Putting the Flavor in Family Programming

by Megan Meister

Putting the Flavor in Family Programming

By Suzanne Calvin

There’s something slightly sticky-sweet about the term “family programming” that tends to remind me of applesauce: pleasant, easily digestible and just as easily forgotten when you’re done.  Well, that is not what our “family programming” is about at the Dallas Opera.

Beginning with this month’s sprightly new production of Georges Bizet’s Doctor Miracle, the Dallas Opera is serving families (especially those with children) a tantalizing array of offerings designed to delight the musical palate, even as they tickle our funnybones.  Working closely with the prestigious music programs of the University of North Texas and Southern Methodist University, the Dallas Opera has assembled two distinct casts of exceptionally talented young singers to take this show “on the road” from the Dallas Children’s Theater to the AT&T Performing Arts Center and beyond.

The Dallas Opera’s $5 Family Matinee of Doctor Miracle will take place on the Winspear mainstage on Sunday, October 30th at 2:00 p.m.  This one-time performance in the Winspear celebrates “National Opera Week” across the U.S.  The work will star outstanding young artists in a brand-new production designed by Tommy Bourgeois, long-associated with our mainstage productions, under the musical direction of Julian Reed.  The production also features a new English language translation by stage director James Hampton.

The operetta (meaning, there is some dialogue as well as singing) revolves around an age-old plot with some fresh twists that bring lots of laughs throughout this story of boy-meets-girl, is opposed by her father, tricks the father and, ultimately, gets-the-girl.   Oh, yes.  And along the way he nearly poisons the entire household.  In other words, good clean fun!

Another family-friendly option takes place the previous night (Saturday, October 29th) when the Dallas Opera and WRR broadcast live from the Winspear Opera House.  You can enjoy that evening’s thrilling performance of Donizetti’s 1835 bel canto masterpiece, LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, in the comfort of your own home, hosted by yours truly.  But wait—there’s more!  You can also join the Dallas Opera’s “Twitter Challenge” that night from 7:30 (curtain time) until one hour after the performance ends.  Can you describe the action in all three acts in 140 words or less?  Follow @thedallasopera and use the hashtag: #tdoplots to share your synopsis.  Prizes will be awarded for the most creative efforts of the night.

The Dallas Opera is planning an afternoon of family fun on Saturday, November 12th in the Winspear Opera House, beginning at noon with a lobby-full of music, dress-up and craft activities.  At 1:30 p.m. the Dallas Children’s Theater will treat families to a half-hour sneak preview of Madeline’s Christmas, featuring the merry, musical escapades of everyone’s favorite little girl from Paris.

Lobby activities resume from 2:00 PM until 3:00 PM, at which time parents and children will be invited to take their seats inside the Margaret McDermott Performance Hall for our $5 Family Concert!  The superb Dallas Opera Orchestra, conducted by the highly regarded Maestro Anthony Barrese, will be joined by a high-voltage trio of North Texas favorites:  acclaimed soprano Ava Pine, Dallas Opera Resident Young Artist Aaron Blake, and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cook.  Music selections will include many of your all-time favorites from classic Saturday morning cartoons!  Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door.

One more thing: in answer to many requests, the Dallas Opera now offers the PARENT’S GUIDE TO THE DALLAS OPERA SEASON.  While the Dallas Opera believes everyone, from every walk-of-life, should have access to great opera—not every opera is a perfect fit for your family.  Some operas contain adult themes better suited to a mature audience.  To help you determine which operas are appropriate for the ones you love, TDO has compiled an easy-to-download Parent’s Guide to the Dallas Opera Season, located online at http://www.dallasopera.org/family/season/2011-2012/.  The guide contains plot overviews, ratings and other specifics to help parents make an informed judgment.  We also provide the answers to our most frequently asked questions in TDO’S GUIDE TO BRINGING CHILDREN TO THE OPERA, which can be accessed, day or night, at http://www.dallasopera.org/family/bringingkids/.

Look online, grab the kids, and enjoy the new season!

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