Seeking the Human Spirit 2017–2023

A six-year multidisciplinary initiative designed to highlight the universal spiritual themes raised in opera and to expand and deepen Houstonians’ connections to opera and to art.


The 2018–19 Mainstage operas will speak to the theme of “Transformation”: 

Wagner: The Flying Dutchman • Fall 2018

This work represents Wagner’s fascination with the supernatural and the transformational redemption that comes from pure, faithful love. The Flying Dutchman, cursed to sail the seas until he finds the pure love of a woman, is eventually released from his doomed existence through Senta’s sacrificial death.

Catán: Florencia en el Amazonas • Winter 2019

During a boat trip down the Amazon, Florencia Grimaldi, a world-famous opera singer, reflects on the emptiness of her life and hopes to reunite with her long-lost lover Cristóbal.  In Daniel Catán and Marcela Fuentes-Berain’s masterful work, rooted in magical realism, we witness an otherworldly, enchanting transformation born out of Florencia’s deep love for Cristóbal.

Tarik O'Regan and John Caird: The Phoenix • Spring 2019
World Premiere 

In HGO’s 66th world premiere, composer Tarik O’Regan and librettist John Caird humorously explore the numerous transformations Lorenzo da Ponte must make to survive his adventurous life. From priesthood to debauchery to family man, from destitution to the emperor’s librettist, from immigrant to greengrocer to opera producer and academic professor in America, Da Ponte may be the true impresario of transformation itself.

Handel: Saul
Fall 2019

Javier Martinez, Leonard Foglia: El Milagro del Recuerdo
Holiday 2019

Donizetti: La favorite
Winter 2020

Mozart: The Magic Flute
Spring 2020

HGO launched Seeking the Human Spirit in 2017–18 season with three works tied to the theme of “Sacrifice”: 

Verdi: La traviata • Fall 2017
Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek: The House without a Christmas Tree • December 2017
World Premiere

Bellini: Norma • Spring 2018

Opera takes the human spirit in this grand cathartic way and sings it back to you.

- HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers



All events listed below are open to the public.

Transforming the Mind & Spirit: An Exploration of Creativity with Mauro Ferrari, Maestro Patrick Summers and Invited guests
May 20, 2019 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
MATCH 4, 3400 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002

The 2018–19 community events for Seeking the Human Spirit culminate on May 20 with Transforming the Mind and Spirit: An Exploration of Creativity with Mauro Ferrari, HGO’s Patrick Summers, and invited guests who will discuss the various components of creativity, including mathematics, science, visual arts, music, mysticism, and mental health. Buy tickets HERE.

Exploring Your Creative Identity
HGO's new adult learning course for 55+

This workshop includes 8 sessions:
9/10, 9/17, 9/24, 10/1, 10/8, 10/15 – 10AM-11:45AM
10/19-10AM-3PM; 10/23-5PM-7PM; $300.00

Inspired by HGO’s Transforming the Mind & Spirit: An Exploration of Creativity event, we will continue the journey through our Seeking the Human Spirit Initiative in fall 2019.

This new course will provide participants opportunities to discover and cultivate a variety of creative practices while collectively producing an original work of art based on the initiative’s theme IDENTITY. Singing, song composition, improvisatory acting, creative writing, and expressive movement sessions led by industry professionals will take participants through the creative process.

This course also includes access to mainstage dress rehearsals of HGO’s fall repertoire (Rigoletto and Saul) and a backstage tour. A final presentation of the created work, presented prior to the final dress rehearsal of Saul, completes this engaging learning adventure.

No previous experience required. Buy tickets HERE.

Museum of Fine Arts Houston Book Club
November 2018

Join the MFAH online bookclub and read “Love in the Time of Cholera” at your own pace. The novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was one of Daniel Catan’s sources of inspiration as he composed “Florencia en el Amazonas”, one of HGO’s winter productions.

Visit MFAH.org for details about the program. 


Programs listed below are not public events. 

The Women's Home/ The Institute for Spirituality & Health at Texas Medical Center 
Fall 2018

The Courage to Search - a 14-week spiritual exploration program supporting women in recovery. HGO facilitates an empathy workshop, lunch time recital and Q&A by a mainstage artist. Participants attend one performance of an HGO mainstage opera.

Houston Methodist
December 2018

Music Therapy Program residency working with residents in the Psychiatric short term care unit. HGO Studio Artists or HGOco Teaching Artists will work with program therapists to integrate song into recovery care and self-management. The 3-day residencies will also take place in December, February, and May .


Fine Art and Mozart’s Beautiful Music Combine to Explore Women Rights throughout History
April 18, 2019 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
1001 Bissonnet, Houston, TX 77005
Meet the Master Gallery Educator in the entry lobby to the Audrey Jones Beck Building. Tours will begin promptly at 6:30PM and 7:30PM or you can join the group in process.

HGO partners with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for Women Transformed through Art & Opera, a walking tour and recital reimagining Mozart and Da Ponte’s heroines in the opera Don Giovanni. Master Gallery Educator Luann Turley will lead guests to selected artwork in the museum that correlate to the opera’s three female characters, providing context that allows the audience to reflect upon the role of women in society from the time the opera premiered in 1787 to modern day. At each gallery an excerpt from the opera will be performed. Featured singers include Gwendolyn Alfred, Cecilia Duarte and Alisa Magallón accompanied by Kirill Kuzmin.

Free to the public. No registration required.

Panel Discussion—Don Giovanni and the #MeToo Movement
April 10, 2019 | 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Free and open to the public
Registration required

Rehearsal Room 4 (Enter at 510 Preston Street)
510 Preston Street, Houston, TX 77002

Join HGO for a conversation moderated by Carleen Graham, director of HGOco, about the impact of the #MeToo movement on the performing arts and the ways in which traditional opera is approached due to changing societal views. Attendees may choose to stay for the Don Giovanni piano dress rehearsal at 7:30 p.m. For more details click HERE.


  • Fleurette Fernando, M.A. in Arts Leadership Program Director, University of Houston
  • Kasper Holten, Don Giovanni Director
  • Alecia Lawyer, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra Executive Director
  • Eileen Morris, Ensemble Theater Artistic Director
  • Patrick Summers, HGO Artistic and Music Director

I, Don Giovanni: Film Screening
April 9, 2019 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Italian Cultural & Community Center
1101 Milford Street, Houston, TX 77006

The Houston Grand Opera and the Italian Cultural and Community Center present the film Io, Don Giovanni (I, Don Giovanni) about the life of Lorenzo da Ponte, his relationship with Mozart, and the creation of the opera Don Giovanni. The film also underscores the parallels between the life of Da Ponte and the character he and Mozart brought to life so vividly. A short discussion with HGO dramaturge Jeremy Johnson will follow the screening.

Wine and light bites will be served.

For more details, click HERE.

Songs on the Water
March 23 & 24, 2019 4:00 PM & 6:00 PM
Allen's Landing
1001 Commerce Street, Houston, TX 77002

Join us for Songs on the Water, a boat cruise à la Florencia en el Amazonas. Buffalo Bayou will stand in for the Amazon River on this 90-minute journey that includes a recital by artists of the HGO Studio, wine, and light bites. HGO joins Buffalo Bayou Partnership in presenting this unique event, which is part of the Partnership’s re-activation of the waterways post–Hurricane Harvey. It will be an enchanting musical experience for those on the boat as well as passers-by. 

Visit  buffalobayou.org for dates and tickets. Admission $75. For more details, click HERE.

Presentation: Der Fliegende Holländer: Transformation of the Fallen Soul
October 17, 7:30 PM
Jung Center, 5200 Montrose Blvd, 713-524-8253

Richard Wagner’s opera The Flying Dutchman provides opportunities to explore the notion of archetype, how it works in everyday life, and the ways it is reflected in great works of art, especially opera. The Flying Dutchman tells the story of a sea captain, cursed to perpetually sail the seas until he finds redemption in human love. A major theme is transformation, and we will explore several different aspects of the transformative process through archetypal motifs, including the fall, call, journey, wanderer, anima, separation, and redemption.

Transforming the Spirit Through Song
December 15, 2018, 7 PM
Discovery Green

Join members of the Houston Grand Opera Chorus and HGO Studio in a holiday sing-along led by HGOco Music Director and Composer-In-Residence Damien Sneed. Free and open to the public. Will coincide with Flea By Night and GUST - an interactive art installation created by Cocolab, a Mexico City-based studio for the Discovery Green Conservancy

The Flying Dutchman
07:00 PM
02:00 PM
07:30 PM
07:30 PM
07:30 PM
Florencia en el Amazonas
07:30 PM
02:00 PM
07:30 PM
07:30 PM
02:00 PM
The Phoenix
07:30 PM
02:00 PM
07:30 PM
07:30 PM
07:30 PM

What I love about opera is that it connects us all…We are communicators, we are messengers. We are not the message.

- Ana María Martínez


Houston Methodist/Center for Performing Arts Medicine

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Jung Center, Houston

The Rothko Chapel

The Women’s Home/Institute for Spirituality and Health

Sacred Sites Quest

With a special thanks to our Major Donors

The Alkek and Williams Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Robin Angly and Miles Smith

The Brown Foundation

Mathilda Cochran

Connie and Byron Dyer

Dr. Elizabeth Grimm and Dr. Jack A. Roth

Claire Liu and Joseph Greenberg

Sara and Gabriel Loperena

Louisa Stude Sarofim Foundation

National Endowment for the Arts

OPERA America

Elizabeth Phillips

Harlan and Dian Stai

Mr. and Mrs. Donald G. Sweeney

Albert and Anne Chao/Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation

Mr. John G. Turner and Mr. Jerry G. Fischer

The Wortham Foundation, Inc.

Mr. and Mrs. Oscar S. Wyatt Jr.