Houston Grand Opera to Stage its First Ring Cycle

Announcement Comes As Houston Symphony Names New Conductor

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 07:00 PM

La Fura dels Baus's production of Wagner's 'Das Rheingold' La Fura dels Baus's production of 'Das Rheingold' (Tato Baeza/Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia)

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.

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Comments [6]

David from Houtson, Texas

Never been to Bayreuth. HGO's staging may be the closest I get to seeing a "Ring." Until April 2014 I will satisfy myself with Furtwangler's 1953 RAI recordings and Solti's 1959-1966 studio recordings. Would love one day to see this at Bayreuth.

Aug. 21 2013 06:57 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

The troubles that tear asunder the prospect of REAL echt WAGNERIAN PERFORMANCES are the total lack of singers with squillo, ping, ringing "juicy', not dry secco tone delivery,singers WITHOUT thrilling fortissimo acuti, high , notes and WITHOUT melting pianissimi but instead substitute WAGNERIAN BARKING rather than legato full-throated singing with strained and forced and flat singing, undersized and underpowered singing, at the same time WITHOUT impressive carrying power and the final curse throaty and/nasal ugly voice production.

Apr. 30 2013 12:50 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Today's news deals with deficits and declining support for the arts. Tandem to this predicament for the talented is the perception that the current situation will continue for a long time to come. Speaking specifically how this precludes the motivation for young operatic singers who must early on choose their life's work, many have turned to Broadway or the business world. Nowadays Broadway musicals are out for show-stopping sensationalism with laser distractions, monster sets, acrobatic feats and space age technical projections and featuring dancing over singing. So, for the real thing opera singer, Broadway musicals, outside of Phantom of the Opera and an occasional Les Miserables there is little prospect of a sustainable career. The Wagner oeuvre has suffered the most. Husky physiques, witness the iconic John McCormack, do not offer similar size singing voices in power or stamina. Heroic voices like Melchior, Tamagno, Ruffo and the mature Caruso are nowhere on today's world class stages. Instead we suffer to hear miniscule, non-charismatic, non-distinctively memorable singing voices essaying roles far beyond their undersized,underpowered, thin not orotund, singing potentialities lacking sufficient carrying, projection power to be consistently heard over Wagner's or Richard Strauss' orchestrations.

Apr. 29 2013 03:19 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard W3agner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

IT WOULD BE CRAZY-FUNNY IF OPERA WOULD ENTERTAIN THE FICTION THAT SUPER MODERNISTIC, LASER, BIG SET PRODUCTIONS WOULD COMPENSATE FOR LACKLUSTER SINGING VOICES. OPERA IS A COMPREHENSIVE AGGREGATE OF BEAUTIFUL SINGING, ACTING, AND SUPPORTED BY SETS AND COSTUMES AND ORCHESTRAL UNDERPINNING. MINUS GLORIOUS SINGING, IT WOULD JUST BE ENTERTAINMENT, WHICH MIGHT SUFFICE FOR SOME. . I am a Wagnerian heldentenor , opera composer, and director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute. My three websites are www.WagnerOpera.com, www.ShakespeareOpera.com and
www.RichardWagnerMusicDramaInstitute.com, where one may download, free, at RECORDED SELECTIONS, 37 complete selections, "live," from my four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnehgie Hall.

Jan. 17 2013 10:31 AM

Jan. 17 2013 05:27 PM
Brunnhilde from NYC

Who wants it??! Glad my money's not going into it. Production, production, production. My CD's have become more valuable to me than ever. By the way, didn't von Stade retire?

Jan. 17 2013 11:56 AM
Neil Schnall

Send in the clowns... don't bother - they're here.

Jan. 17 2013 11:06 AM

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