Assistant Professor of Opera
Stage director Octavio Cardenas captivates audiences with his visionary, visceral, and physical style of directing. Born in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico, Opera News has praised him for creating “an immersive theater experience” while the Dallas Morning News hailed him for bringing “every character and situation to life.” Recent projects include Papermoon’s production of Barber of Seville with Opera Delaware, Lohengrin by Salvatore Sciarrino as a pop-up digital opera installation: a site-specific opera for COVID times in collaboration with artist Lance McGoldrick and Opera Southwest, Cruzar la cara de la Luna with Opera Santa Barbara, and the world premiere of the children’s opera Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World for Fort Worth Opera. Upcoming projects include the World Premiere of Hector Armienta’s full score for Zorro with Opera Southwest and Eugene Onegin with Unionavenue Opera.
Mr. Cardenas’ recent productions of Silent Night for Fort Worth Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City were described as “a breathtaking realization” with “many brilliant touches.” The Kansas City Star called the Lyric Opera’s production “one of its finest performances in recent memory.” Other recent productions include La boheme for Minnesota opera to which the Start Tribune acclaimed, “what makes the production a success, is Octavio Cardenas’ staging.” His production of As One for UrbanArias was acclaimed by MD Theater Guide, “Under the direction of Octavio Cardenas, the two stars playfully make great use of both stage and energetic space—it seemed the theatre condensed and expanded with Hannah’s journey.”
As the former Director of Opera for Baylor University, Mr. Cardenas directed productions of L’elisir d’amore, The Turn of the Screw, Dialogues of the Carmelites, Die Fledermaus, Man of La Mancha, La finta giardiniera, HMS Pinafore and Rita. He was Visiting Director of Opera at Chapman University where he directed Florencia en el Amazonas by Daniel Catán. He was a Resident Artist at Minnesota Opera for 4 seasons and has served as the Head of Directing Staff at Des Moines Metro Opera where he directed very successful site-specific productions of Maria de Buenos Aires in a Black Box, Rappaccini’s Daughter at Des Moines Botanical Gardens, Galileo Galilei at a Planetarium, The Tender Land on a corn field and La boheme for the main stage. He has also been on the directing staff at Chautauqua Opera.
He received his Master of Fine Arts in Theatre from UCLA, a Master of Music from the University of South Carolina, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Centenary College in Louisiana.