Houston Grand Opera opens its 2012-13 season in grand style on October 19, with a brand-new production of Puccini's La bohème starring Dimitri Pittas and Katie van Kooten.
The season continues with a sparkling production of Rossini's The Italian Girl in Algiers (opens Oct. 26) featuring Lawrence Brownlee and Daniela Barcellona. In January, the company offers Francesca Zambello's acclaimed new production of the Kern and Hammerstein musical Show Boat (opens Jan. 18, 2013); Mozart's Don Giovanni (opens Jan. 25) will be conducted by Trevor Pinnock. The season culminates with Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, starring Nina Stemme and Ben Heppner (opens April 18), and Verdi's Il trovatore (April 26), with Tamara Wilson, Dolora Zajick and Marco Berti. With 44 mainstage performances as well as the world premieres of two new Song of Houston commissions and the return, by popular demand, of José "Pepe" Martínez's Cruzar la cara de la luna ("To Cross the Face of the Moon" – opens March 22), this is the company's biggest season since 2009. According to Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers, who conducts Show Boat, Tristan and Isolde and Il trovatore this season, "An opera season has to be like a great meal with many courses. When I look at this season in its totality, it feels balanced, adventurous, and includes a wide range of repertory, which I feel is very important." He adds: "I'm very proud of the many years of work, the commitment to greatness, and the artistic trajectory which has brought us to this place where we can expand as much as we are, and that we continue to raise the quality of art that we present to the people of Houston."
The star-studded season includes four new productions and features the work of some of opera's most acclaimed directors, including Joan Font (Italian Girl in Algiers), John Caird (La bohème), Francesca Zambello (Show Boat), Harry Silverstein (Don Giovanni), Leonard Foglia (Cruzar la cara de la luna), Christof Loy (Tristan and Isolde), and Stephen Lawless (Il trovatore). It also includes the company debuts of Daniela Barcellona, Trevor Pinnock, Nina Stemme – whose only US appearance this season will be at Houston Grand Opera – and the debut performances on the opera stage for legendary Broadway performer and Houston native Tommy Tune.
HGO's Managing Director Perryn Leech stated, "The Houston public has shown wonderful support for Houston Grand Opera over the last few years in contributions and attendance. We have seen an increase in subscribers and the demand for single tickets has been strong, due to the consistently high quality of our performances. This success and momentum has allowed us to expand our schedule from 33 shows last season to 44 this coming season. I am very confident that our audience – new and old – will enjoy another fabulous season at HGO."
Three productions from HGO's Song of Houston project highlight the company's investment in new work. Song of Houston, which won the National MultiCultural Institute's 2009 Leading Lights Diversity Award, commissions works that celebrate Houston's cultural diversity. The 2012-13 season boasts the world premieres of two new commissions exploring the city's Korean and Japanese communities in the "East + West" series. From my Mother's Mother, composed by Jeeyoung Kim – whose numerous honors include National Endowment for the Arts, ASCAP, and Meet the Composer awards – to a libretto by University of Houston's Janine Joseph, tells a story of the passing-down and rejection of tradition through four generations of Korean-American women. From my Mother's Mother will premiere on November 3, 2012 at the city's Korean Festival, and will subsequently be webcast through a unique collaboration between Houston Grand Opera, the University of Houston, Houston Public Media, and CultureHub of South Korea. The second new "East + West" commission, a Japanese opera, will be composed by Marty Regan (Texas A&M) and will premiere in April 2013.
In March, José "Pepe" Martínez and Leonard Foglia's Cruzar la cara de la luna ("To Cross the Face of the Moon") returns to Houston; commissioned by Song of Houston in 2010, Cruzar, the world's first Mariachi opera, proved to be "a multicultural winner" that "succeeded on all fronts" (Houston Chronicle), and it opened the fall 2011 season at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. The production features Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and stars baritone Octavio Moreno, an HGO Studio alumnus who represented Mexico in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. With a libretto by acclaimed writer-director Leonard Foglia, "Cruzar tells a story that speaks to anyone who has roots in a place other than that which they now call home," explains Perryn Leech. He continues, "It is a fantastically moving, dramatic account of three generations of a family dealing with the impact of immigration. As such, it is the perfect story for so many, not only in Houston but throughout the US and around the world."
Cruzar la cara de la luna is also being presented at San Diego Opera in March.