Eight brand new operatic projects paraded across the stage in an event promising at least the possibility that audience members might be catching an early glimpse of the Carmen of the early twenty-first century.
DatesMay 4 thru May 12
With the fourth production of its 2013 spring festival up and running, Fort Worth Opera affirmed its claim to a presence on the national scene and potential international significance as well.
Villaume comes to Dallas with the pedigree you might expect for such a prominent position in the company, as well as a desire to balance classics with ambitious programming.
DatesApr 27 thru May 10
Under General Manager Darren K. Woods’ regime, Fort Worth Opera has built relationships with an admirable group of fresh and exciting voices who keep coming back. Pine is a prime example of Woods’ star system at work.
DatesApr 20 thru May 12
All of these singers clearly understand that, in Boheme, one becomes a star by submerging in the ensemble. Plus, a modernist opera with powerful arias.
This year 14,000 people turned out to watch a simulcast of Puccini’s Turandot on the stadium’s giant screen. That’s obviously great news for the opera, and not just because it helps generate exposure for the organization and seed for future ticket buyers.
It was works like The Aspern Papers—which might reasonably be described as neo-versimo—that brought on a full-blown golden age for this style of intensely emotional, assertively colorful music.
Weak showings from the two stars severely damaged the opening night performance of Dallas Opera’s current production of Puccini’s Turandot at Winspear Opera House Friday.
Ahead of North Texas’ homegrown opera starlet’s Baroque recital this weekend, we got to learn about her favorite city, the harrowing life of an opera singer, and why she doesn’t get Björk.
The Dallas Opera looks to make its Cowboys Stadium simulcast an annual tradition, and this year it is adding the “wabbit” to the program.
SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts has announced the creation of a new arts market think tank, the first of its kind in the nation.
LocationWinspear Opera House 2403 Flora St. Dallas, TX 75201
DatesOct 26 thru Nov 11
Friday, the tragic conflict of personal emotion and national loyalty in ancient Egypt provided a memorable opening night for the Dallas Opera’s 2012-13 season.
The director of the Fort Worth Opera Festival is one of only three opera company leaders among twenty-five individuals featured in Opera News’ list of people the publication believes will be vital to “Opera’s next wave.”
After praising Woods for widening the company’s approach to repertory by championing contemporary opera, the article continues, “Woods’s talents extend beyond being a courageous programmer; he also has a reputation for being a strict fiscal watchdog. …As other regional companies are collapsing under the weight of moribund programming and bad debt, Fort Worth continues to move forward. Recently, the board extended Woods’s contract through 2018.”
Here’s the full release. And here’s a release with all of the named next-wavers. And in related news, keep an eye out for Mark Birnbaum‘s documentary about the making of FTWO’s next world premiere, A Wrinkle In Time.
The New York Times has a wonderful profile of Lois Kirschenbaum, 79, who has been a regular at New York opera and ballet performances since the 1950s, earning her the moniker “Queen of the Nosebleeds.” Kirschenbaum strikes me as the ideal audience member. Opera isn’t something she was born into, or attends as part of a societal ritual. It is a love and a fascination, and one that she discovered when baseball sold her short:
Ms. Kirschenbaum knew nothing of opera growing up as an only child in Flatbush. She was an avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan. But she heard her first opera, “Pagliacci,” in the early 1950s at the Amato Opera company on Bleecker Street. Then the voice of Renata Tebaldi put her under a spell, and when the Dodgers left New York in 1958, she turned completely to opera, and only slightly secondarily, to ballet.
In the late 1950s, she and her parents moved into a rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan, where she still lives. She listens to Yankees games on the radio when she’s not listening to classical selections on WQXR. Nearly every night, she makes a two-bus trip to and from Lincoln Center, which can take 90 minutes each way.
During the 40 years Ms. Kirschenbaum worked as a telephone operator, she operated a veritable opera switchboard, communicating the latest cast changes and show cancellations or additions to other opera buffs, information gleaned from chats with singers and other insiders after performances. She retired in 2004, lives on a modest pension and has never married.
So those of you who work for various Dallas performing arts organizations, tells us, are their any Dallas arts gadflies who compare?
It may be almost two years away, but Fort Worth Opera has revealed an appealing program for its 2014 festival with two world premieres slated.
DatesMay 26 thru Jun 3
Adamo has created, in the title character, a complex yet easily comprehended operatic heroine of the first rank—a woman who, like Tosca or Minnie, is believable because she learns, and grows, and transforms, and who finally comes to grips with the world as it really is.
DatesMay 19 thru Jun 1
Although there’s a clear sense of social disorder embedded in the text, director Einhorn subtly takes that element up a level with body language and a tightening of space between the singers.
The Dallas opera announced that it has commissioned another new work, Everest, a one-act piece that will debut in February 2015.I spoke with Talbot and Scheer about the piece.
DatesMay 13 thru June 2
Local favorite Heggie’s chamber opera offers a different view of the composer we know through his monumental (Moby-Dick) and gritty (Dead Man Walking) works.
DatesMay 12 thru Jun 2
Fort Worth Opera opened its annual spring festival with a hyper-traditional production of one of the all time hits from the traditional standard repertoire, Puccini’s Tosca.
The Dallas Opera says an estimated 15,000 people showed up at Cowboys Stadium for the first opera simulcast at the football stadium. We sent intern Becca Brooks to the event, and here’s her report.
Amidst emphasized humor, lush orchestration, and a few distractions, Pine proves unfailingly dramatic and gorgeous.
The first act weighs down Dallas Opera production of Verdi’s opera that eventually finds its footing.
Remember the Dallas Opera’s plan to simulcast their production of The Magic Flute live on April 28 on the super-uber-tron at Cowboys Stadium? The opera sends word that they community response has been tremendous.
Contemporary chamber opera has taken root in Fort Worth, with several notable productions in recent years as part of the Fort Worth Opera’s spring festival. Friday night, the Dallas Opera made its first major entry into that field, with Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse at Wyly Theatre.
Extraordinary vocal demands and stringent dissonance are the most obvious features of The Lighthouse, which has been called, with good reason, one of the most difficult operas in the repertoire. One could well say that the work, for three singers and a dozen instrumentalists, must be performed very well or not at all. In this tightly designed score, a missed note or entrance could be disastrous.
Responsibility rests almost equally among the singers, who must produce correct pitches with very little cue from the orchestra and all thirteen of the accompanying musicians, who perform on a menagerie of instruments including banjo, deliberately out-of-tune piano, and referee’s whistle. If any one individual has a greater burden, it’s the conductor, who in this case is Nicole Paiement. She combined old-fashioned precision and discipline with up-to-the-minute insight into the complex modernity of the score.
In spite of the complexity of the music, there’s a deeply traditional angle to The Lighthouse as well. Based on a historical incident (the mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse keepers of the coast ofScotland in 1900), it demands that the three singers present their double roles convincingly and dramatically, all the while hitting every note precisely. Tenor Andrew Bidlack, baritone Robert Orth, and bass Daniel Sumegi manage all of this along with the distinctive portrayals of human archtypes the work demands.
Stage director Kevin Moriarty discovers numerous meaningful subtleties in the words and music, and designer Beowulf Borrit’s revolving set provides an appropriately ominous space for this ghost story. One couldn’t help thinking, however, that more sophisticated use of lighting and less dependence on real water (which made absolutely no visual impact) would be ultimately more effective.
The Dallas premiere of The Lighthouse, which has become, since its debut in 1980, one of the most frequently performed contemporary operas, was long overdue. The questions it raises and dilemmas it voices epitomize the niche opera has carved for itself in the culture of the twenty-first century—not as a showpiece for the elite, but as an essential element in the search for meaning in a society in turmoil with itself.
Photo by Karen Almond for the Dallas Opera
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