10th Anniversary Summer Festival
, offering up not one but two world premiering operas, as well as a show inspired by “senior moments.”
Kelli Estes, executive artistic director and co-founder of Lone Star Lyric, has been doing a little match-making of late. The Houston-based promoter of living American composers has a loyal following of opera lovers who flock to the lyric theater’s summertime chamber operas. “Four years ago we added monthly cabarets during the year, American songbook jazz cabarets, and we built a huge following for that,” says Estes. To appeal to both audience bases, she’s pairing each opera with a cabaret.
“I thought it would be good to commission a jazz-influenced opera and of course Omari Tau is a master of all things,” says Estes. Night at the Algonquin
is the result, set in the jazz age of the ’20s and ’30s. The performance on June 25 opens with Cocktail Hour Cabaret
, set in the Algonquin Hotel’s Rose Room, as Rob Hunt and his Swing Trio present hits from the old-time radio show Your Hit Parade
. The opera revolves around Dorothy Parker and the hotel’s famous roundtable of critics, writers, poets and artists. “In the audience we have special seating. They will be seated on the stage, so it’s kind of fun, a little interactive,” says Estes.
The other new opera, Three Skeleton Key
, was composed by Michael Remson and is performed on June 24. It opens with Radio Cabaret
, set on a fictional sound stage, and features songs of the big band era. “I have written a small radio comedy, a 1940s-style radio show,” says Estes. “I’ve written a bunch of commercial jingles, some of the things that have happened [in the era], and then we’ll go straight into the opera in the second half, which starts off in the manner of a radio announcer.” The opera, part of a trilogy of one-act chamber operas, was based on a short story by the French author Georges G. Toudouze; it was performed by Vincent Price in 1958 for the radio show Suspense
. After a ship crashes, swarms of giant rats eat everything in sight and corner the lighthouse keepers, leaving them near-dead and near-mad.
Rounding out the festival is A Senior Moments
, which is paired with both cabarets on June 22. “We went out to senior living homes. I curated this show based on stories that certain songs conjured up, and [the residents] started telling us stories,” says Estes. “As soon as they start to hear a song, they turn 25 again. They become that 25-year-old person.” She says the show has sad, touching moments, but that it also makes for a fun event. Performances are at 1 p.m. June 22; 8 p.m. June 24 and 25. The MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit matchouston.org
While many arts organizations take it easy during the low season, Lone Star Lyric is kicking it up a notch with its