FIRST Things First

by Suzanne Calvin


If you were anywhere in the vicinity of the intersection of Flora Street and Jack Evans on the evening of October 21, 2011 -- you already know what a blockbuster of an event this was. The great thing is, having pulled it off in spectacular fashion once, it should be even better this go ’round. Check out the release and make your reservations now.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Contact: Suzanne Calvin 214.443.1014
Or Megan Meister 214.443.1071

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2012 AT 6:30 P.M.

FIRST NIGHT Honorary Chairs: Patti & John Cody,
Amy & Vernon Faulconer, Caroline Rose Hunt,
Joyce & Harvey Mitchell, and Shannon & Ted Skokos
Kaki Hopkins, FIRST NIGHT Chair
Tincy Miller, Advisory Chair

DALLAS, AUGUST 24, 2012 – The Dallas Opera is proud to announce initial details regarding 2012’s FIRST NIGHT, the Opening Night celebrations in conjunction with the Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance of AÏDA that marks the eagerly awaited launch of the company’s 2012-2013 “Pursuits of Passion” Season, presented by Texas Instruments Foundation.
The event, hosted by the Dallas Opera, will focus on the compelling power of art married to contemporary design in each of the mainstage operas (as well as the overtly passionate season theme) that comprise the company’s fourth season in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center: Verdi’s Aïda, Puccini’s Turandot, The Aspern Papers by Dominick Argento—and our delightful family production of Georges Bizet’s Doctor Miracle.
It is the vision of 2012 FIRST NIGHT Chair Kaki Hopkins to incorporate these far-flung masterpieces from all corners of the globe into one fabulous night designed to create an all-encompassing ambiance of mystery and timeless beauty—from the red carpet arrivals to the elegant post-performance dinner. She also plans to recognize the Dallas Opera’s recent foray into producing opera simulcasts in sports venues with a Red Carpet theme of “Arts and Sports Together.”
The thrills begin on the red carpet, at 6:00 p.m. the evening of Friday, October 26, 2012 at the plaza entrance to the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District.

FIRST NIGHT Presenting Sponsor – Dinner and Opening Night Festivities



FIRST NIGHT Honorary Chairs
Patti and John Cody
Amy and Vernon Faulconer
Caroline Rose Hunt
Joyce and Harvey Mitchell
Shannon and Ted Skokos

FIRST NIGHT Advisory Chair
Tincy Miller

FIRST NIGHT Advisory Committee
Linda Custard
Patsy Donosky
Gene Jones
Connie Klemow
Nancy Marcus
Sharon McCullough
Cynthia Melnick
Joyce Moore
Deanna Sandlin
Ellen Terry
Marnie Wildenthal

Kaki Hopkins

Rhonda Sargent Chambers
Lynn Mock

Kathleen Gibson

Holly and Tom Mayer

Elaine and Bill Blaylock

Carol and Don Glendenning

FIRST NIGHT Supporting Partners
Marie Dean Public Relations

The FIRST NIGHT team, chaired by Kaki Hopkins with assistance from Vice-Chairs Rhonda Sargent Chambers and Lynn Mock, anticipates a particularly glittering grand entrance featuring, not only of notables and celebrities, but internationally acclaimed fashion designers who have returned to create breathtaking designs for the celebrities invited to model these creations, as representatives of the Dallas Opera’s 2012-2013 Season—leaving their significant “footprints” on these sumptuous, red-carpet celebrations!
Miss Chambers, of RSC Productions, and Red Carpet Co-Chair Marisa Huckin will greet the guests and announce their arrivals. The Red Carpet Manager will be former Dallas Opera Director of Production John Gage.
Also assisting on the red carpet that evening will be the FIRST NIGHT public relations corp, Marie Dean of Marie Dean PR, Chair; and Gianna Madrini, Style Editor of “Global Fashion News,” Fashion Media Chair.

“FIRST NIGHT, in its encore year, will celebrate the masterpieces of the 56th International Season of the Dallas Opera in a unique and really exciting way,” explains Chair Kaki Hopkins. “The red-carpet extravaganza will feature well-known athletes and persons associated with the sports world, to reflect our theme of ‘Arts and Sports Together.’ They will be wearing exquisite creations by five of the finest fashion designers working today. Each designer will create a glorious gown inspired by one of the operas of the season—and by the divas who have captured our imaginations!”
“Be there to applaud the artists’ work on these stellar role models,” she adds, “and to enjoy every moment of this inspired Red Carpet extravaganza.”

The guests will move into Nancy B. Hamon Hall for the 6:30 p.m. reception, chaired by Elaine and Bill Blaylock. This interlude for refreshments and convivial conversation will serve as an “appetizer” for the rest of the evening, beginning with a star-studded Opening Night performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s grand and glorious AÏDA, starring Texas-born soprano Latonia Moore, The Charron and Peter Denker Rising Star, in the coveted title role, Bulgarian mezzo-soprano Nadia Krasteva in her company debut as Amneris, Italian tenor Antonello Palombi as Radames, and baritone Lester Lynch as Amonasro, King of Ethiopia. The season opener will be conducted by Dallas Opera Music Director Graeme Jenkins and staged by Garnett Bruce.
Following the opera, the Dallas Opera’s special guests will adjourn to Annette Strauss Square next door, for a cosmopolitan, late-night dining experience chaired by Holly and Tom Mayer inside a lavishly decorated tent.
Party-goers will savor delectable dishes by Wolfgang Puck Catering and a host of exceptional wines in one of five magnificent seating areas designed and distinctively decorated with a 2012-2013 Season opera in mind.

“An event is only as extraordinary as the ideas behind it,” explains Dallas Opera General Director & CEO Keith Cerny, “and the foundations of the Dallas Opera’s FIRST NIGHT celebrations are the fertile imaginations, the phenomenal talent and the creative genius of many of opera’s greatest names: Verdi, Puccini, Bizet, and Argento, as well as some of the brightest stars in sports, fashion, and contemporary design.”
“Opera always endeavors to appeal to our highest ideals, our better selves,” adds Mr. Cerny. “I think you will see this reflected in every aspect of this extraordinary night.
“Everyone associated with this event should be proud of their tremendous contributions to the company, to the future of the performing arts, and to this community we love. In fact, each of our chairs, hosts, and committee members has demonstrated already that the art of self-giving may be the most valuable art form of all.”

One of last season’s couture designers, Nicolas Villalba of NDV Inc., expressed his delight at the opportunity to create a new design to adorn the red carpet: “Last year, I had such a wonderful time working with my lovely model, Linda Ivy, and with sponsors Don and Ellen Winspear. For me, however, the most exciting aspect of the evening was making opera so accessible to the public. I loved the concept of “Opera under the stars.”
Added couturier Abi Ferrin: “FIRST NIGHT is an exciting way for Dallas designers to showcase their artistry, while supporting the Dallas Opera and the Winspear Opera House. I am honored to be included.”
Paulette Martsolf of Allie-Coosh, participating for the first time in this event, responded with enthusiasm: “The opportunity to be a part of FIRST NIGHT is a thrill. My passion for the arts goes far beyond fashion design. Hopefully, the four modern-day gowns I’ve designed for Aïda’s Entourage will honor this pinnacle night and the outstanding efforts of the Dallas Opera.”


Leesa Alhadef
Barbara Bigham
Delilah and Sam Boyd
Carolyn and Colon Brown
Scott Chase
Linda Claycomb
Kay Copp
Nicole Dabbert
Marie Dean
Tiffany Divis
Patricia Granowski
Liz Kimple
Ann Lardner
Liz Minyard Lokey
Greg McConeghy
Jo Anne McCullough
Pat McEvoy
Tom McGurren
Michelle Mew
Connie Miles
Kim Miller
Laurey Peat
Melinda Rathke
Dawna Richter
Tanya Roberts
Carol Seay
Brian Shivers
Gloria McCall Snead
Samuel Stiles
Anne and Steve Stodghill
Jeanette Wharton
Ellen Winspear
Jocelyn White
Stacie and Mark Whitley
Debra Witter
Denise and Larry Wolford

Special Representative: Alison Hunsicker, The Women’s Board of the Dallas Opera.

The event is black-tie and valet service will be provided on the Flora Street side of the Winspear Opera House for all dinner guests.
Tickets for FIRST NIGHT begin at $500 per person. For additional information regarding FIRST NIGHT packages and options, contact Dallas Opera Special Events Manager Morgan Vaughn at


Kaki Hopkins, Chair, FIRST NIGHT: Kaki is a seasoned chair of fundraising events for the arts, medicine and education, with leadership positions on the boards of the Dallas Opera; Dallas Theater Center (a leading actress/director with DTC for a decade); Chiapas International; TACA; The Dallas Arboretum and Vickery Meadow Learning Center, among others; and various auxiliary organizations for the arts and medicine. Kaki has been honored with numerous awards for leadership, both locally and nationally, and has taught acting, stage movement and voice at Trinity U. (San Antonio) and U. of New Mexico. She played an instrumental role in making last season’s FIRST NIGHT a resounding success and one of the most memorable opera galas ever and also chaired the highly successful Chihuly Gala at the Dallas Arboretum. She also served her country as Director of Music and Theater for the 7th Army Training Center in Germany for more than two years.

Tincy Miller, Advisory Chair, FIRST NIGHT: “Tincy” Miller is a life-long activist and advocate for education, a principal in a nationally renowned real estate firm, and a highly regarded civic leader who is called upon frequently to lead community and cultural causes. In 2003, Tincy was appointed Chair of the Texas State Board of Education, having served on the board for nearly two decades. She previously served on the board’s Committee on Instruction and as its Chair, and has led the Task Force on Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She has also served on the board and as president of L.I.F.T. (Literacy Instruction for Texas). Tincy has chaired major fund raising events for United Cerebral Palsy, The Dallas Opera, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, TACA, and the Crystal Charity Ball, to name only a few. Her awards are numerous, including the 1999 Tom Landry Award of Excellence in Volunteerism.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers, FIRST NIGHT Vice-Chair / Co-Chair, FIRST NIGHT Red Carpet: As a model, instructor, and speaker, Rhonda Sargent Chambers has been a respected figure in the fashion community for over 30 years. In addition to her work with Dallas-based Kim Dawson Agency and top international modeling agencies, she produces fashion shows and events through her company, RSC Show Productions. Rhonda is also regular contributor on the subjects of fashion and style to WFAA’s “Good Morning Texas” and

Lynn Mock, FIRST NIGHT Vice-Chair: Lynn Parr Mock, Chairman of the 2004 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, received her BME from Southwestern University and an MM in Vocal Performance from The University of Texas at Austin. She balances performing commitments with board service to many fine arts organizations. Lynn is currently serving on the Board of Directors of The Dallas Opera (for which she chairs the Education Committee), as Chairman of the Board of The Friends of WRR, and on the Board of Visitors at Southwestern University. Lynn is also co-founder of “Lone Spring Arts.”

Holly and Tom Mayer, Co-Chairs, FIRST NIGHT Dinner: TDO Board of Directors Executive Committee Vice-President, Development, Holly Mayer and Dallas Opera Board Member Dr. Tom Mayer have made the Dallas Opera one of their chief causes for more than a decade, in addition to providing significant support to the Dallas Theater Center and the Dallas Arboretum. As a dedicated arts leader, Holly helped raise $1.7 million for TDO’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, chaired a successful two-year campaign (ending in 2005) to wipe TDO’s accumulated deficit off the books, pioneered innovative audience outreach initiatives, and helped establish a young professionals program. Holly has also served on the President’s Advisory Council of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts (ATTPAC).

Elaine and Bill Blaylock, Co-Chairs, FIRST NIGHT Reception: Bill, the Vice President and Senior Tax Council for Texas Instruments, and Elaine, the Controller at Prince of Peace Catholic School, have been active members of the Dallas Opera since 1993 when Elaine began working in the Dallas Opera Guild’s “Adopt an Artist” program. Eventually, the pair served as Presidents of the Guild (1999-2000). Among other highlights, they created the Bessylee Penland Endowment Fund for the annual Vocal Competition and facilitated the development of the TDO/SMU Emerging Artists Program. Bill currently serves on the TDO Executive Committee while Elaine, who has served as Chairman of the TDO Education Committee, now serves as a trustee for both the Dallas Opera and PORTopera in Portland, Maine.

Carol and Don Glendenning, FIRST NIGHT Host Chairs: Carol, Chair of the Policy Committee at Strasburger & Price, LLP, and Don Glendenning, Co-Chair of the Corporate and Transactional Department of Locke Lord LLP and Managing Partner of the Dallas office have devoted countless hours to their community, as well as their nationally recognized law practices. Carol serves on the Boards of The Dallas Opera, the Dallas Regional Chamber, the YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas, United Way Foundation, The Dallas Friday Group, and the St. Paul Medical Foundation. Don, the recipient of the 2011 Justinian Award from the Dallas Bar Association for extraordinary volunteer service to the community, is Co-Chair of The Campaign for Parkland; President of Scenic Dallas and Scenic Texas; Past Chairman of the Thanks-Giving Foundation and the Dallas Zoological Society; Past President of the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas and Rice University DFW Alumni, in addition to sitting on numerous Boards supporting a multitude of worthy causes.

Marisa Huckin, Co-Chair, FIRST NIGHT Red Carpet: A former professional show jumper with a Master’s degree in psychology from the University of Dallas, Marisa Huckin is a member of the Children’s Cancer Fund Board of Directors who co-chaired the organization’s 2010 luncheon—netting more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars for the cause. She went on to chair the 2010 Dallas Children’s Theater annual cabaret gala fundraiser and will returned last fall to chair a new event for CCF she described as “just jeans and a lot of fun.”

John Gage, Red Carpet Manager: Dallas Opera’s former Director of Production John Gage began his career in opera production as Stage Manager of St. Paul Opera for their 1972 summer season. He served in similar roles with the Opera companies of Santa Fe, Milwaukee, Miami, and Dallas, where her served as the Production Stage Manager for three years, beginning in 1978. In May 1980, he assumed the position of General Director of the Florentine Opera company in Milwaukee, a job he held for the next nine years. He then spent several years guiding the Columbus, Ohio, opera company through a financially difficult period, before returning to The Dallas Opera. Mr. Gage created the Director of Production position, retiring last year.

Michael Faircloth, Couture Designer: Mr. Faircloth opened his first couture salon in Dallas thirty years ago and today enjoys an international clientele that heralds his sense of cut, and discriminating eye for graceful detail. Former First Lady Laura Bush, a long-established client, thrust him into the national media spotlight when she asked Michael to design her first inaugural wardrobe. His elegant designs are geared toward women who recognize the beauty of a refined aesthetic: “mix the classic with the dramatic and come out with something really feminine.”

Abi Ferrin, Couture Designer: An award-winning designer who strives to empower women to look and feel their best, Abi Ferrin’s brand is being launched nationally by better boutiques and retailers like Nordstrom. Elements of her collection are made by Cambodian women rescued from the sex trade and, through the philanthropic arm of her company, The Freedom Project, they are provided with counseling, training, shelter and alternatives to abusive employment. Abi includes a hand-crafted Freedom Project element on every Made-in-the-USA garment, bringing her motto, Fashion+Freedom+Purpose, full circle.

Geoffrey Henning, Couture Designer: Canadian-born Geoffrey Henning has been VP of Design for Women at JCPenny for nine years, in addition to custom design for an elite clientele. Henning is a frequent guest on NBC “Weekend Today” and was featured as a man of style in Modern Luxury magazine. He serves as chairman of Dallas Fashion Incubator and on the boards of Texas Next Top Designer and Starlight Foundation. Most recently, he received the coveted Legend of Style, Fashion Legacy Award from DIFFA Dallas.

Paulette Martsolf, Couture Designer: A Newfoundland native who garnered top design school honors in Toronto and studied in Paris, France. As owner of Allie-Coosh, Paulette offers cutting-edge daytime, evening and jewelry designs for the refined woman seeking trends as well as comfort. She has produced or been featured in prestigious fashion shows from Dallas to Santa Fe, and has served as a board member for Fashion Group International and contributed to Dallas Assistance League; Junior Charity League for Parkland Rehabilitation; Salvation Army Annual Fashion Show; Texas Discovery Gardens; American Heart Association; United Way; MDA Telethon; SafeHaven; The Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse; American Cancer Society; Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International; Roundup for Autism; and many more worthy causes.

Khanh Nguyen, Couture Designer: She is the award-winning Creative Director and Designer of her own label, Nha Khanh, consisting of designs that focus on modern glamour, inspired by art, architecture and most importantly, nature. The designs are ethereal; meticulously constructed, and host an ease about them that allows for an effortless sensibility. The company offers seasonal “advanced contemporary” ready-to-wear; a custom Atelier collection, which hosts one-of-a-kind and custom pieces; as well as a bridal line. The Nha Khanh mission is to empower a woman with inner-strength through her clothing with a focus on “elegance with a modern edge”.

Nicolas Villalba, Couture Designer: The international award-winning owner and principal designer of Nicolas Villalba Couture. Originally an evening wear designer, Nicolas now specializes in all things custom, including bridal, menswear, and even custom linens. After graduating with a BFA in Fashion Design, Nicolas was chosen to represent the U.S. in the European design competition, “Etoilles de la Mode” where he became the first American to win the “Prix du Public.” In 2010, this winner of the DIFFA Legend of Style Award launched a popular men’s shirt collection under the label, “A great Shirt”. Villalba also does private label work for Stanley Korshak, Neiman-Marcus, TODD Events, and other high-end retailers.

Single tickets for the 2012-2013 Season are subject to dynamic pricing (the earlier they are purchased and the less-in-demand, the lower the price) and will go on sale – for as little as $19 – on September 10, 2012. Subscriptions start at just $75. Inner Circle seating may be priced higher.


For high-resolution, digital photographs suitable for print
To arrange an interview
Or for additional information
Please contact Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR
214.443.1014 or

The Dallas Opera’s 2012-2013 “Pursuits of Passion Season”
Is Presented by Texas Instruments Foundation



Ticket Information for the 2012-2013 Dallas Opera Season

All performances are in the new Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Subscriptions start at just $75 and are on sale now. Single tickets go on sale September 10, 2012, starting at just $19 – new low price. For more information, contact The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online at

The Dallas Opera celebrates its Fifty-Sixth International Season in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in downtown Dallas. Evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees will begin at 2:00 p.m. English translations will be projected above the stage at every performance. Assistance is available for the hearing impaired.

AIDA by Giuseppe Verdi
October 26: The Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance
Featuring Latonia Moore, The Charron and Peter Denker Rising Star (2012)
October 28(m), 31, November 3, 9, 11(m), 2012
Verdi’s Complex and Intimate Love Story Set in Spectacular Ancient Egypt!
An opera in four acts first performed at Khedivial Opera House, Cairo on December 24, 1871.
Text by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette.
Time: Old Kingdom
Place: Egypt
Conductor: Graeme Jenkins
Stage Director: John Copley
Costume Design: Peter J. Hall
Wig & make-up Design: David Zimmerman
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Latonia Moore (Aïda), Antonello Palombi (Radames), Nadia Krasteva* (Amneris), Lester Lynch (Amonasro), Orlin Anastassov* (Ramfis), Ben Wager (The King of Egypt), Jonathan Yarrington* (Messenger), and NaGuanda Nobles* (Priestess).

TURANDOT by Giacomo Puccini
April 5, 7(m), 10, 13, 19 & 21(m), 2013
Puccini’s Last Masterpiece—Riddled with Passionate Romance and Unforgettable Music!
An opera in three acts first performed in Milan at La Scala, April 25, 1926
Text by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, based on Carlo Gozzi’s fable, Turandot.
Time: Legendary times
Place: Peking, China
Conductor: Marco Zambelli
Stage Director: Garnett Bruce
Production Design: Allen Charles Klein
Wig & make-up Design: David Zimmerman
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Lise Lindstrom* (Princess Turandot), Antonello Palombi (Calaf), Hei-Kyung Hong (Liu), Christian Van Horn* (Timur), Jonathan Beyer (Ping), Joseph Hu (Pang), Daniel Montenegro* (Pong), Ryan Kuster* (A Mandarin), Steven Haal (Emperor Altoum).

THE ASPERN PAPERS by Dominick Argento
April 12, 14(m), 17, 20, 28(m), 2013
The Games People Play—Both Young and Old—To Achieve Their Twisted Desires!
An opera in two acts first performed in Dallas, November 19, 1988.
Text by Dominick Argento, based on a Henry James novella.
Time: Legendary
Place: Lake Como, Italy
Conductor: Graeme Jenkins
Stage Director: Tim Albery
Scenic Design: Andrew Lieberman*
Costume Design: Constance Hoffman*
Lighting Design: Thomas Hase
Wig & make-up Design: David Zimmerman
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Assistant Director: Michael Mori
Starring: Susan Graham* (Tina), Alexandra Deshorties (Juliana Bordereau), Nathan Gunn (The Lodger), Joseph Kaiser* (Aspern), Dean Peterson (Barelli), Sasha Cooke* (Sonia), Eric Jordan* (A painter), Jennifer Youngs* (Olimpia).

* Dallas Opera Debut
** American Debut

The Dallas Opera is supported, in part, by funds from: City of Dallas, Office of Cultural Affairs; TACA; the Texas Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). American Airlines is the official airline of The Dallas Opera. Lexus is the official vehicle of The Dallas Opera. Cartier is the official jeweler and watchmaker of The Dallas Opera. Rosewood Crescent Hotel is the official hotel of The Dallas Opera. Advertising support from The Dallas Morning News. A special thanks to Mrs. William W. Winspear and the Elsa von Seggern Foundation for their continuing support.


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