Friday, September 18, 2015

Opera: It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

[Left to right: Librettist Royce Vavrek, composer Gregory Spears, director Kevin Newbury, and conductor Timothy Myers. Photograph by Lynn Lane.]

This isn't quite a review ... not just yet ... but rather a reminder that the world premiere of HGOco's "O Columbia" is less than a week away! If you live in the Houston area, it would be a real shame to miss this -- there are only two performances, and tickets are only $20 each.

As a reminder, HGOco is a branch of Houston Grand Opera. "O Columbia" is their commissioned chamber opera (~70 minutes long) celebrating the spirit of exploration that is such an integral part of Houston. In particular, it honors that spirit not only by remembering past explorers, including the crew of the space shuttle Columbia, but also imagining future explorers as well.

Paul and I have been fortunate enough to have witnessed this opera from concept to realization. Over the last year and a half, we participated in two workshops that occurred during the work's development, one for the libretto written by Royce Vavrek, and one pairing that libretto to composer Gregory Spears' original music. And today I saw their sneak preview at NASA Johnson Space Center, during which they performed several highlights.

Back when we first learned of this project, it seemed like it would be forever before it would finally premiere. Now, I can't believe it's already here! What I'm most excited about is seeing it actually staged. It will be performed at the Revention Music Center (formerly the Bayou Music Center), which is a big warehouse-like space. All of the performers will be "on stage" for the entire opera, but they're not going to be so much on stage as right in the middle of the crowd: it will be performed in the round, with moving ladders and set pieces and stars overhead. The preview today was fantastic; I can only imagine how much fuller the experience will be in this unique setting.

More information here.

[This post affectionately dedicated to those who think all opera is about lovesick, star-crossed couples.]

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