First-timers “The Favorite,” “Saul,” top Houston Grand Opera’s next season

Tue Jan 22, 2019 at 11:19 am
By Steven Brown

HGO’s Patrick Summers touts a season of firsts and underperformed gems alongside favorites such as “Rigoletto” and “The Magic Flute.”


Houston Grand Opera’s 2019-20 season will bring the company’s first-ever productions of Gaetano Donizetti’s La Favorite and George Frideric Handel’s oratorio Saul, plus the return of Richard Strauss’ Salome after a 20-year absence.

All three works are “opera gems that deserve to be programmed more often but aren’t — often because they are difficult to perform and we have to wait for just the right casting,” HGO artistic director Patrick Summers said in a statement.

Saul (opening Oct. 25) will feature baritone Christopher Purves, the spellbinding Alberich from HGO’s staging of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung. Handel’s oratorio, in a production from England’s Glyndebourne Festival, will overlap with Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto (opening Oct. 18). Verdi’s drama will feature American baritone Brian Mulligan as the tragically overprotective father.

During the holidays, HGO will stage the world premiere of El Milagro del Recuerdo (The Miracle of Remembering) by composer Javier Martínez and librettist Leonard Foglia. The work is a prequel to Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, the 2010 mariachi opera by Foglia and Martínez’s father, Pepe Martínez.

Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who contributed powerful portrayals of Fricka and Waltraute to HGO’s Ring, will star in Donizetti’s La Favorite (opening Jan. 24, 2020) alongside tenor Lawrence Brownlee in a new production by Kevin Newbury. In tandem with that, Verdi’s Aida (opening Jan. 31, 2020) will feature soprano Tamara Wilson in the title role and tenor Russell Thomas as Radames.

Strauss’ Salome (opening April 17, 2020) will bring the HGO debut of soprano Lise Lindstrom in the title role, and company favorite Susan Graham will portray Herodias. Mozart’s The Magic Flute (opening April 24, 2020) will feature a cast including tenor Norman Reinhardt, who played Tony in last season’s West Side Story, as the prince Tamino.

As a special event, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato will perform In War & Peace concert tied in with her recording of the same name, on Nov. 6.

The Houston Grand Opera 2019-2020 season opens October 18 with Rigoletto. houstongrandopera.org; 713-228-6737


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