Askonas Holt artists open Houston Grand Opera's 2014-15 season
Houston Grand Opera's 2014-15 season opens tonight with John Cox's production of Otello starring Simon O'Neill in the title role and Ailyn Pérez as Desdemona. Simon sang his first fully staged Otello for Opera Australia in Sydney this summer, having previously impressed in the role in concert at London's Barbican with the LSO and Sir Colin Davis. The LSO concert was released on the LSO Live recording label. This production marks Ailyn Pérez's debut as Desdemona. Later this season, Ms Pérez's engagements include her Metropolitan Opera debut as Micaela in Carmen and Mimi in La bohème at Teatro alla Scala Milan.
Fresh from winning first prize at the 2014 Operalia competition, Rachel Willis-Sørensen returns to Houston Grand Opera to sing Fiordiligi alongside Nuccia Focile as Despina in Così fan tutte, directed by Harry Silverstein (31 October – 15 November 2014). Rachel then goes on to the Met where she makes her debut singing the Countess in performances of Le nozze di Figaro.
"O'Neill has a real trumpet-toned top to his voice and like all true warriors his is fearless... it was refreshing, no thrilling, to hear a young singer really nail those crazed top notes." - Independent (London)
“Perez's lyric soprano is pure and honeyed in tone, and she deploys it with elegance and tenderness" – AP
Rachel Willis-Sørensen's Fiordiligi was "stellar... her voice is big, rich, well-tuned, and consistent from the top to the bottom of her impressively wide range. Her two great arias, Act I's "Come scoglio" an Act II's "Per pieta," were both showstoppers." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch