Press Room

Houston Grand Opera opens Oct 19

Houston Grand Opera opens its 2012-13 season in grand style on October 19, with a brand-new production of Puccini’s La bohème starring Dimitri Pittas and Katie van Kooten. The season continues with a sparkling production of Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers (opens Oct. 26) featuring Lawrence Brownlee and Daniela Barcellona. In January, the company offers Francesca Zambello’s acclaimed new production of the Kern and Hammerstein musical Show Boat (opens Jan. 18, 2013); Mozart’s Don Giovanni (opens Jan. 25) will be conducted by Trevor Pinnock. The season culminates with Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, starring Nina Stemme and Ben Heppner (opens April 18), and Verdi’s Il trovatore (April 26), with Tamara Wilson, Dolora Zajick and Marco Berti. With 44 mainstage performances as well as the world premieres of two new Song of Houston commissions and the return, by popular demand, of José “Pepe” Martínez’s Cruzar la cara de la luna (“To Cross the Face of the Moon” – opens March 22), this is the company’s biggest season since 2009. According to Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers, who conducts Show Boat, Tristan and Isolde and Il trovatore this season, “An opera season has to be like a great meal with many courses. When I look at this season in its totality, it feels balanced, adventurous, and includes a wide range of repertory, which I feel is very important.” He adds: “I’m very proud of the many years of work, the commitment to greatness, and the artistic trajectory which has brought us to this place where we can expand as much as we are, and that we continue to raise the quality of art that we present to the people of Houston.”
The star-studded season includes four new productions and features the work of some of opera’s most acclaimed directors, including Joan Font (Italian Girl in Algiers), John Caird (La bohème), Francesca Zambello (Show Boat), Harry Silverstein (Don Giovanni), Leonard Foglia (Cruzar la cara de la luna), Christof Loy (Tristan and Isolde), and Stephen Lawless (Il trovatore). It also includes the company debuts of Daniela Barcellona, Trevor Pinnock, Nina Stemme – whose only US appearance this season will be at Houston Grand Opera – and the debut performances on the opera stage for legendary Broadway performer and Houston native Tommy Tune.
HGO’s Managing Director Perryn Leech stated, “The Houston public has shown wonderful support for Houston Grand Opera over the last few years in contributions and attendance. We have seen an increase in subscribers and the demand for single tickets has been strong, due to the consistently high quality of our performances. This success and momentum has allowed us to expand our schedule from 33 shows last season to 44 this coming season. I am very confident that our audience – new and old – will enjoy another fabulous season at HGO.”
Three productions from HGO’s Song of Houston project highlight the company’s investment in new work. Song of Houston, which won the National MultiCultural Institute’s 2009 Leading Lights Diversity Award, commissions works that celebrate Houston’s cultural diversity. The 2012-13 season boasts the world premieres of two new commissions exploring the city’s Korean and Japanese communities in the “East + West” series. From my Mother’s Mother, composed by Jeeyoung Kim – whose numerous honors include National Endowment for the Arts, ASCAP, and Meet the Composer awards – to a libretto by University of Houston’s Janine Joseph, tells a story of the passing-down and rejection of tradition through four generations of Korean-American women. From my Mother’s Mother will premiere on November 3, 2012 at the city’s Korean Festival, and will subsequently be webcast through a unique collaboration between Houston Grand Opera, the University of Houston, Houston Public Media, and CultureHub of South Korea. The second new “East + West” commission, a Japanese opera, will be composed by Marty Regan (Texas A&M) and will premiere in April 2013.
In March, José “Pepe” Martínez and Leonard Foglia’s Cruzar la cara de la luna (“To Cross the Face of the Moon”) returns to Houston; commissioned by Song of Houston in 2010, Cruzar, the world’s first Mariachi opera, proved to be “a multicultural winner” that “succeeded on all fronts” (Houston Chronicle), and it opened the fall 2011 season at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. The production features Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and stars baritone Octavio Moreno, an HGO Studio alumnus who represented Mexico in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. With a libretto by acclaimed writer-director Leonard Foglia, “Cruzar tells a story that speaks to anyone who has roots in a place other than that which they now call home,” explains Perryn Leech. He continues, “It is a fantastically moving, dramatic account of three generations of a family dealing with the impact of immigration. As such, it is the perfect story for so many, not only in Houston but throughout the US and around the world.”
 Cruzar la cara de la luna is also being presented at San Diego Opera in March.
The company has a 40-year legacy of commissions that includes operas by John Adams, Philip Glass, Daniel Catán, André Previn, Carlisle Floyd, Mark Adamo, Jake Heggie, and Christopher Theofanidis, among others. Speaking at the company’s Season Preview on September 17, Summers announced new programming initiatives for the next few seasons, to include the world premieres of Ricky Ian Gordon‘s A Coffin in Egypt, based on the play by Horton Foote; Christopher Theofanidis’ Siddhartha, based on the novel by Herman Hesse; and Carlisle Floyd‘s Kynaston, based on the life of 17th-century English actor Edward Kynaston. The commissioning of holiday-themed operas based on such sources as It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol and The House Without a Christmas Tree will “help create new traditions for Houston families.”
“Houston Grand Opera exists solely to address the multi-various cultural needs of this city,” stated Summers, “And this is a big and vibrant and mixed city of all kinds of cultural traditions.” He continued, “And so while our major mission is to honor the great operas, it’s also to redefine what opera means and also to expand and broaden the operatic repertoire by focusing on American works that speak to who we are right now as a nation.”
Houston Grand Opera: 2012-13 season   
La bohème (new production) Oct 19 – Nov 10, 2012
Rodolfo: Dimitri Pittas
Mimi: Katie Van Kooten
Marcello: Joshua Hopkins
Musetta: Heidi Stober
Colline: Vuyani Mlinde
Schaunard: Michael Sumuel
Conductor: Evan Rogister
Director: John Caird
Set and costume designer: David Farley
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus / Richard Bado, Chorus Master
The Italian Girl in Algiers (new production) Oct 26 – Nov 11, 2012
Isabella: Daniela Barcellona
Lindoro: Lawrence Brownlee
Mustafa: Patrick Carfizzi
Taddeo: Daniel Belcher
Haly: Robert Pomakov
Conductor: Carlo Rizzi
Director: Joan Font
Set and costume designer: Joan Guillén
Song of Houston – East + West: From my Mother’s Mother Nov 3, 2012  
Cast and Performance Details to Come.
Show Boat (new production) Jan 18 – Feb 9, 2013
Magnolia Hawks: Sasha Cooke
Gaylord Ravenal: Joseph Kaiser
Julie La Verne: Melody Moore
Joe: Morris Robinson
Cap’n Andy Hawks: Tommy Tune
Queenie: Marietta Simpson
Parthy Hawks: Cheryl Parrish
Conductor: Patrick Summers
Director: Francesca Zambello
Set Designer: Peter Davison
Costume Designer: Paul Tazewell
Don Giovanni Jan 25 – Feb 10, 2013
Don Giovanni: Adrian Eröd
Leporello: Kyle Ketelsen
Donna Anna: Rachel Willis-Sørensen
Donna Elvira: Veronika Dzhioeva
Don Ottavio: Joel Prieto
Zerlina: Malin Christensson
Masetto: Michael Sumuel
The Commendatore: Morris Robinson
Conductor: Trevor Pinnock
Director: Harry Silverstein
Set and costume designer: Carl Friedrich Oberle
Cruzar la cara de la luna (“To Cross the Face of the Moon”) March 22–24, 2013
Laurentino: Octavio Moreno
Renata: Cecilia Duarte
Diana: Brittany Wheeler
Lupita: Vanessa Cerda-Alonzo
Music Director: David Hanlon
Director: Leonard Foglia
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán
Tristan and Isolde (new production) April 18 – May 5, 2013
Isolde: Nina Stemme
Tristan: Ben Heppner
Brangäne: Claudia Mahnke
Kurwenal: Ryan McKinny
King Marke: Christof Fischesser
Melot: Roger Honeywell
Conductor: Patrick Summers
Director: Christof Loy
Set and costume designer: Johannes Leiacker
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus / Richard Bado, Chorus Master
Il trovatore April 26 – May 11, 2013
Leonora: Tamara Wilson
Manrico: Marco Berti
Azucena: Dolora Zajick
Count di Luna: Tómas Tómasson
Ferrando: Vuyani Mlinde
Conductor: Patrick Summers
Director: Stephen Lawless
Set designer: Benoit Dugardyn
Costume designer: Martin Pakledinaz
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus / Richard Bado, Chorus Master

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