Welcome to the opera!
On this page, you will find links to the resource guides for this season’s student performances and information to get you started on learning about the world of Houston Grand Opera.
Looking for a chance to meet an opera singer? Email us at HGOco@HGO.org find out how!
Where are we?
Houston Grand Opera (HGO) is one of the largest opera companies in the world! Founded in 1955, the company puts on six to eight fully staged operas per season and has 70 world premieres to date
HGOco is Houston Grand Opera’s unique initiative that explores making opera relevant to its changing audiences by connecting our company with the community through collaboration. HGOco creates opportunities to observe, participate in, and create art.
The Gus S. Wortham Theater Center is the performing home of Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, and many touring productions. The Wortham opened in 1987 and houses both the Brown Theater, which seats 2,362; and the Cullen Theater, which seats 1,066. Since it opened, it has entertained more than 8 million people!
Introduction to Opera
At Houston Grand Opera we like to say Opera is simply storytelling using words and music. Traditionally, all the words in an opera are sung and set to the music of an orchestra. The music is used to propel the story forward, and it is enhanced by sets, costumes, lights, and makeup. Operas have been written in many different languages including French, Italian, German, and Spanish. Opera singers often perform in languages that they do not speak!
You will immediately notice that opera singers, unlike their peers in musical theatre or the recording industry, do not use microphones. Rather, an opera singer trains their own body as a source of “natural” amplification.
How is this done? Through years of careful study and practice, singers learn to project sound and control the exhaling of breath. The process is simple, but difficult to master–by expanding the lower abdominal muscles while taking in air, the lungs fill. These low muscles then assist the singer in regulating the amount of air used in singing. This frees the neck and throat (where the vocal cords are) so the singer can produce a relaxed, full sound. As the sound passes through the mouth it resonates in the sinus cavities of the face and head, which act as small echo chambers that help amplify the sound. The resulting sound is not only audible but can be clearly perceived in the back rows of the orchestra and the top of the balcony.