HGO's New Season Lineup Is Stacked: Spotlight Is On Original Productions and Audience Faves

HGO's New Season Lineup Is Stacked: Spotlight Is On Original Productions and Audience Faves

HGO's West Side Story returns (photo by Lynn Lane)

FEATURING A NUMBER of arguably the world's most beloved and recognizable operas, the 2024-2025 season announcement from Houston Grand Opera had culture vultures buzzing yesterday.

The six shows that will take place at the Wortham Theater are "largely about young love," and also "composed by youngsters," says HGO Artistic Director Patrick Summers. The season opens with a brand-new production of Verdi's breakthrough opera Il Trovatore, commissioned by the company from director Stephen Wadsworth, who set the story in contemporary Europe. It stars soprano Ailyn Pérez, who this season sang the title role of Madame Butterfly at HGO.

Next is Cinderella, which Rossini began writing when he was just 23; this production is directed by Joan Font of Barcelona's Els Comediants. A release calls the show "bright and whimsical," citing a group of "hilarious, scene-stealing rats" as a driving force of the opera.

Isabel Leonard in Rossini's 'Cinderella' (photo by Todd Rosenberg; courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago)

HGO's 'La Boheme' in 2018 (photo by Lynn Lane)

Ryan McKinny stars in 'Breaking the Waves' (photo by Jiyang-Chen)

The set design for the world premiere production of 'Il Trovatore,' by Charlie Corcoran

Come winter, beloved La Bohéme takes the stage, this one a co-production from HGO, Canadian Opera Company and San Francisco Opera that takes place on a set entirely constructed from paintings and canvases. Soprano Yaritza Veliz makes her HGO debut as Mimi, a role that has already garnered her international attention, and she'll play opposite several Grammy-winning singers as Grammy-winning Karen Kamensek conducts. Talk about star power!

Broadway masterpiece West Side Story, which last dazzled HGO audiences in 2018 when the company was displaced from the Wortham thanks to Hurricane Harvey, returns. Catch Shereen Pimentel's HGO debut as Maria, and Kyle Coffman, who starred in Steven Spielberg's 2021 film version of West Side Story, as Riff.

A contemporary newbie makes its Houston debut in the spring: Breaking the Waves, by composer-and-librettist team Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, tells a tragic story set in a strict Calvinist community in 1970s Scotland. HGO faves Lauren Snouffer and Ryan McKinny star.

And finally, the 2024-2025 season closes with a new staging of Wagner'sTannhäuser, directed by Francesca Zambello. Opera buffs might recognize tenor Russell Thomas, an "acclaimed Wagnerian," from many other Wagner shows, including HGO's 2024 production of Parsifal.

In addition to the six productions on its mainstage, HGO plans to host its inaugural HGO Family Day on Nov. 9, which will feature a 90-minute version of Cinderella and fun-for-all activities in the lobby; "bite-size operas" from popular children's-book author Mo Willems at Miller Outdoor Theater in October; and the spectacular showcase Concert of Arias on Jan. 17.

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