After last week's news that the Wortham Theater Center—home to the Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera—would be closed until at least mid-2018, the city's largest opera company was homeless. The ballet debuted its season opener, Mayerling, to great fanfare this weekend at the Hobby Center, but HGO had been mum about the venue for its own opener, La Traviata. Today, the company finally revealed its plan: a makeshift venue constructed in Exhibit Hall A3 of the George R. Brown Convention Center.
In a statement, they described the experience with the (intentional?) pun of "unconventional opera," featuring about 1,700 seats in a combination of floor and stadium seating that will be arranged so that no audience member will be more than 100 feet from the stage, creating an intimate scale. The watchword seems to be "flexibility," with the company able to adjust the venue to specific needs of the production, which will include La Traviata, Handel's Julius Caesar, and the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek’s The House Without a Christmas Tree.
“Opera companies around the world are performing in new and unusual venues,” said HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers in a statement. “While we are disappointed that we temporarily cannot perform in our creative home at the Wortham Theater Center, our artists and creative teams are excited to take advantage of the extraordinary possibilities at the George R. Brown. We are fortunate to have the freedom in this new venue to customize the space to fit our unique needs and to maintain the artistic integrity of the productions."
Some Houstonians might be clutching their pearls at the location change, but HGO softens that blow with a $30 Lyft credit per ticket to get audience members to and from the new location. Previous ticket holders will receive an email with newly assigned seats in early October, well ahead of La Traviata's Oct. 20 debut.