The Manchurian Candidate

New Production
Austin Opera, 2016


Composer: Kevin Puts
Librettist: Mark Campbell
Director: Alison Moritz
Conductor: Richard Buckley
Projection Design: Greg Emetaz
Lighting Design: Kathryn Eader
Photo Credit: Erich Schlegel


“Always something is happening on stage; two conversations sung at the same time, two settings occupying different parts of the view.” (Austin Statesman)

“…It felt utterly contemporary; devastatingly possible.” (Austin Statesman)

“Such visceral intensity cannot be sustained by the audience without a break.” (Austin Statesman)

“What resulted instead was a production that bloomed under its staging constraints (at, presumably, a lesser expense). Austin audiences were treated to an original creation which injected a fresh sense of urgency to an already strong, new opera.” (Austin Statesman)

“It would be difficult to overpraise the quality of the Austin production. Alison Moritz showed great imagination in laying out the action in and around the orchestra onstage at the Long Center.” (My Scena Blog)

“….gripping and entertaining….” (My Scena Blog)


Part campaign rally, part rock concert, and part opera – that’s how we wanted this semi-staging of Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s opera THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE to feel in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

At every turn, the team and I tried to use the challenges and limitations of the semi-staging format as new opportunities for connection and invention. The orchestra shell was installed inside-out in order to expose its skeleton of black panels and iron grid work, instantly transforming the space. We took all the props out of the singers’ hands and projected them onto a large screen above the stage, forcing the audience to question our theatrical “reality.” During the penultimate scene, when an attack is planned from the spotlight tower of a campaign rally, our leading man ascended the ACTUAL lighting tower of our venue!

– akm


  • Best of: #1 Classical Music and Dance Event of 2016 (Austin Chronicle)
  • Best of: Nominated for seven Austin Critics’ Table Awards, and winner of four (including Best Opera Production) (Austin Chronicle)
  • Review: “Austin Opera stages innovative version of Puts’ already innovative Manchurian Candidate” (Austin Statesman)
  • Review: “Austin Opera Scores Big Time with Puts/Campbell Manchurian Candidate” (My Scena)
  • Review: “The Austin Opera presents Puts’ The Manchurian Candidate” (New Outpost)