Image   ©   Houston Grand Opera

Image © Houston Grand Opera


Performances April 29-May 6 

Based on a true Houston story from the 1840s, What Wings They Were: The Case of Emeline tells the story of Emeline, a young African American woman who successfully sued the man who was unlawfully holding her and her two children as slaves and won the case—thus securing their freedom. Peter Gray, the young lawyer who represented Emeline, went on to found what is now known as the Baker Botts law firm.

This amazing tale of courage and justice, recently discovered in the court archives by State District Judge Mark Davidson, has been transformed into an original 40-minute English-language chamber opera by Houston-based composer John L. Cornelius II and librettist Janine Joseph. The story will be brought to life by a talented cast of local artists under the direction of Eileen Morris.


Free Public Performances

Saturday, April 30, 9:30 am - JUST ADDED!
The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main Street
Reserve free tickets

Saturday, April 30, 11 a.m. - SOLD OUT!
The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main Street
(Free tickets available on a standby basis only, 15 minutes before performance time.)

Sunday, May 1, 3 pm - SOLD OUT!
DeLuxe Theatre, 3303 Lyons Avenue
(Free tickets available on a standby basis only, 15 minutes before performance time.)


The Houston Bar Association hosts two special performances at the 1910 Courthouse, the original site of Emeline’s trial, in support of Houston Volunteer Lawyers.

Tuesday, May 3 & Wednesday, May 4 
Event begins at 6pm; performance at 7pm
1910 Courthouse, 301 Fannin Street
Buy Tickets

What Wings They Were: The Case of Emeline also tours to Houston-area middle and high schools from April 29-May 6.

Past Projects

Image © Houston Grand Opera; Photo © Lou Vest, Houston Pilots Association

"On This Muddy Water": Voices from the Houston Ship Channel

Commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera in celebration of the Ship Channel’s centennial, this original song cycle offers compelling insights into the people at the heart of one of Houston’s most vibrant centers of industry. The text is based on interviews collected through the Working the Port project conducted by the Folklife and Traditional Arts Program of the Houston Arts Alliance.

Music composed by D. J. Sparr. Featuring Lauren Pastorek, mezzo-soprano, and Heath Martin, baritone. Premiered in December 2014.

Image © Pattima Singhalaka/Houston Grand Opera

From My Mother's Mother

A hot bowl of seaweed soup—also known as birthday soup—is traditionally prepared for new Korean mothers for twenty-one days to aid in their recovery. From My Mother's Mother follows the passing down and rejection of this tradition through four generations of Korean-American women.

Original libretto commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera for the “Song of Houston: East + West” series. Music composed by Jeeyoung Kim. Premiered in November 2012.