The Wortham Center will be empty of any Houston Grand Opera performances until at least April 2021.
La Favorite proved to be a powerhouse Houston Grand Opera production. There will not be more of them until April 2021. (Photo by Lynn Lane)
Patrick Summers, Ana María Martínez, Plácido Domingo with the Houston Grand Opera orchestra at the HGO & Placido Coming Home Gala after Hurricane Harvey repairs.
Lawrence Brownlee stars in HGO's La Favorite. (Photo by Lynn Lane)
Houston Grand Opera revealed Tuesday evening that due to the coronavirus pandemic, all HGO productions have been canceled until April 2021. This is a major blow to opera devotees and performing arts backers alike.
The opera company joins other Houston performing arts groups that have been forced, due to COVID-19, to slash schedules, cut staff, and reduce salaries, including the Houston Symphony, Theatre for the Performing Arts, and the Alley Theatre.
In announcing the cancellation of 33 of the 47 main stage and Cullen Theater performances, the opera’s statement notes: “Guided by the current global health pandemic recommendations, Houston Grand Opera recognizes the importance of protecting its audiences, artists, musicians and staff members.”
Further, HGO is reducing its staff by 27 percent, and the remaining staff will have a 15 percent pay cut across the board beginning July 1, while senior leadership reduced their salaries June 1. “This combination of savings will reduce the FY21 expenses from $30,730,707 to $20,658,665,” according to the Houston Grand Opera, “and will protect the financial future for HGO.”
Already, HGO had canceled its spring repertory and several major fundraising events. The Opera Ball was postponed until 2021, and without the fall season launch, the opening night gala will not take place.
The company advises that patrons and subscribers who currently have tickets for the 2020-21 season will have their subscriptions automatically moved to the 2021-22 season. Existing tickets to Breaking the Waves, scheduled for April 16 to May 1, 2021, and to Rodgers and Hammerstein II’s The Sound of Music, scheduled for April 30 to May 15, 2021, will be made complimentary. Details can be found here.
“Many people depend on HGO for their livelihoods, and this was not an easy decision to make,” artistic and music director Patrick Summers says in a statement. “We are thankful to have a strong board and patron base that will help us get through this upcoming season and remain financially sound.”
“To say this has been a difficult year is an understatement,” says Janet Carrig, HGO board chair. “Our top priority remains the safety of our audiences, our artists, and our staff, and under the guidance of health officials, we had to make this painful decision. We are navigating a situation that still holds a lot of unknowns, and the effect of this pandemic on arts organizations around the world is overwhelming.”
The canceled performances include Carmen (October 23 to November 13), Werther (October 30 to November 15), the world premiere of The Snowy Day (December 10 to December 20), Parsifal (January 22 to February 7, 2021), and Cinderella (January 29 to February 15, 2021)