May 1, 2024 - Things to Do

Houston Grand Opera brings "The Sound of Music" to life

Photo of seven kids and a woman on stage.

Photo: Michael Bishop, courtesy of the Houston Grand Opera

The hills are alive in "The Sound of Music" production at the Houston Grand Opera.

Why it matters: "The Sound of Music" at the Wortham Theater stays true to Rodgers and Hammerstein's original vision for the musical. When it premiered on Broadway in 1959, it featured operatic singing and a full orchestra.

  • The HGO's production, with its large orchestra and chorus, allows the audience to experience the grandeur of the musical, director Francesca Zambello tells Axios.

Driving the news: "The Sound of Music" is already the bestselling production in the opera house's recent history in terms of single ticket sales, HGO CEO Khori Dastoor announced on opening night.

The big picture: Set in the hills of Salzburg, Austria, before the Nazis' annexation, the musical tells a tale of resistance, courage and joy — a narrative that remains relevant today.

  • The story follows Maria, who becomes a governess to a large family. She develops a deep bond with the seven children and their widowed father, Captain von Trapp, who resists the Nazis.

What they're saying: The lesson "The Sound of Music" teaches about complacency is important today, Zambello says, adding how the cast discussed the theme and its current relevance during the production.

  • "When we look at what's going on, whether it's a state away or two states away in Arizona, or whether it's over an ocean, to the Ukraine or farther to the Gaza Strip, when people don't take action in a unified fashion, bad things happen," Zambello says. "That's what at the root of the story is that people did not speak up."

Fun fact: HGO held its largest open children's auditions last November with nearly 500 Houston-area auditionees to cast the children in the show.

  • "They bring joy to everyday life," Zambello says of directing the children, six of the seven are local.

💭 Shafaq's thought bubble: It was an enjoyable remake of the classic. It was fun to experience the famous music live, with the lovely backdrop of Salzburg. The kids brought such lightness and playfulness to a musical that has a solemn undertone.

  • While "The Sound of Music" differed from traditional opera productions at the HGO, it was a great musical and can serve as a very approachable introduction to the opera house.

What we're watching: HGO's rendition of the musical offers a glimpse into its next season, which will include the adaptation of "West Side Story."

Meanwhile, Mozart's classic "Don Giovanni" continues its run at the HGO. The opera follows a playboy who is faced with the repercussions of his actions.

  • It's a fun and dramatic production with a striking set design that comes to life through captivating projections.

If you go: "Don Giovanni" is playing through May 3, and "The Sound of Music" runs through May 12.

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