Michael Heaston

A well-respected artistic administrator, collaborative pianist and vocal coach, Michael Heaston has established himself as one of opera’s leading mentors and teachers of young singers and pianists. Artists he has developed currently enjoy major careers on the world’s most important stages. He became the Executive Director of the prestigious Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera in August 2016 and subsequently assumed the additional role of Acting Artistic Director.  For three years he was the Director of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and the American Opera Initiative and served as Advisor to the Artistic Director of the Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  

Prior to his position at The Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Heaston assumed numerous roles of increasing responsibility at The Glimmerglass Festival over 11 seasons, completing his tenure in the position of Associate Artistic Director, in which he was integrally involved with all matters of season planning and casting. He also oversaw the direction of the Young Artists Program and all matters of musical administration.  He spent six seasons at The Dallas Opera, where he was Head of Music Staff and Assistant Conductor for more than 25 productions. He also served as Score Consultant for The Metropolitan Opera’s Emmy and Peabody award-winning “Live in HD” movie theater transmission series for seven seasons


Mr. Heaston earned his Bachelor of Music degrees in piano pedagogy and arts administration from Drake University in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, where he won the Outstanding Senior Award in the Department of Music. He received a Master of Music degree in accompanying and coaching in 2004 from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. His principal teachers have included Margo Garrett, Brian Zeger, Timothy Lovelace and Chiu-Ling Lin. He was named one of Musical America’s Top 30 Professionals of the Year for 2015, and he won the Young Alumni Achievement Award from Drake in April 2017.


On the concert stage, Mr. Heaston is in high demand as a collaborator and has partnered with many of today’s most important artists, including Christine Goerke, Dolora Zajick and Eric Owens.  He has also collaborated with Ailyn Pérez, Stephen Costello, Noah Stewart, Rod Gilfry and Laura Claycomb. He was a founding member of The Prairie Song Project along with mezzo soprano Katharine Goeldner and flutist Amy Morris. The trio performed to great acclaim in Scotland, England, Austria and the United States.


A sought-after adjudicator, he has been a frequent judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and also served on the juries of the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, Jensen Vocal Competition, Young Patronesses of the Opera Competition, Giargiari Bel Canto Competition at the Academy of Vocal Arts, NATSAA Competition Finals, McCammon Vocal Competition, DC Vocal Arts Art Song Competition and many others. Mr. Heaston is also in demand as a clinician, having served as an artist-in-residence and/or presented master classes at The Juilliard School, University of Michigan, Florida Grand Opera, Southern Methodist University, University of North Texas, Drake University, Banff Centre for the Performing Arts, Miami Summer Music Festival, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Abilene Christian University and Boston Conservatory at Berklee, to name a few. An active member of OPERA America, he serves on the steering committee of the Singer Training Forum and is a regular participant in the New Works Forum. He is also a member of the Artistic Advisory Board of The Glimmerglass Festival.


In addition to his full-time role at Rice, Mr. Heaston is the Music Director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.

More Information

Michael Heaston , Professor of Opera and Director of the Opera Studies Program
B.M. Arts Administration, B.M. Piano Pedagogy and Performance (2002) Drake University; M.M. (2004) University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
1602 Alice Pratt Brown Hall