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Houston Grand Opera to show futuristic Valencia Ring Cycle over 4 seasons

HOUSTON - The Houston Grand Opera plans to present the futuristic Fura dels Baus productions of Wagner's four Ring Cycle operas over four consecutive seasons starting with "Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold)" in 2013-14.

Sixty-seven-year-old Mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade will come out of retirement for the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's "A Coffin in Egypt," the company said Wednesday. The work based on the play of the same name by Horton Foote will open March 14, 2014, in a co-production with the Opera Company of Philadelphia.

The 2013-14 season announced also includes the North American premiere of Mieczyslaw Weinberg's "The Passenger" on Jan. 18, 2014. The opera is based on a novel about a former SS officer on a cruise ship who thinks she recognizes a former Auschwitz prisoner. Joseph Kaiser stars and music director Patrick Summers conducts in the David Pountney production that was used for the opera's staged world premiere at the 2010 Bregenz Festival in Austria — 42 years after the score was completed.

The Ring stagings by Catalunya-based Fura dels Baus originated from the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain, from 2007-09 and also have been seen in Seville and Florence, Italy.

Houston said Wednesday it will show "Rheingold" starting April 11, 2014, with Summers conducting and a cast that includes Iain Paterson as Wotan and Christopher Purves at Alberich. "Die Walkuere (The Valkyrie)" will be mounted in 2014-15, "Siegfried" in 2015-16 and "Goetterdaemmerung (The Twilight of the Gods)" in 2016-17.

The company has not decided whether to show complete Ring Cycles, spokesman Glenn Petry said.

Houston's season also includes a new Rob Ashford production of Bizet's "Carmen" with Ana María Martínez and Brandon Jovanovich opening April 25, 2014; and an Isaac Mizrahi staging of Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" with Elizabeth Futral, Chad Shelton and Joyce Castle opening March 7, 2014, a production originally shown by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

There will be revivals of Verdi's "Aida" (opening the season on Oct. 18) and "Rigoletto," and of Johann Strauss Jr.'s "Die Fledermaus (The Bat)."


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