The human spirit sings in the just announced 65th Houston Grand Opera season filled with world premieres, new productions, and classic favorites. With four operas included as part of HGO’s Seeking the Human Spirit, a six-year multidisciplinary initiative designed to highlight the universal spiritual themes raised in opera, the 2019-2020 season is set to bring Houston opera fans to all new heights.
Beginning with Verdi’s classic Rigoletto and ending with Mozart’s The Magic Flute the 2019-2020 season will weave together a lineup of well-loved masterpieces along with some seldom produced classics. Here's a closer look at an operatic year in store for Houston audiences.
Verdi’s Rigoletto (October 18-November 1, 2019)
This new production of the tragic story of jealousy, lust, and revenge will star American baritone Brian Mulligan singing his first Rigoletto alongside a cast of renowned HGO Studio alumni, including Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz as the Duke of Mantua and Armenian soprano Mané Galoyan as Gilda.
Handel’s Saul (October 25-November 8, 2019)
The HGO premiere was originally performed in the Glyndebourne Festival 2015, features Christopher Purves returns to the title character. Telling the Biblical tale of King Saul after David slays Goliath, Barrie Kosky’s production creates a drama that will likely speak to us today as it highlights the tension of social class and a world fraught with religious strife.
Javier Martínez and Leonard Foglia’s El Milagro del Recuerdo/The Miracle of Remembering (December 5-22, 2019)
HGO once again gifts Houston with a world premiere holiday-themed opera with this prequel to Cruzar la Cara de la Luna the first mariachi opera, which was composed by Javier Martínez’s late father, José “Pepe” Martínez, in a collaboration with Foglia. Several characters from Cruzar la Cara de la Luna return in this new opera set in Mexico during Christmas time that explores the themes of holiday traditions, familial bonds, and the dream of something more.
Donizetti’s La favorite (January 24-February 9, 2020)
Another new production of a classic that though now rarely produced was once the most performed opera of its time. Featuring superstar Jamie Barton and the HGO audience favorite tenor Lawrence Brownlee, fall in love with this tragic love triangle of a noblewoman, king, and warrior.
Verdi’s Aida (January 31-February 16)
In a new production that will be co-produced with the English National Opera international star and HGO alumna Tamara Wilson sings the title role and rising star Russell Thomas makes a role debut as Radames. Set in ancient Egypt during the pinnacle of war, the captive princess Aida falls in love with a conquering general and must choose between true love and loyalty to her country. HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers conducts.
R. Strauss’s Salome (April 17-May 1, 2020)
Lise Lindstrom makes her HGO debut in the title role alongside HGO Studio alumnus Ryan McKinny in a production directed by Francisco Negrin, that returns Salome to the Wortham stage for the first time in 20 years. Eun Sun Kim takes the podium conducting in her first outing in Houston since being named HGO’s principal guest conductor in 2018. Eun Sun Kim is this season’s Lynn Wyatt Great Artist recipient.
Mozart’s The Magic Flute (April 24-May 8)
One of opera’s greatest masterpieces goes Hollywood in this Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade production. Using a silent-film aesthetic with 21st-century technology, including an animated world created by artist and illustrator Paul Barrittto, these performances will deliver a Magic Flute unlike any that has been seen at HGO before.
“As we do every season, we have combined repertoire favorites like Rigoletto, Aida, and The Magic Flute with opera gems that deserve to be programmed more often but aren’t—often because they are difficult to perform and we have to wait for just the right casting,” described HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers, in a statement on the announced season. Summers names Saul, La favorite, and Salome as those operas that are rarely performed but which opera aficionados must see. Summers describes the entire lineup as “a diverse set of operas that stretch the heart and mind.”
“We are so proud to announce a full season as we recover from the ongoing impacts of Hurricane Harvey,” proclaimed HGO managing director Perryn Leech. “The positive response from our board, supporters, and local community is unparalleled and we are once again able to produce seven exceptional mainstage opera productions. As we progress towards full recovery, we are excited to deepen our collaborative partnerships within the city as we continue to tell the stories of the communities that call Houston home.”