Houston Grand Opera Announces Expanded Season
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by BWW News Desk
With rave reviews for Puccini's La bohème and Rossini's Italian Girl in Algiers to its credit, Houston Grand Opera's season is up and running. Starting in January, the company offers productions of Mozart's Don Giovanni and Kern and Hammerstein's classic American musical Show Boat, which bring with them the company debuts of conductor Trevor Pinnock, bass Morris Robinson, baritone Adrian Eröd, Broadway legend Tommy Tune, and more. They will be followed in March by HGO's original and highly acclaimed production of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna / To Cross the Face of the Moon, a mariachi opera by José "Pepe" Martínez and Leonard Foglia. Tickets are on sale now and moving quickly for this winter repertory period, which accounts for 14 of the season's 44 performances, a 38 percent increase from an average of 32 performances in recent seasons. This increase, as well as HGO's 34 percent growth in subscription sales and more than $112 million fundraising effort over the last five years, clearly identifies HGO as today's most successful American Opera Company.
Francesca Zambello's acclaimed new production of the Kern and Hammerstein musical Show Boat runs January 18–February 9, 2013. This landmark work by Jerome Kern, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, is based on the book by American novelist Edna Ferber. The show gave American musical theater and opera a new expression-one with powerful subject matter, astonishing musical variety, and an unmistakably American voice. An epic that charts the lives of white theater folk and a Mississippi black community over three generations, it reveals the racial and social changes that were shaping the country. Zambello comments, "Show Boat is about people who live in the theater world, and the river tells the story. It will give audiences an understanding of the world we come from-politically, socially, and economically, as well as a love for our own traditions of music-making." The cast includes Sasha Cooke as Magnolia Hawks, Joseph Kaiser as Gaylord Ravenal, Melody Moore as Julie LaVerne, and Morris Robinson, making his company debut in the role of Joe. The role of Queenie will be performed by HGO Studio alumna Marietta Simpson, with legendary Broadway performer Tommy Tune making his opera stage debut as Cap'n Andy Hawks. Style icon and philanthropist, Lynn Wyatt will appear in a cameo role, the Lady on the Levee. Patrick Summers conducts.
For Mozart's Don Giovanni, which runs January 25–February 10, 2013, HGO will remount Göran Järvefelt's much-loved production, designed by Carl Friedrich Oberle. Harry Silverstein will direct a cast of internationally acclaimed artists, with Trevor Pinnock conducting, making his HGO debut. Pinnock, a sought-after conductor, harpsichordist, and authority on the music of the baroque and classical eras, founded The English Concert. A Commander of the Order of the British Empire and an Officier des Arts et des Lettres, Pinnock continues to work with the Royal Academy of Music, London, and the Mozarteum, Salzburg. Making his HGO debut as Don Giovanni will be Adrian Eröd, the Austrian baritone whose star began to rise at Vienna State Opera in 2003. He has established an impressive career at Bayreuth and other German houses. American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen is Don Giovanni's long-suffering servant Leporello, a role for which he has won many plaudits. HGO Studio alumna Rachel Willis-Sørensen, soprano, will sing Donna Anna. Company debuts will be made by Veronika Dzhioeva as Donna Elvira, Joel Prieto as Don Ottavio, and Malin Christensson as Zerlina; HGO Studio alumnus Michael Sumuel sings the role of Masetto and Morris Robinson sings the role of the Commendatore.
The return of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna / To Cross the Face of the Moon to Houston Grand Opera is a point of pride for the company's leadership. Commissioned for HGO's Song of Houston initiative 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. It will also be performed at San Diego Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago this season. The production features José "Pepe" Martínez and his ensemble Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and stars baritone Octavio Moreno, an HGO Studio alumnus who represented Mexico in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. He is joined by mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte, a native of Chihuahua, Mexico, who made her HGO main stage debut as Renata in the original production. 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 HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech. He continues, "It is a fantastically moving, dramatic account of three generations of a family dealing with the impact of immigration."