Houston Grand Opera’s community-driven mission

Posted on: February 10, 2011

In Thursday’s (2/10) Wall Street Journal, Judith H. Dobrzynski writes, “In the music world, it’s now axiomatic that opera companies must change, that they can’t just keep staging the same old productions of ‘Tosca’ and ‘Carmen,’ that they must shed their snooty image if they want to thrive. But how? Anthony Freud, the London-born general director of the Houston Grand Opera, has staked out an answer all his own. He calls it ‘HGOco,’ and says that when he moved here in 2006, coming to ‘a 21st-century city’ with ‘a 400-year-old art form,’ it was absolutely essential. … His key to the future is ‘Song of Houston,’ the pioneering part of his initiative (which also includes opera camps, opera in schools, preschool opera programs and other activities around the city). ‘Song’ involves the city’s many ethnic groups in the commissioning of new vox populi works, which so far number three. … In two performances this month, ‘Courtside,’ the first of nine chamber operas that will deal with Asian immigrants under the umbrella name ‘East + West,’ is having its premiere. Composed by Jack Perla for an ensemble of violin, cello, bass, vibraphone and pipa, with a libretto by playwright Eugenie Chan for a cast of four, its story is about reconciling pride in modern America with Chinese tradition across three generations. It will be performed in community centers around town.”

Posted February 10, 2011