A melange of old and new, tradition and innovation, and favorites and unknowns are what opera buffs can expect for the Houston Grand Opera's 2015-16 lineup, which the organization just revealed.
For the upcoming new season, HGO has programmed works that focus on people and their transformations.
"Operas are sometimes built around lofty themes, attempting to illuminate something higher than 'mere' humanity," HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers says in a statement. "But, excitingly, the entirety of HGO's 2015-16 season is built around idealistic characters engaged in epic and universal human journeys, and through them we connect to our own journeys."
While main stage productions such as the world premiere of Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players and the continuation of Wagner's Ring Cycle are of particular interest, so are the efforts of HGO's community engagement department, HGOco, which is gearing up for two world premieres: O Columbia by Gregory Spears, a chamber opera about the Columbia Space Shuttle; and a work by David Hanlon (Past the Checkpoints) that explores resilience through the many natural disasters that have threatened Galveston Island.
Read on for the full season.
Puccini's Tosca (Oct. 23-Nov. 14)
What's notable: HGO brings back the 2010 production by British director John Caird with sets by Bunny Christie, but breathes new life by casting soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska in the passionate main role.
Cast: Liudmyla Monastyrska as Tosca, Alexey Dolgov as Cavaradossi and Andrzej Dobber as Scarpia, with Canadian director John Caird and maestro Summers on the podium.
Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (Oct. 30-Nov. 13)
What's notable: Birmingham Opera artistic director Graham Vick imagined this opulent production for Glyndebourne that was dubbed fresh in its embodiment of "everything that is pure and classical and candid about Tchaikovsky's musical response to Pushkin."
Cast: Ekaterina Scherbachenko as Tatyana, Scott Hendricks as Onegin and Norman Reinhardt as Lensky, with conductor Michael Hofstetter.
Rachel Portman's The Little Prince (Dec. 4-20)
What's notable: When this heartwarming children-esque tale was adapted for the operatic stage in a collaboration between composer Rachel Portman and librettist Nicholas Wright, the HGO 2003 commission was deemed "full of warmth, wisdom and generous lyric beauty" (Boston Herald).
Cast: Joshua Hopkins as The Pilot (complete casting has not been announced).
Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (Jan. 22-Feb. 7, 2016)
What's notable: HGO presents this production with sets and costumes by Christopher Oram, whose vision was described as being attuned to "Mozart's comic masterpiece as both of its time and perennially modern."
Cast: Adam Plachetka as Figaro, Joshua Hopkins as the Count, Ailyn Pérez as the Countess, Lauren Snouffer as Cherubino and Heidi Stober as Susanna. Santa Fe Opera chief maestro Harry Bicket conducts.
Antonín Dvořák's Rusalka (Jan. 29-Feb. 12, 2016)
What's notable: Move over Renée Fleming, there's room for more than one diva who can croon "Song to the moon." In this new-to-Houston production, all eyes will be on Ana María Martinez, whose interpretation of the title role at the Lyric Opera of Chicago was described as "one of the great soprano performances of the present era" (Opera News).
Cast: Ana María Martinez as Rusalka, Brian Jagde as the Price and Richard Fink as the Water Goblin, with Santa Fe Opera chief conductor Harry Bicket.
Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players (March 5-13, 2016)
What's notable: HGO adds another world premiere to its arsenal with this opera that's somewhat unusual for the American composer. Rather than the serious subject matter of previous works such as The Passion of Jonathan Wade and Susannah, Floyd bases his narrative on Jeffrey Hatcher's Compleat Female Stage Beauty, a story about the last female impersonator who lived in 17th century England.
Cast: Directed by HGO newbie Michael Gieleta with Summers on the podium (complete casting has not been announced).
Richard Wagner's Siegfried (April 16-May 1, 2016)
What's notable: The production continues La Fura dels Baus' Ring Cycle that started as part of HGO's 2013-14 season. Locals will remember tenor Jay Hunter Morris, who's been selected for the title role, from HGO's one-man-show A Christmas Carol. The Paris, Texas-born singer was overwhelmingly praised for stepping in last minute for a Metropolitan Opera production of Siegfried, which also screened at movie theaters worldwide.
Cast: Iain Paterson as The Wonderer, Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried, Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde, Rodell Rosel as Mime and Summers on the podium.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel (April 22-May 7, 2016)
What's notable: This co-production in partnership with the Lyric Opera of Chicago is directed by Rob Ashford, whom local opera-goers will remember as the creative behind HGO's 2014 theatrical staging of Carmen.
Cast: Andrea Carroll as Julie Jordan, Duncan Rock as Billy Bigelow, Lauren Snouffer as Carrie Pipperidge and Stephanie Blythe as Nettie Fowler. Richard Bado conducts.