Gallic Gravitas

by Suzanne Calvin

There’s just something about Laurent Naouri that goes beyond gifts or talents. I think it’s the sense that he is an artist of genuine class, a gentleman who would rather listen than speak and, when he does speak, a man worth paying attention to. Check out his thoughts on a life intertwined in opera, both onstage and off, and musings on his character, Germont, in the opera opening this evening at the Winspear Opera House, Verdi’s immortal LA TRAVIATA.

(Photo courtesy of Karen Almond, Dallas Opera)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR


A Great First Time Experience

by Suzanne Calvin


And who would know that better than an opera singer himself? That’s the verdict of tenor James Valenti, singing the role of Alfredo Germont in “La traviata” opening later today at the Winspear Opera House. He tells “Sulphur Springs News-Telegram” Arts Editor Terry Mathews why this is such a good choice for the opera-phobic and any other newcomers to the art form.

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR

Longer Lasting Love

by Suzanne Calvin

Longer lasting, that is, than either of the ill-fated protagonists in “La traviata” opening this evening at the Winspear Opera House. From the Dallas publication “The Voice,” here’s an intimate look at the lives of one of opera’s most fascinating team: renowned stage director Bliss Hebert and equally renowned production designer Allen Charles Klein. Read it all right here.

(left to right: tenor James Valenti as Alfredo Germont, director Bliss Hebert, production designer Allen Charles Klein (seated), and assistant director John de los Santos.  Photo by Arnold Jones)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR

Artistic Director Jonathan Pell: Ailyn Perez 2012 Richard Tucker Winner

by Megan Meister



I just had a very excited Ailyn Perez on the telephone informing me that she is this year’s winner of the Richard Tucker Award !  This $30,000 prize is the operatic equivalent of winning the Nobel Prize,  the Pulitzer Prize and an Academy Award all rolled into one !   Her husband, Stephen Costello, won the Tucker Award in 2009, so they are the first married couple to both receive this prestigious prize.  Ailyn made her Dallas Opera debut last season as “Zerlina” in Don Giovanni, and is already engaged for her return in a future season.

General Director’s Roundtable: The Importance of Arts in Education

by tdoadmin

The General Director’s Roundtable features timely and in-depth discussion of issues affecting opera, contemporary audiences, and the greater performing arts community today. The brainchild of Dallas Opera General Director & CEO Keith Cerny, this series seeks to bring together the most knowledgeable voices in their fields, both local and national, in a genuine quest for answers.

This roundtable features LeAnn Binford, Director, Creative Learning Workforce at Big Thought, Inc., and Zannie Giraud Voss Ph.D., Chair and Professor of Arts Administration in the Meadows School of the Arts and the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. The moderator is Peter Simek, Arts Editor for D Magazine.

(Please note that the recording quality improves at about 3:45.)

Download as MP3 (right-click and choose “Save As”)

From the Desk of Artistic Director Jonathan Pell

by Megan Meister

I was in Denton at the University of North Texas on Monday and Tuesday working with some of the very talented students pursuing graduate degrees in voice.  I did this two years ago, and was asked back by Stephen Dubberly and Paula Homer to select this year’s recipient of the bi-annual Winspear Opera Scholarship.

It was also an opportunity to hear some singers who have the potential to become involved with the Dallas Opera’s education and outreach programs that are produced in cooperation with both UNT and SMU.

I don’t want to scoop UNT’s press announcement by divulging the winner here, but I was very impressed by several of the competitors, and enjoyed meeting and getting to know these promising young musicians.

On another unrelated topic, I don’t know if any of you have been watching the new ABC TV series GCB.   It is trying to be a sort of cross between DALLAS and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.

Frankly, I don’t know anyone in town who is still watching (which may be because they are easily offended by the unfortunate stereotyping of Dallas society or simply be because the writers haven’t found their stride yet) but I bring it up for one very important reason.

In two separate episodes different characters have mentioned going to The Dallas Opera.  In last Sunday’s episode the character played by Annie Potts mentioned that she was underwriting the elephants in AIDA next season.  Now I have no way of knowing if the show’s writers actually knew that we were opening next year with that opera, or if it was simply a coincidence, but I now feel justified in continuing to watch this “guilty pleasure” just in case our opera company gets mentioned again.

Oh, and by the way, unless Annie Potts sends us a check, we don’t plan to have any elephants in our AIDA.

Sorry Annie.


by Megan Meister

Seventeen ninety-one was a terrible year for Mozart personally, but a fabulous year for Western Music.

The list of masterworks he composed during his final months is simply staggering. Some of the high points are Piano Concerto No. 27, String Quintet No. 6, the Clarinet Concerto, the opera seria, La clemenza di Tito, the incomplete Requiem, the little Adagio for Glass Harmonica (not well known but one of Mozart’s most haunting works).

And, of course, The Magic Flute. It was Mozart’s last opera, completed and premiered barely two months before his death on Dec. 5th. He never knew what a worldwide success it was going to be, but he had hints: There were at least 20 performances in the short interval between its premiere and his death, and his supposed arch-rival, Antonio Salieri, praised the opera highly after attending a performance as Mozart’s guest.

By 1800, performances of the opera numbered in the hundreds and, after four decades, The Magic Flute was not only an international success but an intercontinental one. In fact, the opera has never been out of fashion.

The Magic Flute is sometimes called a “people’s opera,” rather than one composed for an elite audience — an idea reinforced by Peter Shaffer’s award-winning play as well as the movie version of Amadeus. There’s at least a grain of truth in this. The Flute premiere on Sept. 30, 1791 was not in a fashionable Viennese opera house but in the suburban Theater auf der Wieden. It’s as if an opera were to premiere in a small theater in Brooklyn or Queens rather than at the Metropolitan Opera. A writer of Mozart’s time associated the Wieden area with the smell of beer and sausages and wrote of “vulgar exchanges” between actors and audiences. Clearly the suburban audiences were out to have a good time.

Mozart and his librettist, Emanuel Schikaneder, brought the common people into the opera with the character of Papageno and, to a lesser extent, his feminine counterpart Papagena. A good time is definitely what Papageno is after; forget scary, high-minded tests of character.

But there’s also a more noble side to The Magic Flute, of course. The characters Tamino, Pamina and Sarastro face the Queen of the Night and her minions in a combat of good against evil, with good finally emerging triumphant.

It’s interesting to survey the careers of the original cast of The Magic Flute; a tightly knit and highly versatile group of musicians, several of whom were longtime friends of Mozart and some of whom were related by marriage.

Schikaneder, who created the role of Papageno, was the director of the troupe. He was a librettist, composer, singer, dancer, playwright and actor noted for his performances of Shakespeare’s Hamlet!  A longtime friend of Mozart, he wrote a sequel to The Magic Flute (and you can read more about that later in this article).

Benedikt Schack, the original Tamino, was another friend of the composer (Mozart’s father was highly complimentary of his singing).  Schack was a composer as well as a singer and flutist (or “flautist, if you prefer, who actually played Tamino’s flute rather than delegating that portion of the score to an orchestral musician). Schack’s wife also appeared onstage in the original production in a small role.

Anna Gottlieb, who created the role of Pamina, was a vocal prodigy. She was only 17 when she sang this demanding role, but even more amazing—she was a mere 12 year-old when she sang Barbarina in the premiere of The Marriage of Figaro.

Franz Xaver Gerl, the dignified Sarastro, was a singer/composer/actor and another close friend of Mozart’s.  In his youth, he is thought to have been a pupil of Mozart’s father, Leopold. Gerl’s wife, like Schack’s, also had a role in The Magic Flute as The Third Lady.

Josepha Hofer, the original Queen of the Night, was Mozart’s sister-in-law. Contemporaries said she was most comfortable in a very high tessitura; those listening to the queen’s high notes can have no doubt about that.

Two members of this cast performed a sad duty on the afternoon of December 4, 1791. Schack and Gerl went to Mozart’s apartment and joined the dying composer and Franz Hofer (Josepha’s husband) to sing through the parts of the Requiem that Mozart had been able to complete. It was the composer’s final performance; he passed away during the night.

Now about that sequel: After Mozart’s death, Schikaneder decided to capitalize on the growing popularity of The Magic Flute by writing the text of a followup, Das Labyrinth. He asked a respected composer of the time, Peter von Winter, to write the music. The sequel brings all the familiar characters forward in time and renews the battle between Sarastro and the Queen of the Night (one guess as to who wins this round).

The opera gathered dust in the archives for a couple of centuries, but it’s finally coming off the shelf: Next summer Das Labyrinth (or The Magic Flute, Part 2) will be performed at the world-renowned Salzburg Festival.

Olin Chism is a veteran classical music critic and arts writer serving the North Texas community.  He currently reviews for the Star-Telegram and KERA’s Art and Seek blog.

You’re Invited – Tonight!

by Suzanne Calvin

What’s so controversial about Arts Education? Mmmmm. Just about everything: Who funds it? Who needs it? Who gets it? Join Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, D magazine Arts Editor Peter Simek, and an outstanding panel to discuss the future of education in the arts in America.

More here from Liz Johnstone of D Magazine. Show up at the Winspear, tonight at 6:30 for the “General Director’s Roundtable” and we’ll seat you -- should be a lively conversation!

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR

25K – And Still Counting (Have you Reserved Your Seats?)

by Suzanne Calvin

Time is running out to reserve your seat or seats for the Dallas Opera’s April 28th Cowboys Stadium simulcast, presented by The Dallas Foundation. However, the hot news of the day is that 25,000 of you have already signed up for tickets to attend the Saturday evening performance -- live from the Winspear Opera House (a ways down Interstate 30 from Arlington).
The media reacts: COMMANDOpera, “The Dallas Morning News,” D Magazine’s Front Row blog, Pegasus News, Broadway World and NBC DFW leading the parade.

You’ve reserved your seats already, right?  If not, go here:

(Original photo-now cleverly doctored-by Richard Krall)

UPDATE: Reaction still pouring in, here’s the take from “Theater Jones.”

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR

Simulcast Ticket Requests Top 25K!

by Suzanne Calvin

If I said, “but who’s counting?” the answer would be -- we are! Yes, indeed, we are. Keep scrolling; the latest on the April 28th simulcast can be found below.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Contact: Suzanne Calvin (214.443.1014/
Or Megan Meister (214.443.1071/

SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 2012 at 7:30 PM

DALLAS, TX, MARCH 27, 2012 – The Dallas Opera, in partnership with Cowboys Stadium, is delighted to announce that more than 25,000 tickets to the Dallas Opera’s one-night-only April 28th Cowboys Stadium Simulcast, presented by The Dallas Foundation, have been requested by opera lovers from throughout Texas and 26 additional states. Ticket requests have also come in from the District of Columbia and Canada since the joint announcement was made on January 26th at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
These numbers indicate that the groundbreaking North Texas simulcast may become one of the best attended opera performances in U.S. history.
Additional data collected from those making ticket requests indicate that, as of today (March 27, 2012), 93% of participating households have no previous purchasing history with the Dallas Opera. For many, the Cowboys Stadium Simulcast will mark their first, live experience of the art form in any venue.
Gene Jones (the wife of Dallas Cowboys Owner, President and General Manager Jerry Jones), whose vision led to the Stadium’s museum-quality collection of contemporary art, set the stage for the announcement explaining, “Sports and art are not typically thought of as belonging together. Yet sporting events and great art do something similar—they get people talking.”
Now, people are talking about family outings to the Dallas Opera at Cowboys Stadium, many of them to experience a live classical performance or opera for the very first time.

Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE will be simulcast live on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 7:30 PM (doors open at 6:00 PM) at the high-tech home of the Dallas Cowboys at One Legends Way in Arlington, Texas. Patrons will be able to enjoy a complete, unabridged live performance from the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House in the Dallas Arts District onto the world’s largest high-definition video board structure, comprised of four massive viewing screens (the largest, 72 feet tall and 160 feet wide) suspended directly above the playing field.
Reserved seating is still available (up to 10 seats per person) through the Dallas Opera website at

“We are excited to partner with the Dallas Opera on such a distinctive event,” said Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President of Brand Management Charlotte Anderson. “Our organization admires and respects The Dallas Opera’s original thinking and stewardship in making a ground-breaking event like this a reality. We truly value the importance of the arts in our community, and we hope that this first-of-its-kind opera broadcast gives us a way of sharing our love of the arts with a new audience at Cowboys Stadium.”

“One of the goals of the Dallas Opera is to bring great singing and world-class theater to the widest possible audience,” explained Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny. “As part of our commitment to expanding our community outreach we are thrilled to announce an unprecedented, ‘game-changing’ collaboration with the Cowboys organization. Let me also say that the Dallas Opera is especially grateful for the generous support of the Jones Family, encouraging our efforts to create one of the most unique and memorable events in the history of this opera company.
“The plans for the simulcast have generated an enormously positive response from all sectors of the community, as well as the classical music world,” Mr. Cerny adds. “This tremendous outpouring of interest not only exceeded my initial expectations, it also underscores my firm belief that 21st century audiences hunger for more from their artistic and cultural experiences and are willing to try new things in search of something remarkable, perhaps even unique.
“It’s a tall order—and one we plan to deliver on, April 28th at Cowboys Stadium.”

Mozart’s 1791 masterpiece is one of the greatest comic operas of all time, made all the more interesting by the poignant—even disturbing—moments endured by the lead characters, as they attempt to earn their “happy ending.”
The Magic Flute comes by its zany plot honestly, having been inspired not only by 18th century Masonic practices, but by literature reflecting several different traditions.
The music, on the other hand, couldn’t be more polished or more focused. Reflecting the highest ideals of the Age of Enlightenment and filled with wit, warmth, and genuine humanity, The Magic Flute continues to bewitch audiences with its variety of perfectly expressed musical moods—from utterly comic to soaring and sublime.

Thousands of tickets to the simulcast have been offered to various student groups and school districts to enable their students to share in this extraordinary experience. Requests have poured in from schools, churches, universities (UTD’s McDermott Scholars Program, Howard Payne University, Texas Christian University, Sam Houston State University and Kilgore College), afterschool programs, and music and language programs. From Cub Scout Dens to Senior Citizen Centers, the rush for the remaining free tickets is well-underway.
Single tickets for the final mainstage productions of the Dallas Opera’s “Tragic Obsessions” Season are on sale now, starting at just $25, through the Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or online at Student Rush best-available tickets can be purchased at the lobby box office for $25 (one per valid Student I.D.) ninety minutes prior to each performance.
Secure your seats today for the remaining spring mainstage productions: La traviata, and The Magic Flute!




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



The Dallas Opera celebrates its Fifty-Fifth International Season in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in downtown Dallas. Evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees will begin at 2:00 p.m. Performances of The Lighthouse (new chamber opera series) will take place in the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre located directly across Flora street from the Winspear in the AT&T Performing Arts Center. English translations will be projected above the stage at every performance. Assistance is available for the hearing impaired. All ticket sales are final and no late seating is permitted prior to intermission.

THE LIGHTHOUSE by Peter Maxwell Davies
Inaugural production of the Dallas Opera Chamber Series
Presented in collaboration with the Dallas Theater Center
In the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre at the AT&T Performing Arts Center
March 16, 17 & 18(m), 2012
A chilling supernatural and psychological thriller!
Time: December 1900
Place: Edinburgh Court of Enquiry, Fladda Isle Lighthouse off the Scottish coast
Conductor: Nicole Paiement*
Stage Director: Kevin Moriarty* (opera directorial debut)
Scenic Design: Beowulf Boritt*
Costume Design: Claudia Stephens*
Starring: (in order of vocal appearance:) Andrew Bidlack* (Officer 1/Sandy), Robert Orth (Officer 2/Blazes), and Daniel Sumegi (Officer 3/Arthur/Voice of the Cards).

LA TRAVIATA by Giuseppe Verdi
April 13, 15(m), 18, 21, 27 & 29(m), 2012
Let’s Party Like It’s 1849!
An opera in three acts first performed in Venice at Teatro La Fenice, March 6, 1853
Text by Francesco Maria Piave, based on Alexandre Dumas’ play, La dame aux camélias
Time: 19th century
Place: Paris
Conductor: Marco Guidarini
Stage Director: Bliss Hebert
Production Design: Allen Charles Klein
Lighting Design: Thomas Hase
Choreographer: Rosa Mercedes*
Wig & make-up Design: David Zimmerman
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Myrtò Papatanasiu** (Violetta Valéry), James Valenti (Alfredo Germont), Laurent Naouri* (Giorgio Germont), Amanda Crider* (Flora Bervoix), Timothy Mix* (Baron Douphol), Mark McCrory (Marchese D’Obigny), Ethan Herschenfeld* (Doctor Grenvil), and Susan Nicely (Annina).

April 20, 22(m), 25, 28, May 4 & 6(m), 2012
Hearts Tested, Tried and True!
An opera in two acts first performed in Vienna, September 30, 1791.
Text by Emanuel Schikaneder.
Time: Legendary
Place: Mythological Egypt
Conductor: Graeme Jenkins
Production: August Everding
Stage Director: Matthew Lata
Scenic Design: Jörg Zimmermann*
Costume Design: Renate Kalanke*
Lighting Design: Duane Schuler
Wig & make-up Design: David Zimmerman
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Children’s Chorus Master: Melinda Cotten
Starring: Ava Pine (Pamina), Shawn Mathey* (Tamina), Patrick Carfizzi (Papageno), L’ubica Vargicová* (The Queen of the Night), Raymond Aceto (Sarastro), Kevin Langan (The Speaker), David Cangelosi (Monostatos), Angela Mannino* (Papagena), Caitlin Lynch* (First Lady), Lauren McNeese* (Second Lady), Maya Lahyani* (Third Lady), Aaron Blake (First Man in Armour) and Darren K. Stokes* (Second Man in Armour).

* Dallas Opera Debut
** American Operatic Debut

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