Houston Grand Opera
510 Preston Street Houston, Texas 77002 - 1594

General Director David Gockley
Music Director Patrick Summers

Houston Grand Opera’s 2001 - 2002 Forty - Seventh Season


beginning Friday, October 19, 2001
with Verdi’s Rigoletto
Seven - Opera Season includes:
Wagner’s TANNHAUSER, Tchaikovsky’s EUGENE ONEGIN
A new production of Carlisle’s Floyd’s OF MICE AND MEN
The world premiere of Mark Adamo’s LYSISTRATA

Houston, Tx - With a season that is brimming with some of today’s biggest stars, Houston Grand Opera’s General Director David Gockley and Music Director Patrick Summers announce the productions for the company’s 47th international season. The 2001 - 2002 season will offer 51 performances of seven different operas including masterpieces by VERDI, WAGNER, TCHAIKOVSKY, JANACEK and SAINT - SAENS, a revival of a work by CARLISLE FLOYD and of course, of whom A Houston Grand Opera Season will not be complete without, Mr. Bad Boy Himself, WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART. The season commences on Friday October 19, 2001 and concludes Sunday, May 12, 2002.

“Our 2001 - 2002 season will be distinctive for its diversity, for its casting, for our efforts to enhance musical values, and for the quality of the productions. While several are not necessarily new they have been chosen for their unique vision and style relative to the music. Of particular interest are the Werner Herzog TANNHAUSER and the Willy Decker EUGENE ONEGIN,” states HGO General Director David Gockley.

Gockley noted that HGO Music Director Patrick Summers leads three productions and four distinguished guest conductors are in charge of the others: John Fiore (Tannhauser), Robert Spano (Eugene Onegin), Steven Sloane (The Makropulos Case) and Philippe Jordan (Samson and Delilah). “Further, Francesca Zambello plans a striking new production of Carlisle Floyd’s OF MICE AND MEN. We will continue our Janacek trilogy with Catherine Malfitano in THE MAKROPULOS CASE,” Gockley said.

HGO Music Director Patrick Summers added, “One of the great conductors of the last century, George Szell, once said, 'that music requires the listener to feel with the brain and think with the heart.' Never was a statement more true than in the incredible season we have planned for Houston Grand Opera this season; there are delights on every level and it is my hope that both the heart and the head will be equally enchanted.”

The Houston Grand Opera Orchestra plays all productions except TANNHAUSER, which will be performed by the Houston Symphony. Richard Bado will be the chorus master for the Houston Grand Opera Chorus for all seven productions.


2001 - 2002 SEASON


Giuseppe Verdi’s


The 47th season opens with the ever - popular RIGOLETTO with fames Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky making his Houston Grand Opera debut as Verdi’s mean - spirited hunchbacked jester, RIGOLETTO, whose biting tongue makes him no friends at court.

Based on Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse, Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda (HGO debut, US soprano Laura Claycomb) is abducted by the Duke of Mantua (Italian tenor Roberto Aronica in his HGO debut), who has designs on her. Rigoletto rescues her, but by now she loves the Duke. Rigoletto arranges his murder, but Gilda substitutes herself for the intended victim. Rigoletto contains some of opera’s favorite arias including “La donna e’ mobile” and “Caro nome.” American bass Raymond Aceto debuts as Sparafucile, the hired assassin, and American mezzo - soprano Stephanie Novacek returns as Maddalena.

The alternate cast performances feature Chinese baritone Chen - Ye Yuan as Rigoletto and American soprano Nicole Heaston as Gilda.

HGO’s Music Director Patrick Summers will conduct the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus. American director Frank Corsaro will revive Houston Grand Opera’s classic Renaissance production with sets by Michael Yeargan and costumes by Peter J. Hall. Priscilla Nathan Murphy will choreograph the production.

RIGOLETTO is sung in Italian with English surtitles. The production opens on Friday, October 19, 2001 with further performances on October 21m, 24, 27m (alternate cast), 27, 30, November 2, 4m and 10 (alternate cast), 2001. The season opening performance begins at 7:00pm with remaining evening performances at 7:30pm and matinees beginning at 2:00pm.

RIGOLETTO is a co - production with Dallas Opera with major funding support provided by CONOCO.


Richard Wagner’s


New Production

Danish baritone Stig Andersen (Tristan and Isolde, 2000) returns as Tannhauser in Wagner’s three - act Romantic opera, Tannhauser und der Sangerkrieg auf der Wartburg (Tannhauser and the Singers’ Contest at the Wartburg).

Tannhauser leaves Venusberg, the realm of the goddess Venus, filled with all the pleasures Venus (American mezzo - soprano Michelle De Young in her HGO debut) has to offer. He later finds himself at the foot of the Wartburg where he is greeted by his friend Wolfram (American baritone Christopher Schaldenbrand) and Landgraf Hermann (Danish bass Stephen Milling), who tell him of the sadness of his niece, Elisabeth (Andersen’s wife, Danish soprano Tina Kiberg), since his departure from Wartburg. At the hall of the Wartburg, Elisabeth is reunited with Tannhauser, while the court gathers for a song contest. Torn by conflicting desires for the carnal Venus and virginal Elisabeth, Tannhauser is condemned by the court for his erotically charged song to Venus and must seek absolution from Rome.

In his Houston Grand Opera debut, American conductor John Fiore leads the Houston Symphony and Houston Grand Opera Chorus. Celebrated German film director Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo and Nosferatu), stages a breathtaking production filled with billowing sets by Italian Designer Muarizio Balo and glorious medieval costumes by Austrian designer Franz Blumauer.

Tannhauser is sung in German with English surtitles. The production opens on Friday, October 26, 2001 with further performances on October 28m, 31, November 3, 6, 9 and 11m, 2001. Evening performances begin at 7:00pm and matinees begin at 1:30pm.

Tannhauser is a production from the Seville Opera with major funding support provided by Lyondell Chemical Company.


2001 - 2002 SEASON


Peter Ilytch Tchaikovsky’s


New Production

Danish baritone Bo Skovhus (Don Giovanni, 1999 and Billy Budd, 1997) returns to Houston as the proud aristocrat Eugene Onegin in a striking new production by visionary director Willy Decker. Mr. Skovhus is joined by Bulgarian soprano Zvetelina Vassileva (Prince Igor, 2001) as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s adaptation of Pushkin’s romantic poem - novel.

The beautiful, young Tatyana (Vassileva) falls in love with Onegin, a friend of Lensky’s (American tenor Raymond Very), to whom her sister Olga (American mezzo - soprano Stephanie Novacek) is engaged. The callous Onegin rebuffs Tatyana and chooses instead to flirt with Olga which ends in a tragic duel with his jealous friend. Years later, Onegin returns to St. Petersburg and, seeing Tatyana with her husband, realizes that he loves her after all.

Robert Spano, the music director designate for the Atlanta Symphony, returns to conduct the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus. German director Sabine Hartmannschen will realize Decker’s striking production with sets by Wolfgang Gussmann, costumes by Martin Rupprecht, lighting by Hans Toelstede, and choreography by Athole Farmer.

EUGENE ONEGIN is sung in Russian with English surtitles. The production opens on Friday January 25, 2002, with further performances on January 27m, 30, February 2, 5, 8, and 10m, 2002. Performances are scheduled at 7:30pm and 2:00pm.

EUGENE ONEGIN is a production from Oper der Stadt Koln.


Carlisle Floyd’s


New Production

Houston Grand Opera will mount a powerful new production by Francesca Zambello (Prince Igor, Billy Budd and Madame Butterfly) of Carlisle Floyd’s vivid and moving adaptation of the classic John Steinbeck tale.

OF MICE AND MEN deals with the friendship of two migrant workers: Lennie Small (HGO debut, American tenor Anthony Dean Griffey), a giant simpleton of tremendous strength, and George Milton (HGO debut, American bass - baritone Gordon Hawkins), who acts as Lennie’s protector. The two dream of owning a farm of their own one day, but Lennie accidentally kills a woman, Curley’s Wife (American soprano Elizabeth Futral in her HGO debut) who has flirted with him. George is forced to shoot Lennie to save him from the angry townfolk who want to lynch him.

HGO General Director David Gockley describes Floyd’s music as gripping, hearbreaking, lyrical, lush and folksy. Houston Grand Opera mounted OF MICE AND MEN during the 1972 - 73 season and at the Miller Outdoor Theatre in 1977.

HGO Music Director Patrick Summers will conduct the singers and the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus. British set and costumer designer Richard Hudson and German lighting designer Wolfgang Goebbel create a world of heightened realism where “industry” and “progress” are encroaching on rural America.

OF MICE AND MEN is sung in English with English surtitles. The production opens on Friday, February 2, 2002 with further performances on February 3m, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 17m, 2002/

OF MICE AND MEN is a co - production with the Bregenz Festival and Washington Opera and is underwritten by ExxonMobil. OF MICE AND MEN is made possible by a challenge grant from The Edgar Foster Daniels Foundation.


2001 - 2002 SEASON




March 8, 2002 - March 23, 2002


The Houston Grand Opera announces that the company will mount Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio in March, 2002 in place of the previously announced world premiere of Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata, The Nude Goddess.

The Abduction from the Seraglio will open on Friday, March 8, 2002 in the Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater with further performances on March 10m, 12, 16, 19, 22, and 24m, 2002, evenings at 8:00 p.m. and matinees at 2:30 p.m. American director James Robinson will lead the production, to be performed in English.

"I regret that I have to postpone the Lysistrata for another season, but after many discussions with the composer and my staff, Mark and I have come to the conclusion that more time is necessary to properly prepare the opera," stated HGO General Director David Gockley. "I am fully committed to Mark’s work as a composer and am eager to mount Lysistrata and begin work on his third commission from HGO."

"Further, I am delighted that Mark Adamo’s Little Women will be broadcast nationally over PBS on WNET’s Great Performances on August 29 at 8:00 p.m. EST and I am awaiting the CD release of Little Women by Ondine Records on August 28," Gockley noted.

"I am pleased that David Gockley and Houston Grand Opera are allowing me this opportunity to continue to work on Lysistrata, The Nude Goddess," remarked Mark Adamo. "I am eager to see it come to life on stage in Houston next season."


2001 - 2002 SEASON


Leo Janacek’s


New Production

American soprano Catherine Malfitano (Katya Kabanova, 2000 and Macbeth, 1998) returns to Houston as the mysterious diva, Emilia Marty in Janacek’s exquisite THE MAKROPULOS CASE.

Emilia searches desperately with the help of lawyers Kolenaty (American baritone Richard Sutliff) and Prus (British baritone Jonathan Summers in his HGO debut) for the formula to the magic potion that has prolonged her life for more than 300 years. In the end she realizes that she is tired of her daily existence and the formula is destroyed.

In his HGO debut, American conductor Steven Sloane will conduct the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Production director Elijah Moshinsky created this celebrated production for the Metropolitan Opera with sets by Anthony Ward, costumes by Dona Granata and lighting by Howard Harrison.

THE MAKROPULOS CASE is sung in Czech with English surtitles. The production opens on Friday, April 19, 2002 with further performances on April 21m, 24, 27, 30, May 3, and 5m, 2002. Evenings 7:30pm and matinees 2:00pm.

THE MAKROPULOS CASE is underwritten by NL Industries, Inc. This production was made possible by a grant from The Edgar Foster Daniels Foundation.


Camille Saint - Saens’


New Production

Denyce Graves returns to Houston, in one of her signature roles, the Bible’s most notorious temptress, Delilah.

Set in Israel 1150 BC, the High Priest of Dagon (American bass - baritone Greer Grimsley) asks Delilah to seduce the Hebrew warrior Samson (HGO debut, Russian tenor Sergei Larin) to discover the secret of his strength. Later, blinded, Samson prays for strength and brings down the temple of Dagon crushing himself and his Philistine enemies.

In his Houston Grand Opera debut, French conductor Philippe Jordan conducts the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus. French director Nicolas Joel has created a production reminiscent of Hollywood movies - including big glamorous dance and choral scenes. Joel is aided by set designer Douglas Schmidt, costume designer Carrie Robbins and choreographer Daniel Pelzig.

SAMSON AND DELILAH is sung in French with English surtitles. The production opens on Friday, April 26, 2002 with further performances on April 28m, May 1, 4, 7, 10, 12m, 2002. Evening performances begin at 7:30pm and matinees at 2:00pm. Note: May 10 performance at 8pm.

SAMSON AND DELILAH is a San Francisco Opera production and is underwritten by Shell Oil Company Foundation.



Roster of international singers includes:
Raymond Aceto, Stig Andersen, Roberto Aronica, Robert Brubaker, Judith Christin, Laura Claycomb, Alexandra Coku, Ryland Davies, Michelle DeYoung, Joseph Evans, Elizabeth Futral, Denyce Graves, Anthony Dean Griffey, Greer Grimsley, Gordon Hawkins, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Tina Kiberg, Sergei Larin, James Maddalena, Catherine Malfitano, Stephen Milling, Jay Hunter Morris, Stephanie Novacek, Frode Olsen, Julian Patrick, Christopher Schaldenbrand, Bo Skovhus, Jonathan Summers, Richard Sutliff, Zvetelina Vassileva and Raymond Very

John Fiore, Philippe Jordan, Steven Sloane, Robert Spano and Patrick Summers

Joe Banno, Frank Corsaro, Willy Decker, Werner Herzog, Nicolas Joel, Elijah Moshinsky, and Francesca Zambello

Maurizio Balo, Franz Blumauer, Tony Cisek, Dan Covey, Wolfgang Goebbel, Dona Granata, Wolfgang Gussmann, Peter J. Hall, Howard Harrison, Richard Hudson, Anne Kennedy, Carrie Robbins, Martin Rupprecht, Douglas Schmidt, Hans Toelstede, Anthony Ward and Michael Yeargan

Athole Farmer, Peggy Hickey, Priscilla Nathan Murphy and Daniel Pelzig


Returning for Houston Grand Opera’s 2001 - 2002 season are sopranos Catherine Malfitano, Zvetelina Vassileva and Tina Kiberg; mezzo - sopranos Judith Christin, Denyce Graves and Stephanie Novacek; tenors Stig Andersen, Joseph Evans, Jay Hunter Morris and Raymond Very; baritones James Maddalena, Christopher Schaldenbrand, Bo Skovhus and Richard Sutliff; bass - baritone Greer Grimsley; and bass Julian Patrick.


Making their HGO debuts during the 2001 - 2002 season are sopranos Laura Claycomb, Alexandra Coku and Elizabeth Futral; mezzo - soprano Michelle De Young; tenors Roberto Aronica, Robert Brubaker, Ryland Davies, Anthony Dean Griffey and Sergei Larin; baritones Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Jonathan Summers; bass - baritone Gordon Hawkins; and basses Raymond Aceto, Stephen Milling, and Frode Olsen.


2001 - 2002 SEASON


Houston Grand Opera performs at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston’s Downtown Theater District. Opened in 1987, the Wortham Center features the 2,400 seat Brown Theater and the 1,100 seat Cullen Theater. The Brown Theater features the exclusive Opera Vision system in the side Grand Tier and Balcony. Opera Vision allows patrons a close - up view of the action on stage and the English language surtitle system. The Wortham Center is located at Texas and Smith.

The Southwestern Bell Pre - Curtain Lecture Series is offered thirty minutes before each performance. Guest speakers present a 20 - minute informal lecture on the sixth floor of the Grand Foyer. These presentations, free and open to all ticket holders, are intended to enhance the audience’s enjoyment by preparing them for the production they are about to attend.

The Wortham Theater Center features easy wheelchair access to both theaters, with a choice of seating locations and ticket prices.

An infrared listening system, generously underwritten by Pennzoil - Quaker State Company, is available and free of charge at all performances. Please call HGO Subscriptions at
713-546-0246 or 1-800-346-4462 for details.

Descriptive services for persons with vision loss are available with a 48-hour advance reservation. Please call HGO Education and Outreach at 713-546-0708.

Subscriptions for the 2001 - 2002 season, priced $120 to $1,322, are now on sale through the Houston Grand Opera Subscription Office. To be added to the mailing list, please write in care of Houston Grand Opera, 510 Preston, Houston, Tx 77002, or telephone 713-546-0246 or 1-800-346-4462. Information and subscriptions are also available at www.houstongrandopera.org.