Snowy Day opera premieres in Houston


Raven McMillon as Peter in The snowy day | Credit: Lynn Lane Photography

The brief ultra-romantic orchestral introduction by Snow day when it premieres in person and online on Thursday from Houston Grand Opera bridges the gap between Menotti Amahl and the Night Visitors and that of Amazon Boyz II Men – Snow Day, but not aspiring to the musical and dramatic depth of such “children’s opera” classics like that of Humperdinck Hansel and Gretel or at Ravel The Child and Spells.

Entertaining, endearing and important as it is with a multi-ethnic cast and a young black in the lead role, that of houston Snow day is likely to be hosted by opera companies and serve as an introduction to musical theater for children.

Karen Slack and Nicholas Newton are the mother and father of A snowy daybetween them is Raven McMillon as Peter at the Houston Grand Opera World Premiere | Credit: Lynn Lane Photography

Ezra Jack Keats wrote and illustrated Snow day, the story of a little boy named Peter who is finally allowed to venture out into the snow on his own. The book won the 1963 Caldecott Medal and broke a persistent color barrier: Peter was the first black boy to be the main character in a mainstream children’s book, considered the most viewed book in history. from New York. Public library.

The Houston World Premiere was created during the pandemic. Composer Joel Thompson is best known for his work, Seven last words of the disarmed; librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney is an award-winning author whose book A poem for Peter is about Snow daythe protagonist.

As a central figure, McMillon Raven‘s Peter is a career-defining performance, flawless in singing and staging the fun of a young boy’s first experience playing in the snow. Soprano Karen Slack is the mother, bass-baritone Nicholas Newton is the father, a character not included in the book. Soprano Elena Villalón is Amy, who befriends and protects Peter.

The production was originally designed in conjunction with SF Symphony collaborative partner Julia Bullock, who was slated to play the role of Peter but withdrew due to travel restrictions during the pandemic, which also forced the cancellation of the first one planned for last year.

Snow day is representative of HGO’s long-standing commitment to both great American opera commissions and diversity in the art form. With this opera, Houston experienced 70 unprecedented world premieres, including 35 under the 1972-2005 direction of David Gockley, who became General Manager of the San Francisco Opera from 2006 to 2016.

Houston Grand Opera Studio Artists, with Raven McMillon at right, front row; seated: Elena Villalón, Sun-Ly Pierce, Blake Denson, Bin Yu Sanford, Alex Munger, Raven McMillon; standing: Ricardo Garcia, Cory McGee, Eric Taylor, William Guanbo Su, Emily Treigle, Luke Sutliff | Credit: Lynn Lane Photography

Among the many other ties between the Houston company and SF Bay Area opera houses: HGO’s new general manager, Khori Dastoor, who presented the Snowy day first, has just concluded the same role with Opera San José; Houston Artistic and Musical Director Patrick Summers is a Merola / Adler alumnus, former SF Opera Center musical director and a frequent guest conductor at the War Memorial; Snowy day internship director Omer Ben Seadia had a long and distinguished race with Merola and Adler; Karen Slack, the mother of the production, is also a Merola alumnus; and there was a lot of back and forth between the training programs in Houston and San Francisco as well as between the two companies.

About Madeline J. Carter

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