70 down, lots more to go...it's Opera to Go!

This fall Opera to Go! tried something we haven’t done in a while - our cast learned and toured two shows simultaneously. The first show was How Nanita Learned to Make Flan by Enrique Gonzalez-Medina with a libretto by Campbell Geeslin, who is also the author of the children’s book on which the opera is based. The second show was Hansel & Gretel, adapted by local playwright Kate Pogue.

Before I go further, our spring shows are open for bookings and they're going fast! To reserve a performance at your school or community center, visit our Opera to Go!

We rehearsed the two shows back to back, which made for an intense three weeks!

Tara Faircloth directed Nanita while I directed Hansel. Tara is a local artist who has directed shows with Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre and assistant directed shows on the HGO main stage. The human mind is truly a miraculous thing, especially when you have to stage one show while rehearsing the music for another. Kudos to the cast for being well prepared and putting both shows together so quickly.

Our fall tour opened at the Miller Outdoor Theatre with a string of Nanita performances. Campbell Geeslin, the librettist, came to see our final dress rehearsal, and then had lunch with us after we opened on Monday. The performers really wowed the audience with their singing and dancing! Of course, the children love when Nanita sleepwalks into the audience. Often they pay more attention to that than the Moon and Coyote singing on stage.

While Nanita performances shined in the morning at the Miller Outdoor Theatre, the same cast was busy rehearsing Hansel & Gretel in the afternoons. This show opened at the end of the following week, after another run of Nanita at Cy-Creek FACE. The Saturday opening of Hansel & Gretel played to a packed house of friends and families. From there we went straight into our tour of local libraries and community centers, sponsored by Houston Arts Alliance. One of the great things about being an Opera to Go! artist is that you learn how to adapt very quickly, especially since the venue is rarely the same twice in a row. At the libraries we sometimes have to adjust staging or remove part of the set because the performance space is small.

By the end of December we scheduled 50 Hansel & Gretel performances and 20 How Nanita Learned to Make Flan performances. When you have to perform 70 shows in barely three months time, it is nice to have some variety!

Rehearsals for our first production of the spring rep period begin this coming Monday. Wish us luck! At the end of this month we begin our tour of Cinderella in Spain, our most popular show written by local composer Mary Carol Warwick and local playwright Kate Pogue. In mid-March we premiere our first-ever collaboration between Opera to Go! and Song of Houston - a world premiere work by two Texans: Rice composition grad Ethan Greene and librettist Irene Keliher. This work is called A Way Home, and parallels the journey of a young girl from Houston to Mexico with the migration of the monarch butterfly.

Stay tuned to the blog for more reports on Opera to Go!, including our tour to west Texas in February!


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