Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen—better known as the Ring Cycle—is arguably the most ambitious work of art ever created. Written over the course of 26 years, from 1848 to 1874, the work (Wagner called it a “music drama”) is composed of four separate operas, each roughly four hours in length, that together tell the story of the downfall of the gods and the rise of men. The Houston Grand Opera’s first-ever production of the epic will begin in the spring with Das Rheingold, the first opera in the cycle, and continue until the unveiling of Götterdämmerung in spring 2017. “It’s the most gigantic work of art for our medium ever written,” says HGO music director Patrick Summers. “The Ring is the artistic Super Bowl.” See our full preview here.
April 11–26. $40–390. Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Ave. 713-228-6737. hgo.org
The 11 projects included in the new CounterCurrent art festival reflect the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts’s emphasis on collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and cosmopolitanism. Included in the five-day festival are a collaboration between New York choreographer Jonah Bokaer and British video artist Anthony McCall; a piano concerto by Seattle composer Byron Au Yong; a documentary play by Mexico City theater company Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol; and a multichannel sound installation in Hermann Park by UH art professor Abinadi Meza. See our full story here.
April 9–13. Free. Various locations and hours; check website. mitchellcenterforarts.org
Though the choreography trade has long been dominated by men, the other sex has recently made major strides. MET Dance celebrates these pioneering women in a two-night program, featuring a dance by Andrea Dawn Shelley about Frida Kahlo’s painting “The Broken Column,” a work by MET Dance resident choreographer Kiki Lucas, and additional pieces by Sidra Bell, Kate Skarpetowska, and the Rhode Island–based Island Moving Company.
April 11–12. $15–45. Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Ave. 832-487-7041. metdance.org
For the past 20 years, the Japan-America Society of Houston has hosted a festival in Hermann Park celebrating all things Japanese. Taking place near the park’s Japanese Garden, the festival features the country’s cuisine, taiko drums, ikebana flower arrangements, tea ceremonies, martial arts demonstrations, and children’s activities. With 20,000 annual attendees, the festival can hardly be considered a hidden gem, yet many Houstonians still don’t know about it. This is the perfect year to change that.
April 12 10–7. Free. Japanese Garden at Hermann Park, 6000 Fannin St. 713-963-0121. japan-fest.info
If not the world’s most famous playwright, Alan Ayckbourn is certainly one of the most prolific, having written 78 plays over the course of his long career, 10 of which have been staged at the Alley. For their eleventh Ayckbourn production, the Alley is mounting 1994’s Communicating Doors, a time-traveling thriller-cum-comedy in which a dominatrix opens the wrong door in a hotel and finds herself pursued by ruthless killers—yeah, one of those days.
April 9–25. $26–80. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Ave. 713-220-5700. alleytheatre.org