On Feb. 7, for the first time in four years, Houston Grand Opera will offer a free live simulcast of its newest production, “Chorus!” from the stage of the Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston.
The event represents a return of the once-popular free live transmissions formerly called “Plazacasts.” The broadcast will be transmitted to a climate controlled tent at Discovery Green, as well as to five HISD school throughout Houston.
Due to the expanded reach, HGO “Plazacasts” have been renamed “CityCasts.” This broadcast also marks the first time that HGO’s simulcasts will be in high definition.
HGO General Director and CEO Anthony Freud said the CityCast will allow a larger audience to enjoy the opera.
“Audience members at the simulcast locations will experience an exciting night of entertainment. The world renowned talents of Houston Grand Opera will be broadcast in high definition for the first time in company history, taking the experience of the opera outside the Wortham walls,” Freud said.
In addition to the CityCast venues, the performance will also be simulcast live on KUHF Houston Public Radio 88.7 FM.
Thanks to substantial funding from a number of Houstonians and Houston-based organizations, including the companies that form the core of HGO’s NEXUS initiative, the transmission will reach not only the downtown Discovery Green Park but also HISD schools in various neighborhoods.
“Both HISD and HGO share the common goal of creating a powerful sense of community and shared direction among the organizations and the public,” said Dr. Abelardo Saavedra, HISD superintendant. “We are thrilled by the opportunity to collaborate with Houston Grand Opera to promote arts, community and connections.”
A significant amount of underwriting for the CityCast, as well as future free public HD broadcasts, has been provided by Peter and Anne S. Brown. Peter Brown said Houston Grand Opera productions should be enjoyed by people throughout the community, particularly young people.
“It is our hope that countless Houstonians will be moved by the magic of these performances, and that a precedent will be set for future such public productions,” Brown said. “We are honored to make it possible for everyone to share in the amazing artistry of one of America’s premier opera companies.”
The live transmission will feature the new production “Chorus!” A unique evening of musical theater which celebrates the critically-acclaimed HGO chorus and orchestra, “Chorus! “ takes the audience on a quirky and sometimes irreverent musical journey that explores everything from Verdi to Rodgers and Hammerstein.
“Our chorus comprises eighty of the best voices in Houston; this is Houston singing,” Freud noted. “We want to share this incredible collection of talent with the whole city.”
Created and directed by acclaimed British director David Pountney, “Chorus!” is a new production that includes more than eighty voices, six hundred costumes and music from twenty-three operas, oratorios and American musical theater classics.
“It is such an unusual project,” said HGO Music Director Patrick Summers. “For the seasoned opera-goer it will provide a mix of familiar classics and music that has not been heard in Houston before, while the new opera-goer will be introduced to so much.”
CityCast is directed by Bruce Bryant, who directed many HGO transmissions in the past. The live HD transmission will include sneak peeks backstage as well as interviews with key persons in the production.
The CityCast project will be hosted by ABC13 Eyewitness News team member Laura Whitley.
CityCast is a free public event. The site at Discovery Green will be tented and climate controlled. Admission is unticketed and on a “first come-first served” basis.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with the CityCast beginning at 7:15 p.m.
Attendees at Discovery Green are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs for seating. Alcoholic beverages may not be brought into any CityCast venue.
In addition to Discovery Green Park, CityCast locations will include Johnson Middle School, Stephen F. Austin High School, Jefferson Davis High School, Cesar Chavez High School and James D. Ryan Middle School.