This Weekend: Full of Family Fun, Inaugural New-Year’s Opera Opens at Asia Society

Lawrence Elizabeth Knox
This Weekend: Full of Family Fun, Inaugural New-Year’s Opera Opens at Asia Society

SATURDAY HERALDED THE 2024 Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year. Based on the lunar calendar’s cycles of the moon, with years instead of months aligned to the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac, it is a time for family reunions, delicious meals, and leaving behind the detritus in our lives to make room for new beginnings.


This weekend, to help ring in the Year of the Wood Dragon, the Houston Grand Opera, and Asia Society Texas present the world premiere of The Big Swim, a one-act, fun, family-friendly opera created by composer Meilina Tsui and librettist Melisa Tien that retells the legend of a great race between the animals of the Chinese zodiac calendar. The Big Swim runs Feb. 16-18 at Asia Society Texas. Like Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, The Big Swim will be presented annually to coincide with Houston’s New Year celebrations.

“It’s zany, fun, and designed to leave you with a heart full of joy,” says The Big Swim’s director Mo Zhou. “It’s an experience … a rich symphony of East Asian cultures that combines the beauty of tradition with the thrill of innovation.” The thrill of innovation informs the stylistic range of Tsui’s score, which draws on opera buffa, Peking and Cantonese opera, Gregorian chants, American and Asian pop music, and modern-day animated musicals such as The Lion King. Meanwhile, Tien’s libretto brings the ancient tale (and tails) up-to-date with an emphasis on community and collaboration over first-to-cross-the-finish-line competition.

Tsui and Tien's first visit to Houston was in 2022, around the time of the Lunar New Year, and both were surprised by the range of homegrown New Year festivities, as well as the cultural and ethnic diversity of the city. “We did everything from exploring the temples to going out for dim sum,” said Tien in an interview with Opera Cues. “I remember coming back from that trip and going, ‘That city is so cool!’ I had no idea.”

Art + Entertainment
With Expertise in Blondes, Extensions and More, the Janelle Alexis Team Is a Go-To Salon

YOU CAN'T LIMIT Janelle to one title – Hairdresser. Her career and business has been established and built on a strong foundation. Using her two business degrees + one more in-process, this enables Janelle and the team to deliver not only a customer-focused experience, but a foundationally solid business. There is much more than meets the eye, and in sharing a little bit about Janelle, she was not only an international hair extension educator for over 14 years, but brings extensive expertise to blondes. She rounds this out with her previously launched namesake cosmetic line, which is a perfect complement to her belief that “Beauty is our Business”.

Keep ReadingShow less

AS WE PRODUCE our second annual “Cool 100” list, we’re reminded of our thoughts as we debuted this feature last year. We acknowledged that deciding who and what is cool is not only a moving target but also entirely subjective. And that attempting to “rank” the coolest people in Houston is a fool’s errand, one that will leave us immediately open to criticism. “You think she is cooler than him? You included this person?! You left off that one!?"

Keep ReadingShow less
People + Places

Courtesy of Sol Diaz-Peña

SUMMER’S HERE, AND the pop-up art exhibits have begun. Maybe it’s a response to the relentless heat and unpredictably weird weather, but during June through August, the city’s more forward-thinking (and often relatively young) art mavens embrace an approach to curation and presentation that is both cost-conscious and community-centric.

Keep ReadingShow less
Art + Entertainment