Houston Grand Opera Opens 2017/18 Season with LA TRAVIATA and JULIUS CAESAR
Houston Grand Opera will open its 63rd season with a new production of Verdi's most romantic opera, LA TRAVIATA, and a new 1930s setting for Handel's Baroque opera, JULIUS CAESAR.
LA TRAVIATA will run October 20-November 11 and JULIUS CAESAR opens the following week and runs October 27-November 11. The performances for both productions are to be held at the Resilience Theater, HGO's new temporary home located in the George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB). (For LA TRAVIATA and JULIUS CAESAR ticket buyers, the HGO will provide Lyft discount codes to use for rides to and from GRB.)
For the Resilience Theater, HGO is transforming an exhibit hall in the convention center into an intimate theater after being displaced from its creative home at the Wortham Theater Center by Hurricane Harvey. Every seat will be less than 100 feet from the stage. The space will also give audiences insight into and connection to the theatrical process, in what the company is calling "unconventional opera."
A New Production Of LA TRAVIATA
Sacrificing everything for the sake of love. In Verdi's most romantic opera, the dazzling heroine, Violetta Valéry, a high-class Parisian courtesan, gives up her lavish lifestyle for the first man she's ever loved, only to lose it all. This is an ideal first-timers' opera, the one that made Julia Roberts's character cry in the 1990 film Pretty Woman.
Noted Off-Broadway director Arin Arbus returns to HGO to direct this new production. With lavish sets, grand costumes, and Verdi's famous score beautifully painting a glittering Paris, it's sure to provide an experience of truly gripping theater.
Also returning are star coloratura soprano and HGO Studio alumna Albina Shagimuratova, who performs as Violetta, and Tenor Dimitri Pittas, acclaimed as Nemorino in HGO's 2016 production of The Elixir of Love, who sings Alfredo.
Romanian baritone George Petean makes his HGO debut as Germont before performing the role later in the season at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and the Metropolitan Opera. And emerging talent Eun Sun Kim makes her North American conducting debut.
LA TRAVIATA will launch HGO's new multidisciplinary initiative Seeking the Human Spirit. The six-year (2017-23) initiative is designed to emphasize spiritual themes in opera and expand and deepen Houstonians' connections to opera and to art. Three mainstage productions and various events and activities each season will explore a different theme. The theme for the 2017-18 season is sacrifice and, fittingly, LA TRAVIATA considers what someone will sacrifice for love.
Handel Goes to Hollywood
Set on a 1930s movie backlot in the enchanted golden age of Hollywood, JULIUS CAESAR comes to life as a big movie musical complete with an art deco Egyptian pyramid, glitzy costumes, and a platinum-blonde knockout Cleopatra.
History buffs can enjoy the story, and music lovers will revel in the vocal pyrotechnics of Handel's most famous opera about love and conflict in this charming 2003 HGO production by James Robinson under the baton of HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers.
The stellar cast includes countertenors Anthony Roth Costanzo (HGO's 2017-18 Lynn Wyatt Great Artist) as Caesar and David Daniels, widely agreed to have helped redefine the opera world's understanding of countertenors, as Ptolemy.
Soprano and HGO Studio alumna Heidi Stober returns to HGO as Cleopatra after her 2016 performances as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, who appeared as Nettie Fowler in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel at HGO in 2016, returns to the role of Cornelia, which she last performed in 2002.
The role of Sextus will be sung by mezzo-soprano Megan Mikailovna Samarin, who sang Siébel in HGO's 2016 Faust, and Argentine bass and former HGO Studio artist Federico De Michelis will perform Achillas. De Michelis is familiar to HGO audiences as Angelotti in Tosca (2015) and Thomas Betterton in Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players (2016). Both Samarin and De Michelis will be giving their first performances as alumni of the HGO Studio.
HGO's 2017-18 season at Resilience Theater continues with the world premiere of composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Royce Vavrek's holiday opera The House without a Christmas Tree (November 30-December 17). Seating at the Resilience Theater will be assigned in early October. And parking for HGO's performances will be available at the Avenida North garage located at 1815 Rusk Street, across from HGO's new venue. A sky bridge connects the parking garage to the George R. Brown Convention Center, and there will be clear signage to direct patrons to the theater. More information about parking can be found here.
In January, at a location still to be announced, HGO will present its first performances in a quarter century of Richard Strauss's revenge-filled Elektra (January 19-February 2). Elektra features virtuoso soprano Christine Goerke in the tempestuous title role and 2016 Richard Tucker Award-winner and HGO Studio alumna TaMara Wilson in her role debut as Chrysothemis. Patrick Summers conducts.
And from January 26 to February 10, the opera company presents Rossini's ever-popular comedy, The Barber of Seville. The Barber of Seville cast includes the HGO debut of baritone Lucas Meachem as Figaro, the return of tenor David Portillo as Count Almaviva, HGO Studio alumna Sofia Selowsky as Rosina, and the eagerly anticipated return of HGO Studio alumnus Eric Owens, Musical America's 2017 Vocalist of the Year, as Don Basilio, conducted by Julian Wachner.
In April, HGO will give the first presentations of Leonard Bernstein's classic musical West Side Story (April 20-May 6) by a major American opera house, with a new production by Francesca Zambello featuring HGO Studio alumni Andrea Carroll and Norman Reinhardt as Maria and Tony, conducted by Timothy Myers; and Bellini's grand-scale tragedy Norma (April 27-May 11), showcasing the role debut of stellar dramatic soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska in the notoriously difficult title role, with HGO Studio alumni Jamie Barton (the 2015 Tucker Award winner) as Adalgisa and Chad Shelton as Pollione, in a production by acclaimed director Kevin Newbury and conducted by Patrick Summers.
For updates on the company's season and other developments, please visit hgo.org/resiliencetheater.