Houston Grand Opera to Stage its First Ring Cycle

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Houston Grand Opera said on Wednesday that it will mount its first-ever staging of Wagner's Ring Cycle as the centerpiece of its 2013-14 season.

The production, by La Fura dels Baus, a provocative theater company from Barcelona, has been produced in several European cities but never in the US. It brings video projections, acrobats and, according to one source, a “1950s sci-fi B-movie aesthetic" to Wagner's tale of greed and power. The cycle opens in April 2014 with Das Rheingold, followed by one installment each year over four years.

The cycle follows recent new Ring productions in New York and Los Angeles. La Fura dels Baus produced the opening of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, which included the memorable duet pairing of Freddie Mercury and Monsterrat Caballe.

Also scheduled next season are a pair of new works: the North American premiere of The Passenger, Mieczyslaw Weinberg's opera about the Holocaust; and the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s A Coffin in Egypt, starring the veteran mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.

Other new productions will include a Carmen by the prolific, Tony Award-winning Broadway director Rob Ashford ("Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"); and Sondheim’s A Little Night Music in a production by the fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi.

The HGO announcement comes on a busy day for the Houston arts scene. Earlier, the Houston Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of its next music director, the Colombian-born, Vienna-trained Andrés Orozco-Estrada. The 35-year-old conductor is to start as music director designate this fall, followed by a five-year contract in the 2014-15 season.