HGO’s 2022–23 Season Features Seven Operas Including a New Staging of a Rare Masterpiece, Two U.S. Premiere Productions, the Return of a Celebrated Mariachi Opera, and Classic Audience Favorites
The company presents a new production of The Wreckers; the U.S. premieres of productions of Werther and Salome; the return of HGO-commissioned world premiere El Milagro del Recuerdo; and three audience-favorite co-productions, La traviata,The Marriage of Figaro,andTosca
HOUSTON—March 1, 2022—Houston Grand Opera (HGO) is proud to announce its 2022–23 season, featuring a new production of Dame Ethel Smyth’s rarely-performed masterpiece The Wreckers, the triumphant return of HGO-commissioned mariachi opera El Milagro del Recuerdo, the U.S. premieres of Opéra National de Paris and Royal Opera House’s production of Werther and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía of Valencia’s production of Salome, and beloved HGO classics La traviata, The Marriage of Figaro, and Tosca.
“There is so much to look forward to next season,” says HGO General Director and CEO Khori Dastoor. “These operas share universal human stories that allow us to access our own deepest emotions. Whether they’re about the pressure to conform, the need to speak up for what’s right, the pain of loving someone we can’t have, or the trials of being separated from our loved ones by economic, political, or societal forces, these incredible artworks have something to say to all of us. And, true to HGO, they will be staged by a diverse and globe-spanning group of the very best artists and creatives in all of opera. Now is the time to be bold—to respect what was and embrace what is next at HGO.”
“I could not be more excited about this new era at HGO with Khori Dastoor leading the way. She brings with her such energy and vitality, and a wonderful fresh perspective on this artform,” says HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers. “And I simply cannot wait to conduct this production of The Wreckers, an overlooked masterpiece from Dame Ethel Smyth that Dastoor has championed. Smyth is just one of the bold voices we’ll be celebrating during the thrilling season ahead.”
HGO opens the season on October 21, 2022, with Verdi’s La traviata, in a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Canadian Opera Company. La traviata is one of the world’s most beloved—and performed—operas. The HGO revival features Grammy Award-winning soprano Angel Blue making her company debut as the doomed courtesan Violetta and leading tenor Bryan Hymel singing the role of her lover Alfredo. Celebrated baritone Andrei Kymach makes his HGO debut as Alfredo’s father Giorgio Germont. Acclaimed director Arin Arbus returns to HGO, and conductor Matthew Aucoin makes his company debut.
Next, HGO presents an original production of The Wreckers, prolific composer and activist Dame Ethel Smyth’s 1906 opera, in an English translation by Amanda Holden. The Wreckers takes place on the Cornish coast in the late 1700s, in a village whose people survive by plundering ships that wreck along its rocky shores. But as the townspeople discover, someone is warning the ships of the danger, and they are hungry to find the traitor. The new production stars Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke as Thirza alongside three HGO Studio alumni: tenor Norman Reinhardt as Mark, soprano Mané Galoyan as Avis, and baritone Reginald Smith, Jr. as Pascoe.Directed by long-time HGO collaborator Louisa Muller, the production is a rare chance to experience Smyth’s masterpiece, which has never been seen in the U.S. in a full production from a major opera company. The Wreckers will be conducted by HGO Artistic Director and Music Director Patrick Summers.
For its 2022 holiday production, HGO brings back the beloved El Milagro del Recuerdo (The Miracle of Remembering), which had its world premiere at HGO in 2019. This Houston-born celebration of family, tradition, and mariachi is composed by Javier Martínez and shares the touching, yet heartbreaking, story of Laurentino, a bracero worker who returns from the United States to Mexico to spend Christmastime with his family, and his wife Renata, who together face a life-changing decision. Mezzo-soprano and frequent HGO collaborator Cecilia Duarte reprises the role of Renata for this revival, with HGO Studio alumnus and acclaimed bass-baritone Federico De Michelis as Laurentino. Librettist Leonard Foglia directs this holiday production, and Benjamin Manis conducts.
HGO’swinter repertoire includes Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Massenet’s Werther. Full of bright colors and costumes, Tony Award-winning director Michael Grandage’s vibrant production of The Marriage of Figaro is led by bass Nahuel Di Pierro in his company debut as the titular Figaro, a working-class man looking forward to marrying the beautiful Susanna, despite the meddling of a married Count who would rather have the beauty for himself. The role of Susanna is performed by soprano Elena Villalón in her first return to the company after completing her training with the HGO Studio, with bass-baritone Adam Plachetka as the Count, soprano and HGO Studio alumna Nicole Heaston as his wife, and soprano and HGO Studio alumna Lauren Snouffer as Cherubino. Ian Rutherford returns to HGO to direct the revival of this acclaimed production, with HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers conducting.
For the first time since 1979, HGO will present Werther, a rarely performed psychological drama from composer Jules Massenet that represents the pinnacle of romantic French grand opera. Tenor Matthew Polenzani performs as Werther, the young poet who obsessively pursues the taken Charlotte, portrayed by Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard. Both lead artists are making their anticipated HGO debuts. French director Benoît Jacquot makes his HGO debut with this co-production from Opéra National de Paris and Royal Opera House. World-renowned conductor and Grammy Award winner Robert Spano conducts.
The 2022-23 season culminates with HGO’s spring repertoire, Tosca and Salome. Puccini’s Tosca is one of the world’s most beloved operas. Directed by frequent HGO collaborator John Caird, this riveting production is led by soprano Tamara Wilson, an HGO studio alumna who is now one of the most recognizable voices in opera, in her role debut as Tosca. Star tenor Jonathan Tetelman makes his company debut as the heroine’s beloved Cavaradossi, with Grammy-nominated baritone Rod Gilfry returning to HGO as the villain Scarpia. Benjamin Manis conducts the opera, a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Strauss’s psychodrama Salome closes the season. The production is a loose, one-act retelling of the biblical story of King Herod and John the Baptist, based on the scandalous play by Oscar Wilde. Soprano Amanda Majeski makes her HGO and role debut performing as Herod’s stepdaughter, the titular Salome, alongside three Houston favorites and HGO Studio alumni: bass-baritone Ryan McKinny as Jokanaan, tenor Chad Shelton as Herod, and mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves as Herodias. Director Francisco Negrin makes his HGO debut with the U.S. premiere of this production from the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía of Valencia. HGO Principal Guest Conductor Eun Sun Kim, who has gained worldwide acclaim since making her U.S. debut with HGO in 2017, takes the podium.
Four mainstage operas—The Wreckers, El Milagro del Recuerdo, Werther, and Salome—will be featured as part of Seeking the Human Spirit, HGO’s six‐year multidisciplinary initiative designed to highlight the universal spiritual themes raised in opera and to enable a wider segment of the Houston community to experience opera’s beauty, emotional power, and potential to heal. The initiative, which began in the fall of 2017, concludes during the 2022–23 season. The final season’s theme, Spirit, focuses on community and connections between people and places. A capstone project will reflect the themes from previous seasons through a series of new chamber works by: Zach Redler, José E. Hernandez, Jocelyn C. Chambers, Shih-Hui Chen, Brent Michael Davids, and Egemen Kesikli.
HGO is excited to announce Amanda Majeski as this season’s Lynn Wyatt Great Artist recipient. The Lynn Wyatt Great Artist Fund is an endowed fund dedicated to bringing the world’s best artists to HGO and was established in 2010 by Oscar Wyatt in honor of Lynn Wyatt’s many years of philanthropy and service to the company. Past recipients include Ana María Martínez, Eun Sun Kim, John Caird, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Jane Glover, and Joyce DiDonato.
In February 2023, HGO continues its commitment tohopeful young singers from across the globe with the 35th annual Concert of Arias, the live final round of the Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers. The highly anticipated competition is held annually to identify candidates for HGO’s internationally acclaimed young artist training program, the HGO Studio. The live event is the final stage of the competition that brings young singers from all over the world to Houston.
For the 2022-23 school year, teachers and community leaders can look forward to booking performances of Kamala Sankaram and David Johnston’s 45-minute family opera Monkey and Francine in the City of Tigers, apopular HGO-commissioned world premiere from 2017. Inspired by Indian and Chinese mythology and the Bollywood style, the hilarious fable demonstrates the power of teamwork as a monkey prince and his brainy sister outwit a hungry crocodile and escape from the City of Tigers.
The brainchild of renowned tenor Lawrence Brownlee, HGO’s Giving Voice is a special concert series that celebrates diversity in opera artists while seeking to attract diverse audiences to the artform. Now a popular company tradition entering its fourth year, Giving Voice will once again lift up voices that too often aren’t given equal staging in the world of opera. This year’s Giving Voice concert date and details are still to be announced.
This season, HGO continues to encourage younger audiences to experience the art form through several opportunities, including its popular Opening Nights for Young Professionals (ONYP) subscription series. Subscriptions start as low as $180 for seven operas and include exclusive season extras. In addition to ONYP, HGO offers two affordable ticket initiatives: the Pay Your Age program and the NEXUS ticket‐underwriting program. Launched just six years ago, the Pay Your Age program gives those 24 and under the opportunity to pay the price of their age for a single ticket. The multiyear NEXUS initiative provides a limited number of $15 tickets for first‐time operagoers and students to all HGO performances. Both the ONYP subscription series and the affordable ticket initiatives have made opera more accessible to new audiences in the greater Houston area and beyond.
HGO’s mainstage season will comprise 40 mainstage, 3 student, and 3 free performances of seven productions. Subscriptions to the 2022–23 season are now available at HGO.org. Single tickets will be available later this summer. Additional details of the upcoming Houston Grand Opera productions are provided below, and more information is available at the company’s website: HGO.org. All repertoire, dates, pricing, productions, and casting are subject to change without notice.