The opening night for Houston Grand Opera was a star-studded event.

Image: Wilson Parish

The Tony award-winning Houston Grand Opera made its return to the Wortham Theater Center’s stage for its opening night of Bizet’s Carmen this past Friday. The black-tie event welcomed guests back to the theater after the coronavirus put a halt to live opera performances for nearly 20 months. The opening night production marked a historic return for HGO, now in its 67th season.

First performed in 1875, Bizet's Carmen is one of the most popular operas of today, and HGO's production was felt by a full house.

The coveted opera is a “tragedy of obsessive love,” and tells a story of deep affection and jealousy. Set in 1830 Seville, the performance follows a soldier who leaves his duty, after falling in love with a gypsy factory girl.

HGO's rendition of the eclectic opera was helmed by HGO Studio Alumna, Carolyn Sproule in the title role, Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya, and award-winning Broadway director and choreographer Rob Ashford. 

HGO's opening night celebration. 

Image: Alida Bonifaz

The performance was followed by a seated dinner celebration at the Ray C. Fish Plaza to continue the welcoming of HGO’s new general director, Khori Dastoor. Betty and Jess B. Tutor chaired the opening night and gave guests an opportunity to enjoy the feast in a Carmen-inspired setting. Attendees who joined the dinner entered a setting that aligned with the opera performance, and a three-course meal that gave a nod to the food from Seville.

Chaired by Betty and Jess B. Tutor, HGO’s opening night raised more than $460,000. 

HGO Chairs Betty and Jess B. Tutor. 

Image: Wilson Parish

In a statement, Dastoor says, “Opera is for those who seek it, and those who find something truthful in it. And lucky for people who live in Houston, Texas, they live next to one of the finest, world-class institutions. 

The sale for their upcoming season has begun, and fans of the opera can look forward to shows such as The Snowy Day, Dialogues of the Carmelites, The Magic Flute, Turandot, and Romeo and Juliet throughout the year.

To learn more about the Houston Grand Opera and its future performances, visit their website.

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