Arts & Culture

Houston Grand Opera Expands Its Repertoire With YouTube Videos That Tell Houston Love Stories

The company’s online opera series experiments with the art form by blending technology, social media and the stories of Houstonians.

Instead of committing to a two- or three-hour stage production, you can now get your opera fix in the form of 11- to 12-minute videos through Houston Grand Opera's web series.

Entitled Star-cross'd, the series debuted last April and features short opera films inspired by true love stories of Houstonians.

"We wanted to look at a way that was particularly targeting people who maybe were not really familiar with opera or had very little exposure to it,” said Carleen Graham, director of HGOco, the company's education and community initiative. “And we thought if we presented it to them in small but complete digestible portions that it might be something they could grow into.”

Graham said they also see the web series as a way to showcase new artists and make opera easily accessible to more people.

"I think [we wanted] just to look at the art form itself and how it needs and must intersect with things that are important and integral to us as a society,” she said. “Obviously, social media plays a huge role in most of our daily lives."

HGO recently announced the release of two new episodes.

"Now," by composer Avner Dorman and librettist John Grimmett, will tell the story of two couples in which a partner of each undergoes a gender transition. "A Rose," composed by Kamala Sankaram with libretto by Sankaram and Misha Penton, is about a couple who must confront family and class divides on their wedding day.

"It allows us to explore opera in these micro – or I should say, mini – versions, but then also tell really important, relevant stories today," said Graham.

The series is a production of HGOco, which works to find unique ways to engage the community with opera, to create new work and to collaborate with Houston artists – such as Grimmett and Penton.

Episode Two, "Now," and Episode Three, "A Rose," will be out in May and October, respectively. The web operas can be streamed for free on HGO's website and YouTube.

Listen to the complete interview with Carleen Graham, below:

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Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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