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Houston Grand Opera Releases World Premiere Recording of “A Coffin in Egypt”

Houston, May 30, 2014 – Houston Grand Opera has just released its recording of A Coffin in Egypt, with music composed by Ricky Ian Gordon to a libretto by Leonard Foglia and starring legendary mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.  Premiered by HGO in March 2014 to enthusiastic critical and audience response, the production moved in April to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles. The live HGO recording, available from Albany Records as well as from Amazon and iTunes, arrives just prior to the opera’s East Coast premiere June 6 at Opera Philadelphia.  A Coffin in Egypt is a co-commission and co-production of Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.       

Based on Texas writer Horton Foote’s single-character play, A Coffin in Egypt is set in Egypt, Texas, where the emotional journey of ninety-year-old Myrtle Bledsoe as she reviews her life takes us through our common experiences of joy, pain, and the accepting peace of forgiveness. Citing “the opera’s musical and emotional richness,” the Houston Chronicle concluded that of all the new operas of “the past decade or so,” A Coffin in Egypt is “the most compelling of the lot.” Reviewing a Los Angeles performance, the Los Angeles Times called it “a splendid opera of spite” and von Stade “a compelling stage presence….Yes, [she] can still sing. That middle and lower register were always her glory, and they still are.” all of the depth and lyricism of grand opera.  

In addition to the tour-de-force mezzo-soprano role, A Coffin in Egypt is scored for a four-member gospel chorus and a nine-piece instrumental ensemble, conducted in Houston by Timothy Myers.  The recording, produced and engineered by Marlan Barry, was made at the Cullen Theater in Houston’s Wortham Theater Center.

A Coffin in Egypt is Houston Grand Opera’s fifty-third world premiere since 1973. The company’s rich legacy of commissioning and premiering new works includes commissions from John Adams, Philip Glass, Carlisle Floyd, Daniel Catán, André Previn, Mark Adamo, Tod Machover, and Jake Heggie. 

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