With its staging of Ariadne auf Naxos, the Houston Grand Opera engages in a meta-level exploration of theatrical convention, which was a hot topic when Richard Strauss composed the work in 1916. The opera-within-an-opera tells the story of a very rich man who has arranged for two per-formances at a dinner one, a serious opera telling the tale of Ariadne at Naxos (where Theseus kindly abandoned her after she helped him escape the Minotaur), the other, a comedic Italian romp performed by a rowdy troupe of women. The serious musicians fret when the boss orders both shows be performed at the same time. The second act features the grand, tense experiment: a combination of classical opera with bawdy inter-jections, showcasing the rival talents of three powerhouse women: soprano Christine Goerke, who plays the prima donna cast as Ariadne, soprano Laura Claycomb as Zerbinetta, the sensuous leader of the Italian troupe, and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham as the distressed composer a male role that Strauss wrote for a woman. 7:30 p.m. April 29. Through May 10. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. For a full schedule, call 713-228-6737 or visit www.houstongrandopera.org. $24 to $207.
Sat., May 29; Sun., May 1; Wed., May 4; Sat., May 7; Tue., May 10, 2010