Special Message from the Office of the General Director
After carefully weighing our options for the upcoming season, and with the guidance of health officials, we have made the devastating decision to cancel our scheduled performances through February 2021. These canceled performances include Carmen, Werther, the world premiere of The Snowy Day, Parsifal, and Cinderella. As difficult as this decision was, our top priority remains the health and safety of our staff, artists, and audiences. Our hope is to welcome audiences back to the Wortham for our Spring Repertoire, which features two HGO premieres: Mazzoli and Vavrek’s Breaking the Waves and Rodgers and Hammerstein II’s The Sound of Music.
"Producing an opera begins years before the piece reaches the stage and its audience. HGO brings in people from all over the world to produce a diverse range of opera on the Wortham stages and in other venues around Houston. This means that hundreds of our singers, musicians, artists, technicians and administrative staff will be impacted by the cancellation. Years of hard work and collaboration have been put on hold as we navigate our current reality," says Managing Director Perryn Leech.
Like many nonprofits, HGO has been negatively impacted financially during the pandemic, having canceled its spring repertory and major fundraising events earlier this year. Staging grand opera requires hundreds of artists, crew, and staff members for each performance. Social distancing, a key tactic in fighting the spread of COVID-19, makes presenting grand opera financially unviable in the coming months. With the anticipation of lost revenues from not producing a full season, Houston Grand Opera has therefore been forced to make the heartbreaking decision to reduce its workforce by 27 percent—a first in the history of the organization. Staff remaining at HGO, including senior staff, will have a 15 percent pay reduction, or have their hours reduced to a level sufficient for the current programming, beginning July 1 and continuing through the end of February 2021. Senior leadership reduced their own salaries, which started on June 1. This combination of savings will reduce the FY21 expenses and will protect the financial future for HGO.
“Many people depend on HGO for their livelihoods, and this was not an easy decision to make. We are thankful to have a strong board and patron base that will help us get through this upcoming season and remain financially sound,” says Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers. “The arts are transformative and provide an impactful and moving experience. Now, more than ever, the Houston community needs the arts to help it process and heal, and that is not lost on us. We will continue to find ways to connect with our beloved audiences, even if we cannot physically be together.”
During the hiatus, the organization will present bi-monthly video content for its audiences. Additionally, HGO aims to produce a media project about The Snowy Day by composer Joel Thompson and librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney, based on the award-winning children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats. Audiences can join Peter, a young boy in New York City, as he experiences the joy of a fresh snowfall and finds delight in crunching, sliding, and playing his way through a snowy day. Julia Bullock makes her HGO debut as Peter, and director Omer Ben Seadia brings the wonder and magic of Peter’s wintry world to life. HGO’s Patrick Summers conducts the world premiere. The fully realized production will be presented in a future season. A full schedule of content and information on how to access these videos will be available in the coming months.
HGO patrons and subscribers who currently have tickets for the 2020–21 season will have their subscriptions moved to the 2021–22 season automatically. In appreciation of their continued support, existing tickets to Breaking the Waves and The Sound of Music will be made complimentary. More information and additional options can be found below.
Artistic and Music Director
Margaret Alkek Williams Chair
Sarah and Ernest Butler Chair
The cancellation of our upcoming fall, holiday, and winter performances impacts every member of our community, including artists, musicians, stagehands, and staff members. HGO is committed to the livelihood of all those involved in producing great opera in Houston. We have taken the lead in helping defray the impact of these cancellations and will continue to find ways to ease the financial burden on our community.
Which live events have been canceled?
- Mainstage productions of Carmen, Werther, The Snowy Day, Parsifal, and Cinderella, as well as all supporting activities
- HGOco’s Opera to Go! and Storybook Opera performances, as well as all lectures and workshops
- The HGO Studio Showcase
The arts bring us together and give us hope and inspiration, especially in challenging times. Following Hurricane Harvey, the message was clear that the arts matter deeply to Houstonians. Our hearts were touched by the outpouring of support, love, and positivity from our loyal subscribers and supporters, which ultimately helped HGO “weather the storm,” and return a stronger, more resilient company.
We know the same will hold true this time around, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your belief in the power of great art, and for your support of the HGO family. We can’t wait to be back in the Wortham, sharing great opera with you.
If you have a subscription for the 2020–21 season, your tickets will be automatically transferred to the 2021–22 season. There are no additional charges for this transfer. Your seats will remain the same.
Current 2020–21 subscribers will receive their original seats to Breaking the Waves and The Sound of Music in spring 2021 for free.
For more information, please email email@example.com.
How can you help?
1. Donate directly to the support the artists campaign here.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to financially impact our organization, especially our artists. We cannot navigate this crisis without your support. Your gift right now will make a critical difference.
2. Donate the value of your tickets.
If you choose to donate the cost of your subscription back to HGO, you will still be able to keep your seats for the 2021-22 season and receive free tickets to Breaking the Waves and The Sound of Music. This is a tax-deductible donation, and you will receive a receipt for your records. Please use this form to donate your tickets to help HGO support this effort.
If you have more questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
How to stay connected to HGO
Since the show must go on, we will be creating a space of hope and resilience on social media. From excerpts of operas from over the years, to personal videos with artists and staff members, we want to make sure you are getting your opera fix! With so much fear and frustration dominating our newsfeeds, we hope to provide a bit of relief and positivity during this challenging time.
- Monday through Friday: We will post short videos from our HGO family on our social channels for your enjoyment.
- Friday: We will post an archival feature that highlights some of our greatest moments.
We will announce a new series of online content soon.