Isabel Leonard to Make Role Debut as Carmen at Houston Grand Opera | Playbill

Classic Arts News Isabel Leonard to Make Role Debut as Carmen at Houston Grand Opera The company’s 2020–2021 season will also include The Sound of Music and Breaking the Waves.
Isabel Leonard Harrison James O'Brien

Isabel Leonard will make her role debut in the title part of Carmen at Houston Grand Opera, kicking off its 2020–2021 season. The slate of offerings also includes a world premiere, Breaking the Waves, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music.

The revival of the Rob Ashford’s 2014 production of Carmen is set for October 23–November 13, conducted by Eun Sun Kim. Joining the mezzo-soprano are Andrea Caré as Don José, Christian Pursell as Escamillo, and Anita Hartig as Micaela, all making their HGO debuts. Leonard was last seen in New York in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Marnie, directed by Tony nominee Michael Mayer.

READ: 20 (Plus) Questions With Isabel Leonard

Following Carmen is Massenet’s Werther October 30–November 15, marking the first time HGO has presented the work in over 40 years. Arturo Chacón-Cruz stars in the title role, with Ana María Martínez as Charlotte and Joshua Hopkins as Albert. HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers conducts this production, directed by Francisco Negrin.

The world premiere of The Snowy Day rings in the holiday season December 10–20. Adapted from Ezra Jack Keats’ novel, the opera features music by Joel Thompson and a libretto from Andrea Davis Pinkney. Julia Bullock will make her HGO debut as Peter, with Omer Ben Seadia making her mainstage directorial debut, and Patrick Summers conducting.

Russell Thomas makes his role debut as the title character in Wagner’s Parsifal January 22–February 7, 2020, conducted by Summers. Thomas is joined by Christine Goerke as Kundry, Ryan McKinny as Amfortas, Kwangchul Youn as Gurnemanz, and Andrea Silvestrelli as Klingsor.

Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella) will play January 29–February 12 in a revival of HGO’s 2007 production, directed by Joan Font and conducted by Music Director of Opera Philadelphia Corrado Rovaris. Starring as Angelina is Emily D’Angelo alongside Jack Swanson as Prince Ramiro and Sean Michael Plumb as Dandini.

Set for the spring is Breaking the Waves April 16–May 1, a co-production with Opera Ventures, Scottish Opera, and Théâtre national de l’Opéra Comique, in association with the Adelaide Festival. Lauren Snouffer stars as Bess, with Alexander Birch Elliott as her husband Jan, Michelle Bradley as her mother, and Zoie Reams as her sister-in-law Dodo. The production is led by director Tom Morris and conducted by Nicole Paiement. A recently announced BAM production of the opera will be performed in June of this year.

READ: BAM Adds Riz Ahmed, Baby Reindeer, and Wesley Morris-Jenna Wortham Event to Spring Lineup

The Sound of Music will conclude the season April 30–May 15 with Jeanine De Bique as Maria, Michael Mayes as Captain von Trapp, and Katie Van Kooten as Mother Abbess. HGO’s Chorus Master Richard Bado conducts, with Francesca Zambello directing and Eric Sean Fogel serving as choreographer and associate director.

In addition to the mainstage performances, HGO will present the world premiere of Songs for Murdered Sisters, a song cycle with music by Jake Heggie and original poems by Margaret Atwood. The project was conceived and will be performed by Joshua Hopkins with Heggie at the piano. The premiere will take place at the Rothko Chapel in Houston on September 10.

HGOco, the community building initiative by the opera company, will present the world premiere of Katie: The Strongest of the Strong. Composed by Faye Chiao to a libretto by Anton Dudley, the 45-minute production will tour schools and community venues from September 2020 through May 2021. In March 2021, HGOco will present the world premiere of Turn and Burn, A Rodeo Opera. Directed by Leslie Swackhamer, the 75-minute chamber opera is composed by Nell Shaw Cohen with a libretto by Megan Cohen.

For more information about the season, visit


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