MasterMinds 2013 Revisited: Enrique Carreón-Robledo and Opera in the Heights

Last year Opera in the Heights, a 2013 MasterMinds Award winner, had an ambitious all-Shakespeare season that featured operas unfamiliar to most audience members. There was Bellini's I Capuleti e I Montecchi and Rossini's Otello, both making their Houston premieres, along with Verdi's Macbeth and Falstaff. "Last year was about stretching, it was a risk taking season," OIH Artistic Director Enrique Carreón-Robledo tells us. "It was, I think, a very successful season and we will continue to take some risks in our programing but we will add more familiar works to the season as well. The most important thing after a season like that is to not to get carried away, not to go too far."

Carreón-Robledo says the company is trying to find a balance now, trying to meet ever higher artistic standards while keeping the practical aspects of financial stability in mind. "We are still putting the final touches on the next season, but there will be at least one piece that will continue in that [risky] direction, taking the success we had last season and making it grow. We made a signature for the company with the Shakespeare season, one that says we are willing to take risks. Now we're getting ready for the next time it is right to take risks again."

A Crystal Globe nominee, Carreón-Robledo says winning the MasterMind Award last year was a watershed for the company. "It was definitely a turning point. To make art in today's world, an artist has many, many obstacles to overcome. It is precisely this kind of recognition that helps an artist to keep going, to try even harder."

Opera in the Heights casts vocal talents from around the world in its shows. Part of the company's mission, Carreón-Robledo says, is to showcase young singers on the cusp of success, to give them the opportunity to sing major roles rarely offered to anyone but internationally known talents. "We want to be a launching pad for great talent. With the singers we have seen so, if there is poetic justice, they are all going to have go on and have wonderful careers."

The $2,000 cash prize that goes with each MasterMind award was important to the company, Carreón-Robledo says, even though Opera in the Heights was already in good shape financially.

"The cash award was a very significant, beyond the practical reach that the money has, I'm convinced that both the award and the check inspired other donors to support us. Corporations, foundations, private donors are always going to be inspired to give [support] if others are already [supporting] you. That absolutely happened for us with this award."

An awards ceremony for this year's winners of the MasterMind 2014 awards is scheduled for 9 p.m. at the Houston Press Artopia 2014 party, which will run 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on January 25 at Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter Street. Entertainment includes live performances from Deep Cuts, Featherface, Electric Attitude, Ceeplus Bad Knives and DJ Dave Wrangler, plus fashion shows featuring Neal Hamil Models, dance performances by FrenetiCore and jhon stronks and works from more than 25 local artists. Tickets are $55 general admission and $85 VIP admission. Ticket prices include complimentary food, wine, cocktail from Captain Morgan White Rum and Stella Artois. This event is 21+ only. Check our Voice Daily Deal for discounts on tickets.

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