By Caroline Leech

Austin-born Soprano Lauren Snouffer returns to her hometown to make her Austin Opera debut as Rosina in The Barber of Seville. She talks to Caroline Leech about singing Rosina, about mountain biking, and about taking her place in an Austin musical dynasty.

“I was born in Austin and raised in Austin,” she explains. “Westlake is where I grew up and my parents are both choir directors in Eanes ISD,” – her father is at Westlake High School, and her mother is at West Ridge Middle School – “so really, the first time I left Austin was when I went to Rice University in Houston.”

The influence from her musical upbringing was not limited to her parents, however.

“I grew up surrounded by musicians. My grandpa and my great grandpa were both in the NBC Orchestra in New York at the same time and played under Arturo Toscanini. My great grandpa played the cello, and my grandpa played the trumpet. Later, my grandpa came to Austin to teach trumpet at the University of Texas for many years. I also have one aunt with a degree in concert piano and another aunt, Cina Crisara, who’s now the chorus master at Austin Opera. Really, everyone in my extended family on my mom’s side is musical in some way, even if they don’t do it for a living.”

After her time as an undergraduate at Rice, Lauren ventured further afield for her postgraduate studies, though she didn’t stay away long.

“I went to live in New York so I could study at Julliard, but after those two years, I quickly evacuated. Even now, every time I go back to New York, I

can never leave quickly enough. It’s so stressful to me. I love living in Texas, so
it was really great that after Julliard, the Houston Grand Opera Studio invited me in. That’s such a great training program to be a part of as a young performer, and I got a lot of stage time there.”

It was in the HGO Studio that Lauren sang her first Rosina, but even without the role debut, that production offered a challenge to the young soprano.

“The first thing I did at HGO was Rosina in Barber of Seville. I was the cover for Ana María Martinez, who is a mezzo- soprano, and she was therefore singing the role in the mezzo keys. And because the orchestra was playing the mezzo keys for Ana María, that’s how I learned to sing the role.” But Lauren wasn’t troubled by that. “I’ve always been comfortable singing in the middle of my voice, that’s where I live, even in my speaking voice. There’s a quality to my middle voice that lends itself well to those higher mezzo roles, so I enjoy singing them very much. Rosina is pretty high – it’s not like a big Straussian mezzo role – so it suits either a mezzo or soprano like me. I’m also singing another mezzo role, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro this season at HGO.”

Lauren’s career since leaving the HGO Studio has given her opportunities to sing many operas and concert pieces that are considered ‘mainstream’, like Barber or Figaro, but also many others which are less well-known or even brand new. Either way, she insists that she continues to learn with each role and each performance.


“I enjoy doing the well-known operas such as Barber of Seville, or even Dialogues des carmélites which I did last year in Houston, but my schedule is also pretty heavily loaded with music at the two extremes of early and modern music. I sing a lot of Baroque music, but also a lot of very contemporary music. No matter, I always feel that I’m learning something vocally. If I’m singing a contemporary role, it’s helping me figure out something vocally that I can bring to Barber. In my mind, the work I do at the extremes enhances what I’m able to do with a more standard repertoire role like Rosina. It helps me imagine it differently than the audiences might have seen it performed before and so I can put my own spin on it in some way.”

While Lauren’s Rosina will undoubtedly thrill Austin Opera’s audiences, it is
technically the first time she has performed for the company. Thanks to

the restrictions of the pandemic lockdown and the ingenuity of Annie Burridge, Austin Opera’s General Director & CEO, Lauren made her (non-Long Center) Austin Opera debut in October 2020 “on the silver screen”. Lauren sang with her husband, Mark Diamond, in the Lauren + Mark Digital Concert Event, a concert which was shown at all three of the Blue Starlite Drive-In movie theaters in Austin.

“I’m still waiting for my Oscar nomination,” she jokes now, though says that when the world locked down, there was little to joke about at first for international performers like her.

“The whole pandemic period was pretty terrible, with so many contracts being cancelled, sometimes at the last minute. But later, I got to do some fun things with Austin Opera, like that concert, and also in Houston, because I could drive to both those places. Also, Will Liverman wrote a song for me to sing in a recital, and now he’s writing some more songs, so I think we’re going to record the whole song cycle. In normal times, I don’t think we would have ever connected that way because these were all things that wouldn’t have happened without the pandemic. I’ll admit too, that it was great to be home for all that time.”


And home, of course, is still in Texas, though these days, Lauren lives with
her husband Mark in Waco, where he is Assistant Professor of Voice at Baylor University. Even though they are both successful singers, Lauren says that opera doesn’t show up much at home.

“When we’re together at home, it doesn’t feel like we’re singers all the time. We started mountain biking together during the pandemic, and it’s now our favorite thing to do, so we’re just normal people. We sometimes perform together – we got to do Pirates of Penzance this summer in Cincinnati – and it is nice to be with someone who understands what I do and who works in the same circles. Together, we can work out our own journey.”

Mark will be returning to the Long Center this season, singing the sailor Anthony in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and so the extended Snouffer family will be turning out in force to see Mark, as well as Lauren. She already knows she can count on a lot of home-team support in her Barber of Seville audiences.

“I’ll definitely have a lot of family there, and I’m sure there’ll be a lot of old friends who’ve already bought their tickets. I love performing for people I know, and my grandma doesn’t get to travel often to see what I’m doing. Having family there will give me something personal to perform for, especially when I know that someone will love one particular part or another. I’m excited to share this with them.”

This article was written by Caroline Leech who is an author, ghostwriter and coach, and former Head of Press for Welsh National Opera. It was first published in the Barber of Seville playbill and is published here courtesy of Austin Opera. Click here to learn more or read the entire playbill.