Capsule Reviews


Simon Boccanegra Simon Boccanegra, Houston Grand Opera's season opener, isn't very well known, even among opera fans. HGO hasn't even performed the work in 20 years, so it seems an odd choice to start the season with. Except for one thing: Dmitri Hvorostovsky. The 44-year-old bari-hunk, the silver-maned heartthrob Elle magazine dubbed the "Elvis of Opera," wanted to do the role and he wanted to debut it in Houston. 'Nuff said. Boccanegra is one of the great baritone roles; the music, like the dark plot of love and loyalty lost and found, is complex and layered. As for the plot, Boccanegra has an out-of-wedlock child with his lover. Disaster strikes, and he and the girl are separated, but they're later reunited. War and peace, kidnapping, love affairs and disguises all play a role here, but in this opera, language prevails over swordplay -- if you can call an opera a talky one, this is it. You won't leave the theater humming, but you will leave with an immense appreciation of Hvorostovsky's extraordinary talent. He may not be the best baritone in the world, but he's right up there; and Houston audiences haven't seen him since his debut here in 2001. And speaking of debuts, it was also Patrick Summers's first time to conduct Simon Boccanegra, which he did brilliantly, inspiring the orchestra and 74-member chorus to wondrous heights. Through Saturday, November 4, at the Wortham Theater Center's Brown Theater, 510 Preston, 713-228-OPERA.

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