The Dallas Opera’s Riverboat Adventure!

by Celeste Hart

Our final production of the 2015-2016 season is Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s SHOW BOAT! The work that changed American Musical Theater forever, opens on Friday, April 15, 2016.

In this edition of OFF THE CUFF from Theater Jones, Keith Cerny, the Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO, explores and offers insights in to the show.

More Rave Reviews for Emmanuel Villaume for Recordings and Recent Appearances!

by Celeste Hart


French Conductor Earning Rave Reviews For Award-Winning Commercial Recordings, Recent Appearances in London and Chicago

 DALLAS, MARCH 1, 2016 –The Dallas Opera is very pleased and proud to call attention to the recent successes and professional accolades bestowed upon internationally acclaimed Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, who returns to the company stage this spring to conduct our first “Great American Musical”: Kern and Hammerstein’s Show Boat (April 15 through May 1, 2016 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas).

Maestro Villaume’s year began on a celebratory note with the announcement from Opera News magazine in New York that two of his commercial recordings had made their “Top Ten Lists” for the Best of 2015.

Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, a Deutsche Grammophon release recorded with the one-and-only Anna Netrebko, Sergei Skorokhodov, the Slovenian Chamber Choir and the Slovenian Philharmonic earned the number three spot on the magazine’s list of “Top Ten Opera Recordings.”

Edward Seckerson, reviewing the CD for Gramophone (U.K.) wrote: “How shrewd to add a French sensibility into the mix (Villaume) just as Tchaikovsky invoked medieval France through Russian sensibilities…The refinement of Villaume’s conducting is a constant source of delight: it nuances and tempers even the most wholehearted flights of fancy.”  

Villaume-Profile (KA) (250x200) SM

Music Director Emmanuel Villaume -- Photo By Karen Almond

Villaume’s conducting of French grand opera arias performed by American tenor Bryan Hymel, the Prague Philharmonia and the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno was recognized by Opera News in the magazine’s January 2016 list of “Top Ten Recital Recordings” from the previous year.

“Bryan Hymel: Héroïque” for Warner Classics was an “Editor’s Choice” for the magazine last May.  Critic Judith Malafronte drew particular attention to “Emmanuel Villaume’s stunning work with the Prague Philharmonia throughout.”


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Applications Now Accepted for 2016 Institute for Women Conductors!

by Celeste Hart

The Dallas Opera is Proud to Announce Applications Are Now Being Accepted For The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera


Expanded 2016 Program: Nov. 26 – Dec. 11, 2016


TDO Seeks to Create New Opportunities for Talented Young Women Conductors Making Their Mark in the Field of Opera


Additional Support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, TACA Bowden & Embrey Family Foundations Artist Residency Fund and the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation


 DALLAS, FEBRUARY 22, 2016 – Working to address a long-standing career issue in the opera world, The Dallas Opera is delighted to announce that applications are now being accepted for a unique residential program designed to provide training and career support for distinctively talented women conductors: The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera

Female conductors, as well as accomplished women singers, opera coaches and accompanists, and instrumentalists with established careers seeking a new career at the podium are encouraged to apply for the expanded institute, now in its second year.  Although the emphasis is on women conductors on the cusp of major careers in opera, more seasoned applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors will reconvene on November 26, 2016 and run through December 11, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  This year’s institute will include two public concerts (details pending) in addition to intensive one-on-one’s, master classes, career advancement curriculum, and opportunities to conduct the highly regarded Dallas Opera Orchestra.

IWC_2015 Fellows

IWC 2015 Fellows L-R: Jennifer Condon; Natalie M. Beale, Jessica Gethin (center, standing), Lidiya Yankovskaya, Anna Skryleva, Stephanie Rhodes (center, seated)

The institute, conceived by Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, was created a year ago with initial support from the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation.  Since that time, it has garnered additional generous support from Linda and Mitch Hart, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the TACA Bowden & Embrey Family Foundations Artist Residency Fund.

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The Passionate and Provocative MANON!

by Celeste Hart


A Nineteenth-Century Masterpiece by Jules Massenet

Starring Ailyn Pérez in the Title Role

Stephen Costello and Edwin Crossley-Mercer

In an Acclaimed Production by Sir David McVicar


Conducted by Music Director Emeritus Graeme Jenkins

Directed by E. Loren Meeker in her Company Debut


Opening Friday, March 4, 2016, 7:30 p.m.

Additional Performances on

Sunday, March 6, 2016 2:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 12, 2016, 7:30 p.m.

The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center

            DALLAS, TX, FEBRUARY 9, 2016 - The Dallas Opera resumes the 2015-2016 Season in early spring with Jules Massenet’s heart-wrenching and seductive tale of love, lust, and spectacularly bad choices: MANON, opening March 4, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House for the first of four performances.

            This production, created by Sir David McVicar for Lyric Opera of Chicago, marks the return of Dallas Opera Music Director Emeritus Graeme Jenkins to conduct, in his first TDO appearances since a successful revival of Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers with Susan Graham and Nathan Gunn in 2013. 

Ailyn Perez New Publicity - credit Rebecca Fay (400x267)

Sultry soprano Ailyn Perez stars in the title role!

            MANON stars 2012 Richard Tucker Award winner Ailyn Pérez (Great Scott), “a beautiful woman who commands the stage” (The New York Times) in the title role, opposite another Richard Tucker winner and Dallas Opera favorite, tenor Stephen Costello (Moby-Dick) as the love-struck Chevalier des Grieux.  San Diego News Network writes “Costello’s voice is passionate and powerful, but with a quality of impetuosity and innocence.” 

The role of Lescaut will be performed by French-Irish baritone Edwin Crossley-Mercer in his exciting Dallas Opera debut.  Jean-Luc Macier of Opéra Magazine describes him as “a demonstration of pure class with perfect vocals, and excellent style.”

            The star-filled international cast also includes bass-baritone David Pittsinger, extolled in The Washington Times for a brilliant delivery that provided “the perfect mix of romance, passion, and masculine bravado” in his company debut as Le Comte.

Acclaimed tenor William Ferguson appears as Guillot de Morfontaine.  Baritone Troy Cook sings the role of Brétigny.

            The three actresses: Pousette, Javotte and Rosette will be portrayed by Canadian soprano Katherine Whyte, mezzo-soprano Kathryn Leemhuis, and mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock (respectively).  The Innkeeper will be sung by baritone Theodor Carlson.


            Set in eighteenth-century France, this timeless tale of star-crossed lovers and the allure of life’s unavoidable temptations asks the question: Can a woman with a taste for the best things in life sacrifice it all – for the one man whose love is both unconditional and never-ending?

            Tickets start at just $19 and may be purchased at 214.443.1000 or 

            Renowned stage director/choreographer E. Loren Meeker will direct Massenet’s poignant 1884 opera, with a libretto by Henri Meilhac and Philippe Gille (based on the classic 1731 novel by Abbé Antoine-François Prévost).  Following her Dallas Opera debut, Ms. Meeker will remain at TDO to direct Francesca Zambello’s critically acclaimed production of the 1927 American Musical Classic, SHOW BOAT, before turning her attention to a new production of Amleto for Opera Delaware and her Glimmerglass Festival debut directing a new production of La bohème.

            Music Director Emeritus Graeme Jenkins has conducted more than a hundred different operas in productions from Covent Garden to Berlin to Glyndebourne.  Most recently, he has conducted Rigoletto for English National Opera, Peter Grimes and The Tempest for Vienna State Opera, and Otello for the Korean National Opera in Seoul.

            “I’m convinced, although I have not checked the history books,” says Maestro Jenkins, “that Puccini knew Manon well.  Act Five of Manon en route to the port of La Havre is the blueprint for the austere start to Act Three of La bohème, and in one of the Des Grieux/Manon love duets there is almost an exact quote found in Tosca.

            “I believe that in writing his own Manon Lescaut, Puccini studied Massenet to refine his later works.  In fact, the brilliance of Manon is in no small measure due to the brevity and clarity of its libretto, taken from the rather sprawling novel by the Abbé Prevost,” Jenkins adds.

            “Others will have written about the creation of this extraordinary work, and in Sir David McVicar’s conception, the tragedy of the young girl, destined for the convent, bewitched by the luxury of Paris to her destruction, is so cleverly depicted.”


            The production design for MANON is by Tanya McCallin, the lighting design is by Kevin Sleep (original lighting design by Paule Constable), wig and make-up design by David Zimmerman and chorus preparation by Dallas Opera Chorus Master Alexander Rom.

            The original lighting choreography was created by Michael Keegan-Dolan, choreography for this revival is by Colm Seery in his company debut.

            Additional performances of Massenet’s MANON will take place on March 6(m), 9 & 12, 2016 in the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas.


The Dallas Opera’s 2015-2016 Season is proudly presented by Texas Instruments.

            One of the perks of subscribing is a 20% discount on all additional single tickets you purchase for friends, family, co-workers—or yourself.  Learn more today at 


            The “Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talks,” a free background lecture for the opera being performed, takes place in Nancy B. Hamon Hall located just off the Winspear Opera House lobby one hour prior to each performance.  The talks for MANON will feature an intriguing conversation between Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, journalist for Theater Jones and professional musician who has held numerous musical directorships of opera, choral and symphonic organizations, and The Dallas Opera’s Mary Dibbern, Music Director of Education and Family Programs. Ms. Dibbern is also the author of Manon: A Performance Guide (Pendragon Press). Ms. Dibbern collaborated with Anne Massenet to translate and annotate her biography of the composer into English, and to translate a general catalogue of the composer’s works being released this spring.

            The Dallas Opera performs works in their original languages.  Easy-to-read English translations are projected above the stage during every Dallas Opera performance and special headsets are available for the hearing impaired.

            No late seating is permitted at Dallas Opera performances once the house doors are closed. 

            For additional information about the coming season, call The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214-443-1000 or visit us online at

Key Bios / MANON:

Graeme Jenkins (Conductor), English conductor and The Dallas Opera Music Director Emeritus, studied at the Royal College of Music and at the University of Cambridge. Over the course of his career, he has received numerous engagements, among others to Glyndebourne, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the English National Opera, the Scottish Opera, Opera North, the Australian Opera, the Canadian Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, as well as, the Paris Opera. At The Dallas Opera, where he was music director for 20 seasons, he celebrated success with the Ring des Nibelungen, Wozzeck, Jenufa, Ariodante, Lohengrin, Pique Dame, Macbeth, Fledermaus, and Roberto Devereux. As an orchestral conductor, he has stood and continues to stand among others on the podium of the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne and West Australian Symphony Orchestras, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo as well as numerous American orchestras.

Loren Meeker (Stage Director) has served on the directing staff at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Portland Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, and Central City Opera where she was the 2006 recipient of the John Moriarty Award. Recent engagements include a collaboration with composer William Bolcom on Lucrezia for the Boston University Opera Institute, Cloclo for Chicago Folks Operetta, Don Giovanni for the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Die Fledermaus for San Francisco Opera and Penn State University, and Albert Herring for Red House Opera Group. Also known as a choreographer, her work includes Vanessa at Central City Opera, Orpheus in the Underworld at Glimmerglass Opera and The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni with Houston Grand Opera.

Sir David McVicar
(Original Production), a Scottish director born in Glasgow, is acclaimed as one of the world’s foremost opera directors. His productions are regularly seen worldwide as well as on television and DVD. He trained at the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Scottish Academy as actor, designer and director. Productions include performances at The Met, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco, Opera Australia, Festival D’Aix En Provence, Royal Opera House Strasbourg, New National Theatre of Tokyo, Wiener Staatsoper, English National Opera, Scottish Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Glyndebourne, Opera North, Theatre Champs Elysee, Paris, La Monnaie, Brussels, Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Madrid, Dallas, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Berlin State Opera and the Salzburg Festival. He was knighted in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday honours list for Services to Opera and has been nominated for several Olivier Awards.

Ailyn Pérez (Manon Lescaut), American soprano, made her Dallas Opera debut as Zerlina in Le nozze di Figaro in 2010 and recently created the role of Tatyana Bakst in the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s Great Scott. She is the winner of the 2012 Richard Tucker Award. Other career highlights include Violetta at the Royal Opera and San Francisco Opera, Amelia (Simon Boccanegra) at Teatro alla Scala, Berlin Staatsoper, and Zurich; Mimì (La bohème) with Los Angeles Opera and Zurich; Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) and Countess Almaviva at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival; the title role of Manon in Valencia; and Juliette (Roméo et Juliette) in Philadelphia. Ms. Pérez is a recipient of the George London Foundation’s Leonie Rysanek Award, a 2007 winner of a Shoshana Foundation Career Grant, and placed second in the 2006 Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition. 

Stephen Costello (Chevalier des Grieux) The Philadelphia-born tenor quickly established a reputation as a “first-class talent” (Opera News) after coming to national attention in 2007, when, aged 26, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut on the company’s season-opening night. Two years later Mr. Costello won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award. He subsequently made his debuts at a number of the world’s most important opera houses and music festivals. In 2010 he created the role of Greenhorn (Ishmael) in the Dallas Opera’s world-premiere production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick. This season, he returned to the Met for his company role debut as the Duke of Mantua in Michael Mayer’s Vegas setting of Verdi’s Rigoletto and as Lord Percy in a revival of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena. He also returns to The Dallas Opera to make his house role debut as Ses Grieux.

Edwin Crossley-Mercer
(Lescaut), baritone, has already played in some of the most distinguished opera houses in Europe. Mr. Crossley-Mercer has appeared at the Komische Oper and Berlin Staatsoper, Glyndebourne Festival, Grand Theatre de Genève, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam, Opéra Comique in Paris, and Paris Opera. In addition to the opera, he performs consistently as a recitalist in venues such as  Dom Musiki in Moscow, Aix-en-Provence, the Opéra de Lille, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Saint Petersburg festival, Bayreuth, the Louvre Auditorium, Bad Kissingen and the Festival de Colmar and Carnegie Hall in New York. On the concert stage he has appeared with the Bayerischer Rundfunkorchester, Los Angeles Philharmonic and this upcoming season will debut with the Berlin Philharmonic.

David Pittsinger
(Count des Grieux) The American bass is renowned as a stage performer of the greatest distinction, appearing in the world’s major opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Portland Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, and Teatro Real. His voice has been heard in the summer festivals of the world notably in Salzburg, Dresden, Macerata, Tanglewood, and Santa Fe. Other orchestral engagements have included appearances with the Vienna Philharmonic, the L.A. Philharmonic. He has sung at the Metropolitan Opera, and can be heard on the Virgin Classics recording of Carlyle Floyd’s Susannah, and Cavalli’s La Calisto on the Harmonia Mundi label. He recently sang this role in Manon at the Metropolitan Opera House and Los Angeles Opera and is reprising his role in Dallas.

William Ferguson (Guillot de Morfontaine) Acclaimed for his versatility, the tenor has become an artist in demand all over the world. Highlights include his recent acclaimed appearance with The Dallas Opera as Spoletta in Tosca, debuts with the Santa Fe Opera, Opera Australia, The Metropolitan, New York City Opera, The Aspen Music Festival, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Virginia Opera, Opera Omaha, Gotham Chamber Opera, Music Academy of the West, Tanglewood Music Center and the Chautauqua Institution. Mr. Ferguson has also performed with Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall on several occasions. He is also known as a compelling interpreter of new music. He holds both a Bachelor’s and Masters of Music degree from The Juilliard School and is a native of Richmond, Virginia.


Troy Cook (de Brétigny), baritone, has anticipated performances this season with The Dallas Opera as de Brétigny in Manon, Austin Lyric Opera as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Virginia Opera, as Jupiter in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. On the concert stage, he appears with the Pacific Symphony for Handel’s Messiah. Future seasons include a debut with San Diego Opera. Last season brought several notable role debuts, including Sharpless in Madama Butterfly (Utah Opera), Germont in La traviata (Central City Opera), and Rodrigo in Don Carlo (Opera Philadelphia). Concert engagements included the San Francisco Symphony, Portland Symphony, and Winston Salem Symphony.

Tanya McCallin (Set and Costume Designer) is a distinguished theatre and opera designer who works extensively in Europe, the U.S.A., and Australia. She has been associated with many important London theatre productions including premieres of works by Arthur Miller, Pam Gems, Mike Leigh, Chekhov, Sheridan, and Shakespeare. Jonathan Miller´s production of The Barber of Seville for English National Opera was her first major opera design and is still in the repertoire. In collaboration with Sir David McVicar she has designed Le nozze di Figaro (Royal Opera), Macbeth (Mariinsky Theatre, London, Washington, and Metropolitan Opera), Manon (ENO, Dallas, New Zealand and Houston Grand Opera), Les contes d´Hoffmann (Salzburger Festspiele), Semele at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Così fan tutte (Opéra National du Rhin), Rigoletto at the Royal Opera, and Der Rosenkavalier at Scottish Opera.

Kevin Sleep (Lighting Designer) is currently Head of Lighting for English National Opera. His West End credits include: The House of Bernarda Alba, Up on the Roof, and many more. He has frequently lit shows for the Lyric Hammersmith, the Royal Lyceum, Bristol Old Vic, Pitlochry Festival Edinburgh; the Crucible, Sheffield; and the Royal Exchange, Manchester. Mr. Sleep’s opera work includes: the Wexford Opera Festival; the premiere of Greek in Munich and Edinburgh and then at the Coliseum for the ENO; Rigoletto (Welsh National Opera small-scale tour); Eugene Onegin (Scottish Opera Go Round); the premiere of 63 Dream Palace in Munich; and Pilgrim’s Progress for the Royal Northern college of Music Manchester.


Colm Seery (Revival Choreographer), born in Dublin, was trained at the Irish National College of Dance before attending the Royal Ballet School. He danced with Dublin City Ballet, Irish National Ballet, Vienna Festival Ballet and was a founding member of Fabulous Beast Dance Company. In the opera world, Mr. Seery has performed with the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera Ireland, Garsington Opera, and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Internationally, he has worked in Lille, Paris, Dijon, Antwerp, Barcelona, Oviedo, Beijing, Geneva, Dallas, and at the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires. Future plans include Andrea Chénier in San Francisco and choreographing a new production of Gloriana at the Teatro Real, Madrid.

Alexander Rom (Chorus Master) is a native of Kharkov, Ukraine, and holds a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from Leningrad Conservatory of Music. Since immigrating to the U.S., he has worked as a performer, conductor, educator, voice teacher, opera coach, and composer. He has been the chorus master for The Dallas Opera since 1990 and an opera coach with the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Savonlinna Opera Festival, Cincinnati Festival, and Ravinia Festival. He has worked with world renowned singers including Paul Plishka, Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Jorma Hynninen, Helga Dernesch, Martti Talvela, Joyce DiDonato, and

Jerry Hadley. Maestro Rom is an honorary Visiting Professor at Sibelius Academy Helsinki Conservatory and was a Visiting Professor at Savonlinna Opera Festival Music Institute.


David Zimmerman (Wig and Make-up Designer) has worked with The Dallas Opera and other opera companies around the world. These include the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Santa Fe Opera, Paris National Opera, and Opera Santa Barbara. Mr. Zimmerman’s career extends to Broadway as well, where he has worked on shows including Wicked, Rocky Horror, Show Boat, South Pacific and Evita. His personal clients include Deborah Voigt, Joyce DiDonato, Patricia Racette, Martha Stewart, Olympia Dukakis, and Ricky Martin. He has also done the make-up for the DIFFA Fashion Runway, Dallas Fashion and Art Charity, and the fashion event. His print credits include two features in Opera News plus features in both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Television and film credits include Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year and a feature film.






For high-resolution digital photographs suitable for print

To arrange an interview or obtain additional information

Please contact Suzanne Calvin, Director of Media and Public Relations

214.443.1014 or

Or Celeste Hart, Communications Manager

214.443.1071 or


Ticket Information for the 2015-2016 Dallas Opera Season

All performances are in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center unless otherwise described.  Single Tickets range from $19 to $275.  Family performance tickets are just $5.  For more information or to make your purchase, contact The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online, 24/7, at


Guild Vocal Competition Semi-Finalists Announced!

by Celeste Hart

The Dallas Opera and The Dallas Opera Guild

Are Proud to Jointly Announce the Outstanding Young Semi-Finalists

of the 28th Annual “Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition”


Admission $5!  Lexus Red Parking $5!

Audience Members Vote on “People’s Choice”



FREE Semi-Finals: Friday, April 29, 2016 at 11:00 a.m.

Finals: Saturday, April 30, 2016, 7:30 p.m.

Incorporated into This Year’s Spring Gala!

Conducted by Music Director Emmanuel Villaume


The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House

At the AT&T Performing Arts Center

2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201


Honoring Linda and John Gage

 DALLAS, FEBRUARY 2, 2016 –Twenty of the finest young opera singers in the United States will be competing in the 28th Annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition presented, jointly, by The Dallas Opera and The Dallas Opera Guild.

These talented artists will compete April 29 & 30, 2016 for thousands of dollars in prize money and coveted honors including the “People’s Choice Award” selected by audience ballot.

The evolution of the recently expanded Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition (“Still Bigger Than Texas”) continues in 2016, as the Finals Round will now be incorporated—for the very first time—into the company’s glamorous Spring Gala! 

Patrons will have the option of attending the free Semi-Finals Round on April 29th, the complete Gala evening on April 30th, the Finals Round and Awards Ceremony alone on April 30th, or the Finals Round, Awards Ceremony and the post-performance party! 

Tickets range from free (for the April 29th Semi-Finals) to $5 for the Finals Round and Awards Ceremony (available online at, to $500 for the entire gala evening, including a seated, gourmet, pre-competition dinner at 5:30 p.m., the vocal competition Finals Round at 7:30 p.m., and the festive post-competition celebration on stage in the Winspear Opera House.

For more information on the 2016 Spring Gala, visit or contact Special Events Manager Tracy Mott at

With a renewed focus on encouraging the next generation of opera artists and audiences, proceeds from this stellar evening will go to support the many education programs of The Dallas Opera. 

Two great Dallas Opera traditions will be united after more than a quarter of a century, to create one truly remarkable evening of music, competition and celebration!  It is certain to be an affair—and a weekend—you won’t want to miss!

“It will be difficult to top the gathering of exceptional young talent that will command center stage in the Guild’s 28th annual vocal competition,” explains The Dallas Opera’s Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO, Keith Cerny.  “Many of them, graduates of the world’s most prestigious opera and young artist programs, conservatories and academies; and all of them showing tremendous promise.

“I am also extremely pleased that, with the energetic leadership of Dr. Brian Zeger from Juilliard, we have been able to assemble such a distinguished panel of industry leaders and decision makers to judge this exciting event, making it a unique showcase for artists ready to take their careers to a higher level.”


This year, the twenty semi-finalists were selected from a group of 336 applicants from 39 states (residents of the U.S. territories are eligible to apply for the prestigious competition, as well) by a panel of preliminary judges that included Dr. Brian Zeger, Dallas Opera Artistic Administrator Ian Derrer, and Assistant Artistic Administrator and Special Projects David Lomeli.

These gifted young singers will compete throughout the weekend of April 29-30, 2016, beginning with the Semi-Finals Round at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, April 29th (General Admission is free, Winspear Opera House parking is $5) in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

Finalists will be chosen to return the following evening, Saturday, April 30th at 7:30 p.m., to perform with the full Dallas Opera Orchestra, conducted by internationally acclaimed Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director Emmanuel Villaume.

“These competitors are from the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, the San Francisco Opera Merola Program, and young artist programs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Santa Fe, Houston, and St. Louis—to name a few!” notes Dallas Opera Guild 2016 Vocal Competition Chair Ketty Fitzgerald.

“The incredible success of last year’s vocal competition still warms our hearts; the glowing comments, the generous support, and the sincere congratulations. All of this is reflected in the extraordinary caliber of applicants who applied to take part in 2016—the best of the best!”

“I am very proud to collaborate with our Guild on the expanded competition,” adds Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO Keith Cerny.  “This is an outstanding opportunity for the entire community to experience opera’s ‘next wave’ and to show their enthusiasm and support for the hopes and dreams of these deserving young artists.”


Elizabeth Baldwin, soprano, 34, Merola, Ravinia, Virginia Opera, Tanglewood

Helena Brown, mezzo-soprano, age 27, young artist at Des Moines, Chautauqua

Nicholas Brownlee, bass-baritone, 26, winner, Met Opera Nat. Council Auditions

Jessica Rose Cambio, soprano, 33, Richard Tucker, George London, Gerda Lissner

Brandon Cedel, bass-baritone, age 28, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions

Martin Clark, Jr., tenor, age 23, Dallas Opera Education and Outreach programs

César Delgado, tenor, age 29, Plácido Domingo’s NY Master Class, Mannes

Sol Jin, baritone, 29, winner, Licia Albanese, Gerda Lissner, Merola Program

Adam Lau, bass, age 31, winner of George London Competition, Merola Opera Program

Stephanie Lauricella, mezzo-soprano, 31, young artist programs at Santa Fe, Pittsburgh

D’Ana Lombard, soprano, 28, Domingo-Colburn-Stein Program, HGO Studio

Alexandra Loutsion, soprano, age 32, Arizona Opera, Wolf Trap, Central City,

Daniel Miroslaw, bass, age 29, Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at The Juilliard School

Emmett O’Hanlon, baritone, age 25, Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at Juilliard

Amy Owens, soprano, age 28, Sullivan Award winner, young artist at Wolf Trap, Utah

Karolina N. Pilou, mezzo-soprano, 32, NY Lyric Opera Comp., Gerda Lissner

Carolyn Sproule, mezzo-soprano, age 27, Houston Grand Opera, Met Opera

Sarah Tucker, soprano, 27, semifinalist, Met Opera Nat. Council Auditions, Arizona

Virginie Verrez, mezzo-soprano, 26, winner, Met Opera Nat. Council Auditions

Kang Wang, tenor, age 27, Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Program 

There is no admission charge for attending the Semi-Finals Round of the 28th annual competition (although donations are definitely welcome), and admission to the Finals Round is a nominal $5 per person

Lexus Red Parking is available for just $5 at both the Semi-Finals Round, from 11:00 AM until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29th and the Finals Round of the competition the following evening, Saturday, April 30th at 7:30 p.m.

The list of judges for the 2016 vocal competition reads like a Classical Music and Opera Management “Who’s Who”:

Judges for the 2016 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition:

Brian Zeger, Chair
Executive Director for the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera and Artistic Director of Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts

 Keith Cerny
Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO of The Dallas Opera

Emmanuel Villaume
Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director, The Dallas Opera 

Ian Derrer
Artistic Administrator, The Dallas Opera

Alain Lanceron
President, Warner Classics

Aidan Lang
General Director, Seattle Opera 

Leonore Rosenberg
Associate Artistic Administrator, The Metropolitan Opera 

Joshua Winograde
Senior Director, Artistic Planning, Los Angeles Opera

Diane Zola
Director of Artistic Administration, Houston Grand Opera


However, the judging isn’t left entirely to the professionals; “amateur” music lovers will have the opportunity to express their views, too. Audience participation is part of the fun at each year’s Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition. For the seventeenth consecutive year, attendees will be given the chance to vote on their personal favorites for the “People’s Choice” award.


This year’s competition honors former Dallas Opera Director of Production John Gage and his wife, Linda, for their long and faithful service to the company and the Greater Dallas community.  Both are Lifetime Honorary Members of The Dallas Opera Guild.


“Previous vocal competitions have been quite noteworthy for spotlighting incredible young talent, and it’s been such an honor for The Dallas Opera Guild’s membership to be involved in their production,” says Dallas Opera Guild Co-President Mac Irwin.  “With last year’s transformation to include rising opera singers from all fifty U.S. states and territories, the level of competition and excitement has increased—exponentially!”    


 “The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition offered much-needed career and financial support at a crucial time in my life,” says Jennifer Black (First Prize, People’s Choice award, 2001).  “I had just completed my studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio, as well as my first summer with San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program, and was on my way to The Yale School of Music.

“The chance to participate in this competition was a real ‘vote of confidence’ that encouraged me to continue on this path I had chosen.  I feel blessed to have been a recipient of the Guild’s generous support.”

For tickets or additional information about the 28th Annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, please contact The Dallas Opera Guild at 214-443-1040 or visit us online at











For high-resolution digital photographs suitable for print

To arrange an interview or obtain additional information

Please contact

Suzanne Calvin, Director of Media and Public Relations

214.443.1014 or

Or Celeste Hart, Communications Manager

214-443-1071 or



Ticket Information for the 2015-2016 Dallas Opera Season

All performances are in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center unless otherwise described.  Single Tickets range from $19 to $275.  Family performance tickets are just $5.  For more information or to make your purchase, contact The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online, 24/7, at


by Celeste Hart







With Additional Support from the Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation



Stadium Doors Open at 6:00 PM

Live Opera Performance at 7:30 PM


With WB Classics Cartoon:



Free Seating, Free Parking, Paid Concessions


            DALLAS, TX, JANUARY 21, 2016 – The Dallas Opera, in partnership with AT&T Stadium and with support from our founding sponsor, The Dallas Foundation, is extremely proud to announce the company’s fifth stadium simulcast.  This program has reached more than 63,000 people since the first free public presentation in 2010. 

            The simulcast of the legendary 1927 American Musical, SHOW BOAT, conducted by Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 23, 2016 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX (home of the Dallas Cowboys). 

            Doors will open at 6:00 p.m.  Curtain time for that evening’s live performance of this critically acclaimed production of a twentieth-century musical theater masterpiece is 7:30 p.m.

            Free parking is available, starting at 5:00 p.m. in lots 1, 2, 3 and 10.  Enter through gates A and K on the north side of the stadium.  There is no reserved parking.

            The simulcast will be hosted by local radio personality Jody Dean with able assistance   from co-host Kristian Roberts, Dallas Opera Education Program Senior Manager.

            As always, pre-performance entertainment will include trivia contests, a pre-performance workshop at 5:00 p.m. for kids from grades K through 6 (sign up online), and a screening of the WB Classics cartoon, “Another Froggy Evening.” 

            Although the cartoon was produced in 1995, it is actually a prequel (and tribute) to the 1955 classic “One Froggy Evening,” created by Michael Maltese and Chuck Jones.  As you might expect, the prequel explores the curious origins of the cartoon character Michigan J. Frog.


            Stadium guests will then experience a groundbreaking work from the American Musical canon, based on the novel by Edna Ferber. Composed by Jerome Kern with book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, SHOW BOAT courageously addressed some of the most contentious social issues of the day within the context of a beautifully told story of a bittersweet, lifelong romance.  The American Musical would never be the same again.

            Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, SHOW BOAT is the source of many memorable musical numbers including “Make Believe,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” and “Ol’ Man River.”  The landmark musical also tackled such taboo subjects as racism, alcohol addiction and miscegenation on this journey through several transformative decades of American life.

            This brilliant Francesca Zambello production of SHOW BOAT, created for Lyric Opera of Chicago, carries us down the Mississippi, through love’s choppy waters, as life rolls on for Magnolia and the gambling man she adores.


            Patrons will be able to enjoy the SHOW BOAT simulcast, live from the Shannon and Ted Skokos Stage in the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, on the world’s largest high-definition video board structure suspended directly above the playing field.

SHOW BOAT Photo by Cory Weaver SM (600x392)

A scene from SHOW BOAT -- Photo by Cory Weaver

            This performance will take place as part of The Dallas Opera’s nationally recognized, free public simulcast program, which has attracted more than 60,000 patrons over the past five years.  Thousands more are expected to attend next April. 

            “The Dallas Foundation has been pleased to support The Dallas Opera’s simulcasts to AT&T Stadium since 2012, helping to provide families throughout our community the chance to experience world-class opera in this unique and relaxed setting,” remarked Mary M. Jalonick, President and CEO of The Dallas Foundation. “This successful partnership has inspired our Board of Governors to pledge our continued support of these efforts through 2017. 

            “The Dallas Foundation is proud to be the Founding Sponsor of The Dallas Opera AT&T Stadium Simulcasts.”

            The Dallas Opera’s SHOW BOAT Simulcast has additional generous support from: The Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation


            SHOW BOAT stars Canadian soprano Andriana Chuchman, praised by The Chicago Tribune for radiating “enough vocal allure, physical beauty and charm to light up the stage,” in the role of Magnolia Hawks and “elegant” baritone Michael Todd Simpson (Huffington Post), a Dallas Opera favorite, as the irresistible Gaylord Ravenal. 

            This production also marks the company debut of soprano Alyson Cambridge as Julie, whose secret reveals shameful attitudes that once hovered beneath the surface of American life. 

            In the iconic role of “Joe,” bass Morris Robinson, a commanding Commendatore in TDO’s 2010 Don Giovanni, “brings a penetratingly deep operatic bass to ‘Ol Man River’,” according to Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times

            Soprano Angela Renée Simpson, with a voice that can “bring the house down” (Opera News) will perform the role of Queenie.

            Broadway dancer, singer, actor Lara Teeter dazzles as Cap’n Andy, the owner of The Cotton Blossom, and mezzo-soprano Mary-Pat Green makes a delightful Parthy Ann Hawks—both, in their Dallas Opera debuts.

            Conducted by Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director Emmanuel Villaume and directed by E. Loren Meeker, “whose megawatt talent lights up the stage” (Berkshire Fine Arts), our season finale is a high watermark in this season’s altogether extraordinary journey. 

            The Dallas Opera’s AT&T Stadium Simulcast is one of six performances of the opera that will take place on April 15, 17(m), 20, 23, 29 and May 1(m), 2016 in the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

            Free general admission tickets to The Dallas Opera’s SHOW BOAT simulcast at AT&T Stadium can be obtained right now through the Dallas Opera website:

            To register your child for the free pre-performance workshop at 5 p.m., which explores the components of opera and how opera is made, as well as “opera etiquette” and the story of SHOW BOAT, go to


            “It’s been a personal goal of mine to engage the finest world-class artists to create an unforgettable entertainment experience for people from all walks of life,” explains Keith Cerny, Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO of The Dallas Opera, “and nothing does this better than opera—a spectacular art form made even more so when viewed on the largest high-definition screens in the country.

            “The Dallas Opera is deeply honored that our founding sponsor, The Dallas Foundation, is supporting this event for a fifth consecutive year and we are equally grateful for the generosity of the Jones Family, who encouraged this extraordinary collaboration with the Cowboys organization from the moment we made our dream known to them.

 “I am certain that the centralized location of AT&T Stadium will—once again—prove to be a tremendous draw,” Mr. Cerny added.  “With free parking, a wear-what-you-want dress code, a brilliant cast that underscores the diversity of today’s opera audience, on-screen supertitles and plenty of available concessions—this night will continue to redefine 21st century opera as a family-friendly entertainment experience.”


            “The partnership between AT&T Stadium and The Dallas Opera has continued to grow, and we are beyond thrilled that this tradition will continue at our stadium for a fifth year with yet another amazing presentation,” said Dallas Cowboys Chief Brand Officer Charlotte Jones Anderson.  “In joining art, technology and music through these simulcasts, we are honored to share this experience once more with our fans in North Texas.







For high-resolution digital photographs suitable for print

To arrange an interview or obtain additional information

Please contact

Suzanne Calvin, Director of Media and Public Relations

214.443.1014 or

Or Celeste Hart, Communications Manager

214-443-1071 or



Ticket Information for the 2015-2016 Dallas Opera Season

All performances are in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center unless otherwise described.  Single Tickets range from $19 to $275.  Season subscriptions for 2016-2017 go on sale April 1, 2016 (starting at just $95) and single tickets for the 60th Season go on sale to the general public on July 11, 2016.  Family performance tickets are just $5.  For more information or to make your purchase for the current season, contact The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online, 24/7, at

Announcing Our Dazzling 2016-2017 Season!

by Celeste Hart












FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2016 AT 8:00 PM



            DALLAS, JANUARY 21, 2016 –The Dallas Opera is proud to announce its spectacular 2016-2017 Season, consisting of five brilliant mainstage productions, including two repertoire classics never before performed by this company. 

            The Dallas Opera’s Keith Cerny, the Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO, announced the 2016-2017 Season Schedule this afternoon in Hamon Hall, with additional comments from Dallas Opera Board Chairman Steve Suellentrop, the Martha R. and Preston A. Peak Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement, Director of Marketing and Ticket Sales Carrie Ellen Adamian and Mary M. Jalonick, the President and CEO of The Dallas Foundation.

            The 60th Season of The Dallas Opera features three extraordinary classics by some of the greatest composers in the Western Canon, and two mesmerizing psychological dramas from the 20th and 21st centuries—offering a superb range of works certain to inspire and entertain.

           Considered by many to be the ultimate art form, each opera will feature the powerful singing and acting of acclaimed international artists; outstanding conductors, directors and designers; The Dallas Opera Orchestra and The Dallas Opera Chorus; superb sets and costumes; imaginative technological enhancements and more. 

           Every production will be presented in the magnificent Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, located at 2403 Flora Street in the heart of the Dallas Arts District.

           Back by popular demand, this season also marks the return of at 21st century phenomenon: Moby-Dick, The Dallas Opera’s 2010 world premiere that has continued to earn both critical and popular acclaim in revivals across the U.S. and abroad.

            “It is my very great pleasure to bring the beauty of opera to all the people of North Texas,” explains The Dallas Opera’s Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO Keith Cerny. “To that end, The Dallas Opera has scoured the globe for the best productions and the finest artists the world has to offer. We have enlisted the talents of singularly gifted conductors, directors and designers; enabling us to create emotionally truthful, visionary productions for patrons of every age and background; reflecting every personal taste.

            “Great opera is timeless, whether composed in the 18th century or in the new millennium.  It is my aim to give our audiences the opportunity to better understand their world through the powerful mediums of music and drama,” adds Mr. Cerny.  “Our 60th International Season, filled with remarkable storytelling and unforgettable performances, undoubtedly, will have lasting and profound impact.”

            The Dallas Opera continues to expand and increase its reputation for producing world class opera with each successful season. The 2016-2017 season will be no exception as each production will feature artists expertly interpreting their roles, supported by the top skills of The Dallas Opera Orchestra and Chorus, and production teams.

            The season will also present internationally renowned conductors: Music Director Emmanuel Villaume at the podium for three operas, Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement and Donato Renzetti.  Staged by prominent international directors, including Leonard Foglia, with debuts by Jean-Claude Auvray and Francesca Gilpin.         

            In an effort to present each work in its truest form as written by the composer and librettist, The Dallas Opera will continue to produce each opera in its original language with English supertitles projected above the stage for maximum enjoyment.



By Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky

October 28, 30(m), November 2, 5, 2016



By Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer

November 4, 6(m), 9, 12, 18, 20(m), 2016



By Giacomo Puccini

March 10, 12(m), 15, 18, 24, 26(m), 2017



By Benjamin Britten

March 17, 19(m), 22, 25, 2017



By Vincenzo Bellini

April 21, 23(m), 26, 29, May 7(m), 2017


            Season subscriptions go on sale April 1, 2016 and prices start at $95 for all five opera productions. The benefits of becoming a Dallas Opera subscriber include substantial savings off single ticket prices, priority seating, lost ticket replacement, ticket exchanges and invitations to special events. For more information, please contact the friendly staff in The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214-443-1000 or visit us online at

            The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House is located in the heart of the Arts District at 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201.


            The Dallas Opera’s 2016-2017 Season, begins with The Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance on Friday, October 28, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. (note the special time). Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s powerful and passionate EUGENE ONEGIN will kick off the season with a dynamic cast headed by baritone Andrei Bondarenko in the title role.

            This classic period production from Tel Aviv also features a fabulous creative team including Stage Director Jean-Claude Auvray in his Dallas Opera debut.

            Set in late 19th century Russia, innocence and passion collide as a country girl, Tatyana, becomes smitten by the aristocratic Eugene Onegin.  She naively confesses her love in a letter, but is swiftly rejected by the arrogant nobleman. Years later, Onegin, attending a prominent ball alone, reflects on the emptiness of his life and his many regrets.  He is captivated when a regal beauty enters the ball—it is Tatyana!  Now it is Onegin who is obsessed with the woman whose love he had scorned.

            How will his love letter be received?

            Ukranian baritone Andrei Bondarenko, who made his exciting American debut as Robert in Dallas Opera’s 2015 production of Iolanta, returns in the title role.

            “Andrei Bondarenko, is perfect for the role of Onegin…with such allure as to make clear why such a ripe and ready girl as Tatyana would fall so helplessly in love,” wrote Melanie Eskenazi, of musicOMH.

            Mezzo-soprano Kai Rüütel of Estonia makes her Dallas Opera and American debut as Olga, Tatyana’s sister. “…Kai Rüütel is evidently a highly musical and truly dramatic mature artist,” observed Musical Criticism.  Of her performance for the University of London Symphony Orchestra in Gustav Mahler’s “Rückert-Leider,” according to Seen and Heard International, the statuesque Rüütel performed with “warmth, dramatic conviction and a pleasing hint of sensuality.”

            Tenor Stephen Costello, an audience favorite, will portray the role of Onegin’s friend, Lenksy, in his seventh mainstage appearance with The Dallas Opera.  Opera News sums up his many gifts saying, “A first-class talent…an intelligent, well-trained singer whose enormous talent and natural musical instincts mark him for potential greatness.” He also stars in Manon this spring as the smitten des Grieux.

            This production also marks the long-awaited return of Russian bass Mikhail Kazakov, who made a stunning 2011 company debut in the title role of Boris GodunovDallas Morning News Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell enthused that Kazakov’s Boris produced “thrilling sounds to paste you against the seatback, but also every nuance of expressivity.”  In Onegin,

            Mr. Kazakov will sing the role of Prince Gremin.

            Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director Emmanuel Villaume will conduct Tchaikovsky’s most lushly romantic opera in this classic production from Tel Aviv.  He conducted Manon for the Metropolitan Opera to rave reviews sparking Zachary Woolfe of The New York Times to write: “Emmanuel Villaume, paces it with vigor and a sense of movement in the most delicate, reflective passages. (He) makes the score feel lean and agile.” 

            Most recently, Maestro Villaume triumphed in a revival of Jonathan Kent’s production of Tosca at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; prompting Hannah Nepil of The Financial Times to praise Villaume for “teasing out sultry, sumptuous playing from his orchestra.”

            Performances continue on October 30(m), November 2, and 5, 2016 at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m., (other than opening night), and the matinee begins at 2:00 p.m. EUGENE ONEGIN will be performed in its original language, Russian, with English translations projected above the stage.

            Tickets may be purchased by phone (214.443.1000), online ( or at the door.  Student Rush Tickets are available 90 minutes prior to curtain – a valid student ID is required.


            Back by popular demand, the second production of The Dallas Opera’s 2016-2017 Season is Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s riveting MOBY-DICK opening on Friday, November 4, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

            Performed in English with English supertitles projected above the stage, the excitement continues with additional performances November 6(m), 9, 12, 18 and 20(m), 2016 with evening performances beginning promptly at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2:00 p.m.

            MOBY-DICK, which “opened in a blaze of glory” in 2010, has been met with thunderous applause and critical acclaim in ports of call around the world since its maiden voyage at The Dallas Opera. Composer Jake Heggie, and librettist Gene Scheer based their work on Herman Melville’s epic tale of Captain Ahab’s obsession with the great white whale, Moby-Dick. The opera splendidly illustrates the danger, tensions, and exhilaration of life aboard a 19th century whaling ship, as crew members battle the forces of nature in addition to Ahab’s brewing madness. George Loomis of the Financial Times raved that audiences “…can warm to Heggie’s musically lush, aptly proportioned and forthrightly tonal score (which) also boasts striking melodies, vivid atmospheric scenes and vocal lines capable of showing off voices.”

            Starring is tenor Jay Hunter Morris in the role of Captain Ahab, which has become a signature role for the Dallas Opera favorite, and a native of Paris, Texas. Hailed as a force of nature “…he sang with pressurized fury that practically shook the seats of the…Opera House,” exclaimed Richard Scheinin of the San Jose Mercury News of Morris’ portrayal.  “Enduring three hours strapped into a peg leg, Morris sang the heldentenor role with the dramatic intensity of a man possessed, tempered by the character of a stoic New Englander.  It was an admirable interpretation.” Wrote Jane Rosenberg of Seen and Heard International.

            Stephen Costello, “bright-toned, sympathetic” returns to The Dallas Opera to reprise his role as Greenhorn. David Patrick Stearns of Grammophone  reviewed the tenor’s poignant performance on the San Francisco Opera DVD; “Singing with more ease and richness of tone than anytime previously, Stephen Costello (Greenhorn) projects a sense of profound personal revelation in the final moments when, rescued at sea, he owns his own name (‘Call me Ishmael’).

           Baritone Morgan Smith also reprises his role as Starbuck for which he earned significant critical acclaim. Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle touted his performance; “whose Starbuck joined vocal splendor, moral authority and deep empathy in a phenomenal combination.” Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News also singled out his portrayal for special praise: “Morgan Smith’s strong, dense baritone perfectly suits the sturdy Quaker Starbuck.”

            Making his Dallas Opera debut is up-and-coming South African bass-baritone, Musa Ngqungwana.  Maria Nockin of Opera Today wrote Mr. Ngqungwana portrayed “an intense, commanding Queequeg whose musings showed the spiritual side of the voyage.”           

            Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, who conducts this revival, recently inspired Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News to write that “Villaume does an impressive job of coordinating both singers and orchestra in some very complicated music,” regarding another contemporary work, the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus.

            MOBY-DICK is directed by Leonard Foglia who returns to The Dallas Opera after his recent success directing the critically acclaimed 2015 world premiere of Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer’s Everest. According to Heidi Waleson of The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Foglia’s “staging brilliantly captured the immediacy and peril of the piece.”


            The third production of The Dallas Opera’s 60th Season is Giacomo Puccini’s unforgettable MADAME BUTTERFLY with a libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica. BUTTERFLY opens on Friday, March 10, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at the Winspear Opera House.

            With poignant melodies, memorable characters and a heart-wrenching storyline in what was then a “contemporary” new opera, MADAME BUTTERFLY has captivated audiences and dampened handkerchiefs for more than a hundred years. Loosely based on true events in Nagasaki, Japan; MADAME BUTTERFLY tells the tale of a naïve Japanese girl, Cio-Cio-San (portrayed by Hui He), blinded by her love for a callous American naval officer.

            Lt. B.F. Pinkerton (Gianluca Terranova) rents a wife, as well as a house, in a false marriage of convenience.  Although he abandons her not long after their wedding, Pinkerton has promised to return.  Despite interest from worthy suitors and numerous pleas from her devoted maid Suzuki to give up her vigil, the woman nicknamed “Butterfly” remains steadfast (“One Beautiful Day”) during his three-year absence.

            This lovely, period production designed by Michael Yeargan (sets) and Anita Yavich (costumes) for San Francisco Opera, will be led by renowned Italian conductor Donato Renzetti.

            Regarded as one of the most famous new interpreters of the role, exciting Chinese soprano Hui He makes her Dallas Opera debut as Cio-Cio-San. “The debut of Hui He in the role of Butterfly was sensational: she has convinced not only with her big voice, her wonderful technique and her marvelous timbre, but also she touched with a deep and emotional interpretation. The best Butterfly that you can wish,” (Wiener Zeitung, Austria).

            The role of “love ‘em and leave ‘em” Pinkerton will be performed by Italian lyric tenor Gianluca Terranova in his eagerly anticipated company debut.  Andrew Alexander of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, recently described the charismatic Italian in another role saying his “youthful, heroic and clear voice perfectly suggests the poetic, dreamy nature of the character…but it can also just as beautifully convey the later anguish and troubled self-awareness that come to the character…”

            Internationally acclaimed Italian mezzo-soprano Manuela Custer stars as Suzuki, Butterfly’s confidant and devoted maid. “Vocally, she displayed an impeccable line of singing, with a pleasing and refreshing timbre that contains an ample range of rich colors,” raved Ramon Jacques, Opera Click, of her role as Isabella in our 2009 production of Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers.

            American baritone Lucas Meachem stars as Sharpless, the American consul in Nagasaki.  “A natural on stage, he…dazzled the audience with the power and beauty of his voice,” (Broadway World).

            Winner of multiple international awards, conductor Donato Renzetti has achieved much critical acclaim from around the globe. Robert J. Farr of MusicWeb International “The singers do not have to force, particularly when accompanied by a maestro of such experience and sympathy as Donato Renzetti.” George Loomis of The New York Times wrote that the Maestro “conducted a warm, expansive performance,” of a recent production of Tosca (Puccini) for Rome Opera.

            Performed in Italian with English translations projected above the stage, this classic period production will receive five additional performances on March 12(m), 15, 18, 24 and 26(m), 2017.  Tickets are likely to go quickly; renew your subscription today!


            The fourth production of The Dallas Opera’s 60th year is THE TURN OF THE SCREW by Benjamin Britten with libretto by Myfanwy Piper. This production opens on Friday, March 17, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. at the Winspear Opera House.

            Based on the novella by Henry James, this Jonathan Kent production from Glyndebourne will be performed in English with English supertitles projected above the stage.

           This dark and gripping 19th century tale (updated to the 1950’s in this acclaimed production from Glyndebourne) is based on the atmospheric novel by Henry James.

            A governess is hired to care for two children at Bly, an English country house. The position, which initially seemed promising, soon turns puzzling when the governess sees what she believes to be a ghost. The housekeeper reveals a sordid series of events involving two former employees, now dead, who may have had inappropriate relationships with the children. The children themselves, Miles and Flora, display bizarre and often troubling behavior. The ghosts torment the children and the governess to such an extreme that she must decide whether to leave Bly House or stay in order to protect the children. Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement conducts Britten’s enthralling twentieth-century score, mixing tonality and dissonance with the recurrent use of a twelve-note theme.

            Making her Dallas Opera debut, British soprano Emma Bell stars as the tormented Governess. “… Emma Bell deserves pride of place for her overwhelming performance as the Governess, an assumption that by vocal and dramatic means brought the character to frightening life,” (Carlos Maria Solare, Opera). “As the governess, Emma Bell is superbly equivocal, neurotic but never hysterical,” (Shirley Apthorp, Financial Times).

            American tenor William Burden, who sings the dual roles of the Prologue and Peter Quint, recently won a Grammy for best opera recording for his part in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of The Tempest. His “virile passion and consummate lyricism” inspired The New York Times to rave that his “subdued emotional intensity permeates every line of Mr. Burden’s elegant singing.”  He charmed Dallas audiences as Lindoro in The Italian Girl in Algiers (2009).

          Known as a “mezzo in a class by herself,” Dolora Zajick makes her long-awaited Dallas Opera debut as Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper. “Zajick’s voice, acting, and sheer presence carry the audience to a higher level of emotional truth than anything in the show,” raved DC Theatre Scene. “Zajick’s voice, with a hint of metal at the back of the upper notes and cavernous expansion in the lower ones, is still a couple of sizes bigger than most people’s, and as an actress, too, she delivered the goods” (Washington Post).

            THE TURN OF THE SCREW will be conducted by Dallas Opera Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement, who has developed an international reputation as a conductor of contemporary music and opera.

            Wayne Lee Gay of D Magazine’s Front Row wrote of The Dallas Opera’s 2015 world premiere of Everest: “(Paiement) combined old-fashioned precision and discipline with up-to-the-minute insight into the complex modernity of the score.”

            Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Theater Jones, also acknowledged Maestra Paiement’s skill with contemporary works. “…balancing these three musical elements so that each one comes forward at its assigned time and then retreats, allowing another to take over, is a superhuman endeavor. This charge falls to conductor Nicole Paiement, who brilliantly weaves Talbot’s warp and woof into what can only be called a soundscape of Everest.”

            Three additional performances of Benjamin Britten’s THE TURN OF THE SCREW will take place on March 19(m), 22, and 25, 2017.  Seating is limited.  Season subscriptions will go on sale April 1, 2016.  Season subscribers may renew at any time by contacting the friendly professionals in The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office, at 214.443.1000.


            The final production of the 60th International Season is Vincenzo Bellini’s thrilling and suspenseful 1831 masterpiece, NORMA, with a libretto by Felice Romani, which opens Friday, April 21, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.

            Performed in Italian with English translations projected above the stage, this towering period production continues with four additional performances, April 23(m), 26, 29 and May 7(m), 2017.  

            In this outstanding John Conklin production from Cincinnati Opera, 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, is in the throes of despair after discovering that her lover, a Roman proconsul with whom she has two children, may have been unfaithful.  Pollione confesses to a friend that he no longer loves Norma. His amorous attentions are now focused on Adalgisa, a young novice priestess, who returns his love—and he brushes aside a warning about Norma’s capacity for rage.  Amidst the turmoil of the occupation and impending revolution, Norma is driven to the brink of insanity, convinced of her betrayal and fearing disgrace for her fatherless children.

            The dazzling South African soprano Elza van den Heever stars as Norma, her first appearance on The Dallas Opera stage since her acclaimed 2003 Dallas debut in Mozart’s Così fan tutte.  This versatile artist describes her vocal style as a ‘voyage of discovery.” Christophe Rizoud, of Forum Opéra recently described 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.”

            Superb South Korean tenor, Yonghoon Lee—one of opera’s busiest performers according to Bachtrack—stars as Norma’s lover, the Roman proconsul Pollione. According to Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times, “He is an outstanding tenor. Handsome and youthful, he is a natural onstage and a sensitive listener during duets and ensembles.”

            Nicole Car, the lovely Australian soprano who thrilled audiences and critics alike with her recent appearances in The Dallas Opera’s The Marriage of Figaro, stars as “the other woman,” Adalgisa.

            “The vocal standout is Australian soprano Nicole Car, in her U.S. debut, as Countess Almaviva.  With a lustrous shine on a warm core of sound, and generous amplitude and expressivity, she could be a wonderful Straussian, although she never overdoes anything here. She also has a strikingly expressive face, registering the painful emotional ambiguities of her relationship with the Count,” wrote Scott Cantrell of The Dallas Morning News.
            American bass Christian Van Horn, acclaimed for his “sturdy voice and commanding presence…” (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times) will portray the role of Oroveso.

            Critically acclaimed Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director Emmanuel Villaume leads The Dallas Opera Orchestra in one of Bellini’s greatest contributions to the bel canto repertoire.

            “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,” says Music Director Emmanuel Villaume.

            “We invite everyone to join us in the Winspear Opera House next season, to thrill to the world-class productions, as well as the unique musicianship and incomparable artistry that can only be fully appreciated in a live performance.

            “I certainly hope I will see you there!”


            Evening performances during the 2016-2017 Season will begin at 7:30 p.m., unless otherwise stated (including an 8:00 p.m. curtain for the Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance).  All Sunday matinees are slated to begin at 2:00 p.m.

            The “Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talks,” a free background lecture for the opera being performed, takes place in Nancy B. Hamon Hall located just off the Winspear Opera House lobby one hour prior to each performance, except for Opening Night of the Season.

            Dallas Opera performs works in their original languages.  Easy-to-read English translations are projected above the stage during every Dallas Opera performance—even those sung in English—and special headsets are available for the hearing impaired.

            No late seating is permitted at Dallas Opera performances once the house doors are closed.  Latecomers will be seated at the first available opportunity, usually, intermission.


            Flex subscriptions begin at $75 for the 2016-2017 Season.  Full Subscriptions begin at $95. Single Tickets range from $19 to $275.

            For additional information about the coming season, call The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214-443-1000 or visit us online at


            Put aside those computers, tablets, and smart phones—and grab the kiddoes—in order to take advantage of budget-minded, kid-friendly performances offered by The Dallas Opera in the 2016-2017 Season!

            In addition to presenting world-class opera, and to providing support for outstanding young artists, established stars, and up-and-coming female conductors; The Dallas Opera is also committed to introducing the joys of opera to as many people as possible, and to provide budget-minded, kid-friendly performances that can be enjoyed by North Texans of every age, educational level and background.

            The always popular Dallas Opera Family Performance Series is proudly presented by Texas Instruments, and made possible with additional generous support from the Betty and Steve Suellentrop Educational Outreach Fund and Lockheed Martin.

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

            Five dollar single tickets are available now through The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or 24/7 at

2016-2017 Family Performance Series

Presenting Sponsor, Texas Instruments



Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Based on scenes and music from operas by W.A. Mozart, this production is an operatic version of the beloved children’s fairy tale, with adaptations by John Davies. The story reinforces the virtues of reading as one of the little pigs, Despina, successfully reads up on building a “huff-proof, puff-proof” house at the library.  As constructive as it is instructive!



Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A delightful production that introduces families to the most popular hits of Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.  Audiences will recognize magnificent pieces from the Italian composer’s brilliant operas: La traviata, Rigoletto and Aida. This captivating presentation also features the acclaimed Dallas Opera Orchestra and a charismatic narrator who highlights fascinating facts about Verdi!



Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saturday, April 22, 2017

One of Mozart’s earliest works, written at age twelve, Bastien and Bastienne is a one-act comic opera that tells the tale of a pretty young shepherdess, Bastienne, and her boyfriend, Bastien. Bastienne believes her beau has fallen in love with a wealthy girl from the big city. The heart-broken girl encounters Colas, the town “magician,” who has a few ideas of his own on how to reunite the young couple.

Single tickets are just $5 apiece and may be purchased at the door

Or online at







For high-resolution digital photographs suitable for print

To arrange an interview or obtain additional information

Please contact Suzanne Calvin, Director of Media and Public Relations

214.443.1014 or

Or Celeste Hart, Communications Manager

214-443-1071 or



Ticket Information for the 2015-2016 Dallas Opera Season

All performances are in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center unless otherwise described.  Single Tickets range from $19 to $275.  Family performance tickets are just $5.  For more information or to make your purchase, contact The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online, 24/7, at


by Celeste Hart





January 15, 16, and 17, 2016

            DALLAS, TX, January 8, 2016 – The Dallas Opera is pleased to invite talented local dancers, actors and supernumeraries to audition for SHOW BOAT, which opens Friday, April 15 and runs through Sunday, May 1, 2016.  This a wonderful opportunity to perform with magnificent opera stars and work with excellent directors at the amazing Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center!


Performers needed are Caucasian ensemble dancers, the acting roles of Mrs. O’Brien, Sheriff/Maitre D’, and Young Kim and supernumeraries (non-singing, non-speaking roles). Auditions will be held as follow:

Friday, January 15, 2016

7:00-10:00 p.m.                         Caucasian Ensemble Dancer auditions/barre class

Saturday, January 16, 2016

10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.              Actor audition: Mrs. O’Brien, Sheriff/Maitre D’, Young Kim

2:30-4:30 p.m.                           Caucasian Ensemble Dancers call backs

4:30-5:30 p.m.                           Supernumeraries


Sunday, January 17, 2016

11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.               TBD


The Dallas Opera is presenting the Francesca Zambello production of SHOW BOAT, with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. SHOW BOAT will be conducted by Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume with Alexander Rom, chorus master.

There are six performances of SHOW BOAT scheduled for April 15, 17, 20, 23, 29 & May 1, 2016. The performers (supernumeraries excluded) will be compensated for rehearsal time, as well as a per-performance fee.



  • Young Kim: Caucasian, Child Actor/Singer. Looks 8-10 yrs old, speaks and sings in a duet with Ravenal and a trio with Ravenal and Magnolia.
  • O’Brien: Mature Caucasian female with a good Irish accent. No singing required
  • Sheriff Vallon/Maître D’: 30-40 yrs old. Good Ol’ boy, imposing “bubba” type. Caucasian male. No singing required.


  • Older Kim: Caucasian Female
  • Foreman/Hotel Worker: 40 yrs old. A conventionally handsome, strong, Caucasian leading-man type. Helpful to have stage combat skills; fights with Pete. No singing required.
  • African American Children: 5 Boys, 4 Girls
  • Caucasian Children: 2 Boys, 1 Girl


To schedule an audition, send your headshot and resume to Ahne Schield at Audition times will be determined on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dancer Requirements:
Applicants should have a technical ballet background who can perform the Charleston, musical theater, and vaudeville styles of dance. Women, please bring ballet shoes and character heels. Men, please bring ballet shoes and character/jazz shoes. Dancers should come prepared to take a ballet barre and audition with a ballet combo. The choreography will be taught as a whole group with small groups to follow.

Actor Requirements:

Young Kim: Prepared monologue and a song that demonstrates range and ability. Call backs for this role should be prepared to learn “Why Do I Love You,” taught by one of the music staff.

Mrs. O’Brien & Sheriff Vallon/Maître D’: Two contrasting monologues for the audition. Reading from sides for the call back.



Visit and complete the online application. Upon receiving your application, Ahne Schield will contact you to confirm your audition.

Supernumerary requirements:

Adults: Men and Women together, improvisational scene with Stage Director.

Children: May split into groups, general audition/improv.



Auditions will be held at the Karayanis Rehearsal Production Center in Room A. Please arrive at least 15-20 minutes prior to your scheduled time. Further access instructions will be provided upon audition confirmation.

Karayanis Rehearsal Production Center

4301 South Fitzhugh Avenue

Dallas, TX 75210



Rehearsals begin on March 21, 2016 and continue through opening week. There are occasional weekend-day rehearsals and matinee performances; however, rehearsals are generally conducted in the evening.

TDO is a signatory to a collective bargaining agreement with the American Guild of Musical Artists.









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.





What We Learned from the Women Conductors Institute

by Celeste Hart

In his latest Off the Cuff, Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny reflects on the success, and opportunities for further improvement, from the inaugural Institute for Women Conductors.

published Sunday, January 3, 2016


Dallas — Between Nov. 28 and Dec. 6, The Dallas Opera held the inaugural program of the Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors. Six conductors were selected from more than 100 applicants representing 27 countries, and four additional American observers were also selected. As it turned out, of these six, two were Americans, another two Australian, one British, and one Russian/German. More information on the program can be found here. As a measure of the program’s impact, a Google search in mid-December of the terms “Women Conductors” and then “News” from computers in both Dallas and New York showed this program realizing 9 of the 10 top search slots. (The other entry was an article about Marin Alsop’s subscription series debut with the Chicago Symphony).

Although I began the serious planning and initial fundraising two-and-a-half years ago to create this conducting program, the question of why women face barriers to professional success in some fields has been on my mind for more than 35 years. By way of background, my own career has been diverse, encompassing music performance, high technology, and business, and I have observed in many different settings the challenges that women face in establishing themselves in traditionally male-dominated fields.

I grew up in an academic family; and my mother and several of her friends were among the first women to be admitted to Ph.D. programs in physics and chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley; this experience gave me some important early exposure to the challenges facing women in academia at that time. When I attended Harvard Business School in 1989, and worked as a consultant for two top-tier firms in the U.S. and Europe in the 1990s, I observed a range of barriers for women achieving success in the business world—some overt, others more subtle. And, most recently, in my career as an opera General Director and CEO, I continue to see barriers for women as conductors and leaders in classical music, with the result that women are significantly under-represented in top management—including Music Director positions—as well as guest conductor opportunities at leading American opera companies. I consider the Institute for Women Conductors to be one of my most important personal initiatives at The Dallas Opera to date, and am extremely grateful for the support of Linda and Mitch Hart, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation, and Baker Botts LLP.

The inaugural conducting program at The Dallas Opera was very intensive, especially since in its first year it covered a vast range of material in just nine days. (In the future, when more funding will be available, the institute will last a full two weeks). The curriculum was focused around two primary areas. The first was hands-on conducting experience with The Dallas Opera Orchestra, and master classes with singers and piano presented by TDO’s Music Director Emmanuel Villaume and Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement. The second curriculum area, which I designed personally, was a series of seminars, panel discussions and role plays on important topics including personal branding and image management; conducting successful media interviews; succeeding in a male-dominated field; selecting repertoire for career impact; accepting and declining specific engagements; partnering with the concertmaster; and finding the right artist manager. The program culminated in a public concert on Dec. 5, 2015, with each of the six conductors conducting an overture and two arias or small ensembles with orchestra. The concert received excellent reviews, and the very high standard of the singers in the performance was noted by multiple reviewers.

Over the holiday period, I indulged in a little self-reflection about the curriculum for the seminars, panel discussion and role-plays we had developed. I wondered, with more than 35 years of thinking about the question of barriers to women in professional fields, how well did I anticipate the needs of the participants, and how could the program be improved in future years? I have organized my self-reflections into three areas: pleasant surprises, future opportunities, and—if I may be permitted—one general observation on how gender differences may possibly influence international conducting careers.


Photo: Karen Almond/The Dallas Opera -- The conductors take a bow at the Dallas Opera’s Institute for Women Conductors final concert at the Winspear Opera House



Pleasant surprises

At the start of the conducting program, we organized a welcome get-together for the participants and observers at the elegant home at one of the lead sponsors. Many of the conductors and observers had only flown in that day, and some were quite jet-lagged. Of the nine participants, I had only met one before. One of the things that most impressed me in this event was how secure and confident the 10 conductors and observers were, as they interacted with donors they had never met in a city that many of them had never been to before. This outcome was extremely reassuring to me, as the contemporary conducting field requires any conductor—male or female—to be willing and supremely able to build relationships with their supporters and patrons.

Another pleasant surprise was how well the participants and observers collaborated from the very start, and formed their own network. Yes, this criterion had been an important part of the selection process, but personality and teamwork can be hard to judge from applications and references alone. Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement and I had worked to select conductors and observers who were outstanding musicians, and who also appeared to have a strong interest in being mutually supportive, as we wanted to create a long-term network among the group. I was delighted to see that we were able to get this right.

Photo: Karen Almond/The Dallas Opera -- Conductor Stephanie Rhodes



Future Opportunities

In evaluating the group, I saw three areas where the workshop and seminar program can be of greatest value to women conductors (in addition to, of course, the master classes and work with the Dallas Opera Orchestra). None of these areas are especially gender specific, in my mind. The first area is helping the conductors to better articulate their personal brand – i.e. the three-to-five areas that they believe make them memorable and distinctive relative to other conductors. These might include having made a major debut with a particular opera company, having conducted an important new opera, having won a major international conducting position, or having been the protégé of a famous conductor. The inter-personal confidence, noted above, allowed them to express themselves very well in mock interviews with TDO’s Director of Media and PR, Suzanne Calvin, and, later, in actual media interviews (see, for example, this piece on TheaterJones), they all made considerable progress over the week in being able to articulate their brands to themselves, one another, the program faculty, and ultimately, the media.

Secondly, the conductors clearly need a greater understanding of the music business—both at the internal operating level (e.g. marketing, fundraising, finance), and the overall field (e.g. executive recruiters and hiring processes, the role of artist managers, how guest conductors get hired). This area will be the focus of the summer reunions that will be held each year, with participants and observers being invited to attend each summer for five years following their initial residency.

One final area that came to light is the urgent need for the conductors to have video of themselves conducting. In the online applications for the program through, we had encouraged applicants to include video of themselves conducting. Relatively few of them did, since getting video of conducting typically requires payments to artists and unions that budget-strapped opera houses and symphonies (is there any other kind?) are not always able to pay. These videos are vital, however, in eliciting the interest of artist managers, making it possible to apply for conducting programs, and securing guest conducting appointments. The Dallas Opera will be providing personalized video of the performances to the six conductors in the first part of 2016.


One Possible “Confidence Gap”

While the strategy of TDO’s program is to create opportunities and support for exceptionally talented women conductors, rather than to focus on barriers to success, I had one general observation that I think will help the program, and ultimately the field. One of the lead faculty members was my friend and colleague Carol Lazier, President of the San Diego Opera Board, who shared an important article with me on women and careers; whether one agrees with every point made in the article or not, the piece is certainly worthy of discussion and self-reflection. The article, entitled “The Confidence Gap”, was written by Claire Shipman (a reporter for ABC News), and Katty Kay (anchor of BBC World News America) in the May, 2014 edition of the Atlantic Magazine. The subtitle of the article was “Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. Here’s why, and what to do about it.”

Photo: Karen Almond/The Dallas Opera -- Conductor Natalie Murray Beale

While generalizing about gender differences in conducting is dangerous, especially since we had women representing such diverse countries, ethnic backgrounds, and local musical cultures participating in the conducting institute, Shipman and Kay’s article rang true with my experience leading the program. To quote the authors:

“Even as our understanding of confidence expanded, however, we found that our original suspicion was dead-on: there is a particular crisis for women—a vast confidence gap that separates the sexes. Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities. This disparity stems from factors ranging from upbringing to biology.

A growing body of evidence shows just how devastating this lack of confidence can be. Success, it turns out, correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence. No wonder that women, despite all our progress, are still woefully underrepresented at the highest levels. All of that is the bad news. The good news is that with work, confidence can be acquired. Which means that the confidence gap, in turn, can be closed.”

What was refreshing and reassuring about the Conducting Institute was the extent to which the conductors were able to project a high level of—situationally appropriate—confidence in many donor-focused social settings and media interviews; this is vital in a world where Music Directors and guest conductors are expected to interact intensively and effectively with their audiences and supporters. The conductors and observers were also very comfortable in sharing highly personal perspectives in a group setting as we worked through questions of personal branding, the role of artist management, and career aspirations. There was, however, one specific area that resonated, for me at least, with the comments of Shipman and Kay. As I commented during the program, almost all of the conductors apologized too much to the orchestra, and this is an area where they may unknowingly give other conductors the edge. (I shared this perspective with them during the working sessions, and I think they all quickly assimilated the point).

Just to be clear, I believe that conductors should apologize to the orchestra if they make a technical mistake. My favorite example is the ferociously difficult finale of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, where it is very easy to get a beat pattern wrong as the meters change rapidly. However, in this case, a quick – “sorry, my mistake” suffices – although it is critically important to get this right the second time, or the orchestra will lose confidence in you. With the institute conductors, who were all accomplished musicians, but who varied considerably in podium experience and sophistication of stick technique, they tended to apologize when making a musical request. This sends the wrong message, completely. If a conductor wants the oboes and flutes to emphasize the phrasing, the first trumpet to play more quietly, or the strings to play with a different bowing, there is no need – indeed, it is unproductive – to be apologetic. (Rudeness won’t get them anywhere either, of course). This is a relatively minor point, and can be corrected, but is also important as these conductors work to secure future engagements in an extremely competitive field.

In closing, I was delighted with the success of The Dallas Opera’s inaugural conducting program, and am already looking forward to next year—which will feature considerably more orchestra time, stretched over a full two weeks. My team and I are also working on the follow-up networking opportunities for the group, and preparing for the summer reunion in the summer of 2016, which will feature more master classes and discussions of the music business, based on what we’ve learned from the process and the participants themselves.

Thanks to the generosity of Linda and Mitch Hart, The Dallas Opera has made a 20-year commitment to this program, so we will have ample time in the coming years to fine-tune the curriculum, choice of repertoire, faculty backgrounds, and format of the final public concerts. All in all, I feel very encouraged by how well-equipped these relatively young conductors are, to tackle the challenges of an international conducting career. I look forward to following their progress with great interest and, admittedly, a measure of personal satisfaction that stems from the role of The Dallas Opera in preparing these outstanding young professionals for the next set of challenges awaiting them.

It has been a rare pleasure and privilege.


New Major Gifts Announcement!

by Celeste Hart


Mrs. Eugene McDermott

And  The Eugene McDermott Foundation

Honoring Kern Wildenthal


The Position of General Director and CEO Has Been Named, in Perpetuity, for

Two-Time TDO Board Chair

            DALLAS, DECEMBER 18, 2015 – The Dallas Opera is the proud recipient of two extraordinary new gifts, totaling $2 million, from The Eugene McDermott Foundation and Mrs. Eugene (Margaret) McDermott, who have requested that the position of Dallas Opera General Director and CEO be known henceforth as the “Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO” in honor of the longtime Dallas Opera Board Member and Past Chairman.  Dr. Wildenthal currently serves the company as an Officer-at-large on TDO’s Executive Committee.

           Recognized throughout the medical and business communities for his accomplishments as president of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Southwestern Medical Foundation, as well as in his current position as president of Children’s Medical Center Foundation, Dr. Wildenthal applies the same combination of vision, skill, philanthropy and advocacy to advance the standing of The Dallas Opera, both locally and internationally.

Dr. Kern and Marnie Wildenthal at the 2013 Juanita and Henry S. Miller Founders Award Luncheon -- PHOTO BY Dana Driensky

            In addition to his 27 years on The Dallas Opera Board of Directors, Dr. Wildenthal has been extremely generous with both his time and expertise, sitting on multiple senior committees including Strategic Planning, Nominating, Finance, Audit, and the Executive Committee.  He has also served on The Dallas Opera Board of Trustees.  

            Kern Wildenthal was a founding board member of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts (now known as the AT&T Performing Arts Center) and worked tirelessly toward the successful completion of the final phase of the city’s central Arts District, with the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House as its acoustically acclaimed “crown jewel.”

            In 2008, Dr. Wildenthal accepted the position of Chairman of The Dallas Opera Board of Directors, leading the company for two consecutive terms through the most dramatically transformative period in the company’s history. During his 2008-2012 tenure as Chairman, Kern Wildenthal:

  • Guided the company’s October 2009 move into the Winspear Opera House after more than 50 years of performances in the Music Hall at Fair Park
  • Served as the principal negotiator of a $10 million matching challenge to build the company’s endowment, personally securing 6-and 7-figure gifts and devoting countless hours to the task of completing the match, which quintupled the endowment from $5 million to $25 million
  • Acted as a strong advocate for The Dallas Opera in the community, recruiting numerous patrons, supporters and board members from among business leaders and Dallas’ philanthropic community
  • Played a leading role in the recruitment of Keith Cerny as TDO’s General Director and CEO

            Upon Mr. Cerny’s arrival in 2010, Dr. Wildenthal was asked to take an unusual step: “Kern agreed to serve a second consecutive term as Chairman of the Board, in order to provide stability and continuity to the company, and to support my transition into my new role,” explains Keith Cerny, who will be the first “Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO.”

            “I shall always be grateful to Kern for putting the company’s needs first during that critical time,” Mr. Cerny adds, “and for his role in securing major gifts for general operations to deal with a significant deficit in our second year in our new home.

            “Together with the Board, we restructured The Dallas Opera season schedule and successfully addressed significant cost increases, while simultaneously developing strategies to attract new and more diverse audiences.  Ultimately, this led to a dramatic expansion of our education programs—reaching tens of thousands of students each year—and an ongoing program of free simulcasts which, so far, have entertained more than 60,000 people.”

            Dr. Wildenthal and his wife, Marnie, are members of the General Director’s Circle and are recognized on the West Lobby Wall in the Winspear Opera House as donors of 21st Century Major Endowments and Special Gifts.  They share a genuine passion for opera and are known throughout Texas as two of our most committed and enthusiastic champions.

            A multi-year pledge made by the couple in 2011 established the “Marnie and Kern Wildenthal Principal Artist,” a fund to support an artist’s participation in one main stage production each season.  The 2015 recipient was internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who led a glittering, all-star cast in The Dallas Opera’s eagerly anticipated October world premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s Great Scott.

            “The Eugene McDermott Foundation is delighted to be able to show its passion for the Greater Dallas community, as well as for the arts, through this gift made in honor of Kern Wildenthal,” says Mary McDermott Cook, President of the McDermott Foundation.  “Kern has earned the admiration—not only of our foundation and our family—but of the arts, medical and academic communities in Dallas and throughout the country.  His insightful leadership, integrity, and decades of exemplary service to a variety of causes have contributed greatly to our community.

            “I think,” she adds, “this is the perfect way to acknowledge Dr. Wildenthal’s continuing influence on the life of this city while providing an even brighter future for opera and the arts in Dallas.”

            Margaret McDermott and the Eugene McDermott Foundation have been steadfast and generous of supporters of The Dallas Opera.  Since 2003, they have made gifts totaling more than $7.6 million to special campaigns that helped the opera build their administrative offices in the Winspear Opera House, complete a $10 million challenge grant to build the company’s endowment, underwrite the world premiere of Great Scott, and to name the position of the General Director and CEO for Dr. Wildenthal.

            “It has been a great privilege to be associated with The Dallas Opera as it has emerged as one of America’s leading companies,” Dr. Wildenthal responds.  “The major gifts from Margaret McDermott and the Eugene McDermott Foundation are of enormous importance to the expanding mission of The Dallas Opera, and I feel incredibly honored that Margaret and Mary wished to recognize me by having my name associated with their exceptional donations.”

            The new name of the position of general director and CEO for the company will be applied in perpetuity.




For high-resolution digital photographs suitable for print

To arrange an interview or obtain additional information

Please contact Suzanne Calvin, Director of Media and Public Relations

214.443.1014 or



Ticket Information for the 2015-2016 Dallas Opera Season

All performances are in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center unless otherwise described.  Single Tickets range from $19 to $275.  Full and Flex Subscriptions are on sale now starting at $75.  Family performance tickets are just $5.  For more information or to make your purchase, contact The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online, 24/7, at


The Dallas Opera celebrates its Fifty-Ninth 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.


MANON by Jules Massenet
March 4, 6(m), 9, 12, 2016
A Timeless Tale of Young Love Set in France
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Philippe Gille
Late 19th Century
Graeme Jenkins
Stage Director:
E. Loren Meeker*
Set and Costume Designer:
Tanya McCallin
Original Choreographer: Paule Constable
Revival Choreographer: Colm Seery*
Lighting Designer:
Kevin Sleep
Wig & Make-up Designer:
David Zimmerman
Chorus Master:
Alexander Rom
Ailyn Pérez (Manon), Stephen Costello (Chevalier des Grieux), Edwin Crossley-Mercer* (Lescaut), David Pittsinger* (Count des Grieux), Greg Fedderly* (Guillot de Morfontaine), Troy Cook* de Brétigny), Katherine Whyte* (Pousette), Kathryn Leemhuis* (Javotte), Audrey Babcock (Rosette), Theodor Carlson (Innkeeper)
The Return of Graeme Jenkins to the Podium!


SHOW BOAT by Jerome Kern
April 15, 17(m), 20, 23, 29, May 1(m), 2016
A Great American Musical
Music by Jerome Kern -- Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Time: 1887-1927
Mississippi and Chicago
Emmanuel Villaume
Stage Director:
E. Loren Meeker
Set Designer:
Peter J. Davison
Costume Designer: Paul Tazewell*
Lighting Designer:
Erik Watkins
Sound Designer: Tom Clark
Choreographer: Michele Lynch*
Wig & Make-up Designer:
David Zimmerman
Chorus Master:
Alexander Rom
Andriana Chuchman* (Magnolia), Michael Todd Simpson (Gaylord Ravenal), Lara Teeter* (Cap’n Andy Hawks), Alyson Cambridge* (Julie), Angela Renée Simpson (Queenie), Mary-Pat Green* (Parthy Ann Hawkes), Kirsten Wyatt* (Ellie Mae Chipley), Morris Robinson (Joe), John Bolton* (Frank), Keith Chambers (Jake)
Performed with the Power of the Operatic Voice and Full Orchestra!

* Dallas Opera Debut

** American Debut


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.