HOUSTON GRAND OPERA’S PRINCE RUDY: College, Football & Opera

March 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs

Our sincere apologies to Rudy Avelar. In the winter issue of H Texas, a quote from Mr. Lastname was printed incorrectly. On the subject of customer service, Mr. Avelar said, “‘No’ doesn’t exist. ‘Can’t be done,’ are words and phrases never uttered by me. ‘Let me see who can help you’ is as bad as it gets. I try to treat everyone with respect and kindness.” The corrected version of the story is below.

by Fran Fawcett Peterson

College football and opera don’t appear to have much in common. However, they both are spectacles, usually grand spectacles! Rudy Avelar is an avid fan of both.

Avelar is Houston Grand Opera’s prince- he makes things happen. After 33 years at Houston Grand Opera (HGO) he has garnered worldwide recognition among opera aficionados, not only because of his knowledge and enthusiasm for opera, but how his extraordinary attention to patron services makes each and every HGO donor and patron feel like royalty.

The position of Director of Development and Patron Services was created for Rudy in 1986 when he was former Executive Director David Gockley’s assistant. HGO’s new General Director, Anthony Freud, knows what a gem they have in Rudy. It’s no secret arts and opera companies throughout the country have tried to steal him. Fortunately, Rudy is happy here.

Rudy does whatever he can to make sure HGO’s patrons feel appreciated, comfortable, celebrated.

“Our donors have enough stress in their lives without having to worry about their opera tickets,” he says.

Be it changing the seats, the date, finding extra seats, getting tickets in Milan, Vienna, Paris or wherever in the world the HGO patron wants to go – Rudy will make it happen.

“‘No’ doesn’t exist. ‘Can’t be done,’ are words and phrases never uttered by me. ‘Let me see who can help you’ is as bad as it gets. I try to treat everyone with respect and kindness,” Rudy tells me in his trademark bow tie over turtle soup at the new Brennan’s.

Rudy knows patron services from the ground-up. His HGO career began in the ticket center in 1977. Under Gockley’s tutelage, he learned the fine details. When the opera season begins, Rudy’s job is 24-7 by his own choice. He views the job as a sort of concierge service. Indeed, you will see him at the valet station helping to greet patrons and solving last minute glitches. If there is an HGO breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner or after performance party – Rudy is at the door. If there is a problem he solves it quickly and effortlessly; the patron may never know there was a problem in the first place.

It is a mystery how Rudy finds time to travel to college football games during opera season. But one doesn’t get to be a prince without the ability to make things happen. He says the most beautiful college football stadium is the University of Washington, “People arrive in boats!” Even so, their tailgating, or boatgating, can’t beat the sumptuous feasts of Ole Miss fans. Rudy also gives the University of Mississippi thumbs up for best dressed, and Auburn fans are the greatest.
Rudy knew he wanted opera to be part of his life after seeing Norma, his first opera in 1971. He began volunteering, became an employee and was honored in 2005 with the Masterson Award at an evening called Bravo! Rudy. Now Rudy is being honored again as he chairs the 2011 Houston Grand Opera Ball. Themed “My Fair Ladies,” it is a personal thank you to so many ladies who have helped him in his career and his life.

“It will honor all the ladies who have been my constant support and inspiration. Not just with HGO but from the Symphony, TUTS, the Ballet, MFA, all of them. It will be their night.”

Richard Flowers & Events will transform the Wortham foyer into a rain forest. Think parasols and lots of surprises. Be there for the April 9, 2011, white tie event catered by Jackson Hicks.

For more information email gpircher@houstongrandopera.org or call 713-546-0277.

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