Digital Opera Is Here to Stay: Houston Grand Opera Returns with HGO Digital

Following its successful inaugural season, HGO Digital returns for 2021-22 to complement the company’s mainstage season

Following the success of its debut digital season, Houston Grand Opera (HGO) is proud to announce the return of HGO Digital, the Sarah and Ernest Butler Performance Series. The inaugural season of HGO Digital replaced the company’s 2020-21 mainstage performances during the COVID-19 pandemic. After an enthusiastic reception, the company is bringing back HGO Digital for 2021-22.

The organization, long dedicated to breaking down barriers that surround the artform, has discovered that digital performances are an effective means of engaging new audiences.

“HGO Digital is a tremendous example of this organization’s commitment to the art form. So many people came together to develop a completely new digital season, while following strict safety protocols,” says Khori Dastoor, HGO General Director and CEO. “And all that hard work paid off – our audience expanded to an international stage, and we were able to make opera accessible to so many who may not have been interested before. We are excited to make digital art a standard part of our season.”

The second season of HGO Digital will feature all free performances with two exceptions, Three Decembers and Suite Española II, which will require payment before viewing. Performances will be available for streaming for 30 days after their release. Check HGODigital.org for details on how to enjoy these performances through our new platform.

In an exciting update earlier this week, HGO announced the opening night livestream of world premiere opera The Snowy Day – a historic and momentous moment for the company. On December 9, HGO will not only premiere the highly anticipated The Snowy Day, but the company will also make it accessible to all. Audiences around the world are invited to celebrate this momentous event through HGO Digital.

The 2021-22 season includes:

Winter 2021

HGO Studio Showcase – Dec. 3 through Jan. 2, 2022; FREE

This year the annual event took place live, but with a limited audience, at the Wortham Theater Center. The second HGO Digital season will launch with a filmed version of the Showcase, a beloved tradition, so that more audiences get to experience the diverse talents of our HGO Studio artists as they perform staged, costumed excerpts from a variety of operatic works.

The Snowy Day Opening Night Livestream – Dec. 9, 2021 through Jan. 8, 2022; FREE

Created by composer Joel Thompson and librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney, based on the classic children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats, the opera follows the sweet adventures of a young Black child named Peter as he sets out to explore the city following a fresh snowfall. The beautiful, family-friendly work, The Snowy Day, marks HGO’s 72nd world premiere and first-ever opening night livestream.

Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers – Dec. 10, 2021 through Jan. 9, 2022; $29.99

Originally commissioned by HGO and based on Terrence McNally’s original script Some Christmas Letters, this chamber opera from composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer made its world premiere in Houston in 2008. A touching, witty family drama that unfolds over three decades, the work has now been performed at theaters across the country. Experience it again in this new digital production, created in conjunction with Opera San José and starring Susan Graham.

Winter 2022

 The 34th Annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers Concert of Arias – Jan. 21, 2022; FREE

The annual competition returns for its 34th year and will be streamed live on HGO’s social platforms in addition to HGODigital.org. The talented artists selected to compete during this popular event will vie for a spot training with the prestigious HGO Studio. After the live competition, the concert will be available to stream through Feb. 20.

Live from The Cullen: Lauren Snouffer – Feb. 11 through Mar. 13, 2022; FREE

The recital series Live from The Cullen returns for a second year as part of HGO Digital. The first performance, featuring internationally renowned soprano and HGO Studio alumna Lauren Snouffer, celebrates love and the natural world through works by Debussy, Berg, Schubert, and contemporary composer Will Liverman. With Joseph Li on piano.

Spring 2022

Giving Voice – Mar. 19 through Apr. 18, 2022; FREE

HGO’s third annual Giving Voice concert will celebrate diverse artists in opera. We are proud to continue this new company tradition, which was originally the brainchild of tenor Lawrence Brownlee. This performance will be streamed live on HGO’s social media platforms in addition to Vimeo.

Live from The Cullen: Michelle Bradley – Apr. 8 through May 8, 2022; FREE
Accompanied by HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers, fast-rising soprano Michelle Bradley sings Mahler’s five-song Rückert-Lieder, Barber’s Hermit Songs, Op. 29, and a selection of spirituals.

Live from The Cullen: Federico de Michelis – May 13 through Jun. 12, 2022; FREE
Renowned Argentinian bass-baritone and HGO Studio alumnus Federico de Michelis shares tango and chamber songs from his home country alongside jazz standards. He also plays guitar, with Emiliano Messiez on piano.

Summer 2022

Suite Española II – Jun. 10 through Jul. 10, 2022; $29.99

Building on the critical and audience response for spring 2021’s Suite Española, created by and starring the incomparable Ana María Martínez, this follow-up program celebrates the musical traditions of Spanish-speaking cultures in Central and South America.

In addition to the new season, HGO Digital offers access to past recitals; artist conversations; Star Cross’d, HGO’s original digital opera series; and productions including The Making of The Snowy Day: An Opera for All for free.

HGO Digital will roll out on a new platform for this upcoming season. Users can stream the company’s digital season on Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, Google, and any web browser. More details on how users can create login credentials and access the digital season can be found at HGODigital.org.