Houston Grand Opera (HGO)-the only opera company with two Grammys, two Emmys, and a Tony - continues to raise the bar for American opera with next season's gripping new line-up.
As Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers and Managing Director Perryn Leech announced today, the 2013-14 season brings the launch of the company's first Ring cycle, in a visionary and captivating production by the Catalan company La Fura dels Baus; the hotly anticipated North American premiere of the Holocaust opera The Passenger; the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's A Coffin in Egypt, based on the play of the same name by Horton Foote and starring iconic mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade; a new HGO production of Carmen from Broadway sensation Rob Ashford; revivals of Aida, Rigoletto, and Die Fledermaus; and, in tribute to the nation's homegrown musical theater tradition, Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music designed by fashion star Isaac Mizrahi. In addition, courtesy of HGOco's Song of Houston project-winner of the National MultiCultural Institute's Leading Lights Diversity Award-the company continues to celebrate Houston's cultural diversity with the world premieres of two new commissions exploring the city's Vietnamese and Indian communities as part of the East + West series. These rich offerings reflect both HGO's commitment to artistic excellence and the success this has engendered - all of which has been noticed nationally and internationally. During the 2011-12 season and continuing in the current 2012-13 season, HGO's audiences have come from all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, as well as from at least 23 foreign countries. Public demand for tickets has skyrocketed - as evidenced by a 35 percent increase in subscription sales since 2007, allowing HGO to dramatically increase the size of their season for the second straight year. The company will present 48 performances of eight operas in 2013-14 - an increase of 45% over its 2011-12 season (which included 33 performances of six operas). HGO's unprecedented artistic and financial achievements make it arguably the most successful opera company in the US today.
Discussing the upcoming season, HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers explains, "Naturally, to me, the most exciting event next season is our production of Das Rheingold, which launches the largest single endeavor in HGO's history, Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung. The cycle will be presented in succession, that is, one opera during each of the following three years. But there is much besides the Ring to excite everyone. Our 2013-14 season presents a full and wide range of appealing artistic possibilities for HGO's local, national, and international audiences."
"We have developed a wonderful momentum over the last few seasons with our commitment to quality in every aspect of our work." adds HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech. "Our aim is to grow HGO responsibly through a sound business model and to increase our artistic output, further impacting the lives of our audience. We will continue to invest in the future of our art form and in its relevance and accessibility in our community. We are delighted the season ahead includes an increase in subscription productions from six to seven and a total of 48 performances - four more than the 2012-13 season."
Marking an important company milestone, the new season sees HGO launch its first presentation of Wagner's glorious Ring cycle, in a "visually dazzling" (Los Angeles Times) production from La Fura dels Baus, the genre-defying Catalan theater company behind Barcelona's 1992 Olympic opening ceremony. Previously staged only in Europe, this "genuinely original conception" (Music-Web International) employs acrobats in tableaux of human scenery and cutting-edge visual imagery to create "a veritable symphony in pictures" (Opera News). Highlights from the production, which was released on DVD by C Major Entertainment and won the 2010 ECHO Klassik Award for DVD of the year, can be seen here.
Over the next four seasons, HGO will present one installment of the cycle each year, starting in April 2014 with Das Rheingold. Heading the outstanding cast is Scottish bass-baritone Iain Paterson (dubbed "talent to watch" by the Chicago Tribune), making his house debut in his first performances as Wotan. Singing opposite him as Fricka is American mezzo Jamie Barton, an HGO Studio alumna and Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner. Slovak tenor Stefan Margita reprises the role of Loge with which he "stole the show" at San Francisco Opera (Opera Tattler). Patrick Summers, who made his Wagner debut in 2009 when he led Lohengrin at HGO in "a soulful reading that unleashes the score's power and encompasses its breadth" (Houston Chronicle), will lead from the pit.