Massenet, Wagner and two premieres highlight Houston Opera 2020-2021 season

Thu Jan 16, 2020 at 4:29 pm
By Steven Brown
Wagner’s epic “Parsifal” opens in January 2021 as part of HGO’s just-announced next season. Photo: Robert Kusel

Houston Grand Opera’s 2020-21 season will include the company’s first staging of Jules Massenet’s Werther in more than 40 years, plus Richard Wagner’s epic Parsifal and two company premieres: Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves and a new production of the Broadway classic The Sound of Music.

Werther (opening Oct. 30) will feature tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz, who portrayed the Duke of Mantua in HGO’s recent production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, as Massenet’s ardent young poet. Soprano Ana María Martínez, whose HGO roles have included Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Gounod’s Marguerite and Dvořák’s Russalka, will play Werther’s beloved Charlotte. HGO artistic director Patrick Summers will conduct.

Parsifal (Jan. 22, 2021) will bring tenor Russell Thomas’s role debut as the youth who learns compassion after wandering into the realm of the knights of the Holy Grail. Soprano Christine Goerke, who was Brünnhilde in HGO’s staging of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung, will play the tormented Kundry. Baritone Ryan McKinny — an HGO Studio alumnus who portrayed Parsifal’s wounded knight Amfortas at the Bayreuth Festival last summer — will reprise the role here.

Breaking the Waves (April 16, 2021),based on Lars von Trier’s film about a paralyzed man and his wife, comes to HGO in a co-production that premiered during the 2019 Edinburgh Festival. Nicole Paiement, Dallas Opera’s principal guest conductor, will be on the podium.

HGO will premiere a new production of The Sound of Music (April 30, 2021) by stage director Francesca Zambello, who staged the company’s 2018 production of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Trinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique will make her HGO debut as the governess Maria, and baritone Michael Mayes — HGO’s Rigoletto last fall — will play Captain von Trapp.

Jeanine De Bique will star in “Sound of Music,” HGO’s premiere of a new production in April 2021. Photo: Cory Weaver

HGO will continue its series of holiday-opera commissions with The Snowy Day (Dec. 10) by composer Joel Thompson and librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney. Based on a children’s book, the work tells the story of a little boy who wakes up on a snowy day in New York City. 

HGO will round out its mainstage season with a couple of operatic favorites. Bizet’s Carmen (Oct. 23) will feature mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard in her HGO and role debuts as the drama’s free-spirited gypsy, in a return of a 2014 production by Tony Award-winning director Rob Ashford.

Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Jan. 29, 2021) will overlap with Parsifal, offering a comic counterpoint to Wagner. Young mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo will make her HGO debut as Cinderella, and Opera Philadelphia music director Corrado Rovaris will conduct.

HGO will present two more world premieres outside its main stage series. Composer Jake Heggie will double as pianist in a Sept. 10 concert, joining baritone Joshua Hopkins in the premiere of Heggie’s Songs for Murdered Sisters, based on poems by Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood.

In March 2021 the company’s HGOco subsidiary will premiere Turn and Burn, A Rodeo Opera, billed as a feminist take on a small-town barrel-racing champion by composer Nell Shaw Cohen and librettist Megan Cohen.

For information:, 713-228-6737.

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