No off-season for opera

by christian.anderson
Santa Fe’s open air opera house

On the heels of a critically acclaimed Fort Worth Opera Festival, North Texas Opera lovers may be looking for their next big musical “fix.” Fortunately, there’s plenty to choose from, from coast to coast and overseas. Here are a few of the best known options:

Salzburg Festival

There’s more to the Salzburg Festival than “The Sound of Music” (much more). International audiences descend on Mozart’s hometown each summer to enjoy a tremendous variety of classical music and opera performances from late July through the end of August. And the setting? Well, what can we say about the Austrian Alps in the summertime that hasn’t been better expressed by travel writers and poets?

Santa Fe Opera

The grand-daddy of American Opera festivals, Santa Fe Opera was founded in 1956 and has been performing outdoor opera in a stunning natural setting north of town since July of 1957 (the same inaugural year as The Dallas Opera). In the past half-century, SFO has commissioned nine new operas and staged more than forty American premieres. The 2009 Season, which opens July 3rd, will draw audiences from around the world to see productions of La traviata, Don Giovanni, The Elixir of Love, Alceste and the world premiere of The Letter.

Opera Theate of St. Louis

If “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” look no further than Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Directly modeled after the Santa Fe Opera summer season and founded by Richard Gaddes (a Santa Fe veteran) to bring world-class opera to the St. Louis area, this summer festival has been engaging audiences since 1976 with a dozen world premieres and English-language productions of classic works. This season, Opera Theatre of St. Louis is producing La bohème, Salome, Il re pastore and The Ghosts of Versailles in a season that runs from now through June 28th.

Bayreuth Festival

For the passionate aficionados of the music of Germany’s Richard Wagner, there is only one summer festival: Bayreuth. Founded in the late 19th century by the composer as a way to bring his vision—intact—to a waiting world, Bayreuth is still the heavyweight champion of opera festivals, this year featuring revivals of Parsifal, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger and the iconic Ring Cycle. The next generation of the Wagner family has assumed the leadership of the 2009 festival, so, major changes may be on the horizon.


Under the guiding hand of General Director Michael MacLeod, Glimmerglass Opera (located in Cooperstown in Upstate New York) has attracted renewed interest in recent years with innovative and theme-oriented programming. This summer’s schedule consists of productions of Dido and Aeneas, La Cenerentola, La traviata and The Consul. Glimmerglass runs from July 18th through August 25th. You can make it your final salute to the summer as your turn your thoughts to the opening of the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts in late October.

Suzanne Calvin, Assoc. Dir. of Marketing, The Dallas Opera

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