The Dallas Opera’s NORMA, April 21 thru May 7

by Suzanne Calvin

Norma_025_Final (640x427)FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Contact: Suzanne Calvin 214.443.1014 Or Celeste Hart 214-443-1071
suzanne.calvin@dallasopera.org celeste.hart@dallasopera.org

THE DALLAS OPERA PROUDLY PRESENTS
Our First Production of a bel canto Masterpiece
NORMA
By Vincenzo Bellini
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Starring Soprano Elza van den Heever in the Title Role
Tenor Yonghoon Lee and Soprano Marina Costa-Jackson
Conducted by Music Director Emmanuel Villaume
Directed by Nic Muni

OPENING FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House
AT&T Performing Arts Center
Additional Performances: April 23(m), 26, 29 and May 7(m)
With Production Support from TACA
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Tickets start at $19
Call 214-443-1000 or Visit dallasopera.org

DALLAS, MARCH 28, 2017 – The Dallas Opera is thrilled to present—for the first time on our stage—Vincenzo Bellini’s suspense-filled masterpiece of the bel canto repertoire, NORMA, starring the phenomenal South African-born soprano Elza van den Heever in the title role of a Druid priestess wronged by the man she loves.
This 1831 masterpiece, with a libretto by Felice Romani, opens Friday, April 21, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center (conveniently located at 2403 Flora Street – in the heart of the Dallas Arts District). This towering period production, originally created by designer John Conklin for Cincinnati Opera, will command centerstage in four additional performances: April 23(m), 26, 29 and May 7(m), 2017. The final performance in May, during OPERA America week, will serve as the grand finale of our exciting 60th Season.
Tickets for NORMA begin at just $19 and may be purchased at www.dallasopera.org or by contacting the friendly professional staff at The Dallas Opera Ticket Office: 214-443-1000.

“For many years now,” notes Keith Cerny, The Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO, “Bellini’s NORMA has been a noticeable gap in the company’s repertoire.
“At last we are able to rectify that shortcoming, by bringing this influential work to life on the Winspear stage with a phenomenal international cast under the experienced leadership of Emmanuel Villaume.
“We know that our audiences will love seeing this classic work of the bel canto repertoire in Dallas. The excitement in the air as we begin the rehearsal process, is palpable.”

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Set during the Roman occupation of Gaul in 50 B.C., a passionate love triangle in the midst of a deepening culture clash leads to dangerous consequences. A Druid high priestess, Norma (soprano Elza van den Heever), is in the throes of despair after discovering that her longtime lover, a Roman proconsul for whom she has borne two children, may have been unfaithful. Pollione (sung by tenor Yonghoon Lee in his company debut) confesses to a friend that he no longer loves Norma. His amorous attentions are now focused on Adalgisa, a young novice priestess (portrayed by soprano Marina Costa-Jackson), who reluctantly returns his love. Pollione brushes aside a warning about Norma’s hair-trigger temper and capacity for rage.
Amid the turmoil of the occupation, personal betrayal, and impending revolution, Norma is driven to the very brink of insanity, convinced that her life is coming undone, and fearing what the future may hold for her disgraced “fatherless” children.
This production is generously supported by TACA.

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The dazzling South African soprano Elza van den Heever stars as Norma, in her first appearance on The Dallas Opera stage since her acclaimed 2010 TDO debut as Fiordiligi in “the Monte Carlo setting” of Mozart’s Così fan tutte. This versatile artist describes her vocal style as a “voyage of discovery.” That voyage has taken her—this season alone—to the Canadian Opera Company (Norma), Vienna State Opera (Ellen Orford in Britten’s Peter Grimes), Opera Frankfurt (Elvira, in concert performances of Verdi’s Ernani), and, most recently, to New York’s Metropolitan Opera, where she just scored a major triumph as Elletra in Mozart’s Idomeneo under the baton of Music Director James Levine, earning “the most enthusiastic ovation of the night” (David Salazar, Operawire) in this powerful dramatic role.
During the 2015-16 Season, Ms. van den Heever revisited the role of Elisabetta di Valois in Don Carlo (Opéra National du Rhin and Opéra National de Bordeaux, in a new production by director Robert Carsen), conquered the Metropolitan Opera stage as Elisabetta (a.k.a. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth I) in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda “with impressive authority of her own” (New York Classical Voice), and moved Frankfurt Opera patrons to tears in her role debut in the title role of Suor Angelica in Puccini’s one-act from Il Trittico (“The Triptych”).
Ms. van den Heever’s recent work on the symphonic stage includes Britten’s War Requiem, conducted by Semyon Bychkov in Cologne, Germany; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Beethoven Orchestra of Bonn; and an all-Mozart concert with the National Orchestra of Toulouse.
Christophe Rizoud, of Opéra Forum went to great lengths to describe her virtuosity: “Elza van den Heever moves us deeply, enthralls and captivates…she delighted us with her powerful and controlled voice, with a splendid midrange that does not exclude high notes. But those extreme notes are never sung without purpose; they are used to convey meaning, the same way as volume or colour offer expression.”
A dual citizen of France and South Africa, Elza van den Heever currently makes her home in Bordeaux, France.

Superb South Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee—one of opera’s busiest performers according to Bachtrack—stars as Norma’s lover, the Roman proconsul, Pollione, charged with maintaining the peace, by any means necessary in this far-flung corner of the Empire. According to Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times, Lee “is an outstanding tenor. Handsome and youthful, he is a natural onstage and a sensitive listener during duets and ensembles.”
In the 2015/16 season Mr. Lee performed at the Metropolitan Opera as Manrico in Il Trovatore and Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana. Lee also performed the same role in Cavalleria Rusticana at Covent Garden. He will soon be heard as Manrico in Il Trovatore at the Bavarian State Opera and Don Jose in Carmen with Opera Australia. Future engagements include Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana at The Paris Opera, and the title role in Andrea Chénier at San Francisco Opera.
Lee sang his first Andrea Chénier in Zurich in 2014. In the fall of 2013 Lee starred as Arrigo in the Hamburg State Opera’s new production of Verdi’s rarely performed La Battaglia di Legnano staged by David Alden and conducted by Simone Young. He subsequently sang Don Jose at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and returned to Munich as Calaf in Turandot. The same year he added Manrico in Il Trovatore to his repertoire in a new production at the Theater an der Wien during the Wiener Festwochen.
Highlights of recent seasons have also included Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera and for his debut in Zurich, Don Carlos in the original French version.

American soprano Marina Costa-Jackson was born in Las Vegas but raised in Palermo, Italy (Italian, in fact, is her first language). She sings the role of Adalgisa, the “other woman,” who Pollione has fallen deeply in love with, despite his lengthy relationship with Norma.
The New York Times praised Ms. Costa-Jackson for being dramatically and musically alluring…notable for her burnished timbre and subtle phrasing.” Others wrote about her “dramatic, burnished voice and subtle acting.”
Last season she made her professional debut as Musetta with Michigan Opera Theatre in La Bohème, debuted the role of Leonora in Il Trovatore in Hong Kong, and covered the role of Amelia in Simon Boccanegra at the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Costa-Jackson also sang Verdi’s Requiem with Teatro Municipal de Santiago, and Fiora in L’amore dei Tre Re with the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where she graduated in May 2016. She also performed in concert with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in Minsk, with Andrea Bocelli in Madison Square Garden, debuted as one of the Costa-Jackson trio of opera-singing sisters in the International Festival “Palaces of St. Petersburg” concerts, and at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall.
Engagements this season include her debut with Opera de Paris as Micaela in Carmen, a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Mimì in La Bohème (cover), followed by Mimì at Opera Köln and with the Welsh National Opera.

American bass Christian Van Horn, acclaimed for his “sturdy voice and commanding presence…” (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times) will portray Oroveso, Norma’s father and the leader of his clan. Mithra Mastropierro makes her TDO debut as Clotide, Norma’s confidante, and the role of Pollione’s friend, Flavio, will be sung by Charles Karanja (the Phyllis A. McCasland and Thomas H. McCasland, Jr. Young Artist).

Critically acclaimed international conductor and Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director Emmanuel Villaume leads The Dallas Opera Orchestra in one of Bellini’s greatest contributions to the bel canto repertoire. The maestro is concluding his fourth season with the company; a season in which he has conducted a wide variety of works reflecting different styles and periods: Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick (a revival of the Leonard Foglia production for The Dallas Opera that launched this worldwide success), Bellini’s Norma – and, still to come: Villaume will conduct a semi-staged performance of Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer’s Everest, a tremendously powerful 2015 Dallas Opera world premiere, as well as Talbot’s brand-new Everest Prelude.

“Keith Cerny and I are excited to program works that patrons have longed to experience just as much as we do. My energies are devoted to sharing this most relevant and revealing of art forms with North Texas and all the world,” comments Maestro Villaume.
“Norma is one of the most demanding soprano roles in the repertoire, but Elza has shown herself equal to the challenges. This opera truly represents what Bellini was capable of, as a composer at the peak of his powers, in its astonishing array of musical moods, duets, solo arias and ensembles. Audiences in Dallas have waited decades to hear this work; I am confident they will walk out of the Winspear Opera House satisfied that NORMA was well worth the wait!”

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NORMA is based on Norma, ou L’infanticide (“Norma, or, The Infanticide”) a play by Alexandre Soumet. The opera was first performed at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala the day after Christmas in 1831 to open Carnival Season, and got a “cold shoulder” from the opening night audience.
“Fiasco, fiasco, solemn fiasco” Bellini wrote afterwards. However, the audience indifference didn’t last, soon NORMA became one of the most popular operas of the 19th century, best known for the Act One soprano aria “Casta Diva.”
In the 20th century, the role became a showpiece for the very best and most courageous sopranos, including Rosa Raisa, Rosa Ponselle, Maria Callas, Dame Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballé, Shirley Verrett, Beverly Sills, Grace Bumbry, Renata Scotto, Jane Eaglen and Cecilia Bartoli.

Stage director Nic Muni makes his company debut in this period production. Mr. Muni served as artistic director of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. His productions have graced the stages of San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Canadian Opera Company (Toronto), Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Prague National Opera, and The Kurt Weill International Festival, among others.
Set and Costume Design is by renowned opera, Broadway and Off-Broadway designer John Conklin. Lighting design is by internationally acclaimed designer Thomas C. Hase. Wig and make-up design is by Stephanie Williams.
As always, the renowned Dallas Opera Chorus will be prepared for the performances by Dallas Opera Chorus Master Alexander Rom.

The Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talks, a free, pre-performance lecture, will be conducted one hour prior to curtain at all Norma performances. More perspective can be gained through “Opera Insights” presented by The Dallas Opera Guild. The informative panel discussion featuring artists, directors and/or designers for NORMA takes place Sunday, April 9, 2017, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. in Hamon Hall (located off the main lobby concourse in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House. For more details, visit dallasopera.org and look under “Upcoming Events.”

NORMA will be performed in Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage. For tickets or additional information, call 214.443.1000 or visit dallasopera.org.

2016-2017 SEASON SPONSOR
The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family

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PHOTO BY MAXINE HELFMAN

EVENTS, GUESTS AND ARTISTS SUBJECT TO CHANGE
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE DALLAS OPERA
IS AVAILABLE ONLINE, 24/7. VISIT WWW.DALLASOPERA.ORG

FOR HIGH-RESOLUTION PHOTOGRAPHS
Contact Suzanne Calvin, Director of Media and PR at suzanne.calvin@dallasopera.org
Or Celeste Hart, Communications Manager at celeste.hart@dallasopera.org

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The Dallas Opera Family Performances are generously supported by
Texas Instruments and the Betty and Steve Suellentrop
Educational Outreach Fund.

TDO Family Performances are a part of the
Perot Foundation Education and Community Outreach Programs

TICKET INFORMATION FOR THE 2016-2017 DALLAS OPERA SEASON
All performances are in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center unless otherwise indicated. Single Tickets range from $19 to $275. Flex Subscriptions (three-performances of your choice) begin at $75. Family performance tickets are just $5. For more information or to make your purchase, contact The Dallas Opera Ticket Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online, 24/7, at www.dallasopera.org.

THE DALLAS OPERA 2016-2017 SPRING SEASON INFORMATION
The Dallas Opera celebrates its Sixtieth International Season in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District. Evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees begin at 2:00 p.m. unless otherwise stated. English translations will be projected above the stage at every performance and assistance is available for the hearing impaired. The Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talk will begin one hour prior to curtain, at most performances excluding FIRST NIGHT of the season.

MADAME BUTTERFLY by Giacomo Puccini
March 10, 12(m), 15, 18, 24, & 26(m), 2017
The must see, heart-wrenching Italian opera!
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica
Time: 1904
Place: Nagasaki, Japan
Conductor: Donato Renzetti
Stage Director: John Copley
Set and Costume Designer: Michael Yeargan
Lighting Designer: Duane Schuler
Wig & Make-up Designer: Stephanie Williams
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Hui He* (Cio-Cio-San), Gianluca Terranova* (B.F. Pinkerton), Manuela Custer (Suzuki), Lucas Meachem* (Sharpless), David Cangelosi (Goro), Reginald Smith, Jr.* (The Bonze), Will Hughes (Prince Yamadori), Mark McCrory (Imperial Commissioner), Samuel P.J. Lopez (Registrar), Angela Turner Wilson (Kate Pinkerton), Sorrow (TBD)
A classic, period production (new to Dallas) from the San Francisco Opera!

THE TURN OF THE SCREW by Benjamin Britten
March 17, 19(m), 22, 25, 2017
A dark and gripping tale!
Libretto by Myfanwy Piper
Time: 1950s
Place: Bly, an English country house
Conductor: Nicole Paiement
Original Production: Jonathan Kent
Stage Director: Francesca Gilpin*
Set and Costume Designer: Paul Brown
Original Lighting Designer: Mark Henderson
Lighting Design Recreated By: David Manion
Wig and Make-up Designer: Stephanie Williams
Starring: William Burden (Prologue/Peter Quint), Emma Bell* (Governess), Oliver Nathanielsz* (Miles), Ashley Emerson* (Flora), Dolora Zajick* (Mrs. Grose), Alexandra LoBianco* (Miss Jessel)
An acclaimed production from Glyndebourne!

NORMA by Vincenzo Bellini
April 21, 23(m), 26, 29, May 7(m), 2017
A thrilling and suspenseful masterpiece!
Libretto by Felice Romani
Time: 50 B.C.
Place: Roman-occupied Gaul
Conductor: Emmanuel Villaume
Stage Director: Nic Muni
Set Designer: John Conklin
Costume Designer: John Conklin
Lighting Designer: Thomas Hase
Wig & Make-up Designer: Stephanie Williams
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Elza van den Heever (Norma), Marina Costa-Jackson* (Adalgisa), Yonghoon Lee* (Pollione), Christian Van Horn (Oroveso), Mithra Mastropierro* (Clotilde), Charles Karanja (Flavio)
An atmospheric production from Cincinnati Opera!

* Dallas Opera Debut
** American Debut
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The Dallas Opera is supported, in part, by funds from: Texas Instruments Foundation, TACA, City of Dallas, Office of Cultural Affairs; 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. Advertising support from The Dallas Morning News. A special thanks to the Elsa von Seggern Foundation for its continuing support.

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