Photo credit: Lynn Lane
The Houston Grand Opera (HGO) opened its 64th season on Friday, Oct. 19 with The Flying Dutchman, Richard Wagner’s haunting romance about the redeeming and transformative power of a woman’s love. This new production by director Tomer Zvulun, making his HGO debut, heightened the dramatic elements of the famous legend of a cursed ghost ship. The production doubled as a welcome home for the company after being displaced by Hurricane Harvey for more than a year.
HGO’s first Wagner opera since the four-part Ring cycle, The Flying Dutchman is a co-production of Houston Grand Opera, The Atlanta Opera, and Cincinnati Opera. In the story, every seven years the Dutchman comes ashore for a chance to break the curse that binds him to wander the desolate seas. The Dutchman’s quest for true love leads him to Senta, a captain’s daughter who has been obsessing over a mystifying image of him. When the two finally meet, the Dutchman is hopeful, but Senta must decide between her pre-arranged marriage and her overpowering pull towards the Dutchman. The story – a mix of love, loss, spirits and the sea – felt part Pirates of the Caribbean, part Romeo and Juliet, and part Ghost.
Twenty-season veteran Houston Grand Opera Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers conducted, Polish baritone Andrzej Dobber sung the title role of the Dutchman, the role of Senta was sung by American soprano Melody Moore, and tenor Eric Cutler played the role of Erik. Senta’s father, played by Icelandic bass Kristinn Sigmundsson, intercut moments of humor to the dramatic production. The opera, sung in German, had English translations projected on screens above the stage and ran 2 hours and 20 minutes.
The production is part of HGO’s Seeking the Human Spirit, a six-year multidisciplinary initiative designed to highlight the universal spiritual themes raised in opera as well as expand and deepen Houstonians’ connections to opera and to art. This year’s theme is transformation. La bohème, which ran in part concurrently with The Flying Dutchman, opened on Friday, October 26th. The next show of the season, Florencia en el Amazonas, will run from Jan 18th-Feb 3rd, followed by The Pearl Fishers and Don Giovanni.
The mainstage production of The Phoenix, a world premiere, will close out the season.
Shows run at the Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Ave. Tickets range from $20 to $270. For more information and to buy tickets, visit HGO.org or call the box office at 713-228-6737.
About Houston Grand Opera
Houston Grand Opera (HGO) is one of the largest, most innovative, and most highly acclaimed opera companies in the United States. HGO was the only American finalist for Opera Company of the Year at the 2017 International Opera Awards. In fulfilling its mission to advance the operatic art to serve an ever-evolving audience, HGO has led the field in commissioning new works (65 world premieres to date) and in training and nurturing promising young artists and administrators. The company contributes to the cultural enrichment of Houston and the nation through a diverse and innovative program of performances, community events, and education projects that reaches the widest possible public. HGO’s pioneering community engagement initiative, HGOco, has served as a model for other arts organizations.
The NEXUS Initiative is HGO’s multi-year ticket underwriting program that allows Houstonians of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy opera without the barrier of price. Since 2007, NEXUS has enabled more than 250,000 Houstonians to experience superlative opera through discounted single tickets and subscriptions, subsidized student performances, and free productions. HGO has toured extensively and has won a Tony, two Grammy awards, and three Emmy awards. It is the only opera company to win all three honors.