Houston Grand Opera is left homeless until May 2018

Houston Grand Opera is left homeless until May 2018


norman lebrecht

September 19, 2017

Message from the HGO:

We are very sorry to have to share the news that our creative home is still in great distress, and will take much longer to repair than we originally thought.

In conversation with Houston First and Gilbane Reconstruction Services it was decided at 6 p.m. today, September 18, 2017, that the damage from Hurricane Harvey will take the Wortham Theater Center out of commission until at least May 15, 2018. The full press release (http://bit.ly/2xtlFsL) from Houston First will be made public after 10 p.m. this evening so we wanted to make sure that you had this news before hearing it anywhere else.

We are in advanced negotiations with Houston First to perform our fall and early winter season (La traviata, Julius Caesar, and our world premiere of The House without a Christmas Tree) at an alternative venue and hope to have more concrete news by the end of this week. These negotiations will now obviously extend into discussion of the entirety of our 2017–18 Season.

Many thanks for your understanding, and thank you again for all you do for HGO.



  • William Osborne says:

    Houston Grand Opera is a curious name for a company whose orchestra only has about 48 members. 15 violins in total. 3 horns. Etc. And of course, a paltry season. It would appear that the opera company of America’s 4th largest city was never really afloat. All the same, wishing them the best with their flood recovery.

    • Laurence Dankel says:

      This would have been pretty snarky even at the best of times.

    • Joseph Li says:

      Your wishing HGO the best with their flood recovery is a curious way to end an otherwise snarky, uninformed, and ill-timed jab at people sorting through the devastation of both life and possessions.

      And I admit I’d be the first one to drop a pun were it not tasteless. I wish you would hold yourself to the same standard, sir.

      I do hope your giving in time of need is as sharp as your tongue.

      • William Osborne says:

        The truth about America’s scandalous lack of support for the arts is the most important issue confronting us. It has done more damage to the arts world than any hurricanes, and yet the American opera world pretends the problem doesn’t exist and even tries to cover it up. Grand Opera indeed. I have no patience for such pompous delusions. It’s fundamentally dishonest and deeply destructive.

        • Joseph Li says:

          That’s what’ll fix broken lives and broken homes – statistics.

          Good day to you, sir.

          • William Osborne says:

            Mr. Li remains oblivious to the lives of thousands of musicians who remain unemployed or under employed due to the American system of arts funding. He only shows concern when his own job and life is affected. (He’s an employee of the HGO.) Ah, the ironies…

          • Abi Levis says:

            And Mr. Osborne remains oblivious to how foolish this entire thread is.

            Do you have a problem with the current state of opera in America? Are you bemoaning the fact that it just doesn’t look as “grand” as those operas you saw in Europe all those years ago? Or back when Sutherland was Queen and Pavarotti was King and blah blah blah?

            Take. It. Up. With. Your. GOVERNMENT.

            The arts community is doing the best it can with scant resources. The arts scene in America looks different than in Europe because are not in Europe. The culture is different here. The political landscape is different here. The way the Arts are funded is. Different. Here.

            Cyber-Bullying an opera company in dire need of support during a time of crisis does absolutely nothing. Houston is reeling from the effects of one of the most devastating natural disasters in American history, and you want to complain about THE USE OF THE WORD GRAND IN THE COMPANY TITLE?

            Please, sir, take a seat. Take a breath, and take a moment to refocus your vitriol. May I suggest funneling it into something useful…like a phone call to your senator in support of adequate arts funding.

            Any other action makes you a part of the problem. A big useless part.

          • Cameron says:

            Mr. Osborne remains oblivious to the lives of the millions of people who are displaced because of the recent natural disasters. Clearly his dislike of HGO is due to some sort of personal vendetta. Maybe you didn’t like the seat you sat in, or your coffee was not just the way you like it at home. Maybe Mr. Osborne should put his money where his mouth is and house some displaced musicians who are in need. What he should absolutely NOT do is take aim at HGO employees who work hard at their jobs and bring music to many. What he should absolutely NOT do is take aim at a company that has recently suffered a huge loss. What he should absolutely NOT do is take aim at a company that has been a family to so many musicians over the years. What he SHOULD do is sit on his hands.

  • Mathew Duburgh says:

    They could at least perform the Water Music and the aria Art thou troubled by GF Handel Esq, London.

  • William Osborne says:

    Readers might like to look at the stats on Operabase. The USA only has four cities in the top 100 for opera performances per year. San Francisco and Chicago barely have half year seasons in total, and Houston is no better. Inexcusable for such large, wealthy cities. And they do everything possible to avoid admitting the truth about this dismal situation. It’s grotesque.


    • Toby Sinclair says:

      What the heck is your problem? If you want arts funding to change in America call your congressman. Don’t take a proverbial dump on an opera company that just suffered a huge loss. Jesus, man. Show some frickin common decency.

    • Dr. Jeffrey Peterson says:

      Mr. Osborne, are YOU a musician? Or do you just like to sit back and speak disparagingly about those who are. Perhaps you wanted to be one, and failed. I don’t know. Mr. Li is a valued colleague of mine, as well as being a valued member of the opera community in this country. Regional opera companies are popping up around the country, and doing well. The demise of some of these was due to the Republican-engineered financial collapse of 2008, or poor management in some cases. NONE of them was caused by musicians. I am dismayed to read your callous assessment of an industry that thrives in spite of not having the government funding that opera houses receive in Europe. I, along with many of my colleagues in this business, are proud of the work we do, and take issue with your glib dismissal of the efforts of many who strive to keep not only opera, but all the arts alive in this country.

    • Nelson says:

      So bigger is better? Quantity trumps quality? I’m sure you’re in the top 100 biggest self-proclaimed experts in the world judging from the stuff you’ve written here. And you know that anyone who disagrees with your thuggery has rose colored glasses and no sense of perspective. Wow, you must really have a very high opionion of your abilities to assess situations just by imagining you are an expert! Are you by any chance in the running for a Trump cabinet position? I think you are well qualified!

      Have you ever even attended a performance of the HGO? No, I thought not. So, how about you stick to writing about something you have direct knowledge of, which might just be….nothing.

  • Kyle Albertson says:

    Mr Osborn-

    Mr Li (a friend and colleague) is on faculty at Baylor University in Waco, TX. You seem to be good at looking up facts on the internet, but you failed on that one.

    Your concern for the state of the arts in the US is admirable, but might I lend you a piece of advice? LEARN TO READ A ROOM. The recent devastation left by Harvey is obviously a greater concern. Peoples lives were lost. Homes destroyed. Memories erased. Show some humanity.

    As one of the thousands of under employed artists you mentioned, I personally wish Houston GRAND Opera the best in their recovery process. They are an intrical part of the arts scene in Houston, and in the US. I also wish all those affected by Harvey the best in their recovery. Like HGO, it’s a long road, and they need our help and support, not our criticism for internet troll purposes.

  • Abi Levis says:

    If you have a problem with the state of opera in America, take it up with the American Government.

    Kicking a struggling company while they are down and whining about the use of the word “grand” in their title is useless. It does nothing to help the arts.

    If you actually care, call your senators and representatives.