Opera

Houston Grand Opera Cancels Rest of 2020-21 Mainstage Season

It'll be a while before we see live performances like this one in last year's Rigoletto.
It'll be a while before we see live performances like this one in last year's Rigoletto. Photo by Lynn Lane
It will now be the fall of 2021 before Houston's opera fans are able to see live performances of Houston Grand Opera.

The news, which arrived this week and while not totally unexpected since any number of local venues and arts organizations have been making similar push-back-the-season announcements as the pandemic hangs on — is still disappointing. Previously HGO had thought it would resume in-person performances by Spring 2021.

The two premieres which would have closed the 2020-21 season —  Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Breaking the Waves and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music — have been cancelled.

Instead, HGO fans will have to content themselves with additional productions planned through HGO Digital.

“We of course want to return to live opera on the mainstage as soon as possible,” says HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech in a press release. “But we must continue to prioritize safety above all else. We are taking every advantage of this opportunity to flex our creative muscles in novel ways. We are very proud of the work and collaboration that have gone into producing HGO Digital and look forward to bringing more digital work to life.”

And HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers had this to say:

“It’s a heavy blow that we have to cancel the two HGO premieres we had planned for next spring. Unfortunately, we have no choice. But there is so much to look forward to in the expanded HGO Digital season: performances by some of the greatest singers in the world, exciting and innovative productions that approach opera in a new way, and some of the most beautiful music of all time. I know this wonderful art form will see us through this difficult period.”

Of special note to look forward to is the world premiere of Margaret Atwood, Jake Heggie, and baritone Joshua Hopkins’s Songs for Murdered Sisters. Originally meant to be performed live, it will now be presented as part of HGO Digital with its release scheduled for February 19, 2021.

"Five years ago, Joshua Hopkins’s life changed forever when his sister Nathalie, along with two other women, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in a spree that is now considered one of the worst cases of domestic violence in Canadian history. In his grief, Hopkins conceived of this song cycle. Co-commissioned by HGO with Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra, with music by Jake Heggie set to poems by Margaret Atwood, this powerful new work is Hopkins’s way of honoring his sister’s memory and speaking out against domestic violence."
The updated lineup of HGO Digital recitals and productions:

Live from The Cullen: Arturo Chacón Cruz and Kirill Kuzmin – November 13, 2020
Double Bill: Bon Appétit and The Impresario – November 27, 2020
The Snowy Day Project – December 10, 2020
HGO Studio Holiday Celebration – December 18, 2020 – NEW
Live from The Cullen: Sasha Cooke and Kirill Kuzmin – January 8, 2021
Giving Voice – January 22, 2021
33rd Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers “Concert of Arias” Livestream – February 5, 2021
Margaret Atwood, Jake Heggie, and Joshua Hopkins’s Songs for Murdered Sisters – February 19, 2021 – NEW
Live from The Cullen: Jack Swanson and Richard Bado – March 12, 2021
Suite Española – March 26, 2021 – NEW DATE
Live from The Cullen: Nicole Heaston and Richard Bado – April 9, 2021 – NEW
Hansel and Gretel – May 28, 2021 – NEW DATE
Marian’s Song – June 19, 2021 – NEW RECORDING
To watch HGO Digital, visit Marquee TX which can be accessed through Marquee TV’s website or app, or through Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and other platforms.
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