From Development server
24 June 2020

Houston Grand Opera Forced to Cancel Majority of 2020-21 Season Performances, Reduce Staff In Response to Pandemic

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HOUSTON GRAND OPERA announced today that it the coronavirus pandemic has forced the company to cancel 33 of the 47 mainstage and Cullen Theater performances scheduled for its 2020-21 season, and that lost revenues will require the company to reduce its staff by 27 percent. 

The cancelation of five of the productions slated for next season, as well as the staff attenuation, continues of a trend of significant steps taken by a major American opera companies in the wake of the pandemic. In the past two months, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Opera, Dallas Opera and the Metropolitan Opera have suspended their fall seasons, and hope to reopen as early as December.  

Houston Grand Opera said its canceled productions would include slated performances of Carmen (October 23-November 13); Werther (October 30-November 15); the world premiere of The Snowy Day (December 10-20); Parsifal (January 22-February 7, 2021); and Cenerentola (January 29-February 15,2021). It hopes to welcome audiences back to its home in the Wortham Theater Center in April 2021 for the company premieres of Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves and The Sound of Music. It also plans to present via video a modified version of The Snowy Day, an adaptation of Ezra Jack Keats’s children’s book by composer Joel Thompson and librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney, as well as a media project about the work. The company plans to present a full staging of the work in a future season.  

Citing the cancelation of its spring 2020 performances and major fundraising events, as well as the anticipation of lost revenues from its abbreviated 2020-21 season, the company announced its staff cuts, as well as a 15 percent pay reduction—or a reduction in working hours—implemented among the remaining staff, beginning on July 1 and lasting through February 2021. The company said that those changes will reduce the FY21 expenses from $30,730,707 to $20,658,665 and will secure HGO's financial future.  

“Many people depend on HGO for their livelihoods, and this was not an easy decision to make,” HGO artistic and music Director Patrick Summers said in a statement issued today. “We are thankful to have a strong board and patron base that will help us get through this upcoming season and remain financially sound. The arts are transformative and provide an impactful and moving experience. Now, more than ever, the Houston community needs the arts to help it process and heal, and that is not lost on us. We will continue to find ways to connect with our beloved audiences, even if we cannot physically be together.” 

Managing Director Perryn Leech added: “Producing an opera begins years before the piece reaches the stage and its audience. HGO brings in people from all over the world to produce a diverse range of opera on the Wortham stages and in other venues around Houston. This means that hundreds of our singers, musicians, artists, technicians and administrative staff will be impacted by the cancellation. Years of hard work and collaboration have been put on hold as we navigate our current reality.” 

The company also said that its board had formed two committees—the COVID-19 Working Group and the HGO Health Advisory Committee—that will ensure all of the company's future planning, operations and procedures will allow for an eventual return to rehearsals, performances and office work. 

Patrons who purchased tickets for the company’s 2020-21 season will have their subscriptions automatically moved to the 2021-22 season, and the company said that  existing tickets for its presentations of Breaking the Waves and The Sound of Music will be made complimentary. spacer 

More information can be found at Houston Grand Opera

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