Tamara Wilson, Jamie Barton & Ryan McKinny Lead Houston Grand Opera’s Revamped 2020-21 Digital Season

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Bree Anne Clowd/Cassandra Kay)

Houston Grand Opera has announced HGO Digital, its all-new program of digital works for the 2020–21 season.

The program, which is set to open in September and extending through April 2021, will see HGO release original video content bimonthly for audiences to enjoy from the comfort of their homes, free of charge.

Programming includes one three-act opera, three one-act operas, three concert events, and a special documentary project on the making of HGO’s world-premiere opera based on the children’s book “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats

In addition, HGO Digital will present the Live from the Cullen Recital Series, featuring opera stars Tamara Wilson, Arturo Chacón-Cruz, Reginald Smith Jr., and select HGO Studio artists in the fall 2020 releases.

The 66th season opens on Sept. 11 with the debut of the Live from the Cullen Recital Series, featuring a performance by Tamara Wilson.

In October, HGO presents the chamber opera “Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera,” by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek. Conducted by HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers and co-directed by Ryan McKinny and frequent HGO collaborator E. Loren Meeker, this comic opera in one act is sure to delight.

November will bring a double bill for viewers, with back-to-back presentations of Mozart’s “The Impresario” and Lee Hoiby’s one-woman opera “Bon Appétit!” A new video production of “The Impresario,” originally composed in 1786, will receive an English-language retelling from librettist Jim Luigs. HGO Principal Guest Conductor Eun Sun Kim conducts, and E. Loren Meeker directs. “Bon Appétit!” will star Jamie Barton as Julia Child and will be directed by Ryan McKinny.

In December, HGO will release a special video project documenting the upcoming HGO world premiere of The Snowy Day, a new opera by composer Joel Thompson and librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney.

Lawrence Brownlee and Nicole Heaston join forces in January 2021 for a concert including an all-Black group of opera all-stars for a new digital installment of this wonderful celebration of Black voices. The second annual concert series will be live streamed.

In the spring, audiences will get to see an English-language production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” and a Zarzuela project created by HGO Artistic Advisor Ana María Martínez.

Additionally, the 33rd annual Concert of Arias, the culmination of HGO’s Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers, will also be livestreamed in February.

Managing Director Perryn Leech said, “Planning for a standard opera season begins years in advance, which was not the case for this virtual lineup. I am proud of how quickly the HGO team was able to pivot in their creative thinking to present this diverse lineup of digital programming. It was important for us to give back to our patrons and audiences who have shown unwavering support of the opera. If the past few years have taught me anything, it’s that this city and its people have a resiliency that cannot be matched.”

Here is a complete list of HGO’s Digital Schedule:

  • Friday, September 11, at 7:30 p.m. – Live from The Cullen: Tamara Wilson
  • Friday, September 25, at 7:30 p.m. – Studio Showcase
  • Friday, October 9, at 7:30 p.m. Live from The Cullen: Reginald Smith Jr.
  • Friday, October 23, at 7:30 p.m. – ‘Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera’
  • Friday, November 13, at 7:30 p.m. – Live from The Cullen: Arturo Chacón-Cruz
  • Friday, November 27, at 7:30 p.m. – ‘The Impresario’ and ‘Bon Appétit!’
  • Thursday, December 10, at 7:30 p.m. – The Snowy Day documentary
  • Friday, January 8, at 7:30 p.m. – Live from The Cullen: Singer to be announced soon
  • Friday, January 22, at 7:30 p.m. – Giving Voice II
  • Friday, February 5, at 7 p.m. – Concert of Arias