Opera Nights In

HGO Replaces Its Cancelled Performances with a Full Slate of Digital Content

The new programming includes concert events, actual operas, a special documentary project, and a lot of familiar faces.

By Emma Schkloven August 11, 2020

A photo of Wortham Theater Center in Houston.

While you won't be able to see a performance at Wortham Theater Center until April, Houston Grand Opera is coming out with a surplus of online programming.  

Updated 5:45 p.m. Sept 2 

HGO has delayed the launch of HGO Digital until September 18. The opera's digital season will still begin with soprano Tamara Wilson's Live from The Cullen performance. According to a release, the filming of Wilson's performance had been postponed because of the threat of Hurricane Laura.  

Published 2:30 p.m. Aug 11

The fat lady ain’t singin’ just yet, y'all. She isn’t even waiting in the wings. While Houston Grand Opera has made major cuts to next year’s season thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the company’s replaced those cancellations with a bill of digital content that’s sure to send opera lovers’ hearts soaring. 

From September to April 2021 (when the company plans to make its in-person return), HGO will be releasing bimonthly video content through its new, free program, HGO Digital. These original offerings include a chamber opera, Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera; a double showing of Mozart’s The Impresario and Lee Hoiby’s one-woman Julia Child opera, Bon Appétit!, starring Houston fan-favorite and HGO Studio alumna Jamie Barton in the title role; and a special documentary project on the making of The Snowy Day, the opera based on the Ezra Jack Keats children’s book that was set to have its world premiere in December. 

HGO also plans to start 2021 in style with Giving Voice II, a sequel to internationally renowned tenor Lawrence Brownlee’s sold-out concert at the Wortham last January. The live-streamed concert, which is being billed as “a second annual concert series,” will bring Brownlee back to Houston alongside co-host Nicole Heaston (another HGO Studio alumna and Houston favorite) and an “all-Black group of opera all-stars for a new digital installment of this wonderful celebration of Black voices.”

In addition, the digital lead-up to HGO’s in-person return will also include a Studio Showcase of its HGO Studio artists in September and the 33rd annual Concert of Arias in February, as well as family-friendly classic Hansel and Gretel and a Zarzuela project from HGO artistic advisor Ana María Martínez.

But that’s not everything—opera is known for its extravagancy, after all. HGO Digital kicks off with a new recital series, Live from the Cullen. The recitals, which are slated to run September through March 2021, will feature performances from opera stars, including soprano and HGO Studio alumna Tamara Wilson, Arturo Chacón-Cruz, Reginald Smith Jr, and others.

The best part? All this virtual programming will be streamable through a new partnership with on-demand arts and culture platform Marquee TV, according to the press release, which means you can watch it all on your flatscreen instead of your cellphone. “While we will not be able to come together in person, it is exciting to know that we can still experience opera as one,” Patrick Summers, HGO's artistic and music director, said in a statement. “This move to virtual programming has provided us with the unique opportunity to explore different works and share them with a global audience.”

If all this isn’t enough to make you say, “Brava” we don’t know what is.

More info at houstongrandopera.org. See the full HGO Digital schedule below.

  Houston Grand Opera: HGO Digital Schedule

Live from The Cullen (feat. Tamara Wilson): Sept 11

Studio Showcase: Sept 25

Live from The Cullen (feat. Reginald Smith Jr.): Oct 9

Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera: Oct 23

Live from The Cullen (feat. Arturo Chacón-Cruz): Nov 13

The Impresario and Bon Appétit!: Nov 27

The Snowy Day documentary: Dec 10

Live from The Cullen (performer TBA): Jan 8

Lawrence Brownlee’s Giving Voice II: Jan 22

Concert of Arias: Feb 5

Hansel and Gretel: TBA

 Zarzuela project: TBA

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