Houston Grand Opera
General Director David Gockley
Music Director Patrick Summers

Houston Grand Opera's

50th Anniversary Season

Eight-opera season includes:
Puccini's Madame Butterfly
Verdi's Il Trovatore
Mozart's Idomeneo, King of Crete
Gounod's Romeo and Juliet
Verdi's Falstaff
Rachel Portman's The Little Prince

And two world premieres:
Daniel Catán's Salsipuedes, a tale of Love, War and Anchovies
Mark Adamo's Lysistrata, or The Nude Goddess

Golden Jubilee Gala:
Renée Fleming and Elton John
join a bevy of stars celebrating the company's 50th Anniversary

Roster of International Singers:
Cheryl Barker, Daniel Belcher, Christine Brandes, Judith Christin, Paul Charles Clarke, Laura Claycomb, Alexandra DeShorties, Jesus Garcia, Marcello Giordani, Oren Gradus, Susan Graham,
Scott Hendricks, Ashley Holland, Torsten Kerl, James Maddalena, Ana Maria Martinez, Emily Pulley, Patricia Racette, Sondra Radvanovsky, Patricia Risley, Chad Shelton, Bryn Terfel, Ramon Vargas, James Westman, Peter Coleman-Wright, Alexander Vinogradov, and Dolora Zajick

Guido Maria Guida, Emmanuel Joel, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Stefan Lano, and Patrick Summers

Garnett Bruce, Dieter Kaegi, Michael Kahn, Stephen Lawless, Moffatt Oxenbould, Chritian Räth,
James Robinson, Olivier Tambosi, and Francesca Zambello

Howell Binkley, Alan Burrett, Benoît Dugardyn, Joan Sullivan Genthe, Constance Hoffman, Murell Horton, James F. Ingalls, Nigel Levings, Derek McLane, Allen Moyer, Carl Friedrich Oberle, Martin Pakledinaz, Frank Philipp Schlössmann, Bruno Schwengl, Duane Schuler, James Japhy Weiderman, Anita Yavich, and Michael Yeargan

Houston, TX - Houston Grand Opera General Director David Gockley and Music Director Patrick Summers announce the company's 50th Anniversary Season, Celebrate! The season offers 56 performances of eight different operas including masterpieces by Puccini, Verdi, Mozart and Gounod, a revival of a recent favorite by Rachel Portman, and two world premieres by Daniel Catán and Mark Adamo respectively. The season begins on Friday, October 22, 2004 with Puccini's Madame Butterfly and ends on Sunday, May 15, 2005 with Verdi's Falstaff.

The celebratory season also includes the Golden Jubilee Gala on Saturday, April 30, 2005. International superstars Renée Fleming and Elton John will be joined by guest artists from around the world. Chaired by Houston's own Lynn Wyatt, the Golden Jubilee Gala will honor the company's past fifty years and celebrate the next fifty years.

"Our 50th Anniversary season will be a year of celebratory proportions! The season includes many surprises, new and beloved artists, traditional and contemporary works, and all the hallmarks for which Houston Grand Opera is known. It will be a time of looking back at our roster of accomplishments and also a time of looking forward to the future," stated HGO General Director David Gockley.

Music Director Patrick Summers added, "From the company's first performances of Mozart's first masterpiece, Idomeneo, to Verdi's glorious final masterpiece, Falstaff, this is a season for everyone. There are many opportunities to celebrate the presence of great opera in our great city."

The Houston Grand Opera Orchestra plays all productions. Head of Music Staff Richard Bado is the chorus master for the entire season. Karen Reeves is the children's chorus director.

Returning for Houston Grand Opera's 50th anniversary season are sopranos Christine Brandes, Laura Claycomb, Ana Maria Martinez, Patricia Racette, and Sondra Radvanovsky; mezzo-sopranos Zheng Cao, Judith Christin, Susan Graham, Angela Niederloh, Patricia Risley, and Dolora Zajick; tenors Paul Charles Clarke, Joseph Evans, Marcello Giordani, Jonathan Green, Chad Shelton, and Ramón Vargas; baritones Daniel Belcher, Scott Hendricks, James Maddalena, and Peter Coleman-Wright; and basses Oren Gradus and Joshua Winograde.

Making their HGO debuts during the 50th anniversary season are sopranos Alexandra DeShorties and Emily Pulley; mezzo-sopranos Myrna Paris and Mika Shigematsu; tenors Jesus Garcia, Torsten Kerl, and Garrett Sorenson; baritones Ashley Holland and James Westman; bass-baritone Bryn Terfel; basses Daniel Borowski and Alexander Vinogradov.




American soprano Patricia Racette, one of today's most gifted singing actresses, will create her first mainstage Cio-Cio-San in HGO's season opening production of Madame Butterfly. Ms. Racette's portrayals in Houston of Jenufa, Violetta in La Traviata, Elisabetta in Don Carlo, and Love Simpson in Cold Sassy Tree have had audiences and critics reaching for superlatives.

Family honor, religion and ultimately her life-the gentle geisha forsakes them all for love. Ms. Racette is joined by English tenor Paul Charles Clarke as the callous Lt. Pinkerton, a role he performed here in 1998. Australian baritone Peter Coleman-Wright sings the role of Sharpless, the American consul whose warnings are not heeded. Making her HGO debut, American mezzo-soprano Mika Shigematsu sings the role of Suzuki, Butterfly's ever faithful friend and servant.

HGO's music director Patrick Summers leads the singers and the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus for HGO's acclaimed production by Francesca Zambello. The production will be remounted by director Garnett Bruce and features sets by Michael Yeargan, costumes by Anita Yavich, and lighting by Alan Burrett.

Three additional performances on November 4, 11, and 13 will be headlined by internationally renowned Australian soprano Cheryl Barker, who starred in HGO's 2004 world premiere of Jake Heggie's The End of the Affair. Pinkerton will be sung by Arturo Chacón-Cruz, winner of the 2003 Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers-Concert of Arias, and Sharpless will be sung by fellow HGO Studio member Joshua Hopkins. Head of Music Staff Richard Bado conducts.

Madame Butterfly is sung in Italian with English surtitles. The production opens on Friday, October 22, 2004, with further performances on October 24 (matinee), 27, 30, November 2, 4, 5, 7 (matinee), 11, and 13, 2004. The season opening performance on October 22 begins at 7:00 p.m. , with remaining evening performances at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2:00 p.m.

Madame Butterflyis a co-production of Houston Grand Opera, The Dallas Opera, and San Diego Opera
Grand Guarantor: Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation


Daniel Catán's Salsipuedes

A tale of Love, War and Anchovies

Daniel Catán, composer of Florencia en el Amazonas, and librettists Eliseo Alberto and Francisco Hinojosa, bring us a new opera that will evoke the exotic sounds and rhythms of the Caribbean. Set in the 1940s, Salsipuedes tells the saga of two young couples whose wedding day is shattered when their tiny island country declares war on Nazi Germany. The young men are plucked from their marriage beds and forced into patriotic service. Through a series of mishaps, the young men (American tenor Chad Shelton as Ulises and American baritone Scott Hendricks as Chucho) find themselves pitted against their country's corrupt leaders, Captain Magallenes (American bass Oren Gradus) and the Colonel (American baritone James Maddalena), to save their tiny country and return to their abandoned brides, Magali (American mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao) and Lucero (Puerto Rican-American soprano Ana Maria Martinez).

Making his Houston Grand Opera debut, Italian conductor Guido Maria Guida conducts the cast and the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Director James Robinson creates this new production with sets by Allen Moyer, costumes by Constance Hoffman, and lighting by James F. Ingalls. Internationally renowned Houston Ballet prima ballerina Lauren Anderson will make both her house debut and choreographic debut as solo dancer.

Sung in Spanish with English surtitles, Salsipuedes, a tale of Love, War and Anchovies premieres on Friday, October 29, 2004, with further performances on October 31 (matinee), November 6, 9, 12, and 14 (matinee), 2004. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and matinees begin at 2:00 p.m.

Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera


Verdi's Il Trovatore

Acclaimed Italian tenor Marcello Giordani returns to Houston to make his role debut as the troubadour Manrico. The New York Times reported in a recent review, "Marcello Giordani sang like a god."

The setting is 15th century Spain, and Count di Luna, English baritone Ashley Holland in his HGO debut, is obsessed with two things: his love for the beautiful Leonora, American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, and revenge for his brother's death at the hands of the gypsy Azucena, American mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick, "a true dramatic Verdi mezzo-soprano typified by the composer's most famous and difficult role, Azucena," (The New York Times).

Verdi's thrilling score will be conducted by Sebastian Lang-Lessing leading the cast and Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Stephen Lawless directs HGO's production with sets by Benoît Dugardyn, costumes by Martin Pakledinaz, and lighting by Joan Sullivan Genthe.

Sung in Italian with English surtitles, Il Trovatore opens on Friday, January 21, 2005, with further performances on January 23 (matinee), 26, 29, February 1, 4, and 6 (matinee), 2005. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and matinees begin at 2:00 p.m.

Production Co-Owned by Los Angeles Opera and The Washington Opera
Original production funded by a generous gift from the Flora L. Thornton Foundation

Mozart's Idomeneo, King of Crete

Musical America's"Vocalist of the Year," Susan Graham, who thrilledHouston audiences as Ariodante and the Merry Widow, returns to sing Mozart.

The Trojan War has ended, and the victorious Greeks are on their way home when their ship is caught in a violent storm. To save the ship, Idomeneo, the King of Crete (acclaimed German lyric heldentenor Torsten Kerl in his HGO debut) makes a promise to Neptune to sacrifice the first person he sees upon reaching land. The King is devastated when he disembarks and is met by his son Idamante (Graham in one of her signature pants roles). Houston's favorite young soprano, Laura Claycomb, sings the role of Idamante's beloved Ilia. American soprano Alexandra DeShorties makes her house debut as Elettra, and HGO Studio tenor Norman Reinhardt sings Arbace.

HGO Music Director Patrick Summers conducts Mozart's monumental work. Director Moffatt Oxenbould makes his HGO debut with sets and costumes by Carl Friedrich Oberle and lighting by Nigel Levings.

Sung in Italian with English surtitles, Idomeneo opens on Friday, January 28, 2005, with further performances on January 30 (matinee), February 5, 8, 11, and 13 (matinee), 2005. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and matinees begin at 2:00 p.m. Production Owned by Opera Australia


Gounod's Romeo and Juliet

One of today's finest lyric tenors, Ramón Vargas, returns to Houston to sing his first Romeo in Gounod's brilliant opera about the world's most famous "star-crossed lovers." Also making a role debut, Ana Maria Martinez joins Vargas as Juliet.
Romeo, the young heir of the Montagues, secretly attends the Capulets' masked ball and falls in love with Juliet, daughter of his family's sworn enemy. In desperation, the lovers are secretly married by Friar Laurence (HGO Studio bass Nikolay Didenko) with the hopes of ending the feud. Later Romeo's friend Mercutio (American baritone Daniel Belcher) is killed by Juliet's cousin, Tybalt. Enraged, Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished fromVerona. Based on Shakespeare's classic play, this romantic story about forbidden love has moved audiences for centuries.
French conductor Emmanuel Joel conducts HGO's production by Dieter Kaegi and director Christian Räth with sets and costumes by Bruno Schwengl.
Sung in French with English surtitles, Romeo and Juliet opens Friday, April 22, 2005, with further performances on April 24 (matinee), 27, 29, May 6 and 8 (matinee), 2005. All evening performances, with the exception of April 29, begin at 7:30 p.m.; matinees begin at 2:00 p.m. The April 29 performance begins at 8:00 p.m.
Verdi's Falstaff
In his Houston Grand Opera debut, renowned Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel sings Falstaff, a role that he has made his own. Opera magazine writes, "[Terfel] captured the ridiculous puffed pomposity and the sad vulnerability that makes him [Falstaff] such a lovable old rogue," while Opera News raves that Terfel is "quite simply the Falstaff of our day."
Based on Shakespeare's character in The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV, Falstaff tells the tale of a self indulgent braggart, Sir John Falstaff, and his hilarious attempts to seduce two young wives, Alice Ford (Patricia Racette in a role debut) and Meg Page (American mezzo-soprano Angela Niederloh). The women decide to turn the tables on Falstaff and enlist Mistress Quickly (American mezzo-soprano Judith Christin) to help them hatch the plot. Falstaff is encouraged to visit Alice while her husband Ford (Canadian baritone James Westman in his HGO debut) is away from home. Falstaff is interrupted by Ford and a group of local men and, while hiding in a laundry basket, is dumped into the river Thames. Soaking, but unrepentant, Falstaff attempts another assignation when Alice's daughter Nannetta (American soprano Christine Brandes) calls on fairy spirits, actually town locals, to torment him.
HGO Music Director Patrick Summers conducts Verdi's witty grand finale. In his HGO debut, Olivier Tambosi directs the original Lyric Opera of Chicago production with sets and costumes by Frank Philipp Schlössmann and lighting design by Duane Schuler. Associate Lighting Designer is James Japhy Weideman.
Sung in Italian with English surtitles, Falstaff opens on Thursday, April 28, 2005, with further performances on May 1 (matinee), 4, 7, 13, and 15 (matinee), 2005. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and matinees begin at 2:00 p.m.
Grand Guarantor: Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation


Mark Adamo's Lysistrata

or The Nude Goddess

Mark Adamo,composer and librettist of Little Women, creates a new opera, Lysistrata, or The Nude Goddess. Based on the classic Greek comedy by Aristophanes, Lysistrata depicts the age old differences between men and women.
Aware of the anti-war demonstrations in the street, Lysia (American soprano Emily Pulley in her HGO debut) urges her beloved Nico (American tenor Chad Shelton), an Athenian general, to resign from the army. When Nico abruptly leaves to take up arms against the Spartans, Lysia hatches a plot to put an end to the war. Aided by her friend Kleonike (American mezzo-soprano Myrna Paris in her HGO debut), the Athenian women join the Spartan women, led by Lampito (American mezzo-soprano Jennifer Dudley in her HGO debut) in declaring a moratorium on sex to force their husbands to end their senseless fighting. The women storm the Acropolis and the men are cut off from their women and supplies. The men's frustration drives them to accepting peace.
Michael Kahndirects this bawdy comedy that will redefine the term "sex wars." Kahn is joined by set designer Derek McLane, costume designer Murell Horton, and lighting designer Howell Binkley. American conductor Stefan Lano will lead the cast and the HGO Orchestra in his HGO debut.
Sung in English with surtitles, Lysistrata, or The Nude Goddess will open on Friday, March 4, 2005, with further performances on March 6 (matinee), 9, 11, 13 (matinee), 15, 17, and 19, 2005. Evening performances begin at 8:00 p.m. and matinees begin at 2:30 p.m.
Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera through a grant from Jeff Fort, Marion Barthelme, and the Brown Foundation
* HGO's Education and Outreach Department plans to mount a new Opera to Go! work in January 2005,
which will be HGO's 32nd world premiere.

The Return of Houston Grand Opera's 27th World Premiere
Rachel Portman's

The Little Prince

Through sold-out performances and radio broadcasts on three continents, audiences worldwide enjoyed Houston Grand Opera's 2003 world premiere of The Little Prince by Oscar Award-winning composer Rachel Portman and Olivier Award-winning playwright/librettist Nicholas Wright, based on the internationally beloved Antoine de Saint-Exupéry book. The Financial Times hailed the show's "moving, melodic score" and director Francesca Zambello's "captivating staging" while the Wall Street Journal praised the "lush, voluptuous depiction of the Prince's beloved sunset." The New York Times called the "lovely opera" "unfailingly graceful". Now, with appearances scheduled in Milwaukee, Tulsa, Boston, and Santa Fe, plus a BBC studio broadcast, The Little Prince returns to Houston by popular demand for seven performances of the original Zambello production, the last project completed by the late designer Maria Bjørnson. HGO Associate Conductor James Lowe, who led eight of the world premiere performances, will conduct the cast featuring HGO Studio artists American baritone Joshua Hopkins as the Pilot, Irish mezzo-soprano Fiona Murphy as the Fox, American tenor Nicholas Phan as the Snake/Vain Man, and American soprano Heidi Stober as the Rose,
Sung in English with English surtitles, The Little Prince opens on Sunday, December 5, 2004 (matinee), with further performances on December 9, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 (matinee), 2004. Evening performances begin at 7:00 p.m. and matinees begin at 2:30 p.m.
The Little Prince is a coproduction with Santa Fe Opera, Skylight Opera Theatre, Tulsa Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and the Wang Center for the Performing Arts
Houston Grand Opera performs at theWortham Theater Center in Houston's Downtown Theater District. Opened in 1987, theWortham Center features the 2,330-seat Brown Theater and the 1,065-seat Cullen Theater. The Brown Theater features Opera Vision in the side Grand Tier and Balcony areas.
The Bank One Pre-Curtain Preview 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.
Following most performances, patrons can attend Behind the Music in the orchestra section of the Brown Theater. Behind the Music is a unique opportunity for audiences to meet and talk with the conductor and other members of the HGO music staff.
TheWortham Theater Center features wheelchair access to both theaters, with a choice of seating locations and ticket prices.
An infrared listening system, underwritten by Shell Lubricants, is available and free of charge at all performances. Please call HGO's Customer Care Center at 713-228-OPERA (6737) or 1-800-62-OPERA (67372) for details.
Descriptive services for persons with vision loss are available with a 48-hour advance reservation. Please call HGO's Education and Outreach department at 713-546-0230 for details.
Surtitles for all productions are generously underwritten by BMC Software.
Subscriptions for the 2004-2005 50th Anniversary Season, priced at $100 to $1,680, are now on sale through HGO's Customer Care Center. Convenient 6-month payment plans beginning at $19.60 are also available. For information, or to subscribe, please call 713-228-OPERA (6737) or 1-800-62-OPERA (67372).
Houston Grand Opera gratefully acknowledges support for the following series:
Schlumberger Weeknight Series
Friday night Fayez Sarofim & Co. Series
Since its inception in 1955, Houston Grand Opera has swiftly moved from a small regional organization into an internationally renowned opera company. With David Gockley as its general director, HGO has widened its circles, both in repertoire and in reach. The company has a reputation for commissioning and producing new works (30 world premieres and six American premieres since 1973) as well as a reputation for reaching out to new audiences. HGO has toured extensively, including trips to Europe and Asia, and it is the only opera company to have won a Tony, two Grammy Awards, and two Emmy Awards. Houston Grand Opera's productions are broadcast internationally over National Public Radio's World of Opera, New York City's WQXR, over the European Broadcasting Union, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.