Photo courtesy of Opera San Antonio

Two siblings get lost in the woods and stumble upon a candy house where they almost bite off more than they can chew. The audiences can root for Hansel and Gretel every step of the way as this whimsical masterpiece by Engelbert Humperdinck surrounds them with lush, fairy-tale music.

Photo courtesy of Opera San Antonio

Opera San Antonio presents Romeo & Juliet: Valentine’s Revisited

Opera San Antonio will present Romeo and Juliet: Valentine’s Revisited, a lecture and performance in partnership with the McNay Art Museum.

Opera San Antonio will explore the art and music inspired by Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet, featuring Dr. Kevin Salfen, Dr. Annie Labatt, and a special roster of performers from OPERA San Antonio. The event will illuminate the various ways in which the play has been reinterpreted in the performing, visual, and musical art for centuries.

This multifaceted, multi-media conversation anticipates OSA’s performances of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet.

KPAC presents Ribas-Dominicci

Mexican American composer Nathan Felix is set to premiere Ribas-Dominicci, a new 60-minute, three-act opera inspired by the life of Major Fernando Luis Ribas-Dominicci, a pilot in the United States Air Force who was killed in action during Operation El Dorado Canyon in 1986.

The opera was written to premiere live as part of KPAC’s 40 year anniversary. Ribas-Dominicci features tenor Pedro Carreras as Ribas-Dominicci and soprano Lucianna Astora as Blanca Ribas.

The opera will be followed by a post-show reception featuring non-alcoholic refreshments and custom cocktails.

Photo courtesy of Opera San Antonio

Opera San Antonio presents Maria de Buenos Aires

Opera San Antonio presents Pagliacci

Maria de Buensos Aires is a sensual and seductive piece featuring the story of a tango-obsessed prostitute born on a day "when God was drunk." The immersive experience turns the Alvarez into a gritty nightclub complete with cocktail table packages, bar service, and tango dancers creating a passionate atmosphere.

The opera will be performed in Spanish with English translations.

Photo courtesy of Opera San Antonio

A chat with Opera San Antonio's conductor on Rigoletto's 'pure Verdi magic'


Verdi's Rigoletto has often been called the greatest of all operas, with its famous arias and powerful drama about a flawed father's love. It first premiered in Venice in 1851, and is now being staged at the Tobin Center for two performances only, May 5 and 7, 2022.

Presented by Opera San Antonio, Rigoletto is performed in Italian with English supertitles and is a co-production with Boston Lyric Opera, The Atlanta Opera, and Opera Omaha.

CultureMap recently spoke with Francesco Milioto, Opera San Antonio's music director and the conductor for Rigoletto. Milioto is also music director of Holy City Arts and Lyric Opera, as well as artistic advisor to the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee and maintains cover conductor positions with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Santa Fe Opera.

CultureMap: Francesco, tell us about your work with Opera San Antonio as both a music director and a conductor. How long have you been associated with the company?

Francesco Milioto: I've been associated with OSA since my debut in 2018 with La Traviata. I love my work as music director of Opera San Antonio! I am a very collaborative person and enjoy both sides of my work here, the administrative and creative as well as the performance aspects.

Opera is a huge puzzle and I enjoy the challenge of working with our team to bring a season concept to fruition. The rehearsal room is one of my favorite places to be. It is such a privilege to do this work. I really love being a part of the process of opera and then being involved in the actual execution of it in front of our audience.

CM: How did you first become interested in music and conducting?

FM: Growing up, I wasn't interested in classical music. My father simply bought me a piano, signed me up for lessons, and said "you are playing." Maybe he saw something in me, or just wanted to hear music in our house? No idea, but it stuck and here I am.

I came to conducting very early in my undergraduate degree as a piano performance major in Canada. I heard the orchestra rehearsing and waited until the end so I could approach the conductor and asked, "Could you teach me to do what you just did on that box?"

CM: What do you love most about Rigoletto?

FM: I love the relationship between Gilda and her father, Rigoletto. Their individual music is incredible, but their scenes together are true Verdi magic.

CM: Opera, like many performing arts, is rebuilding after two years of impact from the pandemic. What can audiences expect to see and hear with this production?

FM: Our audience can expect the full spectacle of opera at our home in the Tobin Center. We will have the full cast, orchestra, chorus, sets, costumes etc. We were very proud to be one of the only opera companies in Texas producing opera during the pandemic, and we are even more excited to be back to full production.

CM: Any San Antonio highlights you are looking forward to experiencing while you are here?

FM: I very much enjoy my time in San Antonio. My favorite thing, of course, is the food! I can't wait for my regular walks along the Riverwalk and spending time at the Pearl. San Antonio has a wonderful vibe, welcoming and kind people, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I am looking forward to the warmer weather.


To purchase tickets to Opera San Antonio's Rigoletto, contact the Tobin Center box office online or at 210-223-8624.

Photo by Arielle Doneson

Celebrated soprano makes her San Antonio Opera debut with Don Giovanni


With the #MeToo movement still very much in the news, there might never be a more appropriate time for Opera San Antonio to stage Mozart's Don Giovanni, based on the notorious character Don Juan.

The incorrigible playboy flouts conventional morality by bedding and discarding nearly every woman he meets, but he cannot escape his fiery punishment in the end.

Celebrated soprano Raquel Gonzalez portrays Donna Anna, an aristocratic young woman whose father is murdered by the amoral swain.

It may be Gonzalez's first time performing with Opera San Antonio, but it's certainly not her debut in this role.

The opera runs October 7 and 9, 2021, and is performed in Italian with English supertitles. Tickets start at only $40.

In advance of the new 90-minute production, CultureMap spoke to Gonzalez about her return to the stage following the pandemic, why this story is so timely, and what she's most looking forward to experiencing in San Antonio (hint, tacos are involved).

CultureMap: Raquel, this is your first time working at Opera San Antonio. What are you most looking forward to with this production?

Raquel Gonzalez: This will be my first production since before the pandemic, so I’m looking forward to the simple joys of live music, working in person with other artists again, and returning to stage.

I haven’t worked with most of this cast and creative team before, so I’m excited to collaborate with new colleagues. This will be my third time singing Donna Anna, and there’s always more to learn about the character and new perspectives to incorporate when presenting this piece.

CM: Why is Don Giovanni an important piece to present? How does it speak to today’s audience?

RG: I first sang Donna Anna seven or eight years ago, and it’s incredible just how much the conversation surrounding the piece has evolved, even since then. Unfortunately, the story of Don Giovanni is timeless. It’s easy for audience members to recognize someone they know (or know of) within this cast of characters.

Don Giovanni may be the title character, but the piece is really about the destruction he wreaks on the lives of those he encounters. Often, perpetrators’ stories — rather than those of their victims — end up being centered. Mozart and Da Ponte provided ample opportunities for Giovanni’s victims’ voices to be heard.

Reducing Don Giovanni to 90 minutes is a challenge and an opportunity for all of us to hone in on the heart of this story.

CM: What kind of preparation needs to happen for a role like Donna Anna? How do you portray a character who is taken advantage of by a criminal like Don Giovanni?

RG: When I first performed Donna Anna, conversations about Donna Anna’s altercation with Don Giovanni inevitably started with the question, "Is she telling the truth?"

I think we’ve come a long way from that, and a character like Donna Anna is allowed to be flawed, to have an imperfect romantic relationship, and to be grieving, while having none of those aspects cast doubt upon the truth of her account.

The women in Don Giovanni can often be perceived as wavering between "damsel in distress" and "woman scorned." It’s important to me that Donna Anna be three-dimensional. So many women share her experience, and I’ll feel I’m successful if my performance allows any of those women to see themselves in Donna Anna.

CM: Have you been to San Antonio before? What are you looking forward to exploring in the city?

RG: This will be my first time in San Antonio! I’m excited to visit the River Walk, the Japanese Tea Garden, and Market Square, in addition to the many museums. I’m also looking forward to eating a lot of Mexican food, and I hear there’s quite a culinary scene to take in.

CM: How does it feel to return to the stage after the pandemic has forced so many productions to be postponed?

RG: It feels a bit surreal to finally be returning to the stage after all this time. It may be cliché, but this time away has really made me appreciate every musical moment that I would have otherwise taken for granted.

There’s also a renewed sense of freedom to performing live that I didn’t fully appreciate before. Our tendency as musicians is often to be overly critical and demanding of ourselves, but having discovered how easily it can all be taken away will hopefully allow us to be bold where we might have once been afraid, and to relish the moments we previously let pass us by.

To purchase tickets to Opera San Antonio's Don Giovanni, contact the Tobin Center box office online or at 210-223-8624.

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Online home searching platform Compass buys top San Antonio-based brokerage

real estate news

National residential real estate agency Compass has acquired Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio, in a move that will expand its position as the leading national firm and its growth in Texas by more than 600 agents.

Although the sale price was not disclosed in Compass' announcement, the local brokerages completed $5.24 billion sales just in 2022 alone.

Compass added that the Austin and San Antonio leadership will have direct oversight of daily operations as part of the terms of the acquisition. Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio co-founder Yvette Flores maintains that she and her leadership team will strive for a "seamless transition" into the national firm that respects the home-grown culture they have created.

Realty Austin was founded in 2004 by Flores and Jonathan Boatwright, and has grown through the years to become one of the most innovative brokerages in Central Texas and beyond. The company expanded its operations to San Antonio in 2021.

Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio CEO Gabe Richter said in the release that Compass' leading-edge technology will help his agents foster greater successes, particularly in one blossoming San Antonio category: luxury real estate.

"Our agents have consistently set records with remarkable achievements," Richter said in the release. "Now, by aligning with Compass, they gain access to a transformative technology platform that enhances efficiency and elevated resources that empower them to secure even more luxury listings."

Compass was founded in 2012 as the largest real estate brokerage in the U.S., and preserves its stronghold as the No. 1 brokerage in Texas thanks to its milestone acquisition. The national brokerage has already surpassed $10 billion in sales in Texas in 2023, according to the release.

“With this acquisition, we've positioned ourselves as Austin's leading brokerage — our commitment to setting new standards and inspiring innovation for all our exceptional agents remains the top priority while honoring what Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio has built," said Compass Texas President Rachel Hocevar.

Fantastic visuals and original story make The Creator a must-see sci-fi film

Movie Review

In the relatively risk-averse world that is modern Hollywood, getting an original story is a rarity. The vast majority of potentially blockbuster movies these days are ones that have a connection to some kind of existing intellectual property that already has a well-established track record. So anytime something interesting arrives that’s not a sequel/reboot/remake/commercial for a product, it deserves to be celebrated.

And that goes double when it’s done as well as the new sci-fi film, The Creator. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in 2065, 30 years after a sentient artificial intelligence detonated a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. Joshua (John David Washington) is an American soldier who for years worked undercover alongside A.I.-enhanced robots, many of which are fitted with clones of human faces, to try to find their reclusive leader, Nirmata, in a part of the world now called New Asia.

A personal tragedy sends him into exile, but he’s recruited back into service by Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) to seek out and destroy a weapon that may turn the tide in the war for good. Turns out the weapon is a robot in the form of a child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), and when Joshua discovers that fact, he finds it impossible to carry out the mission. Instead, he does everything he can to protect the girl he calls Alphie, with the military hot on his tail all the while.

Written and directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) and co-written by Chris Weitz, the film is astonishing in a number of ways, but mostly for its ability to draw the viewer in visually. The CGI is amazingly believable, making it easy to immerse yourself in the storytelling. From a foreboding super-weapon in the sky called NOMAD to the futuristic landscapes to the whirring metal cylinders that appear to be the brains of the robots, the film is full of fantastic details that make it a feast for the eyes.

The concept of A.I. is increasingly being used as a storytelling tool, and here the filmmakers seem to try to play both sides of the fence. Many people in the film fear its capabilities, especially given the nuclear event. But by literally putting human faces on many of the robots, it becomes more difficult to see them as pure evil, a dilemma that’s at the core of the problem for both Joshua and the audience.

Washington, who’s fast becoming as reliably good as his father, Denzel, is the star of the film, and he does a great job in that role. But stealing the show every second she’s on screen is Voyles, who delivers a debut performance the likes of which hasn’t been seen in many years. She is utterly convincing and heartbreaking as Alphie; while the story may have worked with a lesser actor, she helps take it to completely different level.

Also putting in great work are Janney, who proves herself as badass and fearsome a military leader as any man; Mark Menchaca as her No. 2; Ken Watanabe as an A.I. robot; singer-turned-actor Sturgill Simpson as a friend of Joshua; and Gemma Chan, redeeming herself after the misfire of Eternals.

John David Washington in The Creator
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

John David Washington in The Creator.

The Creator could’ve earned praise simply by giving us an original sci-fi story. But by accompanying it with awe-inspiring imagery and performances that elevate the story immeasurably, Edwards and his team have made a film that will likely be remembered for years to come.


The Creator opens in theaters on September 29.

Nola breaks new ground and a Hill Country eatery heads to City Hall in San Antonio food news


Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our weekly roundup of essential food news.


The long lines at Nola Brunch & Beignets may soon double. According to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Records, the brunch behemoth is opening a location at 1101 Broadway. The restaurant did not return a request for comment by publication time, but Nola executive chef Melissa Villanueva is listed as the tenant. It's unclear if this is a relocation or a second outpost, but the project is set to wrap up in March 2024. CultureMap will update as we hear more information.

New Braunfels will have a new dining destination when an ambitious redevelopment is completed. According to state filings, Wiggins Hospitality Group — the folks behind McAdoo's Seafood Co. — will renovate the town's former City Hall into a mixed-use building incorporating offices on the ground floor. New Braunfels Historic Landmark Commission records give more details about the unnamed eatery, including plans for a bar and courtyard. Construction is set to wrap up in May 2024.

Other news and notes

San Antonio standout The Jerk Shack will be featured in a new book from national food site Eater. The restaurant — an Eater darling since being named one of the best new restaurants in the country by Hillary Dixler Canavan in 2029 — appropriately contributed a chicken dish.

Favor gave some insight into San Antonio's ordering habits via its first-ever dining report, released September 19. Alamo City requested more orders for barbecue than any other city in the state but surprisingly fell behind Austin in overall taco orders. The delivery app also shared a few tidbits about how San Antonians customize their meals. Locals favor lean brisket, flour tortillas, chorizo, and — controversially — chili with beans. Read all the findings at favordelivery.com.

Not content at only being a Food Network personality, chef Braunda Smith is now set to break the internet. The owner of Lucy Cooper's Ice House will soon be featured on the popular web series America's Best Restaurants. The restaurant confirmed the filming via a Facebook post but did not share when the segment will be aired.