Houston Grand Opera Announces 2013-2014 Season, Including Favorites Like Sondheim as Well as World Premiere Pieces
Houston Grand Opera's (HGO) 2013-14 season includes the launch of the company's first Ring cycle, in a visionary and captivating production by the Catalan company La Fura dels Baus; the hotly anticipated American premiere of Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Holocaust opera The Passenger; the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's A Coffin in Egypt, based on the play of the same name by renowned Texas writer Horton Foote and starring iconic mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade; a new HGO production of Carmenfrom Broadway sensation Rob Ashford; revivals of Aida, Rigoletto, and Die Fledermaus; and, in tribute to the nation's homegrown musical theater tradition, Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music designed by fashion star Isaac Mizrahi. Through its HGOco Song of Houston project-winner of the National MultiCultural Institute's Leading Lights Diversity Award-the company continues to celebrate Houston's cultural diversity with the world premieres of two new commissions exploring the city's Vietnamese and Indian communities as part of the East + West series.
These rich offerings reflect both HGO's legacy of artistic excellence and the success this has engendered. In each of the last two seasons, HGO's audiences have come from all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, as well as from at least 23 foreign countries to experience the company's unique artistic vision. Public demand for tickets has increased drastically-as evidenced by a 35 percent increase in subscription sales since 2007, allowing HGO to dramatically increase the size of its season for the second straight year. The company will present 48 performances of eight operas in 2013-14, an increase of 45 percent over its 2011-12 season, which included 33 performances of six operas.
In addition to its productions in the Wortham Theater Center, HGO will also present free outdoor performances of Die Fledermausat Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park.
HGO main-stage productions are also heard locally in the Houston area on KUHA-FM and nationally on the WFMT radio network.
Discussing the upcoming season, HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers explains, "Launching a Ring cycle is a landmark for any opera company, but we are also continuing our commitment to be a passionate voice for our city and our time. Above all, we believe that this season abounds with the visceral and moving experiences that opera alone can provide."
"With our expansion to 48 performances of eight operas we are building on the momentum of the last few seasons," adds HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech. "We are delighted that more people are experiencing the exceptional quality and excitement of HGO's work."
Ring cycle begins with Das Rheingold
Marking an important company milestone, the new season sees HGO launch its first presentation of Wagner's monumental Ringcycle, in a production from La Fura dels Baus, the genre-defying Catalan theater company behind Barcelona's 1992 Olympic opening ceremony. Previously staged only in Europe, this dazzling production has been called "a veritable symphony in pictures" (Opera News). Highlights from the production, which was released on DVD by C Major Entertainment and won the 2010 ECHO Klassik Award for DVD of the year, can be seen here.
Over the next four seasons, HGO will present one installment of the cycle each year, starting in April 2014 with Das Rheingold. Heading the outstanding cast is Scottish bass-baritone Iain Paterson making his house debut in his first performances as Wotan. Singing opposite him as Fricka is American mezzo Jamie Barton, an HGO Studio alumna and recent winner of both the BBC's Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and World Song Prize, and Slovak tenor Stefan Margita reprises the role of Loge. Patrick Summers, who made his Wagner debut in 2009 with Lohengrin at HGO, will lead from the pit.
American premiere: Weinberg's The Passenger
No less momentous is the American premiere of The Passenger, by exiled Polish-Jewish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg. Based on the eponymous novel by Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz, The Passenger is set in the late 1950s and depicts a German couple, Liese and Walter, on board an ocean liner where former SS officer Liese thinks she recognizes an Auschwitz prisoner among their fellow passengers. Although Weinberg completed his score in 1968, the opera was not performed until 2006. It was not fully staged until the 2010 Bregenz Festival, at which time the New York Times observed: