From the Desk of Artistic Director Jonathan Pell

by Jonathan Pell

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Tenor Sean Panikkar, “Cassio” TDO Otello 09
Karen Almond, Photo Credit

I have heard that some of my loyal readers have been wondering where I have been this summer since there haven’t been any postings since the beginning of July.

Well, I should report that I just returned from the Galapagos Islands, where I was auditioning sea lions and marine iguanas, but honestly, don’t expect any of them to appear on stage at the Winspear Opera House any time soon.

I head off this weekend to Seattle and Speight Jenkins’ last Ring cycle as general director of that company.  He retires at the end of this season after thirty years with the Seattle Opera, and this promises to be a memorable production of Wagner’s magnum opus.

It boasts what looks “on paper” to be a wonderful cast and has a brilliant conductor, so I am really looking forward to going.

On another subject, I don’t know how many of you are addicted to watching this summer’s number one TV hit, America’s Got Talent on NBC, but this year there is a particularly interesting participant.

Tenor Sean Panikkar, who appeared as “Cassio” in our production of Verdi’s Otello, the opera which opened the Winspear Opera House in October 2009, is now part of a vocal trio called “Forte” which was just voted into the semi-finals on last night’s live episode.  Sean is still pursuing his opera career (he  sang “Rodolfo’ in La bohème with the Fort Worth Opera in May) but joined this group very much at the last minute.  They sing semi-operatic arrangements of pop songs, and follow in the tradition of other cross-over groups like “Il Divo.”

Anyway, you can imagine my surprise when I saw him on TV a few weeks ago (he was only introduced by his first name) as a replacement for another singer who dropped out of the original group.  None of his professional credits with opera companies across the country have been mentioned so far on the show, but he obviously sings rings around all the other competitors.

If he and “Forte” end up winning the million dollar top prize, I am sure that he will happily cancel his less lucrative operatic engagements to tour with the group.  Sean was actually supposed to return to The Dallas Opera in the fall of 2014, but had already asked to be released to sing a prominent role with the Metropolitan Opera that season, which of course we gladly granted.

Now it looks like he might be cancelling the Met as well so that he can become a “pop star.”

I really wish him well.

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