On November 5th, Weston debuted on the stage of his hometown opera company, the Houston Grand Opera, as Scarpia in Tosca. The Houston Chronicle covered the event, intended to create new fans among area high school students. It was an especially moving night for Weston, whose own love for opera was kindled by a performance he saw as a 10th grader in the very same theater. Read an excerpt from the Chronicle, as well as some reactions from the students, below.
by Maggie Gordon
Inspiring new fans
"I have one challenge for everyone here tonight," HGO's dramaturg Paul Hopper told the students between the second and third acts. "I want each and every one of you to share your experience at the opera with someone. Anybody."
"Go home and tell your parents about it. Tell your teachers. Or tell your friend who said, 'I don't want to go to the opera because I think it's gonna be lame,'" he said. "Hop on Twitter. Hop on Instagram and post some pictures."
Students can go a step further, trying out for youth roles in upcoming shows, he said. They could even make it their whole life, he added, before introducing Spring native Weston Hurt, who sang the role of Scarpia, a police chief, that evening.
"The first opera I ever saw was at this very theater," said Hurt, 40, who attended Klein Oak High School. "It was "Mefistofele," and it was that experience that really showed me the true scope of the operatic voice - the way it could amplify and fill an incredible theater like this. And I have to say that since that day, my dream has been to perform here as a professional. And tonight is my debut night here."
As a competitive athlete in high school who laughed that he was "forced" into chorus by his mother, Hurt had never considered pursuing a career as a baritone. Not until the night he first sat in those velvet chairs as a 10th grader, goose bumps rising on his skin as the music swirled around him.
Twenty-five years later, from the opposite side of the curtain, Hurt knows that the notes he sings have the ability to touch the audience in the same way.
"I would truly be thrilled to have the opportunity to make the kind of impact on a student that one day they'd be involved in this art form, too," he said. "That would be amazing."