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A Veteran’s Guide to Watching the Houston Grand Opera

A Veteran’s Guide to Watching the Houston Grand Opera

Welcome to the world of music, drama, and unbridled emotion! If you’ve ever dreamt of soaring on the wings of a powerful aria or being swept away by a heart-wrenching libretto, then the Houston Grand Opera is your passport to an unforgettable experience.

Whether you’re an opera aficionado or a first-time attendee, this guide is your backstage pass to navigating the Houston Grand Opera experience. 

So, grab your binoculars and tune your ears as we plan a visit to the show. Get ready to be moved, mesmerized, and enchanted by the Houston Grand Opera!

What is the Houston Grand Opera?

The Houston Grand Opera (HGO) is a renowned opera company based in Houston, Texas. 

In 1955, the Houston Grand Opera (HGO) was founded by German-born impresario Walter Herbert and Houstonians Elva Lobit, Edward Bing, and Charles Cockrell. 

The inaugural season showcased two performances: Salome and the classic Madama Butterfly. 

In 1972, with a new general director HGO embarked on a new era of artistic innovation. 

The company began regularly commissioning and producing new works, especially from talented American composers.

In June 2021, the Houston Grand Opera named Khori Dastoor as its next general director and CEO, marking a historic milestone. Dastoor became the first woman to hold this position, ushering in a new chapter for the company.

Throughout its history, the Houston Grand Opera’s achievements have garnered international recognition. It is the sole opera company in the world to have secured the prestigious trio of honors: a Tony Award, two Grammy Awards, and three Emmy Awards. 

In addition to its numerous awards, HGO has championed consistent productions with a repertoire of 71 world premieres, 7 American premieres, and 6 televised performances. 

The company’s commitment to artistic excellence and its role as a cultural beacon in Houston’s vibrant arts scene continue to shape the legacy of the Houston Grand Opera.

Address: 510 Preston St UNIT 1504, Houston, TX 77002, USA

Phone Number: +1 713-228-6737


The Opera and Scheduling 

The Houston Grand Opera’s annual seasons begin in the fall in October and end in springtime in May. 

Each season features 6 to 8 grand operas with some shows overlapping in showing dates. Each grand opera is performed 4 to 5 times, so you don’t have to worry about missing a show. 

The season’s lineup is thoughtfully crafted to resonate with a wide range of audiences whether you’re a long time fan or a first time attendee. 

Some of the more notable performances were the Cruzar la Cara de la Luna or To Cross the Face of the Moon by José “Pepe” Martínez and Leonard Foglia in 2010 and A Christmas Carol by Iain Bell and Simon Callow in 2014.

Other Shows 

The Houston Grand Opera also hosts a series of competitions called the concert of Arias where both local and international performers can compete for a spot in the Butler Studio which offers comprehensive training to aspiring artists. 

Every year, the Butler Studio Showcase, which is a celebration of the young talents honing their craft within the HGO Studio program, allows the 12 fresh faces to make their debut on stage. 

The night concludes with a celebratory dinner, making it a great social event too.

Giving Voice is a soulful celebration of Black artists in opera, thoughtfully curated by the renowned international tenor, Lawrence Brownlee aimed at nurturing young talent and fostering artistic passion within the community. 

Following the sold-out 2023 performance at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church’s cathedral, with a virtual audience exceeding 11,000 on YouTube, this event has now turned into an annual celebration. 

Held at the Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Opera Under the Stars is a weekend of performances for families that embodies HGO’s commitment to making top-tier arts experiences accessible to all. 

The audience members sit on the grassy lawn and watch the performances for free. The show lasts for almost 3 hours complete with two intermissions. 

Ticketing and Pricing 

The Houston Grand Opera offers different types of tickets for audience members: 

  • Single tickets for specific shows – $150 to $500 
  • Access to multiple shows (fixed selection with prices varying depending on seats):
    • Classic Package – $60 to $741for 3 shows
    • Matinee Package (some premium seats are only available during these shows on weekends) – $90 to $1380 for 6 shows
    • Opening Nights Package – $90 to $792 for 6 shows
    • Overture Saturday Nights Package ( LGBTQ+ night with 3 shows and an intermission mixer) – $60 to $798 
    • Flex Package – You can choose how many and which shows you want to watch.
  • Group tickets – If you buy 10 or more tickets, the Houston Grand Opera offers up to 20% discounts and perks like priority seating, flexible payment options, and complimentary event spaces.

To buy Tickets to the shows, you can access their website or go to their Box Office on site which opens 2 hours before each curtain call up until the first intermission. 

Location and Seating

The Houston Grand Opera hosts all their main shows at the Wortham Theater Center which also houses the prestigious Houston Ballet and the world-renowned Houston Grand Opera. 

The Wortham Center has two theaters. The Alice and George Brown Theater, with its impressive 2,405 seats, takes center stage as the larger of the two. It features a 17,000-square foot stage, designed to accommodate grand productions.

No matter where you sit in this theater, you’ll find yourself within 138 feet from the stage, so you won’t have to worry about not being able to see or hear the performers properly.

The theater offers four levels in their seating chart, including the Orchestra, Founders Boxes, Grand Tier, and Balcony, each providing a unique perspective to enjoy the performances.

The theater is designed to prioritize accessibility, with a total of 18 wheelchair-accessible spaces available for guests. 

The Lillie and Roy Cullen Theater exudes a more intimate charm with its cozy 1,100 seats. This theater is the perfect setting for smaller-scale opera and ballet productions, like solo artists, chamber music, intimate recitals, and small tours.

Its seating chart has two seating levels, the Orchestra and the Mezzanine, providing various viewing options to suit different preferences. This theater was also designed with accessibility in mind, featuring a total of 16 wheelchair spaces. 

To make sure you don’t miss any part of the show, there are binocular rentals on the 5th floor at the Grand Tier Level. 

Pro Tip: 
Choosing your seat depends on what’s still available and which aspects of the performance you prioritize. Here are some tips:

If you prioritize seeing the actors facial expressions and hearing them clearly, choose from the Orchestra. 

Balcony and Box Seats are great if you want to take in the entire stage and the interactions of the actors on stage and if you don’t mind less than stellar audio.

If you only have seats at the back to choose from, go for the corner seats since the sounds tend to bounce into the crevices in corners. 


For drop offs, there are free parking spots available along the south side of Prairie St. but only for 20 minutes. There are 4 other paid parking locations in the area: 

  • Alley Theater Garage – 513 Smith St. Houston, Texas 77204
  • One Market Square Garage – 800 Preston St. Houston, Texas 77002 
  • Lyric Garage – 411 Smith St. Houston, Texas 77204
  • Theater District Garage – 511 Rusk St. Houston, Texas 77002

Tips for First Time Audience Members

The Houston Grand Opera suggests wearing anything from business attire to casual clothes, but if you observe the audience members, men are usually dressed in suits and tuxedos, while women wear floor-length gowns. 

It’s best to arrive at least 45 minutes before the show to make sure you make it inside in time. If you arrive late, you’ll have to wait for allotted time slots they have in place for late entry. There are screens in the lobby so that you won’t have to miss anything!

Taking pictures and videos is generally not allowed during Houston Grand Opera performances. It’s best to go to the Box Office to ask prior to the performance. 

Food and drinks aren’t allowed inside the theater, but you can enjoy food from the Encore Cafe in the lobby before the show and during intermissions. 

As a courtesy to the other audience members, guests are asked to put their cell phones on silent mode and to avoid talking altogether.  

Other Things to Do and See

The Houston Grand Opera also offers avid fans a chance to get closer to the actors with Backstage Passes available to be bought for each performance. 

The Backstage Pass gives you exclusive content like artist interviews and documentaries for behind the scenes peek into the artists work life behind the curtain. 

Where to Eat 

Address: One Allen Center 500 Dallas Street, Houston, TX 77002

Phone number: +1 346-326-0789


Pricing: $$$

If you’re looking for a restaurant to eat in after catching a Houston Grand Opera show and you want to continue the fancy theme of the night, a visit to Guard and Grace is a great idea. 

This steakhouse blends the sophistication of its interior with the rustic and simple approach to how they prepare their steaks, With a wide range of prime, dry aged, and wagyu cuts of beef and a big selection of seafood, you’ll satisfy your cravings. 

We recommend getting their spicy tuna crunch roll if you’re looking to add a bit of Japanese flair to your dinner! 

Address: 409 Travis St, Suite A, Houston, TX 77002, United States

Phone number: +1 713-909-0691


Pricing: $ to $$$

If you’re like the majority of people who can’t decide where to eat most of the time like us, the Historic Market Square features the Bravery Chef Hall. This elevated dining hall holds multiple stalls that specialize in specific cuisines led by talented chefs. 

The Drunken Pho by Chef Vincent Hoang serves up some of the best traditional Vietnamese dishes we’ve tasted in Houston. The broth of their pho isn’t your typical murky soup. It’s clear and fresh, but still incredibly flavorful and keeps us coming back. 

There are other stalls worth checking out like Kokoro for Japanese food and Secret Garden for craft coffee and cocktails. 

Address:  800 Capitol St Suite P1-01, Houston, TX 77002, United States

Phone number: +1 713-343-2255


Pricing: $$

For some light pastries and quality coffee, the Common Bond Brasserie and Bakery offers some of our favorite bread and sandwiches in the city. Local favorites are their pain de mie bun topped with egg and sausage and their avocado toast with bacon. 

If you’re not into breakfast food for dinner, they also have a seafood tower and oysters that you can pair with their beef short rib stew or pan-seared lamb for the perfect surf and turf combination. 

They also offer wine, beer, and cocktails from 4 pm to 6 pm at discounted prices during Happy Hour, so it’s a great place to relax and discuss the opera after watching. 

Address:  401 Franklin St Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77002, United States

Phone number: +1 713-999-2550


Pricing: $ to $$$

Post Houston is a food and entertainment hub in the downtown area of the city and is a great place to grab some food or continue the fun after a night at the opera. The location itself is beautiful with intricate staircases and a great view of the city skyline. 

But, the best thing about Post Houston are the restaurants that call it home. Golfstrømmen, a seafood restaurant run by a James Beard Award winning chef serves up some of the freshest seafood in the city. 

If you’re more into sweets, the hub also houses many desserts and drinks shops like Thrive Juices, Sweets with L&L, Planets de Sol, and the famous Lucy’s Pearl’s. 

steak and some vegetables
Image Source: B&B Butchers Website 

Address: 1814 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77007, United States

Phone number:  +1 713-862-1814


Pricing: $$

If a classic Texan steak is what you’re looking for, B&B Butchers with branches in both Houston and Fort Worth is the place to be for an upscale experience with butcher shop quality meat. 

Although they are mostly known for their charcoal grilled steaks and classic side dishes like lobster macaroni and cheese and duck confit mashed potatoes, they also have dishes that put a twist on well-loved items like Wagyu Katsu Sando or wagyu sandwiches. 

For seafood lovers, definitely try their wasabi crusted tuna that’s seared a little but still left pink in the middle! 

Where to Stay

Address: 701 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002, United States

Phone number: +1 713-228-9500

Pricing: $$$

Book Now

If you’re planning on catching a few shows at the Houston Grand Opera back to back and you want to make a vacation out of it, you should consider staying at the Lancaster Hotel in Houston. 

Art appreciation will continue from the theater to the hotel’s interiors with their extensive 200 piece art collection from different artists displayed throughout the premises. The building itself is a work of art built in 1926 and remodeled into a boutique hotel. 

Plus the free snacks and beverages they leave you in your rooms and the free gourmet breakfast buffet doesn’t hurt either! 

Address: 1100 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002, United States

Phone number: +1 713-221-0011

Pricing: $$$

Book Now

The Magnolia Hotel is a 4-star hotel located just a short drive from the Wortham Theater, so it’s a great place to book if you’re in town for the opera. This hotel merges its rich history with modern aspects that make it a charming escape from the city. 

Their marble bathrooms lend a touch of elegance to your stay and with a lot of their suites newly renovated, your stay is bound to be enjoyable. They also have a bar with award-winning drinks if you enjoy a night capper as much as we do. 

Make sure you try out the food at The Dispatch which is their in-house restaurant that serves up great flatbreads like their Italian Meat one topped with pepperoni and sausage. 

Address: 1600 Lamar St, Houston, TX 77010, United States

Phone number: +1 713-739-8000

Pricing: $$$

Book Now

The Hilton Americas Houston Hotel in the downtown area is a great place to book if you’re looking to explore the rest of Downtown Houston before or after the Houston Grand Opera. 

This hotel is connected to the George R. Convention Center and is located in a prime spot near other tourist attractions like the Houston Museum of Natural Science. But, you don’t have to go far to have a good time here. 

Make sure you don’t miss out on their Skyline Spa and Health Club where you can enjoy massages or facials. Their indoor pool complete with a whirlpool mechanism is also a great way to unwind after a long day being out and about. 

Address: 720 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77002, United States

Phone number: + 1 713-224-6400

Pricing: $$

Book Now

Located in the heart of the Theater District in Houston, the Club Quarters Hotel in Downtown Houston is one of our favorite places to stay in for both business and leisure. 

This hotel has great amenities with our favorite being their Club Living Room where you can work or relax with free tea and coffee. If you’re looking for something more filling, you can drop by Table Bistro which serves up straight to the point American burgers. 

The rooms at the hotel are also comfortable but still very sleek and modern that adds to the overall feel of relaxation during your stay. 

Address: 1117 Prairie St, Houston, TX 77002, United States

Phone number: +1 832-200-8800

Pricing: $$$

Book Now

This hotel was opened in 1924 and has stayed a local favorite to this day all while earning a spot in the list of National Register of Historic Places. Apart from its history, the hotel’s location is also very convenient. 

It’s not only close to the Wortham Theater, but it’s also close to other must-visit places while you’re in the city like the Astros Stadium and Downtown Aquarium. Their complimentary shuttle service can take you to any of these places upon reservation. 

The Pearl Restaurant and Bar, led by Chef Raphael Rogers serves up some of the best Tex-Mex food we’ve tried in the area like the Sam Houston which is a take on huevos rancheros. 

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