| Opera |

A Christmas Carol Becomes an Opera Thanks to a Houston Grand Opera Commission

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Until eight months ago, British composer Iain Bell was writing in his bedroom in London. That's where he did most of his work on the world premiere we're about to see of the operatic version of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. (He's since moved to a larger place with two rooms, one of which is an office)

Two and a half years ago, 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 long time 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 (who among other things played Charles Dickens in 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.

A Christmas Carol runs December 5-21. 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas Avenue, For information , call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.