La Clemenza di Tito
Jan 30–Feb 8
$15–67
Lambert Hall
1703 Heights Blvd.
713-861-5303
operaintheheights.org 

Mozart's The Magic Flute is one of the most beloved and oft-performed works in the operatic repertoire. La Clemenza di Tito, an opera seria about political intrigue in ancient Rome which the German composer wrote almost contemporaneously with Magic Flute, is, to put it mildly, not quite as beloved. "La Clemenza di Tito is often referred to as Mozart's most reviled opera," says Mariam Khalili, the operations manager of Opera in the Heights, whose production of the work opens next week. "I don't think it's been performed in Houston for over 10 years." 

Interim conductor Dr. Eiki Isomura

Which wouldn't necessarily be a problem if it weren't opening on the same night as the Houston Grand Opera's version of The Magic Flute. How does a scrappy regional opera company—especially one that just controversially fired its popular and acclaimed artistic director—compete? Simple: offer half-price tickets to first-time operagoers. To snag a ticket, just call the OH box office or use the code OPERANEWBIE when ordering online. Full-price tickets range from $15–17 for students, $32–58 for seniors, and $35–67 for general admisison. 

Although most opera buffs probably wouldn't recommend La Clemenza di Tito as a first opera—Carmen or Madame Butterfly offer a more congenial way to ease into the art form—Khalili describes the promotion as in tune with the company's new, more populist approach. "As part of our new direction we want to encourage a bigger audience to come, including people who have never seen opera before," she says. "And one of the best ways to do that is to make the tickets more affordable." 

How will OH know whether an audience member is truly an opera novice? "We can't," Khalili admits. "We know whether people have been to OH before, because we have a database of ticket buyers, but it's really on the honor system." 

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