Houston Grand Opera Presents WEST SIDE STORY, NORMA, and More This Spring

Houston Grand Opera Presents WEST SIDE STORY, NORMA, and More This Spring

Houston Grand Opera presents Bernstein's West Side Story (April 20 - May 6), Bellini's Norma (April 27 - May 11), and return of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (May 17, 19, 20) at HGO Resilience Theater World's first mariachi opera returns after New York triumph Houston, January 29, 2018 - Houston Grand Opera (HGO) will present the first major American opera house production of Leonard Bernstein ' s landmark musical West Side Story, April 20 - May 6, and Bellini's vocal powerhouse Norma, April 27 - May 11, in the HGO Resil i ence Theater at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

HGO will also bring back its popular groundbreaking production of the world's first mariachi opera, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna / To Cross the Face of the Moon, for three special performances on May 17, 19, and 20, also in the Resilience Theater. Composed by José " Pepe " Martínez with libretto by Leonard Foglia, the powerful story chronicling three generations of a family divided by countries and cultures has been performed to audience and critical acclaim all over the United States, and in Paris. It has just received rave reviews at its New York premiere at New York City Opera. Tickets for the se productions at the HGO Resilience Theater in the George R. Brown Convention Center are available at HGO.org.

Parking is available at the Avenida North Garage located at 1815 Rusk Street, across from Resilience Theater. A sky bridge connects the parking garage to the GRB, and there is clear signage directing patrons to the theater. More information about parking can be found here.

" HGO has long taken the lead in expanding the definition of opera since our award - winning 1976 production of Porgy and Bess. In 2010, we broke new ground with the commission of the world's first mariachi opera, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, and now we do the same with the first major American operatic performances of West Side Story, " notes HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers.

" We are thrilled to offer these extraordinary work s to Houston audiences in tandem with Norma, one of the masterpieces of the Bel Canto opera tradition. "

" HGO's ability to present our entire 2017 - 18 season at the GRB has been possible because of an amazing collaboration with Houston First, " notes HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech. " Our colleagues there arranged to relocate more than 60 events in order to accom modate all of our productions. And we are pleased that the theater we built there will now also be used by the Houston Ballet, to ensure that Houstonians have art in th eir lives while we rebuild our beloved Wortham Theater Center. "

Francesca Zambello directs first major American opera house presentation of Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins's beloved musical, featuring soprano Andr ea Carroll and tenor Norman Reinhardt (April 20 - May 6, 2018) Arts organizations around the world are celebrating the 2018 centennial of Leonard Bernstein's birth with performances of his music.

The now - classic story of two young lovers, divided by battling gangs in the harsh streets of New York City's West Side, broke the mold of musical theater forever and has found its way into opera houses across Europe, including a production at Austria's Bregenz Festival in 2003 and 2004 directed by Francesca Zambello. Yet West Side Story has never been mounted by a major American Opera Company.

Now Zambello returns to HGO, where she staged many notable projects including Show Boat (2013), Billy Budd (1998), and the world premieres of The Little Prince (2003) and Florencia en el Amazonas (1996), to create a new production that frames the racially charged story within the beautiful diversity of 21 st - century America, while preserving the passion, drama, and heart - stopping dancing. Set in a factory where the young women in the story are employed, the production will feature as Maria HGO Studio alumna Andrea Carroll, whose Houston successes include portrayals of Mary Hatch Bailey in the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's It's a Wonderful Life and Julie Jordan in Carousel (both in 2016).

HGO Studio alumnus Norman Reinhardt will reprise the role of Tony after singing it in the 2016 Salzburg Festival opposite Cecilia Bartoli. Reinhardt's portrayal of Lensky in HGO's 2015 Eugene Onegin was " magnificently sung " (Houston Press). B aritone Brian Vu will make his role and house debuts as Riff. A 2016 - 17 resident artist with Pitt sburgh Opera, he won first place in the 2016 Lotte Lenya Competition, whose judges noted his " refreshing flair and vocal prowess. " Timothy Myers will conduct.

Previously at HGO, he led the HGOco world premiere of Gregory Spears and Royce Vavrek's O Columbia (2015) and Ricky Ian Gordon and Leonard Foglia's A Coffin in Egypt (2014). Norma : Acclaimed soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska and mezzo - soprano Jamie Barton headline Kevin Newbury production of Bellini's Bel Canto masterwork (April 27 - May 11, 2018), a part of the Seeking the Human Spirit initiative Returning to HGO after 2 2 years, Norma, the summit of the Bel Canto opera tradition, is a reworking of the Euripidean tragedy Medea.

A high priestess caught in a spiritual crisis makes the ultimate sacrifice after being scorned by the father of her children. Vocal acrobatics abound, with melodies ranging from the stunningly serene " Casta diva " to the fury of fireworks that explode as Norma's rage overflows, so Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska's first pe rformances in the role will be particularly significant. After thrilling Houston audiences as Aida in 2013 and Tosca in 2015, she recently gave a " vocally scorching " (Telegraph) portrayal of Abigaille in Nabucco at London's Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Join ing her as Adalgisa is world - renowned mezzo - soprano Jamie Barton, an HGO Studio alumna whose debut as Fenena in that same Covent Garden production was impressive with " warmth, richness of tone, [ and ] convincing dramatic engagement " (Opera).

Tenor and HGO Studio alumnus Chad Shelton, who sang with " vibrant, stentorian tones " (Texas Classical Review) as Chairman Mao in last season's revival of Nixon in China, will sing Pollione, and bass and HGO Studio alumnus Peixin Chen will portray Oroveso. Inspired by research into Druid culture in Roman - occupied Gaul, acclaimed director Kevin Newbury ' s staging of this monumental work captures the visceral nature of the characters, with costumes often described as reminiscent of Game of Thrones. Cruzar la Cara de la Luna / To Cross the Face of the Moon : HGO's internationally acclaimed mariachi opera of love, loss, and the immigrant experience returns to Houston (May 17, 19, 20) Where is home ? Is it where we are born ? Or where we live most of our lives ? Is it with the family we leave behind or with the new ones we create ? Cruzar la Cara de la Luna / To Cross the Face of the Moon, by José " Pepe " Martínez and Leonard Foglia, follows three generations of a single family, divided by countries and cultures.

Premiered by HGO in 2010 and remounted in 2013, the opera was the world's first composed for mariachi. Recorded on CD by HGO in 2011, i t has since toured cities in the United States as well as Paris, France. After its New York City Opera premiere on January 25, 2018, the New York Times wrote, " f ew involved in the current New York run could have imagined the extent to which these issues would be roiling American politics and society at this very moment ... The subject is explored with affecting sensitivity in this rich, honest opera. " In Cruzar, a Mexican - American man questions his own place in the world as he straddles two cultures : his immigrant father ' s and his own as a first - generation American. As he faces his father ' s imminent death and long - buried secrets are revealed, he finds himself dramatically re - evaluating his own understanding of what makes a family.

Set against a vibrant mariachi score, the story of three generations shifts between the past and the present, Mexico and Texas, Spanish and English. HGO's May performances will feature three artists who created their roles in the 2010 premiere : baritone and HGO Studio alumnus Octavio Moreno as Laurentino, mezzo - soprano Cecilia Duarte as Renata, and mezzo - soprano Vanessa Alonzo as Lupita. Baritone Efra í n Solis will portray Mark, tenor Daniel Montenegro will sing Rafael, and singer Miguel de Aranda will sing Chucho. Actor Miguel Nuñez will play Victor. This production will also feature the musicians of Los Angeles - based Mariachi Los Camperos and will be conducted by David Hanlon. Leonard Foglia will direct and choreography will be by Keturah Stickann.

The late José " Pepe " Martínez was born in Tecalitlán, Jalisco, Mexico, and joined his first mariachi band as a violinist at the age of 12. He began writing music when he was 19 years old, and in 1966 formed his own mariachi ensemble, Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán. In 1975, he joined Maria chi Vargas de Tecalitlán, and his work with that ensemble established him as a composer and arranger. " Somos Novios " and " El Cascabel " are two of the first songs Martínez arranged for his New Group ; original works such as " Violín Huapango, " " Lluvia de cuerdas, " " Mexicanísimo, " and " Viva Veracruz " with its rapid violin ricochets - a Martínez signature - followed. He was the music director of Mariachi Vargas from 1975 until he stepped down after the 2013 - 14 season. Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, commissioned by Houston Grand Opera and premiered in 2010, was his first opera.

He later composed El Pasado Nunca Se Termina with librettist Leonard Foglia, which premiered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and was staged at HGO in 2015. He died on April 23, 2016. Leonard Foglia has directed the world premieres and subsequent stagings of Moby - Dick (Dallas Opera), Everest (Dallas Opera), Cold Mountain (Santa Fe Opera), A Coffin in Egypt (HGO), The End of the Affair (HGO), Three Decembers (HGO), and It's a Wonderful Life (HGO). His production of Dead Man Walking has been seen across the United States and at Teatro Real in Madrid. For Broadway, he directed Master Class, Wait Until Dark, Thurgood (filmed for HBO), and The People in the Picture, On Golden Pond, and The Gin Game. Off - Broadway credits include Anna Deavere Smith's Notes from t he Field (filmed for HBO) and Let Me Down Easy (filmed for PBS), One Touch of Venus at Encores !, The Stendhal Syndrome, and If Memory Serves.

As a librettist, he wrote (and directed) El Pasado Nunca Se Termina / The Past Is Never Finished, with composer José " Pepe " Martínez, which premiered at Lyric Opera of Chicago ; A Coffin in Egypt with composer Ricky Ian Gordon, which premiered at HGO ; and Cruzar la Cara de la Luna / To Cross the Face of the Mo on with composer Martínez, which premiered at HGO and has played across the count r y as well as Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

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