by Suzanne Calvin

It was an amazing thing to see: 15 thousand people, most of whom stayed all the way through the curtain calls and many of whom--I’ll bet--walked away with a completely different impression of this art form we call “opera.”
It was a grand night for the Dallas Opera, The Dallas Foundation, and Cowboys Stadium, but don’t take my word for it.

Here’s a report on the evening (including comments from General Director and CEO Keith Cerny) from KERA’s Jerome Weeks.

And Mark Lowry of “The Star-Telegram.”

And Wendy Settle of “Pegasus News”

Here’s another report from NBC-5 (KXAS Television), as well as WFAA TV (Channel 8), who talked to General Director and CEO Keith Cerny that night.

But let’s face it: with a crowd of around 15,000, you’re not going to please everyone.  Jamie Laughlin of “The Observer” (who correctly identifies Puccini as opera’s “gateway drug”) makes an impassioned argument that opera and sports stadiums simply don’t mix.  At least, not in a way that makes opera the moving experience it ought to be.  She writes: “Opera is very expensive to produce: the stage, venue and talent comes with a high price point.  And it must be a limited quantity of seats.  After a certain venue size is reached, you won’t hear that woman die from tuberculosis in the back of the house.  For its quality and standards to be upheld, it’s the public’s responsibility to suck it up and buy a ticket to the Winspear.  If last Saturday’s offering wasn’t your cup of tea, or in this case, big gulp of Dr. Pepper, that’s natural. Investigate further.  Set aside a couple of bar tabs worth of money and shell for seats at next season’s Aida.  The Winspear doesn’t sell soft pretzels like Cowboy Stadium, but the music will change you in a way that carbs never can.”  Read what led her to this conclusion right here.

Dallas Morning News Editorial writer Rodger Jones landed in seats with a “bad view” (i.e. at the juxtoposition of two screens, one large, one smaller).  Rodger and his guest released themselves on their own recognizance and found terrific seats on the 40-yard line.  Here’s his full report.

As for the performance itself…

A review from critic David Weuste of “Everyday Opera.”

Another review and commentary (and video) from Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Emily Trube and Eric Shaddix of “Theater Jones.” The Full Monty -- Get it here.

(Photo courtesy of Luke McKenzie, Dallas Opera)

Two First Names, Two Thought-Provoking Reviews

by Suzanne Calvin

Critic Mark-Brian Sonna, who writes for John Garcia’s “The Column” has posted a couple of reviews worth reading for our current productions of Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA and Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE.  I don’t necessarily agree with every word, but I don’t have to, to find these thoughtful and interesting.

LA TRAVIATA, which will be performed Friday at 7:30 pm in the Winspear with another performance scheduled for Sunday afternoon, prompted Mark-Brian to enthuse: “If you want to see a classic opera done magnificently I suggest you immediately purchase tickets to Dallas Opera’s La Travolta. Everything you expect from the art form is on display currently at the Winspear. You know you are watching a well-conceived and executed production when the curtain rises and the set is so stunning the audience breaks out in applause. Premium tickets for opera can run high so when you spend that kind of money you need to see a production that is not just a visual feast, but aural too, and emotionally satisfying. Dallas Opera gets a perfect score in all three areas on this production. It knocks your socks off.”
Read the rest of his review right here.

As for THE MAGIC FLUTE, Sonna found it a mixture of hits and misses during the opening night performance.  Read Mark-Brian’s take on things magical and Mozartean.

(Photo by Karen Almond, Dallas Opera Production Photographer)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR

Playing Catch Up – TDO Reviews

by Suzanne Calvin

Yes, it’s been a busy week in these parts -- and liable to become busier still with this weekend’s opera party for approximately 32,000 of our friends. That’s my excuse, anyway, for just now posting the latest reviews of the two blockbuster productions being presented by the Dallas Opera.

Of THE MAGIC FLUTE, which opened last Friday, D magazine’s Wayne Lee Gay wrote, “…the greatest laurels of the day belong to soprano Ava Pine. The native Texan and graduate of TCU delivered an unfailingly dramatic rendition and consistently gorgeous vocal performance.” Read more of the Front Row review here.

Marilee Vergati at “” called the production “a wild romp filled with luscious voices, a stunning orchestra, and enchanting scenery.”  Read Ms. Vergati’s review here.

At “Theater Jones,” critic John Norine, Jr. turned to baseball for the appropriate analogy for this time of year: “The Dallas Opera takes both the comedy and the absurdity to the absolute limit and knocks it out of the park.”  But he added that it was the music that added the brightest touch.  “The role of the hero, Tamino is sung by Shawn Mathey, who carries the lion’s share of the work throughout the opera. Mathey’s tone is rich and full-bodied and he navigates the minefield that is Mozart’s score without breaking a sweat.”  Read more here

Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell of “The Dallas Morning News” particularly praised the fabulous ensemble singing: “I’ve rarely heard the three ladies — here the excellent Caitlin Lynch, Lauren McNeese and Maya Lahyani — sing with such precision of intonation and expression. Music director Graeme Jenkins has the orchestra playing Mozart stylishly and responsively.”  Read Scott’s review right here.

At Boston-based “Edge,” critic Sarah Sumler gave the conductor and orchestra high marks: “Music Director Graeme Jenkins conducted the orchestra effortlessly throughout the three hour performance. The Winspear Opera House is an undeniably beautiful venue, and the carefully designed acoustics produces a warm and rich sound that is sonorous, but never overbearing. At times it is so pure and clean that you almost forget that you are listening to live instruments.”  Read Ms. Sumler’s review here.

Dean Cassella, reviewing for “DFW Renaissance,” summed it up nicely: “Overall, you cannot do wrong in going to see this production. The music is delightful, the performers are top-notch, and the stage production is exquisite. You will walk out of the theater with a smile on your face!”  Read more of Dean’s review right here.

(Queen of the Night photo by Dallas Opera production photographer Karen Almond)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR


The Critics, Part Two

by Suzanne Calvin

Time to begin a new page of reviews, I think, and we’ll start with Katie Womack’s smart assessment of “La traviata,” being performed tonight, as well as April 21st, 27th and 29th (matinee) in the Winspear. Ms. Womack writes in this week’s issue of the “Observer”: “Lead by strong vocal and instrumental performances and underscored by a stunning production, this “La traviata” is a solid effort by The Dallas Opera that does justice both to Verdi’s score and our city’s fantastic new opera house.” Read more of Katie’s review right here.

You keep reading; I’ll keep adding.  (Photo by Karen Almond for the Dallas Opera)

UPDATE: Here’s the review for Dallas “Voice” from Arnold Wayne Jones, who praises the Dallas Opera for choosing “a production as gorgeously overwrought as the opera itself.”  If you’d like to see for yourself, check out this terrific slideshow by Michael L. Haynes for “Dallas Dance Examiner.”

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR

The Critics Weigh-In on LA TRAVIATA

by Suzanne Calvin

Gregory Sullivan Isaacs of “Theater Jones” calls it “an evocative, moody production of one of the most beautiful operas ever written, performed with a consistent degree of musical excellence that few other opera houses could match.” Read Gregory’s review here.

But I regret to report that not everyone was quite so enchanted with the opening performance on Friday night. Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell of “The Dallas Morning News” praised the “visually stunning” production and lighting design and Myrto Papatanasiu’s “amazing vocal technique,” however, he wrote that Bliss Hebert’s stage direction at times “gilds an already sentimental lily.” D Magazine “Front Row” critic Wayne Lee Gay thought our production hovered “tantalizingly close to greatness” but thought the elaborate sets and costumes at times overwhelmed the characters.

Read Scott’s review here, and Wayne’s review here.

Over at “The Flash List,” Sherri Tilley wrote: “This is it. If you’ve been waiting for a truly great classic opera with fantastically talented performers, passionate romance, soundtrack-worthy music, fanciful period costumes, and wildly impressive set design, this is it.” And that’s just in her first paragraph. Read the rest of Sherri’s review here.

David Weuste of “Everyday Opera” concluded his review by writing “Traviata can be a tad ridiculous in its storyline and plot, but on Friday night, Papatanasiu made it come to life. Accompanied by towering sets, the wonderfully over-the-top costuming, the dancers, and many other fine voices, Papatanasiu helped put La Traviata in the running for the best production of the Dallas Opera season.”  Read David’s compete review here.

More coming…(Photo courtesy of Karen Almond, Dallas Opera)

UPDATE: Paul Kroeger of The Daily Campus (SMU) and Pegasus News called the opera “thrillingly and appropriately sentimental,” a production “not to be missed.”  Read Paul’s review here

Calling it a perfect fit for the opera novice, “Sulphur Springs News-Telegram” Arts Editor Terry Mathews admitted being swept off her feet by Traviata on Opening Night.  She writes, “Everything about this production is magnificent.  It’s everything opera should be.”  Read Terry’s review here.

MORE CRITICAL ACCLAIM: “One of the best (productions) in years,” writes Marilee Vergati of “Dallas Dance Examiner,” check out her review right here.  And at “DFW Renaissance,” Dean Cassella says “the national premiere of a new prima donna, well, that’s something worth writing home about.”  Read Dean’s review here.

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR

Glowing Reviews for The Lighthouse

by Suzanne Calvin

The limited engagement of the Dallas Opera’s new production of THE LIGHTHOUSE is now history -- but the accolades continue to roll in on the tide.

Katie Womack of “The Observer” found it a “strange yet engrossing musical and theatrical experience.” Read more of her review here.

Over at “Theater Jones,” critic Gregory Sullivan Isaacs proclaimed the production a “must-see” and one that gave him a “glimmer of hope” for a new era of artistic collaboration that will demolish old barriers and preconceptions.  Read his illuminating  article here.  And go back and catch the splendid series TJ has produced on the making of THE LIGHTHOUSE.

Veteran arts writer Olin Chism, reviewing for KERA’s “Art and Seek,” found it “a powerful theater piece, with music serving an attendant though striking role.”  Catch Olin’s review here.

David Weuste of “Everyday Opera” called it “a shining start” to our new, dedicated chamber series and found reasons to praise virtually every aspect of the production.  Read his assessment here.

At “The Dallas Morning News,” Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell says the production was “quite vividly realized by three very fine singers in a deft staging by Kevin Moriarty, artistic director of the Dallas Theater Center.”  Read Scott’s review here.

At “D Magazine,” after asking whether the Dallas Opera had bitten off more than it could chew (or words to that effect), critic Wayne Lee Gay hasn’t yet weighed-in with a final verdict.  We’ll be the first to let you know.

And a new take on the production from Laura Begley at “Operagasm,” a site by and for singers and other people passionate about opera.  Read it here

UPDATE: Also, Alex Hoskins writing for SMU’s “Daily Campus” right here.

(Photo by Karen Almond, Dallas Opera)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR




“…And Come Back a Star!”

by Suzanne Calvin

She was the 2005 “Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year” award winner for her Dallas Opera debut in the role of the long-suffering Micaela in “Carmen.” That was half-a-dozen years after winning the 1998 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition. And now, with about a day’s notice, Houston-born soprano Latonia Moore made her glorious Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of “Aida” last Saturday -- a performance broadcast around the world and one that will be talked about by opera aficionados for years to come.

Get the full report from Anthony Tommasini of “The New York Times” right here.

(Photo courtesy of Cory Weaver, the Metropolitan Opera)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR

For Those Who Love Grand Opera

by Suzanne Calvin

“…it just doesn’t get any better.”  Or so writes Terry Mathews, Arts Editor of the “Sulphur Springs News-Telegram” in her review of the Dallas Opera’s “Tristan & Isolde.”  She declared that the voice of soprano Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet (Isolde) “should be declared a national treasure.”  You can read it all here.

Meanwhile, over at the “Dallas Dance Examiner” (, Marilee Vergati hailed the “artistically triumphant and intensely romantic” production of Wagner’s masterpiece.  She went on to write: “The Dallas Opera’s ‘Tristan und Isolde’ continues the tradition of taking on operatic challenges and transcending even ardent opera lovers’ expectations. After budget cutbacks in 2011, an opera was dropped from the Tragic Obsessions season leaving room to expand Richard Wagner’s masterpiece. What emerged is one of the finest artistic productions to date showcasing a brilliant all-star cast and orchestra.”  Read her review here and, remember, just one performance left on Saturday.

And from SMU’s Alexander Hoskins for “The Daily Campus,” here’s his review of our production which ends with the question, “What’s not to fall in love with?”

Spot on!

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR

The Critical Acclaim Continues for “Tristan”

by Suzanne Calvin

If you haven’t read all the initial reviews, please scroll down in order to do so. But it’s incredibly gratifying to be able to report that the applause hasn’t stopped, and rave reviews for our new production of Wagner’s transcendent masterpiece continue to pour in. The latest? From Mark-Brian Sonna at “Pegasus News” who writes:

“To describe this new technique in theatre is nearly impossible. It has to be seen and experienced to fully comprehend it. If this is the new direction for stage design, I welcome it. It gives the director and the designer the ability to create anything conceivable. You want to see the stage explode in a fireball? It can be done, and it does happen in Tristan & Isolde.

“To be able to work such a technological complexity into a production requires the imagination and the acute staging of a master director and Christian Rath truly comprehends the power of this new technology. There wasn’t one false moment in staging. It also requires him to push his performers to a level of performance that can compete with this visual wizardry and the performances given by the singers were stunning. Regardless of the spectacle, for us to be satisfied with this this opera we must emotionally connect. This is perhaps some of the best acting I’ve seen on this stage. The entire cast is flawless.”

Read the rest of his review here.

There are still some seats available for this evening’s performance (Wednesday) which begins at 7:00 PM.  Get ‘em now, because this is one that’s going to be talked about for a long, long time.

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR

Tristan & Isolde – What a Night!

by Suzanne Calvin

Okay, I confess: by the end of the evening, I was struggling with tears (and for all the right reasons). Were you there at last night’s opening of Christian Rath’s stunning new production of TRISTAN & ISOLDE?  Was I the only sentimental slob out there who found the overall experience transcendent?

The reviews are already coming in, starting with D Magazine’s Wayne Lee Gay who found our TRISTAN “an unforgettable and thrilling operatic experience.”  Read his review here.

And over at “Theater Jones,” arts writer Gregory Sullivan Isaacs writes that “Rarely has a better cast been assembled.  All of the singers did more than make it through Wagner’s superhuman demands…they even looked their roles, so much so, that a film of the opera could not have been better cast on purely visual merits alone.”  Click here for his review.

Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell of “The Dallas Morning News” opened his review of the production with a statement of fact: “Thursday night’s Tristan und Isolde just might have outdone even last season’s Boris Godunov as the most glorious performance I’ve witnessed from the Dallas Opera.”  Read more of Scott’s review by clicking here.

David Weuste of Everyday Opera offered praise of the production design: “The near-minimal sets from stage director Christian Räth aided the never-ceasing vision of Wagner to come forth as it presented each Act with little need for set changes, thus never breaking the momentum.  His ability to keep such a minimal staging with such vivid and ever-moving settings was the direct result of the stunning projection crew headed by Elaine J. McCarthy.  These projections not only “set the scenes,” they also added another level of intensity to already tense moments.”  Read it all right here.

Olin Chism of “The Star-Telegram” compared the production to a 1975 classic and found it wanting.  Read more here.

Sherri Tilley of “The Flash List” Entertainment Guide compared the production to an extremely tall roller coaster with most of the evening spent tick-ticking your way to the crest of the ride before the final whoooooosh!  Read more here.

Trevor Neal of “Operagasm” thought that “everything came together” in this production.  Read his review here.

More to come…I’m sure!  Please feel free to share your thoughts.

(Photos by Karen Almond, Dallas Opera)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR