22 May 2017

Houston Grand Opera Announces Overarching, Six-Year Multidisciplinary Initiative of World Premieres and Collaboration with Local Organizations

"Seeking the Human Spirit" to Include World Premieres of Ricky Ian Gordon's The House Without a Christmas Tree; Tarik O’Regan's Lorenzo da Ponte-inspired The Phoenix; and Adam Guettel's The Invisible Man 

HOUSTON GRAND OPERA plans to present an overarching, six-year multidisciplinary initiative that will seek to “highlight the universal spiritual themes raised in opera” while deepening the the company's connection to its surrounding communities through a series of thematic seasons, world premieres, new and repertory productions and outreach efforts with local organizations, the company announced today. 

Titled “Seeking the Human Spirit,” the initiative will run from the fall of 2017 through 2023, and will include three mainstage operas each season—one of which will be a new work—united under a single theme, various educational offerings as well as complementary projects by HGO and partner organizations meant to enhance community engagement. 

“Opera takes the human spirit in this grand cathartic way and sings it back to you,” said Patrick Summers, HGO’s Artistic and Music Director, in a statement issued by the company. “I wanted us to explore a set of pieces that have some vein of spirituality as their artistic core, and invite partners here in the Houston community to help us ignite a set of conversations about what art is for that will be meaningful to audiences and to the broader community.”

HGO’s 2017-18 season will be the first presented as part of the company’s initiative, and will feature three works tied to the theme of “Sacrifice”: Arin Arbus's production of La Traviata will receive its local premiere and will feature Albina Shagimuratova in the role of Violetta; the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek’s The House Without a Christmas Tree will feature soprano Heidi Stober as Adelaide Mills; and performances of Norma will feature Liudmyla Monastyrska as Norma and Jamie Barton as Adalgisa. 

During HGO’s 2018-19 season, the company will present mainstage performances under the theme of “Transformation.” Included in the offerings will be the world premiere of The Phoenix by Tarik O’Regan and John Caird, which will feature Thomas Hampson as Lorenzo da Ponte and Luca Pisaroni as Young Lorenzo da Ponte; performances of The Flying Dutchman featuring Andrzej Dobber in the title role with Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Senta; and Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, with Ana María Martínez in the title role. The company will also feature Joyce DiDonato in a presentation of the mezzo’s staged-recital program, In War and Peace: Harmony Through Music

In future seasons, the company will present Handel’s Saul, Donizetti’s La Favorite, Salome, Tannhäuser and the world premiere of a new opera by Adam Guettel based on H.G. Wells’s The Invisible Man.  

HGOco, the company’s community and education extension, will offer performances of Tom Cipullo’s chamber opera about America’s longest held prisoner of war, Glory Denied; a concert of songs drawn from the stories of Houston’s veterans; The Armadillo’s Dream, a newly penned book for HGOco’s Storybook Opera program for young children; and Star-Cross’d, a pilot for a web-based serial opera created by composer Avner Dorman and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann. 

Initially, HGO will partner with six local artistic and community organizations, which will engage in projects meant to supplement the initiative’s offerings. The company will work with Houston Methodist’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine, which will integrate music and song into the hospital’s environment of care and will host HGO performers in select inpatient rehabilitation and psychiatric units; the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, which will lead thematic tours of collections related to HGO’s featured operas and host the company’s studio artists in pop-up concert performances; the city’s Jung Center, which will present lectures; the Rothko Chapel, which will host panel discussions; Sacred Sites Quest, which will expose Houston high school students to sacred spaces in the city, and will include educational visits to HGO to view rehearsals, performances or backstage tours; and the Woman’s Home/Institute for Spirituality and Health, which will allow residents of The Women’s Home Treatment and Transitional Program to attend two HGO performances each season as well as visit with the company’s performers or production staff.

"At a time when conflict and division are all around us, two things that unite all people and cultures are spirituality and music. HGO is thrilled to inaugurate the most ambitious and inclusive initiative in our sixty-two-year history and to invite Houstonians to discover the powerful experiences that great opera can provide," said HGO managing director Perryn Leech. "We are proud to break new ground in this city by collaborating with partner organizations who are doing vital artistic and community work and creating meaningful connections for new and nontraditional audiences as well as opera lovers." spacer 

More information on Houston Grand Opera’s Seeking the Human Spirit initiative can be found at HGO.org

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