Houston Grand Opera: A full damage assessment

August 29, 2017 by norman lebrecht


Houston Grand Opera Managing Director Perryn Leech and Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers have issued the first assessment of flood damage to the theaters at the Wortham Center. Here’s what they report:

The Wortham had water penetration into the front of house areas at a low level due to high water; that water has now receded and left residual dirt. In the back of house, water surged over the storm defense and some water went onto the Brown Theater stage. This was at a low level but has resulted in damage to the surface of the stage.

The Cullen Theater stage has little water damage and the dressing room corridor had water, but also at a low level. The basement of the building is completely full of flood water. We want to thank Houston First, Theater District Inc. engineers, and Andy Frank Security for their great work in protecting the building from even worse damage. The Theater District garage is completely flooded and will undoubtedly be closed for some time for repairs and cleanup.

Fortunately, HGO staff members had the foresight to move valuable instruments and many costumes, including those for our opening productions of La traviata and Julius Caesar, to higher floors in advance of the storm. Houston Grand Opera will be out of our offices until after Labor Day. Our website remains down. 

Houston theater district (c) Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

The following internal assessment was sent to company members:

Dear members of the Company,

Our great city and region is continuing to suffer from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and we know that we are facing a long recovery together. We’ve heard from many of you through various channels, but keep those updates coming so we know you are safe.

To update you on the state of the Wortham Theater Center and Theater District garage: the basement of the Wortham is completely flooded and it will take a long time to restore. HGO staff members had the foresight to move valuable instruments and many costumes, including those for our opening productions of La traviata and Julius Caesar to higher floors in advance of the storm.

The water damage to the stage of the Brown Theater appears to be superficial and can be repaired. There is no damage to the main lobby, though both the Texas Street and Prairie Street entrances did take water and will need time to be restored. The auditorium of the Brown and Cullen theaters took some water, which has now receded and left residual dirt. The damage there is relatively light.

The Theater District garage is completely flooded and will undoubtedly be closed for some time for repairs and cleanup.

We will be out of our offices until after Labor Day and we will update you as soon as we know anything.

Please continue to keep in regular contact with your line managers, but also feel free to contact either of us if you have any questions or concerns.

We are a company, and we are here for each other. We will recover and deliver a fantastic season to our patrons, giving them the art they need to heal from this calamity. And the only future water we want coming across our stage is that of the Rhine!

All best

Perryn and Patrick

Wortham flooding (c) ABC News

Comments (20)

  1. herrera says:

    That’s what happens when one puts a building right next to a flood prone bayou.

    It’ll only get worse as engineers are releasing water from 2 nearby dams directly into the bayou, and as 2 more feet of rain are forecast in the coming days.

    1. Nelson Curtis says:

      Two MORE feet of rain in the coming days? You don’t know what you are talking about. More rain, yes. Two feet? Your source must be smoking something.

      1. Anon says:

        It’s very true. The National Weather Service is reporting that there could be up to another 25 inches of rain over the next few days. The storm went back out in the Gulf, regrouped, and will hit Texas again in the next few hours. By the end of the storm, they are predicting that Houston will receive about 50 inches of rain. That’s more than the yearly total.

        1. Nelson Curtis says:

          Yes, to the east of Houston. Indeed there could easily be that much rainfall, but to the east of Houston now. In any case, we’ve already had gauges in the Houston area at 48″ total for the storm, so I’m sure 50″ totals will happen. There’s not a whole lot of regrouping that will happen before it makes landfall (dry areas are already filling in), but wind was never this issue in the Houston area. I’m not trying to minimize ANYTHING about this devastating storm (and the river flooding and reservoir releases will be huge problems in the upcoming days) but Houston will NOT receive 2 more feet of rain!

          1. John says:

            Thank you, Nelson, for settling this wholly irrelevant matter for us.

      2. Una Barry says:

        Also.predicted on BBC and Sky in England. They just don’t need any rain whatever tge correct figure it may be.

  2. Sue says:

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch Americans are busy tearing down statues and reshaping their history! Ugly, ugly times.

    Our hearts go out to the people of Houston and surrounds.

    1. Nelson Curtis says:

      If your heart goes out to us, why don’t you hold off with your gratuitous political posturing regarding “tearing down statues”! Seriously, now is NOT the time. You can go back to defending Jim Crow and Robert E. Lee after we’ve recovered.

      1. Sue says:

        I’m saying your own people are preoccupied! That’s the point I was making.

    2. Una Barry says:

      There’s even a move to get rid of Nelson in Trafalgar Square, in London – and that’s not America!

      1. Sue says:

        Meanwhile, Houston is expecting more rain!! Dreadful.

    3. William Safford says:

      Tearing down Confederate statues is ugly only if you support white supremacy and treason, and the memory of white supremacists and murderous traitors.

      Do you?

      The people of Houston and surrounding areas impacted by the storm and flooding are in my thoughts.

      1. Sue says:

        Leave tearing down statues and monuments to the Taliban, if you please.

        1. William Safford says:

          I do not so please, thank you very much.

          Nor do I support white supremacists and traitors.

          Again: do you?

          1. Sue says:

            You are obviously of the alt-Left. And there’s more further good news (not) for the people of Texas from our own bien pensant news media:


          2. William Safford says:

            You obviously wish to try to deflect from your white supremacist and Lost Cause proclivities, by attempting to falsely attach a label for a nonexistent group to me.

            (The article you listed is behind a paywall.)

        2. Father Ted says:

          The Dubliners Nelson was a classic!

          Ronnie Drew and Ciaran Bourke.

  3. Larry says:

    Herrera, I lived in Houston for 3 years. The WHOLE city is a flood prone bayou.

  4. Rolf Percussionist says:

    Stockholm Opera calling. Glad to hear there is some good news along with all the bad and those instruments were moved. Keeping my fingers crossed for you and your coming season please take care of yourselves.

  5. Goblin says:

    Looks an impressive set for Das Rheingold, Alberich is played by Trump, one of the river floozies by one of Trumps tarts. Bayreuth must be envious of all that water.

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