Houston Grand Opera Reveals 2024-25 Season

Learn more about the lineup here!

By: Mar. 22, 2024
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Houston Grand Opera has announced its 2024-25 season, featuring a spectacular, new, season-opening production of Il trovatore; the return of charming, family-friendly Cinderella, classic tragedy La bohème, and blockbuster musical West Side Story; Houstonians’ first-ever chance to see award-winning opera Breaking the Waves; and a lushly beautiful new production of Tannhäuser, the company’s first presentation of the opera in more than two decades.

“Our theme for the 2024-25 season is Truly. Madly. Deeply,” says HGO General Director and CEO Khori Dastoor. “Whether Verdi or Wagner, a comedy or a tragedy, a centuries-old masterwork or a bold addition to the repertoire, each of the six ravishing operas HGO is planning for our audiences will explore what it means to fall in love—with every last iota of your being. Only opera, through its magical merging of text and musical score, can conjure the profound pleasure and searing pain that accompany pure romantic feeling. And that is what we will be reveling in, with abandon, over the extraordinary season ahead.”

“HGO’s new season is not only largely about young love, but the operas themselves were composed by youngsters—Rossini was 23 when he began his beloved Cinderella, and West Side Story’s lyricist Stephen Sondheim was only 24,” says HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers. “The boundless energy of youth runs through each of next year’s works: Tannhäuser, though not Wagner’s first opera, was his first grandly romantic work in the style for which he would change the world. Il trovatore was a breakthrough opera for the young Verdi, as was Breaking the Waves for the preternaturally gifted young Missy Mazzoli. And, of course, all of the innocence of youth, love, and the pain of loss is wrapped in the ultimate love opera, Puccini’s La bohème.”

The company will open the 2024-25 season with the debut of an original, new HGO-commissioned production, a fresh vision of Verdi’s Il trovatore from industry-leading director Stephen Wadsworth. His awe-inspiring, old-meets-new-world production sets the story in contemporary Europe, where castles sit amid skyscrapers and monuments stand alongside street art, a juxtaposition that accentuates the timelessness of the story.

The opera takes place in Spain, where the royalist Count di Luna and the revolutionary leader Manrico love the same woman, Leonora. As the men face off, they become ensnared in a larger web of lies, murder, and revenge, spun in part by the Romani woman Azucena, whose own mother’s death set the story in motion many years earlier. Superstar soprano Ailyn Pérez, fresh from triumphing in Houston as Madame Butterfly, performs the role of Leonora opposite virtuoso baritenor Michael Spyres as Manrico, with baritone Lucas Meachem as Count di Luna and mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis as Azucena. Maestro Patrick Summers conducts.

Also part of HGO’s fall repertoire is Rossini’s frothy delight, Cinderella, presented in the production that has charmed the world. Directed by Joan Font, one of the geniuses behind Barcelona-based collective Els Comediants, the opera shares the story of renamed heroine Angelina, a sweet young beauty who finds love with a prince, in a bright and whimsical HGO co-production that includes a group of hilarious, scene-stealing rats.

Leading the vocally challenging Bel Canto opera is world-famous mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as Angelina, with baritone Alessandro Corbelli, a revered Rossini specialist, as Don Magnifico. The incredible cast also boasts tenor Jack Swanson as Prince Ramiro, baritone Iurii Samoilov in his company debut as the prince’s valet Dandini, and bass-baritone Cory McGee as the philosopher Alidoro. Lorenzo Passerini, making his company debut, conducts.

The company’s winter repertoire will launch with Puccini’s heart-wrenching La bohème, in a revival co-production from HGO, Canadian Opera Company, and San Francisco Opera, created by Tony Award-winning director John Caird. The production’s intimate set, constructed from paintings and canvases, perfectly conjures belle époque Paris, where tragedy awaits the story’s irresistible band of bohemians.

Soprano Yaritza Veliz makes her HGO debut in the role that has garnered her international acclaim—that of the fragile Mimì—opposite Grammy Award-winning lyric tenor Joshua Guerrero as her Rodolfo. Baritone Edward Parks, also a Grammy winner, performs the role of the painter Marcello with Juliana Grigoryan, an electrifying new star who recently took top honors at Operalia, as his lover Musetta. Another Grammy winner, the celebrated conductor Karen Kamensek, takes the HGO podium to conduct Puccini’s unforgettable score.

Next, HGO presents a Broadway masterpiece, West Side Story, the creation of composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim, choreographer Jerome Robbins, and playwright Arthur Laurents. Directed by the legendary Francesca Zambello and co-produced by HGO, Glimmerglass Festival, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, this production received raves in Houston in 2018, when the company was displaced from the Wortham Theater Center by Hurricane Harvey. Now audiences have the chance to experience Zambello’s full vision of the romantic tragedy, which transports Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to a New York setting.

The opera boasts a superlative lead cast, including rising soprano Shereen Pimentel in her HGO debut as Maria, the role that won her an Outer Critics Circle Award on Broadway; dazzling tenor Brenton Ryan as Tony; and famed Broadway artist Kyle Coffman, who also appeared in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 film version, in his company debut as Riff. Internationally acclaimed conductor Roberto Kalb takes the podium in his HGO debut.

Spring will bring the highly anticipated Houston debut of Breaking the Waves, the critically acclaimed contemporary opera from sought-after composer-and-librettist team Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, which made its world premiere in 2016. Directed by Tom Morris, this powerful, highly praised HGO co-production brings to life the strict Calvinist community in 1970s Scotland, where the tragic story, adapted from the art film by Lars von Trier unfolds.

Luminous soprano Lauren Snouffer performs the role of the impressionable young Bess, with charismatic bass-baritone Ryan McKinny as the offshore oil rigger Jan. After the two marry, Bess embarks on a journey of sexual exploration that, following a series of shocking events, ends in tragedy. Sara Brodiedirects the revival of Morris’s production of the award-winning, boundary-pushing opera, with Maestro Patrick Summers conducting Mazzoli’s rich, intriguing, original score.

HGO Will Close the mainstage season with a highly anticipated new staging of Wagner’s Tannhäuser from internationally acclaimed director Francesca Zambello. Houston audiences will be the first to experience this strikingly beautiful co-production from HGO and Washington National Opera.

A powerhouse cast up to the formidable challenges of Wagner’s sublime score is set to deliver an unforgettable experience for HGO audiences. TenorRussell Thomas, an acclaimed Wagnerian and HGO’s Parsifal in 2024, performs the role of Tannhäuser, a poet struggling between the forces of lust and love. World-famous soprano Tamara Wilson portrays his spiritual love, the pure Elisabeth, with sought-after mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke as the tempting goddess Venus. The superb lead cast is completed by baritone Luke Sutliff as Wolfram von Eschenbach and bass Alexandros Stavrakakis in his company debut as Landgraf Hermann. Erik Nielsen, acclaimed music director of Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, makes his company debut at the podium.