Tragedy and triumph take center stage in Houston Grand Opera's 2023 - 2024 season, announced yesterday afternoon. The six-opera series includes a world premiere by Jake Heggie, Intelligence; , a co-production of The Sound of Music; the company's first-ever production of Wagner's Parsifal; and beloved classics Falstaff, Madame Butterfly, and Don Giovanni.
HGO general director and CEO Khori Dastoor called that the season's theme "surrounds finding truth within art," in a press release announcing the shows.
The season opens October 20 with composer Jake Heggie's world premiere, Intelligence, with a libretto by Gene Scheer. It marks the first time the company has ever opened a season with a new opera. Based on a little-known story of the Civil War, it's the extraordinary story of two women from very different backgrounds who form a Union soy ring. Internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano and HGO Studio alumna Jamie Barton sings the role of Elizabeth Van Lew, member of a prominent Confederate family; soprano Janai Brugger, praised by Opera News for her "rapturously beautiful" voice, sings the role of Mary Jane Bowser, born into slavery in Elizabeth's house. The opera runs from October 20 through November 3.
Verdi's masterpiece Fallstaff is the other half of the company's fall repertoire, sung in Italian with English translation The story of Shakespeare's drunken knight who concocts a wild scheme to pay off his debts features baritone Reginald Smith Jr. in the title role. He's joined by other company favorites soprano Nicole Heaston as Alice, baritone Blake Denson as Ford, and soprano Andrea Carroll as Nannetta. Patrick Summers, HGO's artistic and music director, conducts. Falstaff runs from October 27 to November 10.
Opening 2024 for the company is Wagner's Parsifal, a vibrant production from Tony Award-winning director John Caird. Sung in German with projected English translation, it's the story of a group of knights on a quest to protect both the Holy Grail and their wounded king, who can only be healed by Parsifal and the holy spear. Tenor Russell Thomas, called "impressive" by the Los Angeles Times, sings the title role. He's joined by worldwide superstar soprano Christine Goerke, globally acclaimed bass-baritone Ryan McKinney and ward-winning bass Kwangchul Youn. The show runs January 19 through February 4, 2024.
Puccini's tragic love story, Madame Butterfly, lights up the stage with a diverse cast, including sought-after soprano Ailyn Pérez, as Cio-Cio-San, opposite tenor Yongzhao Yu as Pinkerton, making his role debut. They are joined by mezzo-soprano Sun-Ly Pierce as Suzuki, bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as Sharpless in Michael Grandage's production, directed by Jordan Braun. Summers will conduct. Sung in Italian with projected English translation, Madame Butterfly runs January 26 through February 11, 2024.
The spring repertoire brings two much-adored classics to the HGO stage. First comes Don Giovanni, Mozart's towering masterpiece about the womanizing title character who refuses to atone for his wicked ways. Superstar Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni sings the title role alongside sensational soprano Andriana Chuchman in her role debut as Donna Anna. The opera is sung in Italian with projected English translation and runs April 19 through May 3, 2024.
Closing HGO's season is Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved The Sound of Music, co-produced by HGO and the Glimmerglass Festival. This dazzling new production by Francesca Zambello is led by Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as Maria, a nun sent to be a nanny to the seven children of Captain Von Trapp. Baritone Alexander Birch Elliott sings the role of the captain. It's set in Austria in the last days before World War II, the timeless love story, based on a true story and immortalized in the 1965 film starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The production runs April 26 through May 12, 2024.
Full season subscriptions start at $90 and are available for purchase online.