Opera & Musical Theater

A New Opera Celebrates The Rothko Chapel

Houston Grand Opera shines the light on a local landmark of modern art and spiritual contemplation.

Rothko Chapel, Interior, 1971

Some Light Emerges is a new opera set in Houston’s Rothko Chapel, inspired both by that cultural institution and the legendary Houston philanthropist and art collector who founded it – Dominique de Menil.

“Too seldom are the people who support art, they are not honored enough, and here was an opportunity, and she was a really cool woman!” says Mark Campbell, who wrote the opera’s libretto with Kimberly Reed.

Using different instrumental combinations of flute, bassoon, trombone, strings, piano and percussion, composer Laura Kaminksy created different “sound worlds” for each character in the opera, including Dominique de Menil, and even the Rothko Chapel. “I also wanted to give the Chapel itself music. So the Chapel is in a way a character and sings instrumentally.”

The story follows five Houstonians, who each visit the Chapel at critical moments in their lives – including a woman, whose husband works for NASA; a Latina lesbian activist; a Hurricane Katrina evacuee; and an Algerian man seeking solace after 9/11.

“These stories resonate specifically to Houston and to the Chapel, but they are in fact universal stories, and human stories, and I think there’s a dialogue throughout about the power of art,” says Kaminsky.

Houston Grand Opera presents the World Premiere of Some Light Emerges tonight and Friday night at the Ballroom at Bayou Place.

Listen to Joshua Zinn’s complete interview with the composer and librettists at Houston Matters.

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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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