Mar. 6, 2024

In Gratitude: Remembering Glen Rosenbaum


Glen Rosenbaum, great friend and supporter to Houston Grand Opera for many decades, passed away on February 28, 2024. The entire HGO community is feeling the acute pain of this loss.  


Glen’s service to HGO shaped the entire organization. A Senior Partner of Tax at Vinson & Elkins, he joined the firm in 1973 and worked there for half a century. Glen joined the HGO Board of Directors as General Counsel in 1982—a position that V&E lawyers have now held for over 40 years. From 1983-87 Glen led the team of V&E lawyers that represented HGO pro bono, negotiating and drafting the development and operating agreements with the Wortham Center and the Wortham Center Operating Company. These agreements, which allowed the company to make the Wortham its home after the theater opened in 1987, remain in effect today.  


Glen was a steadfast, involved, and active member of the HGO Board of Directors, serving as Board Chairman from 2009-11, a period that saw major project planning and fundraising toward HGO’s first Ring cycle, the U.S. premiere of The Passenger—the Holocaust opera performed at HGO followed by New York’s Lincoln Center Festival—and HGO’s first mariachi opera, Cruzar la cara de la luna. He has played a role in shaping countless HGO policies and initiatives, including chairing the strategic planning committee that helped establish HGOco, now Community & Learning. Among Glen’s other major HGO projects was the company’s storied 1986-87 Porgy and Bess production, which toured nationally. Glen contributed his time as a member of the board’s Finance and Philanthropy Committees and, during the 2022-23 season, co-chaired the company’s record-breaking 35th annual Concert of Arias.  


Glen’s leadership of HGO continued until the very end of his life. In fact, his death occurred two days before a quarterly company board meeting, where he surely would have been in attendance. Speaking to the board’s grieving members that day, HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers said he couldn’t remember attending a meeting where Glen wasn’t present. Summers went on to share these words in remembrance of his, and HGO’s, dear friend of so many years.  


My sympathies to all of us because we are all feeling the pain of this moment.  


To know Glen was to know an example of personal decorum and elegant integrity that one could try to uphold in one’s own life.  


He was wise, generous, funny, strategic, and sometimes maddeningly steadfast. He had a perfect sense of occasion and proportion. The things that gave him joy as a child he carried into his whole life: the family’s chocolate business, trains, compulsive work, and opera. If he had been blessed with one more day of life, he would have spent it doing exactly what he had always done—he would not have changed a thing.  


When I went to Israel to conduct Dead Man Walking, just before the pandemic, Glen organized a private tour for me at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, and only when I got there did I realize what he had actually arranged with the board of the museum, which was that after the tour I was allowed an hour alone with the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Aleppo Codex. It was typical of Glen’s thoughtfulness, to know exactly how to make an experience unforgettable.  


Glen dealt stoically with some very difficult problems in this organization over many decades—and of course, he didn’t deal with them alone; he had the support and counsel of many of you over many years. But he had a leader’s gift for keeping everyone focused on the most important things. He never added to a difficult situation; he tempered everything and everyone around him.  


So it is no surprise that his favorite composer was Verdi, and his favorite opera was Don Carlos—I can’t help but think of that glorious final duet of Elizabeth and Don Carlo and that swaying music in which they imagine a better world, freed from life’s burdens. It was Glen’s favorite music, so that is the music with which I will remember him. He watched over me, and indeed, the whole company, like a father, so I hope he will continue to do that.  


And we all know this about him as well: that he would want us to get to work on the business of HGO because there is a lot to do, and Glen’s imprint is on every bit of it. So, I would propose that the best way to honor him is to move into the business of the day as we remember this remarkable man we were all so blessed to know. —Patrick Summers  

about the author
Patrick Summers
Patrick Summers is the Artistic and Music Director, Sarah and Ernest Butler Chair, at Houston Grand Opera.