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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 2019 International Opera Awards.

Mission, Vision & Values

Houston Grand Opera’s vision is to inspire opera’s future. Our mission is to advance the operatic art to serve an ever-evolving audience. We will produce great operatic works that create and sustain a new American art form and fuse them with historical repertoire to inspire the next generations of opera lovers—both in our own community and globally through technology.

The Core Values of Houston Grand Opera

  • We believe opera has a vital role to play in the lives of an audience hungry for art, beauty, and meaning. Diversity is no longer just a poetic reference, but a joyous cultural reality the company fully embraces. HGO will honor the classic masterworks but also evolve the art form to serve future generations.
  • We believe our creative dreams for Houston Grand Opera are vital to the cultural pulse of this city and add immeasurably to the quality of life of its many communities. All cultures use words and music to tell their distinct stories, and we have the ability to use opera as a connector to join those communities.
  • HGO seeks to be a global leader in the evolution of the art form, by inspiring it, developing it, training people to deliver it, documenting it, and most importantly, composing it. We will identify and train the next generation of gifted artistic, creative and leadership talent who will create opera’s future.

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 2019 International Opera Awards.

In fulfilling its mission to advance the operatic art to serve an ever-evolving audience, HGO leads the field in commissioning new works (67 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 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.

History of HGO

Houston Grand Opera (HGO), located in Houston, Texas, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1955 by German-born impresario Walter Herbert and Houstonians Elva Lobit, Edward Bing, and Charles Cockrell. HGO's inaugural season featured two performances of two operas, Salome (starring Brenda Lewis in the title role) and Madame Butterfly. David Gockley succeeded Walter Herbert as general director in 1972 and remained in the post until accepting the general directorship at San Francisco Opera in 2005.

Gockley was succeeded at Houston Grand Opera by Anthony Freud, previously the general director at Welsh National Opera. When Freud resigned his post at HGO in 2011 to take the general directorship of Lyric Opera of Chicago, he was succeeded by joint leaders Patrick Summers, who had been music director at HGO since 1998, and Perryn Leech, who joined the company in 2006 and became chief operating officer in 2010. Summers serves as artistic and music director and Leech serves as managing director. Oversight of the HGO Association is provided by a board of directors; a body of trustees also supports the organization.

The company now presents six to eight productions per season and has an operating budget of $27 million. Houston Grand Opera performances are held in the Wortham Theater Center, a venue with two performance spaces: the Alice and George Brown Theater and the smaller Roy and Lillie Cullen Theater. Their combined capacity is more than 3,300. HGO performed all of its 2017–18 season at the “HGO Resilience Theater,” a temporary space the company created in an exhibit hall at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center after the Wortham Theater Center was closed due to flooding from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. The Wortham Theater Center is scheduled to reopen September 1, 2018.

HGO leads the field in commissioning and producing new works, almost exclusively from American composers, including 66 world premieres by the end of the 2018–19 season. HGO has also staged seven American premieres.

The Houston Grand Opera Studio, founded in 1977, was one of the earliest comprehensive young artist training programs in the United States. It provides advanced training and professional opportunities to outstanding young artists, many of whom have gone on to establish international careers.

Through its HGOco initiative, HGO partners with educational and community organizations to provide a variety of artistic experiences to the greater Houston area and the Gulf Coast region.

Houston Grand Opera is supported by an active auxiliary organization, the Houston Grand Opera Guild, established in October 1955.

The company has received a Tony Award, two Grammy Awards, and three Emmy Awards, and is the only opera company in the world to win all three honors.

Awards

National MultiCultural Institute “Leading Lights” Award, 2009 for HGOco, Song of Houston

Emmy Awards
HGO: The Ring Cycle, Sculpting With Time Productions (Alex Douglas and Whitney Douglas), regional Emmys for directing and photography, 2017

Hitting the High Cs, Marion Kessell and Rick Christie, 1998Nixon in China, John Adams and Alice Goodman, 1987
 
Grammy Awards
Nixon in China, John Adams and Alice Goodman, 1987Porgy and Bess, George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward, 1976
 
Tony Award
Porgy and Bess, George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward, 1976 
Grand Prix du Disques
Porgy and Bess, George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward, 1976

HGO World Premieres through the 2019–20 Season

World Premieres

67th

El Milagro del Recuerdo

Javier Martínez & Leonard Foglia
December 2019

 

66th

The Phoenix 

Tarik O'Regan & John Caird
April 2019

 

65th

Monkey, Francine, and the City of Tigers

Kamala Sankaram & David Johnston
September 2018

HGOco

 

64th

The House without a Christmas Tree

Ricky Ian Gordon & Royce Vavrek
December 2017

 

63rd

Some Light Emerges

Laura Kaminsky & Mark Campbell/Kimberly Reed
2017

HGOco

 

62nd

It's a Wonderful Life

Jake Heggie & Gene Scheer
2016 

 

61st

After the Storm

David Hanlon and Stephanie Fleischmann
2016

HGOco

 

60th

What Wings They Were: The Case of Emeline

John L. Cornelius II and Janine Joseph
2016

HGOco

 

59th

Prince of Players

Carlisle Floyd
2016

 

58th

The Puffed-Up Prima Donna

Mark Buller & Charles Anthony Silvestri
2016

OTG

 

57th

O Columbia

Gregory Spears & Royce Vavrek
2015

HGOco

 

56th

The Pastry Prince

Mark Buller & Charles Anthony Silvestri
2015

OTG

 

55th

A Christmas Carol

Iain Bell & Simon Callow
2014

 

54th

River of Light

Jack Perla & Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
2014

HGOco

 

53rd

A Coffin in Egypt

Ricky Ian Gordon & Leonard Foglia
2014

 

52nd

Bound

Huang Ruo & Bao-Long Chu
2014

HGOco

 

51st

Rapunzel

Mary Carol Warwick & Alvaro Saar Rios
2014

OTG

 

50th

The Memory Stone

Marty Regan & Kenny Fries
2013

HGOco

 

49th

Past the Checkpoints

David Hanlon & Joann Farías
2013

OTG

 

48th

From My Mother’s Mother

Jeeyoung Kim & Janine Joseph
2012

HGOco

 

47th

New Arrivals

John Glover & Catherine Filloux
2012

HGOco

 

46th

The Bricklayer

Gregory Spears & Farnoosh Moshiri
2012

HGOco

 

45th

The Clever Wife–a Chinese Folktale

Mary Carol Warwick & Hugh Behm-Steinberg
2012

OTG

 

44th

Pieces of 9/11

Jake Heggie & Gene Scheer
2011

HGOco

 

43rd

Your Name Means the Sea

Franghiz Alizadeh
2011

HGOco

 

42nd

Courtside

Jack Perla & Eugene Chan
2011

HGOco

 

41st

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna/To Cross the Face of the Moon

José “Pepe” Martínez & Leonard Foglia
2010

HGOco

 

40th

A Way Home

Ethan Frederick Greene & Irene Keliher
2010

HGOco

 

39th

Brief Encounter

André Previn & John Caird
2009

 

38th

Sleeping Beauty

Edward Charles Winkler
2008

OTG

 

37th

Last Acts (Three Decembers)

Jake Heggie & Gene Scheer
2008

36th

The Refuge

Christopher Theofanidis & Leah Lax
2007

HGOco

35th

Send (who are you? I love you)

Michael John LaChiusa
2006

34th

Strega Nona

Mary Carol Warwick & Mary Ann Pendino
2006

OTG

33rd

Lysistrata, or the Nude Goddess

Mark Adamo
2005

32nd

The Princess and the Pea

Mary Carol Warwick & Mary Ann Pendino
2005

OTG

31st

Salsipuedes, a tale of Love, War and Anchovies

Daniel Catán and Eliseo Alberto/ Francisco Hinojosa
2004

30th

The End of the Affair

Jake Heggie & Heather McDonald
2004

29th

The Velveteen Rabbit

Mary Carol Warwick & Kate Pogue
2004

OTG

28th

The Little Prince

Rachel Portman & Nicholas Wright
2003

27th

Sibanda!

Michael Remson
2003

OTG

26th

The Emperor's New Clothes

Mary Carol Warwick & Kate Pogue
2001

OTG

25th

Cold Sassy Tree

Carlisle Floyd
2000

24th

Resurrection

Tod Machover & Laura Harrington with additional materials by Braham Murray

1999

23rd

Little Women

Mark Adamo
1998

HGOS

22nd

Cinderella in Spain/Cinderella en España

Mary Carol Warwick & Kate Pogue
1998

OTG

21st

Jackie O

Michael Daugherty & Wayne Koestenbaum
1997

HGOS

20th

Florencia en el Amazonas

Daniel Catán & Marcela Fuentes-Berain

1996

19th

The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a liberation through hearing

Ricky Ian Gordon & Jean-Claude van Itallie
1996

HGOS

18th

Puppy and the Big Guy

Sterling Tinsley & Kate Pogue
1995

OTG

17th

Harvey Milk

Stewart Wallace & Michael Korie
1995

16th

The Outcast 

fully realized version

Noa Ain
1994

15th

The Dracula Diary

Robert Moran & James Skofield
1994

HGOS

14th

TEXAS!

Mary Carol Warwick & Kate Pogue
1993

OTG

13th

The Achilles Heel

Craig Bohmler & Mary Carol Warwick
1993

TOT

12th

Desert of Roses

Robert Moran & Michael John LaChiusa
1992

11th

ATLAS: an opera in three parts

Meredith Monk
1991

10th

The Passion of Jonathan Wade

new version

Carlisle Floyd
1991

9th

New Year

Sir Michael Tippett
1989

8th

Where's Dick?

Stewart Wallace & Michael Korie
1989

TOT

7th

The Making of the Representative for Planet 8

Philip Glass and Doris Lessing
1988

6th

Nixon in China

John Adams & Alice Goodman
1987

5th

A Quiet Place

Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Wadsworth
1983

4th

Starbird

Henry Mollicone & Kate Pogue
1980

TOT

3rd

Willie Stark

Carlisle Floyd
1981

2nd

Bilby's Doll

Carlisle Floyd
976

1st

The Seagull

Thomas Pasatieri & Kenward Elmslie
1974

HGO American Premieres Through the 2019 Season

American Premieres

7th

The Passenger

Mieczyslaw Weinberg
2014

 

6th

Akhnaten

Philip Glass
1984

 

5th

La donna del lago

new critical edition

Gioacchino Rossini
1981

 

4th

The Panther

Philip Glass
1981

HGOS

 

3rd

Robinson Crusoé

Jacques Offenbach
1977

TOT

 

2nd

Rinaldo 

stage premiere

George Frideric Handel
1975

 

1st

Hugh the Drover

Ralph Vaughan Williams
1973

 

Recordings

Audio

Gordon/Vavrek: The House without a Christmas Tree, Pentatone, 2018

Heggie/Scheer: It’s a Wonderful Life, Pentatone, 2017

Gordon/Foglia: A Coffin in Egypt, Albany, 2014

Heggie/McNally: Dead Man Walking, EMI, 2012

Martinez/Foglia: Cruzar la Cara de la Luna/ To Cross the Face of the Moon, Albany, 2011

Previn/Caird: Brief Encounter, 2011

Heggie/Scheer: Three Decembers, Albany, 2009

Theofanidis/Lax: The Refuge, Albany, 2008

Floyd: Cold Sassy Tree, Albany, 2005

Floyd: Of Mice and Men, Albany, 2004

Catán/Fuentes-Berain: Florencia en el Amazonas, Albany, 2002

Machover/Harrington: Resurrection, Albany, 2002

Adamo: Little Women, Ondine, 2001

Daugherty/Koestenbaum: Jackie O, Argo/Decca, 1997

Sheng: Song of Majnun, Delos, 1997

Moran/Skofield: The Dracula Diary, Catalyst/BMG, 1994

Monk: ATLAS: an opera in three parts, ECM, 1992

Adams/Goodman: Nixon in China, Nonesuch, 1988

Joplin: Treemonisha, Deutsche Grammophon, 1982

Gershwin/Heyward: Porgy and Bess, RCA, 1976

Video

Adamo: Little Women, Naxos, DVD, 2010

Rossini: La Cenerentola, London/Decca,VHS and DVD, 1996

Joplin: Treemonisha, Kultur Video, VHS, 1982

Archives

In 1989, Houston Grand Opera established the Genevieve P. Demme Archives and Resource Center, named in honor of a longtime member of the board of trustees and historian of Houston Grand Opera Association. The facility preserves valuable materials from the company's history. The archive houses 3,500 linear feet of institutional records including programs, artists files, production records, audio and video recordings, financial records, and photographic images in a wide range of formats.

Houston Grand Opera Archives and Resource Center is an organizational archive. Public research is by appointment only. Some record series are restricted. For research requests or questions pertaining to Houston Grand Opera history, contact Archive Director Brian Mitchell at 713-546-0238 or bmitchell@hgo.org.

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