchestra under Johannes Somary.

In 2005, Houghtaling sang Ko-Ko in The Mikado in his debut with the Opera Saratoga (formerly Lake George Opera Festival) at Saratoga Springs, New York, (“It was a total, integrated performance — part Harold Lloyd, part patter-singer extraordinaire, all scintillating.” The Record, Troy, NY), the Sacristan in Tosca with New York’s Prism Opera Showcase, the Major General in The Pirates of Penzance with Florida’s Gulf Coast Symphony, Bach’s B-Minor Mass with Miami Bach Society, and the Fauré Requiem with Manhattan Concert Productions at Carnegie Hall. In the spring of 2005, The New York Times put his staged Dichterliebe in the same favorable light as similar projects by Andreas Scholl and Simon Keenlyside by saying, “… a growing number of [singers] — including Simon Keenlyside…and Paul Houghtaling, in appropriately madcap stagings of Schumann cycles, have been livening up their acts.”

Mikado-Anchorage-axOther notable opera and operetta engagements include highly lauded performances with the Central City Opera as the comic lead in Friml’s Rose-Marie (“…manages to make his small frame look ludicrous in any costume — not a problem, but an asset for this show stealer.” Rocky Mountain News), the title role in Don Pasquale for Tacoma Opera, the Major General with the Knoxville (“…his tour-de-force performance grabbed the audience from the opening note.” Knoxville News-Sentinel), Anchorage and Central City Operas and Gilbert & Sullivan pops concerts with the Johnstown Symphony, and the Abilene and Erie Philharmonics. He has also appeared with the Boston Lyric, Baltimore, Natchez, Des Moines, Long Beach Civic Light, Mobile, and The Santa Fe Operas, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Opera East Texas and L’Opera Francais de New York under Yves Abel, among others. Mr. Houghtaling appeared with the Alaska Dance Theater in Café d’Amour, a new dance-theater work conceived by Mr. Houghtaling and choreographed by Noelle Partusch to art songs by Duparc, Bizet, Fauré, Ibert and Chausson, and with the Abilene Philharmonic under Shinik Hahm in The Magic of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Earning considerable attention for his work in contemporary music, especially for his performances of Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King, Mr. Houghtaling has performed with Gunther Schuller, the Virgil Thomson Foundation, and ALEA III, both in the U.S. and on the Kalamata and Iraklion Festivals in Greece in new theater works for Greek National Television. In 1994, he appeared with the American Composers Orchestra on its “Sonidos de las Americas” Festival in Weill Hall at Carnegie, and in 1996 with the Brooklyn Philharmonic on its Virgil Thomson Centenary. Other notable projects include John Cage’s Apartment House 1776 during the composer’s 1988 Norton Lectures at Harvard, George Crumb’s Songs, Drones & Refrains of Death with ALEA III, and Davies’ Le Jongleur de Notre Dame with the Dinosaur Annex Ensemble in Boston (“Paul Houghtaling has personality and a splendid voice.” The Boston Globe). In addition to works by Philip Glass, Mr. Houghtaling has created roles in numerous new theater and opera works including Lee Hoiby’s The Tempest with Des Moines Metro Opera and the title role in William Harper’s El Greco for the Off-Broadway Intar Theater. He can also be heard as soloist on two recordings for New World Records’ Recorded Anthology of American Music series: cantatas of Robert Beaser on Divine Grandeur, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s “Romancero Gitano” on The Mask, both with New York Concert Singers under Judith Clurman.

Paul Houghtaling has appeared with the Boston Early Music Festival, Clarion Music, Early Music New York (U.S. tours), the Waverly Consort (“Paul Houghtaling’s rich-hued bass-baritone and commanding delivery did stand out.” Kansas City Star), and the Mark Morris Dance Company production of Dido & Aeneas. Additional engagements include concerts at the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with My Lord Chamberlain’s Consort (of which he was a founding member), debuts with the Folger Consort in Washington in programs of Spanish Renaissance music, the Billings Symphony in Messiah under Uri Barnea, and the New York Chamber Symphony under Martin Turnovsky, performances throughout France with Harold Rosenbaum and Canticum Novum and the rarely-heard Shostakovich Symphony No. 14 with the Manhattan Virtuosi Chamber Symphony under Elaine Rinaldi. Mr. Houghtaling has performed more than 70 Bach Cantatas and other baroque works with such ensembles as the Bach Societies of Miami and Worcester (“[Houghtaling’s] vocal presence was rich, dark and stoic … deeply sensitive.” Sentinel-Enterprise, Worcester), American Classical Orchestra, Boston Baroque, New York’s BachWorks at Merkin Hall, the Bach Aria Festival and Institute and the renowned Holy Trinity Bach Foundation series, also in New York.

Dr. Houghtaling holds degrees from the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA (B.A.), the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston (B.M.), Hunter College in New York City (M.A.), and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (D.M.A.). In the fall of 2007, he joined the faculty of the University of Alabama where he is currently Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Opera Theatre. He has also served on the faculties of Hunter College and Highbridge Voices in New York, and has given master classes at Binghamton University (SUNY); the University of Texas at Brownsville; Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, Alabama; the University of Louisiana, Lafayette; Shorter College, Rome, Georgia; Texas A&M University-Commerce; the University of Alaska, Anchorage; Caldwell College, New Jersey; University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the Classical Singer National Convention.

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