Join us in taking a look back at the incredible art we created together in 2015!
Mozart's La clemenza di Tito
January 30 - February 8, 2015 (2014-2015 Season)
Mozart's Roman tale about a woman scorned, an evil assassination plot, and shocking forgiveness was made fresh with a modern-dress rendition that was called elegant by the Houston Press. In his first production with Opera in the Heights, Principal Conductor Eiki Isomura led a thrilling performance for Oh! patrons of this Mozart rarity. Critics called the cast a "finely tuned ensemble" and the orchestra "reliably solid."
Oh!'s offering of La clemenza di Tito showed that little has changed for us in the thousands of years since Ancient Rome, and even less in the hundreds of years since Mozart filled this soaring opera with all the societal anger, wildfire gossip, political chatter, and partisan plotting that papers the walls of our public lives. The terror and terrorism that climbs through La clemenza di Tito, impossibly, yet accurately, imagines our daily headlines while tracing the true shape of their ancient roots. The beauty of Metastasio's libretto is in its continuing prescience. We placed this story in our own time, and with no alteration were able to recall an ancient world in which, though guns were daggers, the motives and machinations were the same.
Brook's La tragédie de Carmen
Adapted from the opera by Georges Bizet
March 20 - 29, 2015 (2014-2015 Season)
Oh! audiences were swept away with the spicy and seductive music of La tragédie de Carmen, the tragic tale of the ultimate femme fatale, the naïve soldier she seduces, and his rival, the glamorous toreador. Critics raved that "the cast committed wholeheartedly to staged mayhem" and that Principal Conductor Eiki Isomura "lead his chamber orchestra with seductive ease". All said, it made for an irresistibly captivating evening at the intimate Lambert Hall.
When Bizet's Carmen premiered in 1875, it broke new ground in French opera with its steamy portrayal of love and jealousy. In the years since its premiere, Carmen has become perhaps the most popular and recognizable of operas, losing that shock factor that was so much a part of its beginning. But this 1983 adaptation, La tragédie de Carmen, stripped away all the "fluff", paring the work down to its essential elements, and bringing the opera back to its original gritty, visceral nature.
Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci
September 18 - 26, 2015 (2015-2016 Season)
In our 20th Anniversary Season opener, we presented the story of a commedia dell'arte troupe that quickly learns how life can imitate art. Critics proclaimed the performance "soared" and that Opera in the Heights "scored a knockout." At the onset of the opera, Tonio's prologue demands the audience consider not the performers' costumes but rather their souls, for the characters populating the stage are "men of flesh and bone, who, like you, breathe the air."
The audience and the players in fact do breathe the same air, and nowhere is that connection more powerfully felt than at Lambert Hall, home of Opera in the Heights. The theater has a remarkable way of enveloping each audience member in the action. Our wonderful orchestra performs in plain view, and the design of the hall frequently inspires staging that utilizes every aisle and corner of the house. This immersive effect became all the more potent in the context of I Pagliacci, with its play-within-a-play structure and obscured boundaries between theatre and real life. Though many may have heard the iconic aria "Vesti la giubba" many times, the audience's hearts broke anew in sympathy with Canio in the intimate space, where we were continually reminded that audiences and players breathe the same air.
Menotti's The Medium and The Telephone
October 30 - November 7, 2015 (2015 - 2016 Season)
In a 1947 radio interview, Gian Carlo Menotti described the then-current state of opera by quoting Nöel Coward: "People are wrong when they say that the opera isn't what it used to be. It is what it used to be - that's what's wrong with it!" Menotti then went on in his own words, "People don't realize that opera is theatre. It must be live theatre. Just as the plays change with the passing centuries, so should opera." He made his point, in part to reject the notion that opera had become a museum piece in his time, and also to explain his practice of writing his own libretti.
In The Telephone and The Medium, Menotti charted a way forward for opera, one in which composers and interpreters tackle contemporary subject matter while continuing to engage with the past. Menotti's artistic vision and craft were such that nearly seventy years after their successful premiere as a double bill in 1947 the pieces still ring true. The Telephone, a sassy and short work about a boyfriend unable to propose to his girlfriend because she won't get off the phone is perhaps more relevant than ever. The Medium, a sleek psychological thriller about a sham seer who scams her emotionally fragile patrons, continues to transport, shock, and haunt audiences today. The Houston Press summed up the experience saying "Any Menotti is rare in today's opera rep. A return to his particular brand of full-out theatricality is long overdue, certainly welcome, and a surprising re-discovery."
ConciertOh! de Invierno
December 11 - 13, 2015
ConciertOh! de Invierno is a special holiday concert highlighting some of Oh’s most outstanding Hispanic artists. The artists played a critical role in the creative process for the concert, drawing on their own nostalgia of holiday traditions. The concert series gave patrons the opportunity to experience a variety of Spanish musical genres hailing from regions including Spain, Mexico and Cuba. The musical offerings included traditional zarzuelas, boleros and música navideña - perfect for the music lover at any age. The ConciertOh! de Invierno concert touched not only the hearts of our patrons but our singers as well. By closing night, the celebratory energy and sense of camaraderie between both sides of the stage was palpable - the audience begged for an encore and the artists obliged! To all who attended our weekend of special performances: Thank You! We are grateful to have kicked-off the holiday season with you and your family with such a festive and fabulous concert weekend.