A few days before Hurricane Harvey descended on Texas, more than 150 Houston Grand Opera supporters gathered at The Webster to preview the new 2017/2018 season and view some opera-inspired high-fashion looks by such designers as Christian Dior, Gucci, Dries Van Notten and Saint Laurent.
Opera officials are still hopeful that the show will go on in the fall, with productions of the Verdi classic la Traviata and Handel's Julius Caesar, updated to 1930s Hollywood with Cleopatra as a platinum blonde film star, planned to premiere on October 20 and October 27, respectively. Both productions are up in the air as officials assess flooding damage at the Wortham Theater Center, where the operas are scheduled to be performed.
HGO assistant artistic director Paul Hopper gave guests — many of who are part of the opera's Young Patrons Circle and Opening Night Professionals — a dramatic overview of the entire opera season, which also includes the world premiere of The House without a Christmas Tree, in December, followed by Elektra ("shock and horror with gallons and gallons of blood") and The Barber of Seville ("a great entry point to opera") in January 2018.
Closing out the season in April 2018 are the first major opera house version of Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story and the first HGO production of Norma in 25 years, with soprano powerhouse Liudmyla Monastyrska in the title role.
Guests gathered near the baby grand piano in the Galleria store as bass Anthony Robin Schneider and pianist Peter Walsh from the HGO Studio performed Verdi’s “Illacerato spirito” from Simon Boccanegra.
Seen in the crowd were the evening's host Carrie Brandsberg-Dahl (solo since hubby Sverre was called away to Norway on business), The Webster's Contstance Bost, Claire Cormier Thielke, Duyen and Marc Huynh, Ishwaria and Vivek Subbiah, Kendall and Christopher Hanno, Carolyn Dorros, Michelle Aviña, Claudio Gutierrez, Mahzad Mohajer, Dr. Parissa Mohajer, Elina Htun, Patricia Resterpo, Dr. Michal Yafi, Sarah and David Keck, Jeremy Garcia and Brian McCullough, Tijuana Harvey, and Ruchi Mukerjee.