Gone is the modern -- tacky, screamed the purists -- feel from the brochures and the web site: Glamour is back, with the "emphasis placed on the singers," said Gockley. The Opera unveiled a new furiously retro logo: a gilded exploding firework which mimics the grand chandelier hanging above the orchestra seats. A focus on the singers, and a visual identity which evokes the burgundy of velvets and the brass of candelabras from 18th century opera houses? In one word: conservative.

The Opera's 84th season is not exactly revolutionary either, mostly due to the transition issues: Gockley's influence will only kick in for the 2007-08 season, at which point he promised new world premieres (Appomattox, by Philip Glass on a Christopher Hampton libretto), exciting performers like Renée Fleming or Nathalie Dessay, and the production, jointly with the Washington Opera, of a new Ring Cycle, starting with Das Rheingold in 2008. That is definitely sexy. Gockley's track record in his 33 years at the Houston Grand Opera speaks volume of his commitment to keeping the opera alive, evolving and challenging. We'll just have to wait for him to settle here.