A Little Night Music

It’s a weekend in the Swedish countryside in 1900 and hostess and actress Desiree Armfeldt is entertaining an old flame and his young wife, as well as her former lover’s son, who is a divinity student. A current lover and his wife pop in, and, of course, everyone is mismatched and out of sorts with one another. As with much of Stephen Sondheim’s work, A Little Night Music blends comedy with heartbreaking moments.

The role of Desiree Armfeldt doesn’t call on well-known coloratura soprano Elizabeth Futral to draw upon all her famous tricks — the trills and runs — but does give her the chance to act in a role both poignant and comic. And she gets to sing “Send in the Clowns,” which she hopes audience members won’t sing along to no matter how many times they’ve heard it before. Describing her character, Futral says, “She’s more complex than might be apparent at first. She’s very strong and independent and in control, and yet she is searching and wishing for something she doesn’t have.”

Futral is known for originating a number of roles (Stella in Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Laura Jesson in Previn’s Brief Encounter), and says taking on something that’s a modern-day classic isn’t that different, except that “the composer is not going to be there by my side saying, ‘Oh, this is what I intended.’ I guess I could have called up -Stephen Sondheim, ‘Can we do this an octave higher, please?’” Still, although she listened to the original Broadway recording, Futral didn’t study previous efforts. “It’s really about finding my way. It’s not been my method to ever try to imitate someone else.”

8 p.m. March 7, 13, 15, 18, 19, 20 and 22, 2:30 p.m. March 9 and 23. Through March 23. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $30 to $120.
Fri., March 7, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 9, 2:30 p.m.; Thu., March 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 15, 8 p.m.; Tue., March 18, 8 p.m.; Wed., March 19, 8 p.m.; Thu., March 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 22, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 23, 2:30 p.m., 2014

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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