A Christmas Carol

Two and a half years ago, British composer Iain Bell was about a third of the way through his first opera, A Harlot’s Progress, a dark work with a less than happy ending, when he met with Houston Grand Opera’s Artistic and Music Director, Patrick Summers, and they began talking about something lighter. “Summers said he had a longtime dream of a series of holiday operas,” recalls Bell, who says the idea of working on something “with some redemptive quality” was very appealing. A commissioned work was quickly agreed upon, and this December the world premiere of the opera A Christmas Carol, based on, of course, the famous Charles Dickens work, will be unveiled in Houston. Simon Callow (a well-known British writer and actor who has played Charles Dickens, including on Doctor Who) wrote the libretto and will direct the 90-minute, one-singer (Jay Hunter Morris) performance. Dickens himself performed as a one-man show in a condensed version he had created and modern-day actor Patrick Stewart did an acclaimed one-man version, so Bell thought a one-man opera was more than feasible. Bell, who has composed a number of song cycles, said the role calls for a tenor who sings with range and with dramatic instincts to enable him to move quickly and clearly among the 20 characters, including Ebenezer Scrooge and all his ghosts.

8 p.m. December 5, 9, 11, 16, 17, 19 and 20; 2:30 p.m. December 7, 14 and 21. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713‑228‑6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $30 to $105.
Fri., Dec. 5, 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 7, 2:30 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 11, 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 14, 2:30 p.m.; Tue., Dec. 16, 8 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 17, 8 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 19, 8 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 20, 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 21, 2:30 p.m., 2014

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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing