Shelby's Social Diary

Eight baby grand pianos, bass Sam Ramey and adoring fans salute David Gockley and Carlisle Floyd

Eight baby grand pianos, bass Sam Ramey and adoring fans salute David Gockley and Carlisle Floyd

News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Perryn Leech_Carlisle Floyd_Lynn Wyatt_Patrick Summers
Perryn Leech , Carlisle Floyd , Lynn Wyatt , Patrick Summers Photo by Priscilla Dickson
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Adam Gockley_Meredith Hedemann_David Gockley_Lauren Gockley
Adam Gockley , Meredith Hedemann , David Gockley , Lauren Gockley Photo by Priscilla Dickson
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Samuel Ramey
Samuel Ramey Photo by Priscilla Dickson
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Terrylin Neale_Dick Dalton
Terrylin Neale , Dick Dalton Photo by Priscilla Dickson
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Sheila Jackson Lee_Carlisle Floyd
Sheila Jackson Lee , Carlisle Floyd Photo by Priscilla Dickson
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Paul Somerville_Kristina Hornberger
Paul Somerville , Kristina Hornberger Photo by Priscilla Dickson
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Patrick Summers
Patrick Summers Photo by Priscilla Dickson
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Lynn Wyatt_David Gockley_Bobbie-Vee Cooney
Lynn Wyatt , David Gockley , Bobbie-Vee Cooney Photo by Priscilla Dickson
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Janet Gurwitch_Ron Franklin
Janet Gurwitch , Ron Franklin Photo by Priscilla Dickson
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Eight grand pianos in the studio
Eight baby grand pianos were centered in the Floyd Rehearsal Room at Wortham Theater Center. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Perryn Leech_Carlisle Floyd_Lynn Wyatt_Patrick Summers
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Adam Gockley_Meredith Hedemann_David Gockley_Lauren Gockley
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Samuel Ramey
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Terrylin Neale_Dick Dalton
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Sheila Jackson Lee_Carlisle Floyd
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Paul Somerville_Kristina Hornberger
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Patrick Summers
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Lynn Wyatt_David Gockley_Bobbie-Vee Cooney
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Janet Gurwitch_Ron Franklin
News_Houston Grand Opera_room dedication event_April 2012_Eight grand pianos in the studio

European opera house tradition landed at Wortham Theater Center on Friday night, but with a magical twist that only Houston Grand Opera could conjure. For the naming of rehearsal halls in honor of David Gockley, HGO general director for 33 years, and Carlisle Floyd, renowned composer, HGO orchestrated a musical evening that had even the most sophisticated opera followers swooning.

Eight baby grand pianos were assembled in the Floyd Rehearsal Room where opera great Samuel Ramey performed "The Prayer" from Carlisle's Susannah and soprano Katie Van Kooten also sang a selection from the compelling American opera. 

 And with that all eight pianos were manned, with Summers in the lead, to fill the rehearsal hall with the stirring strains of "The Ride of the Valkyries."

Ramey is portraying the Grand Inquisitor in HGO's current production of Verdi's Don Carlos while Van Kooten is singing Elizabeth I in Donizetti's Mary Stuart.

In musical tribute to Gockley, four HGO pianists performed a medley of songs from Porgy and Bess. While heading HGO, Gockley was the first to stage George Gershwin's musical as an opera, which won a Tony in 1977 for best revival. Gockley departed HGO in 2005 and became general director of the San Francisco Opera in 2006.

In the evening's grand finale, HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers announced the final presentation as one that is "one so important to HGO's future." And with that all eight pianos were manned, with Summers in the lead, to fill the rehearsal hall with the stirring strains of "The Ride of the Valkyries" from Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle.

HGO and Opera Australia have commissioned a new Ring Cycle production that will be presented in Houston during the 2013-2014 season.

HGO managing director Perryn Leech and Summers, divined the event with help from the evening's chair Terrylin Neale. Following official dedication, the opera patrons were seated for dinner. 

Among those savoring this rich evening were Gloria Portela and Richard EvansEileen and George Hricik, Lynn Wyatt, Lynn Guggolz, Bobbie-Vee and Gerald Cooney, Franci Crane, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Gockley's children —Adam Gockley, Meredith Hedemann and Lauren Gockley — and his wife, Linda Kempner.

Long-time opera supporters in the mix included Catherine Merchant, Anne and Dr. John Mendelsohn, Olive Jenny and Tas Thornhill, Pat and Dan Breen, Sylvia and John SullivanSharon and Lanny Martin and Marie and John Seidl.