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Posted by on Jan 24, 2014 in new articles, News | 0 comments

Houston Grand Opera Announces 2014-15 Season

Houston Grand Opera Announces 2014-15 Season


Houston Grand Opera (HGO) announced today another bold season of firsts for 2014–15. As Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers and Managing Director Perryn Leech revealed, coming attractions include the world premiere of A Christmas Carol by Iain Bell—the company’s 55th new commission —from award-winning Dickens authority Simon Callow; the continuation of HGO’s first Ring cycle, with the North American premiere of La Fura dels Baus’s groundbreaking take on Die Walküre; the American premieres of Sir Nicholas Hytner’s Magic Flute and Lee Blakeley’s Sweeney Todd; and a host of career-shaping artistic role debuts that speak to Patrick Summers’s gift for casting. Together with the company’s first presentation of John Cox’s Otello, and the returns of Göran Järvefelt’s beloved Così fan tutte and Michael Grandage’s hit staging of Madame Butterfly, these rich offerings serve once again to illustrate some of the ways that HGO—still the only opera company with two Grammys, two Emmys, and a Tony—epitomizes “one model of what a forward-looking opera company could be” (Greg Sandow, Arts Journal).

Houston Grand Opera has long taken the lead when it comes to creative casting. Just as it was HGO that presented Christine Goerke in her first major Wagnerian role, as Lohengrin’s Ortrud, it is in Houston that the soprano will make her first U.S. appearances as Brünnhilde, alongside the first complete Sieglinde of Karita Mattila’s distinguished career and the resumption of Iain Paterson’s first staged portrayal of Wotan. Similarly, Stephen Costello, a favorite Verdi and Donizetti leading man, ventures into new waters with his professional role debut in Così fan tutteThe Magic Flute introduces Houston resident David Portillo in his house and role debuts as Tamino, Otello presents Tucker Award–winner Ailyn Pérez in her house and role debuts as Desdemona, and Madame Butterfly marks the U.S. operatic debut of Grammy Award–winning conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. Likewise Susan Bullock and Nicholas Phan— leading exponents of Wagner and Britten respectively—join Nathan Gunn in turning their talents to gallows humor with role debuts in Sweeney Todd, a celebration of the nation’s homegrown musical theater tradition that rounds out HGO’s compelling 2014–15 lineup.

As HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers explains, “What is most important to us as a company is presenting the broadest possible selection of repertoire performed by the best established and emerging artists in the world, and that’s what we kept in mind while planning this season. Telling stories through music and drama is at the very core of what we do, and this coming season explores many ways in which that can be accomplished. From classic works by Mozart, Wagner, and Verdi, to the wonderfully unique musical world of Stephen Sondheim and the much-anticipated world premiere by Iain Bell, HGO will continue to broaden the scope and meaning of opera for our audience.”

HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech adds: “With each new season we aim to embrace the longstanding operatictradition, as seen in the second installment of our first Ring cycle. Presenting new works helps the art continue to flourish and evolve, as highlighted by the coming season’s production of A Christmas Carol by Iain Bell, which is just the first in a series of holiday-themed operas that we have commissioned. Our 2014–15 season will help us continue to grow our audience, reaching out especially to those who don’t yet have a relationship with opera. We believe the coming season’s productions will enable us to keep offering the thriving Houston community the cultural enrichment it both needs and deserves.” 

Details of these upcoming Houston Grand Opera productions are provided below, and more information is available at the company’s web site:

Houston Grand Opera: 2014–15 season

* HGO debut
+ current or former HGO Studio Artist


Verdi: Otello
Oct. 24, 26m; Nov. 1, 4, 7, 2014
Conductor: Patrick Summers
Director: John Cox

Associate Director: Bruno Ravella

Set and Costume Designer: Johan Engels

Lighting Designer: Michael James Clark

Chorus Master: Richard Bado

Otello: Simon O’Neill
Desdemona: Ailyn Pérez*
Iago: Marco Vratogna*
Cassio: Norman Reinhardt+
Emilia: Victoria Livengood
Lodovico: Morris Robinson


Production co-owned by Los Angeles Opera; Opera di Monte-Carlo; and Teatro Regio di Parma


Mozart: Così fan tutte
Oct. 31; Nov. 2m, 8, 13, 15, 2014
Conductor: Patrick Summers
Production: Göran Järvefelt

Director: Harry Silverstein

Set and Costume Designer: Carl-Friedrich Oberle

Lighting Designer: Duane Schuler

Chorus Master: Richard Bado

Ferrando: Stephen Costello
Guglielmo: Jacques Imbrailo
Fiordiligi: Rachel Willis-Sørensen+
Dorabella: Melody Moore
Don Alfonso: Alessandro Corbelli
Despina: Nuccia Focile



Iain Bell and Simon Callow: A Christmas Carol (world premiere of new HGO commission)
Dec. 5, 7m, 9, 11, 14m, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21m, 2014
Conductor: Warren Jones*

Director: Simon Callow*
Set and Costume Designer: Laura Hopkins*

Lighting Designer: Mark McCullough

The Narrator: Anthony Dean Griffey (except Dec. 17 and 20) TBD: Dec. 17, 20


Puccini: Madame Butterfly
Jan. 23, 25m, 28, 31; Feb. 6, 8m, 2015
Conductor: Giancarlo Guerrero*

Director: Michael Grandage
Revival Director: Louisa Muller*
Set and Costume Designer: Christopher Oram

Lighting Designer: Neil Austin

Chorus Master: Richard Bado
Cio-Cio-San: Ana María Martínez+
Pinkerton: Alexey Dolgov
Sharpless: Scott Hendricks+
Goro: John Easterlin*


A co-production with Grand Théâtre de Genève and Lyric Opera of Chicago


Mozart: The Magic Flute
Jan. 30, Feb. 1m, 4, 7, 14, 2015
Conductor: Robert Spano

Production Director: Sir Nicholas Hytner
Revival Director: Ian Rutherford
Set and Costume Designer: Bob Crowley

Chorus Master: Richard Bado
Tamino: David Portillo*
Pamina: Lisette Oropesa*
Queen of the Night: Kathryn Lewek*
Sarastro: Morris Robinson
Speaker: Patrick Carfizzi

Papageno: Michael Sumuel+

Monostatos/Man in Armor: Aaron Pegram*

Third Lady: Renee Tatum


Originally created by English National Opera


Wagner: Die Walküre
April 18, 22, 25, 30; May 3m, 2015
Conductor: Patrick Summers
Director: Carlus Padrissa / La Fura dels Baus

Associate Director: Esteban Muñoz

Set Designer: Roland Olbeter

Costume Designer: Chu Uroz

Lighting Designer: Peter van Praet

Video Designer: Franc Aleu

Brünnhilde: Christine Goerke

Wotan: Iain Paterson
Sieglinde: Karita Mattila
Siegmund: Simon O’Neill
Fricka: Jamie Barton+
Hunding: Ain Anger


A co-production of Palau de les Arts “Reina Sofia,” Valencia and Maggio Musicale, Florence


Stephen Sondheim: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
April 24, 26m, 29, May 2, 8, 9, 2015
Conductor: James Lowe*
Director: Lee Blakeley

Set and Costume Designer: Tanya McCallin

Lighting Designer: Rick Fisher

Chorus Master: Richard Bado

Sweeney Todd: Nathan Gunn
Mrs. Lovett: Susan Bullock
Tobias Ragg: Nicholas Phan+
Judge Turpin: Jake Gardner

Beggar Woman: Cynthia Clayton


Production originally created by Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris

Co-owned by Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Théâtre du Châtelet


(Published courtesy of Houston Grand Opea)

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