Artistic Director of The Dallas Opera Jonathan Pell has an extensive background in both music and theatre. Mr. Pell came to The Dallas Opera in 1985 from WNET/Thirteen in New York, where he was Coordinating Producer for Music Programming and worked on such public television projects as The Life of Verdi series hosted by Burt Lancaster, and the historic telecast of the complete Chereau Ring from Bayreuth for Great Performances. He was also a member of the original team which produced the annual PBS Gala of Stars for five years, hosted by Beverly Sills.
Before joining WNET, Mr. Pell was active in concert and opera management for several years, representing an international roster of singers, conductors and stage directors. During Mr. Pell’s years with the Dallas Opera, he has worked with successive General Directors to bring many of the world’s leading artists to Dallas, and to commission three world premieres: Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers in 1988, Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin in 2001 and most recently, Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick in 2010. He is now assisting General Director & CEO Keith Cerny in two further commissions. The first is a one-act opera by British composer Joby Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer. Entitled Everest, the work is based on the ill-fated ascent of Mount Everest in 1996, and will be performed in February 2015. The second is the opera Great Scott, by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally, which is being written for Joyce DiDonato in the title role, and will premiere at the Dallas Opera in October 2015.
Mr. Pell frequently appears as a speaker on a variety of opera related topics, and for several years hosted The Dallas Opera Radio Hour, heard on Sunday afternoons on WRR 101.1 FM, and is now a frequent guest on that station’s Inside The Dallas Opera. He has also hosted The Dallas Opera Guild Insights program since 1985, and in that capacity has interviewed such luminaries as Cecilia Bartoli, Renee Fleming, Marcello Giordani, Denyce Graves, Jerry Hadley, Ben Heppner, James Morris, Nathan Gunn, Patricia Racette, Samuel Ramey, Ruth Ann Swenson, Carol Vaness, Veronica Villarroel and Frederica von Stade. Mr. Pell is also often asked to give Master Classes on “The Art of the Audition” which he has given for various organizations, including Opera America, the National Opera Association, the Merola Opera Program, the International School of the Performing Arts, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Performing Arts Assistance Corporation of New York, the Canadian Opera Company, the Amarillo Opera, Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas.
He has been a guest lecturer on opera for Crystal Cruises, and is also in demand as a judge for vocal competitions. He has served in this capacity for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, Philadelphia and the Great Lakes Region), the Luciano Pavarotti Competition, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, the Marcello Giordani Foundation, the Bidu Sayao Competition in Belem, Brazil, the Ottavio Ziino Competition in Rome, Italy, the Center for Contemporary Opera Competition, the Jensen Foundation Competition, the George London Grants, the Young Patronesses of the Opera Competition in Miami, the Marguerite McCammon Competition in Fort Worth, as well as for the Denver Lyric Opera Guild, the San Antonio Opera Guild and The Dallas Opera Guild. He is on the board of directors of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, and from 1999 through 2009, he also served as Chairman of their national auditions committee. He was also on the board of the prestigious ARIA Awards for ten years, and served as an advisor to Opera America’s Singer Services Committee. In June 2010, he was presented with Opera America’s Service Award for 25 years of dynamic leadership, and in January 2011 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Opera Association.