48 Hours

A MEMORABLE SEASON

Long known for its innovation, the Houston Grand Opera goes back to its roots for its fiftieth season-opener, Madame Butterfly . Puccini's perennial launched the company in 1955 and has been its top draw ever since. What sets this production apart from the fourteen previous ones, however, is the luminous Patricia Racette, a singer-actor much loved in Houston, in her first mature Cio-Cio-San. Be ready for a signature performance to kick off a spectacular season that also includes two comedic world premieres (Daniel Catán's Salsipuedes and Mark Adamo's Lysistrata), a revival of Rachel Portman's The Little Prince, and appearances by the likes of Bryn Terfel, in Verdi's Falstaff, Susan Graham and Laura Claycomb, in Mozart's Idomeneo, and Ana Maria Martinez and Ramón Vargas, in Gounod's Romeo and Juliet . And for those who love Verdi warhorses, there's that other great tearjerker Il Trovatore , with tenor Marcello Giordani in his role debut as Manrico. See Events: Houston —Chester Rosson

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

In 1993 Rick Lowe and a group of artists came across 22 abandoned shotgun houses—an architectural style with rooms lined up one behind the other—in Houston's historic Third Ward. Lowe envisioned the structures as places to show temporary art exhibits, and thus began PROJECT ROW HOUSES . These days, in addition to an educational program aimed at boosting children's self-esteem through art, the center dedicates five of the houses as places for single mothers and their children to live. As always, PRH is about art. Visitors can tour the facilities (above, the Flower Man's House, by artist-in-residence Cleveland Turner) and see new installations by Saba Oskoui, the team of Karen Atkinson and Jane Jenny, and others. See Events: Houston —Patricia Busa McConnico

HOTELS

It's difficult to imagine that the ultra-sleek Sam Houston Hotel first opened in 1924. The decor may be minimal, but the service isn't: Ring for the gratis Town Car to take you clubbing downtown. 1117 Prairie, 832-200-8800.

SPORTS

Where can you see the ponies, paint a pumpkin, and ride a mechanical bull? At the Houston Polo Club's Brinker Cup, of course. The event benefits the Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Texas. See Events: Houston

RESTAURANTS

It's been nearly a year since Claire Smith opened stylish Shade. The reviews have been glowing, especially for the likes of grilled beef tenderloin and pan-seared red snapper with wasabi. 250 W. Nineteenth, 713-863-7500.

DANCE

The Houston Ballet revives its Cullen Series (performed at the smaller Cullen Theater), which features Touched, by Trey McIntyre, and new works by Adrian Burnett, Matjash Mrozewski, and Stanton Welch. See Events: Houston

MUSEUMS

A 1947 discovery of ancient manuscripts in a cave in Israel led to the unearthing of thousands of scroll fragments. View some of them, including a fragment of the War Rule scroll, at "The Dead Sea Scrolls," an exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. See Events: Houston

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