HGO's The Little Prince Offers a Galactic Quest for Meaning in Whimsical Form

In the second year of its special holiday shows, the Houston Grand Opera has decided to bring back The Little Prince, based on the classic book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The story, set in World War II, tells of a young prince from another planet who meets a downed pilot in the Saharan Desert.

HGO Studio artist Sofia Selowsky sings the role of The Fox, who imparts the voice of reason when the prince disappointedly discovers that his prized rose is not the only rose that exists. It's because he's taking care of that rose that has made it so special to him, The Fox tells the prince.

When we talked with Selowsky, she was about to go to her first costume fitting. “I have a little fox head,” she said, adding that whatever apparel HGO came up with had to be easier to handle than trying to figure out how to maneuver in a full period costume skirt as she's had to do on some other occasions.

She also said she'd been practicing to be more fox-like in her movements, particularly after how she was greeted at an early rehearsal: “Do you do yoga? Are you flexible?”

Although Selowsky graduated from Harvard with a degree in European history, she says she always wanted to do opera and kept up her singing through college.

Andy Jones, 11, of Houston and Cohle H. Smith, 12, of Humble will share the role of the Little Prince, and Selowsky says it is amazing that such young performers can be onstage for so long (running time is two hours and five minutes with intermission) and do so well. A 20-member children's chorus adds another level both musically and in taking on the parts of birds and stars, among other things. Selowsky says the opera reaches both children and adults. “The music is gorgeous. And the story is telling adults not to lose your childlike imagination.”

Performances of The Little Prince are scheduled for December 4-20 at 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays at the Wortham Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $28-$101.

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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.
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