Houston Grand Opera Announces Two New Episodes Of Acclaimed STAR-CROSS'D Serial Opera

Houston Grand Opera (HGO) announces the release of two new episodes of HGOco's web opera series Star-cross'd: "Now" and "A Rose." These works invite audiences to explore 21st-century opera viewing in a new streaming series of short opera films based on true personal experiences with Romeo and Juliet themes. Each episode includes a line from Shakespeare's play about star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.

The series pilot, "Boundless," was released online at HGO.org on April 20, 2018, to much acclaim and told the story of Alma, a middle-aged woman who seeks personal fulfillment at a crossroads in her life and begins a relationship with Luc, an artistic soul 16 years her junior. When a shadow looms over their happy ending, Alma guides her lover to his destiny. The plot is based on a true story by Houston resident Aryana Rose, who originally shared it at a storytelling event held by The Moth. The story went on to become one of the most viewed on The Moth's Facebook page.

Episode two of Star-cross'd is "Now" (Working Title) by composer Avner Dorman (who also composed "Boundless"), with libretto by John Grimmett and inspired by a true story by "Anonymous." Worlds are turned upside down for two couples when a partner in each couple undergoes a gender transition. Based on true events, "Now" explores losing what you thought you had and gaining something you could never imagine.

The third offering is "A Rose," by composer Kamala Sankaram, who was also co-librettist with Misha Penton. On the day of their wedding, two lovers must confront family and class divides (as well as a lack of flowers) before the ceremony can begin. They start their lives together in their new home city, Houston, Texas. The work is inspired by a true story from Sneha Desai. HGOco fans may remember Sankaram as the composer for Monkey & Francine in the City of Tigers, a world premiere by HGOco's Opera to Go! in early 2018.

Projected release dates are May for "Now" and October for "A Rose." Both will be free and can be found streaming on YouTube. The film director for "Now" is John Grimmett and music director is Ben Manis. Houston-based Bird House Productions will provide film production support services. For "A Rose," the film director is Misha Penton and music director is Ben Manis. The series producer is Emily N. Wells, HGOco producing manager.

Star-cross'd is a production of HGOco, the company's education and community engagement initiative. "This series explores Romeo and Juliet-themed stories through a modern-day lens," says HGOco director Carleen Graham. "With the rise in popularity of the online series format, we believe that Star-cross'd will appeal to younger viewers by presenting opera in an innovative and engaging way. The operas are short and can be a meaningful first introduction to the art form."

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