That Was the Week That Was…TDO Edition

by Suzanne Calvin

(Mario Lanza as the Moor in “Otello.”  Photo courtesy of

You missed a good one.  Yesterday evening, The Dallas Opera hosted the first installment of the “Cosi and Koozies Lecture Series,” an outstanding panel discussion on Verdi’s “Otello” and the problem of domestic violence.  It did NOT disappoint.  Led by moderator Chris Shull (“Opera Now,” “Star-Telegram,” “Opera) with popular UNT professor and frequent Dallas Opera lecturer Dr. Stephen Dubberly and Jan Langbein, Executive Director of Genesis Women’s Shelter, the discussion focused on the familiar patterns and “cycles of violence” traceable in Verdi’s moving masterpiece (the building of tensions, the explosion of violence, the reconciliation phase) and how it remains applicable in domestic situations today.

While some in the audience questioned Desdemona’s seeming resignation to her fate, others found more fight in the lady as she attempted to defend herself against Iago’s lies and the fatal jealousy of her husband.  In any event, as Ms. Langbein pointed out, women far from home in centuries past had nowhere to turn, no “women’s shelter” to rescue them in the event of family violence.

Dr. Dubberly, on the other hand, delved into the mature musicianship of Verdi revealed in this masterful retelling of Shakespeare.  All three panelists agreed that, in her own way, the character of Emilia (Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s servant) is the most interesting in the opera, because of the tightrope she’s forced to walk in her personal life and the courage she shows, in the end.

All this, on the heels of a terrific and fabulously well-attended kick-off to “Cosi Fan Tuesday at The Capital Grille”  (we’re still hearing how jazzed people were at this event) and the first of our free movie screenings connecting to the productions of the upcoming season.  In this case, it was Shirley MacLaine and Yves Montand in “My Geisha,” about art, artifice, and self-sacrifice.  A few of the themes that parallel “Madame Butterfly,” the focal point of this early 1960’s lost classic.

We have an exciting slate of events for July that includes the movie “Closer” with Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow, Clive Owen and Jude Law; a wedding cake and Champagne tasting and lots, lots more.  Check out the calendar for details and do let us know what you thought about this opening round of casual summer events. 

We’re all ears!

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


2 Responses to That Was the Week That Was…TDO Edition

Suzanne says: June 29, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Mary Ellen Cassman was kind enough to contact us and ask that we post her comments on this blog entry:

Despite a very hectic day and heavy rush hour traffic, I knew it was important to attend this panel discussion. My instinct proved correct.

Chris Shull did an excellent job of steering questions to the panelists to keep the topic firmly glued on the opera and the issue of domestic violence. His questions were insightful and allowed panelists to get to the marrow of the issues.

The opera was introduced and musically explained in accessible terms by the always interesting Dr. Stephen Dubberly. Insights into the time of Verdi’s life when he wrote the opera added additional understanding. Bridging the gap between Shakespeare’s original play and Verdi’s interpretation also added flavor and dimension.

But I was most awed by Jan Langlen, Executive Director of Genesis Women’s Shelter. Without a hint of pity towards those she serves, she profiled the personalities of abusers, victims and the cycle of violence. She gave concrete ways to help those in need of assistance. She was brilliant in her analysis of Otello and how it is the same today. She told of the strides made in criminal laws to protect victims and the decay of civil laws. She motivated the audience with a feeling of hope and a call to action.

This program could have easily been a downer. But it was not. It was mind expansive and thought provoking. If the purpose of art is to reflect society then this panel discussion and this opera does just that.

I applaud the wisdom and courage of those within the Dallas Opera that created this idea for this panel and its superb execution.

IF says: June 19, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Just wanted to thank you guys for putting together some really awesome events this summer. Enjoyed the wines and company at the Dali event. Thursday night’s panel discussion was really eye-opening. I’ll never think about Otello the same way. I’m looking forward to mingling at the next Cosi Fan Tuesday and checking out the films at the Living Room Movie series.