The reunification of an Iranian family at Bush Intercontinental Airport is the starting point for the English-language opera The Bricklayer, which is making its premiere with this production by the Houston Grand Opera. It’s based on a short story by Iranian-American author Farnoosh Moshiri, whose own life supplied much of the plot line, said Evan Wildstein, producer of HGO’s Song of Houston: East + West Initiative.
In The Bricklayer, the characters Mr. and Mrs. Parvin join their daughter and granddaughter in Houston after the 1979 Iranian revolution. Their son has been executed and the Shah overthrown.
Wildstein was charged with pulling together all the pieces of this effort: story, music, writers and performers. The music for the piece is a blend of western and Persian. “Composer Greg Spears — he’s really interested in older Russian troubadour music — so he set himself the challenge of either doing the Eastern tonalities in the singers or in the instrumentation,” Wildstein said. Spears settled on the Persian ney, an inblown sort of bamboo flute, which plays throughout the opera. “When you hear the ney, it’s a very sort of Eastern, relaxing tone,” Wildstein said.
Members of the Iranian-American community met with HGO during pre-production. “They didn’t want us to tell a sob tale,” said Wildstein. “But the intensity behind the experience of Persian Americans is just tremendous.” 8 p.m. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. Additional performances are scheduled for other dates and locations. Through March 20. For a full schedule, call 713-228-6737 or visit www.houstongrandopera.org. $12.50.
Thu., March 15, 8 p.m., 2012