Press Release

A Resounding Tribute

February 01, 2017

A Resounding Tribute

Rothko Chapel to host Houston Grand Opera for preview, panel discussion, Tuesday, Feb. 28

HOUSTON – Feb. 1, 2017 – Whoever said that imitation is the best form of flattery obviously never had an opera written about them.

The Rothko Chapel will host Houston Grand Opera for a preview of “Some Light Emerges,” a world premier chamber opera inspired by the Chapel’s origin, work and presence in the community. 

The preview, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday Feb. 28, will feature performances of selected excerpts from the production and a panel discussion moderated by the Rothko Chapel’s executive director David Leslie.

The event will feature select debut excerpts from the production performed by Houston Grand Opera Studio members Zoie Reams and Yelena Dyachek.

There will also be a panel discussion with librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, composer Laura Kaminsky, who collaborated to write “Some Light Emerges,” as well Robin Guarino, stage director and Bradley Moore, music director for the production.

The opera follows five people across four decades, as their lives are both directly and tangentially connected by the Rothko Chapel. The story also focuses on the nonprofit’s founder, Dominique de Menil, who realized her vision for a space dedicated to the intersection of art, spirituality and social justice. 

“In our libretto we chose to examine the reasons people go to the Rothko Chapel, which Dominique de Menil envisioned as a place for people of all faiths or no faith, ” Reed said.

“Kim and I brought together five individuals of different ethnicities, classes and cultural backgrounds, who all had profound experiences in the chapel,” Campbell added. “At the same time, we show how Dominique de Menil envisioned and finally realized her dream.”

The creative team will discuss the process of making the opera, including the inspiration, the challenges and how they hope to capture the spirit of the Rothko Chapel in operatic form.   

The program is free and open to the public, with a suggested donation of $10, and will be followed by a reception on the plaza.

“This opera is indicative of what the Rothko Chapel means to people,” Leslie said. “To have talented people like these come together and create art because of their experience with the Chapel shows how meaningful it is to have a space like this. This opera honors our founder and our work --  and we hope the community will join us in exploring it with the creators and performers.”  

The world premiere of “Some Light Emerges” is slated for March 16 and March 17 at the Ballroom at Bayou Place, 500 Texas St.

Mark Campbell has written 15 operas and five musicals. He has received two Richard Rodgers Awards, the first Kleban Foundation Award, an NYFA playwriting fellowship, three Drama Desk award nominations, a Rockefeller Foundation Award and a Jonathan Larson Foundation Award. He is best known for “Silent Night,” which won a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for composer Kevin Puts, which has subsequently been produced by nine companies. Opera News profiled Campbell as an in-demand librettist poised, “to become a major force in opera in the coming decade.”  

Kimberly Reed is a filmmaker based in New York City and Newark. Her work has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, NPR, Details magazine and the Moth Radio Hour. She was named one of Filmmaker’s Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” and was a NYFA fellow. She has received multiple fellowships at the Yaddo Artists’ Community and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Her film, “Prodigal Sons,” premiered at Telluride Film Festival, while winning 14 various film festival audience and jury awards, landing on multiple Best of the Year lists and winning the International Film Critics’ FIPRESCI Prize. The film led to recognition for Reed on The Advocate’s “Five to Watch,” OUT Magazine’s “Out 100” and Towleroad’s “Best LGBT Character of the Film Year.”  

Laura Kaminsky was described by the New York Times as a composer with “an ear for the new and interesting” whose works are “colorful and harmonically sharp-edged.” She has received commissions, fellowships and awards as both a composer and presenter from the National Endowment for the Arts, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Opera America, BAM/Kennedy Center De Vos Institute, New York State Council on the Arts, Aaron Copland Fund, Chamber Music America, American Music Center, USArtists International, CEC ArtsLink International Partnerships, Kenan Institute for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and many others.   

Soprano Yelena Dyachek will be singing the role of Dominique de Menil. A first-year artist in the HGO Studio, she was a winner of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and will sing the First Secretary in HGO’s production of John Adams’s “Nixon in China” later this month.

Mezzo-soprano and first-year HGO Studio artist Zoie Reams plays Cece. Earlier this season she sang the alto Winged Angel in the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” and later this month will appear as the Third Secretary in “Nixon in China.”

For more information about the Rothko Chapel and a full calendar of upcoming programs, workshops and events, visit or call 713-524-9839.

For more information about Houston Grand Opera, visit or call 713-546-0200.


Attached photo of Dominique de Menil courtesy the Rothko Chapel.

Photo credit: Paul Hestor

About the Rothko Chapel

The Rothko Chapel is open to the public every day of the year at no charge and successfully interconnects art, spirituality and compassionate action through a broad array of free public programs. Founded by Houston philanthropists Dominique and John de Menil, the Chapel was dedicated in 1971 as an intimate sanctuary. Today it stands as a monument to art, spirituality and human rights. As an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization, the Chapel depends on contributions from foundations and individuals to support its mission of creating a space for contemplation and dialogue on important issues.

About Houston Grand Opera

Since its inception in 1955, Houston Grand Opera has grown from a small regional organization into an internationally renowned opera company. HGO enjoys a reputation for commissioning and producing new works, including 62 world premieres and seven American premieres since 1973. In addition to producing and performing world-class opera, HGO contributes to the cultural enrichment of Houston and the nation through a diverse and innovative program of performances, community events, and education projects that reaches the widest possible public. HGO has toured extensively, including trips to Europe and Asia, and has won a Tony, two Grammy awards, and two Emmy awards—the only opera company to have won all three honors.

Through HGOco, Houston Grand Opera creates opportunities for Houstonians of all ages and backgrounds to create, participate in, and observe art. The NEXUS Initiative is HGO’s multi-year ticket underwriting program that allows Houstonians of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy world-class opera without the barrier of price. Since 2007 NEXUS has enabled more than 225,000 Houstonians to experience first-quality opera through discounted single tickets and subscriptions, subsidized student performances, and free productions.

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