Houston Grand Opera Presents RIGOLETTO To Open The 2019-20 Season
Houston Grand Opera opens the 2019-20 season with a new production of Verdi's Rigoletto under the direction of Tomer Zvulun, who returns to HGO after directing last season's haunting The Flying Dutchman. Featuring some of opera's most recognizable music, Rigoletto is a tragic story of jealousy, lust, and revenge. The antagonistic jester Rigoletto is cursed after a joke with the villainous Duke of Mantua goes too far. Despite his best efforts to protect his beloved daughter Gilda, Rigoletto is unable to keep her safe from the outside world and the curse's fulfillment. He most certainly will not have the last laugh. The dark undertones are reflected in the theme "a man who seeks revenge should dig two graves."
Zvulun has set the drama in post-World War I, 1920s Fascist Italy, offering a unique lens to investigate the relationships between men and women, between classes and power, and between ourselves and the politics of our world today. The opera runs two hours and 40 minutes with two intermissions and will be sung in Italian with English translation.
Following the performance, the festivities continue when the traditional Opening Night Dinner returns to the Ray C. Fish Plaza and the cast and creative team of the production is celebrated with a feast crafted by Tony's in an imaginative setting from The Events Company.
American baritone Brian Mulligan sings his first Rigoletto alongside an outstanding cast filled with renowned HGO Studio alumni, including Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz as the Duke of Mantua and Armenian soprano Mané Galoyan as Gilda. Mulligan is equally renowned as an interpreter of classic works by Verdi, Wagner, and Strauss as well as of the most challenging 20th and 21st century operas. His striking stage portrayals have taken him to leading opera houses throughout Europe and North America. Chacón-Cruz, a native of Sonora, Mexico, has established himself as a leading tenor with exciting appearances in renowned theaters and concert halls across the globe. His repertoire spans Bellini and Donizetti to Puccini and Verdi. He was the First Prize winner and Audience Choice Award winner at HGO's 2003 Concert of Arias.
Galoyan completed her HGO Studio residency in the 2017-2018 season, where she made her role debut as Violetta in La traviata, as well as the Confidante in Elektra. In the 2018-2019 season, she sang Violetta with the Glyndebourne Festival and Gilda in Rigoletto with Kentucky Opera and Wolf Trap Opera. Galoyan won third place in the women's voice division of the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition.
Bass David Shipley takes on the role of Sparfucile. A recent graduate of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, his roles included Arthur and Officer III in The Lighthouse, Captain in Eugene Onegin, Sciarrone in Tosca, Guccio in Gianni Schicchi, and High Priest of Baal in Nabucco.
HGO Studio alumna Zoie Reams (Maddalena) and current HGO Studio member Nicholas Newton (Monterone) round out the cast. Mezzo-soprano Reams has been lauded by Opera News for her "velvety mezzo" as well as how she "phrased with elegance and articulated coloratura nimbly." In the 2018-19 season, she made her opera debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago, singing Flora in La traviata, as well as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly at Opera Columbus. Newton won third prize at the Concert of Arias in early 2019. He has appeared in several operas at Rice University and the Aspen Music Festival.
Tickets range from $35 to $270. Individual gala tickets start at $600, with tables $6000 and up. For more information and to buy tickets to Rigoletto, visit HGO.org or call the box office at 713-228-6737. For gala tickets, go to www.HGO.org/openingnightdinner.