“…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

A Week in the Life – And One to Remember Always!

by Megan Meister

 Latonia Moore taking a solo bow after her triumphant Metroplitan Opera debut as Verdi’s AIDA on the Saturday afternoon radio broadcast, March 3, 2012

This has been an incredibly exciting week.  Saturday night’s final performance of TRISTAN was a triumphant finale to perhaps the most highly praised production at The Dallas Opera in recent memory.   I was sorry to see the run come to an end, but relieved that we got through it without illness or injury, and each performance was a privilege to attend.  Everything about the production was memorable, from the playing of the Dallas Opera Orchestra to the phenomenal singing of every member of the dedicated cast to the stunning concept and cutting edge technology used in the design of the show.  Bravi to everyone involved!

Monday afternoon was the first rehearsal for our chamber opera production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ THE LIGHTHOUSE and the energy in the rehearsal room was electrifying. Everyone involved in the project is excited, and this production promises to be something truly special.

On Tuesday I flew to Chicago to see the highly acclaimed new Francesca Zambello production of SHOW BOAT at Lyric Opera, starring Nathan Gunn and Morris Robinson, both familiar to Dallas Opera audiences.  Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s groundbreaking 1927 musical might seem an unlikely undertaking for an opera company, but Lyric lavished a great deal of attention (and money !) on the production, and it was a pleasure to hear this music performed by trained voices the way it was meant to be heard, and with the original orchestration.

Wednesday night was the premiere of a new production of Handel’s RINALDO directed by Francisco Negrin and wonderfully conducted by Harry Bicket.  The production was very clever and entertaining, and superbly sung by David Daniels, Luca Pisaroni and in her Lyric Opera debut, South African soprano Elza van den Heever, who made her Dallas Opera debut two years ago as “Fiordiligi” in Mozart’s COSI FAN TUTTE for the opening season of the Winspear.

I flew back to Dallas on Thursday to check on rehearsals for THE LIGHTHOUSE, and then late Friday afternoon flew to New York for what was really the highlight of my week, Latonia Moore’s debut at the Metropolitan Opera in the radio broadcast of Verdi’s AIDA.  I sat in that audience feeling like a proud father, watching this amazing performance by an artist I first discovered as a sophomore at UNT almost 15 years ago.  She was one of the youngest winners of the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition in 1998, and at my suggestion, she went on to study with Bill Schuman at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts.  I then nominated her for a study grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation, which she won, and then she returned to Dallas in 2004 to sing an unforgettable “Micaela” in CARMEN, and won the Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year selected by Dallas Opera subscribers.  She has subsequently gone on to a major international career, including her critically acclaimed performances as AIDA last year at London’s Royal Opera.

She returns to Dallas in the fall to open our season as AIDA, so when I learned that she was going to make her Met debut on 24 hours notice to replace an ailing Violeta Urmana, you can bet I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

The audience reaction to her first aria, “Ritorna vincitor” was a roaring ovation that literally stopped the show.  Any of you fortunate enough to have heard the radio broadcast know that this was something truly special.

Latonia confided in me afterward that she hadn’t slept in two days since she first heard that she was going “on” and was incredibly nervous.  To make a debut at the Met is daunting enough under the best of circumstances, but on an international radio broadcast with virtually no rehearsal, I can only imagine the pressure.

What a triumph!  I sat there and listened to the ovations she received with enormous pleasure knowing that Dallas Opera audiences were going to get to hear Latonia in this role in October.

22,000 and Still Counting

by Suzanne Calvin


There is still time to mark your calendar and plan to be there at Cowboys Stadium for the first ever Dallas Opera Simulcast in a sports venue. The production is Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE, featuring an all-star cast, and it’s a great introduction to opera. Get more details from KERA’s Jerome Weeks here or Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell of “The Dallas Morning News.”

On a related note: The Dallas Opera’s renowned Principle Oboist, Rogene Russell, sent a story I’d heard previously but never tracked down. A recent edition of the monthly magazine “Mental Floss” had a cover story on the “25 Most Powerful Songs”…including Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”

Here’s the deal: A sewage treatment plant in Treuenbrietzen, Germany, experimented with music to determine if it could help sludge-eating microbes do their job any faster and more efficiently. The answer, it appeared, was “The Magic Flute.” Mozart’s masterpiece evidently has extraordinary power -- at the cellular level -- and saves the plant money every month by keeping teeny, tiny critters excited and active. Now, if this music is that good for sludge-eating microbes, just imagine what it can do for you and your loved ones, blasting from the big screens of Cowboys Stadium!

And the concessions will be ever so much better than anything the microbes get to chow down upon.

(Image courtesy of the University of Arizona)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR

So In Vogue

by Suzanne Calvin

In the pages of this month’s “Vogue” magazine, an article on tenor Jonas Kaufmann (“Lord of the Ring”) that also touches on other members of the Met cast, including tenor Jay Hunter Morris (pictured, in the photo from NPR), who just had a spectacular run as Captain Ahab in the San Diego production of “Moby-Dick.”

Vogue writes: “Kaufmann isn’t the only performer in the Ring cycle whose journey to the Met’s stage has had mythic overtones. Last October, the American tenor Jay Hunter Morris found himself living out an archetypal legend, albeit one that was more 42nd Street than Götterdämmerung. Morris grew up in Paris, Texas, the son of a Southern Baptist minister and a church organist, and spent his childhood singing in the choir. In college, he performed country songs during happy hour at a steak house in Waco. But when he saw a Dallas Opera production of La Traviata, he fell in love with the art and, with the fearlessness of youth, decided to make it his life’s work.”

And now, a Texan finds himself singing Siegfried at the Met.  There’s a more complete version of this charming anecdote in a story that appeared last month on NPR.  Read it right here.

In other news from the Metropolitan Opera, it’s been announced that Latonia Moore, who is starring in the Dallas Opera’s production of “Aida” next season, will make her Metropolitan Opera debut IN THE VERY SAME STARRING ROLE this Saturday afternoon, March 3rd, at noon Texas time -- catch it live from the Met on WRR, Classical 101.1 FM.

What a great sneak peek at what we can expect here on the Dallas Opera stage!

And speaking of sneak peeks: DO come out to this Sunday’s LIGHTHOUSE Sneak Preview event, starting in Hamon Hall at 3:00 PM.  The experts, the production team and the stars as they unravel Peter Maxwell Davies’ eerie masterwork, opening in a new Dallas Opera production, in partnership (our first ever!) with the Dallas Theater Center.

In other matters…BE SURE TO SEEK OUT THIS MONTH’S EDITION (Oh, sorry, I’m shouting) Be sure to seek out this month’s edition of “Art + Culture” magazine with the Dallas Opera’s new chamber opera, THE LIGHTHOUSE, on the cover.  Outstanding story by Gregory Isaacs.  “The Lighthouse” opens in the Wyly Theatre at March 16th for three performances and marks the opera debut of DTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty!

Tickets are going fast. 

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR

From the Desk of Artistic Director Jonathan Pell

by Megan Meister

I just heard from friends in New York that Latonia Moore is going to sing tomorrow’s Met radio broadcast of Aida!

Latonia was the 1998 winner of the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition and the winner of the 2004 Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year Award at the Dallas Opera for her unforgettable “Micaela” in Carmen.

She just happens to be scheduled to open our season next October, also  in the title role of Verdi’s Aida, a role she recently sang at London’s Covent Garden to great acclaim.  I have known Latonia since she was an 18 year old student at the University of North Texas, and I would like to think that I was of more than a little help getting her career launched.

I couldn’t be more thrilled for her, and I wish her In bocca al lupo for tomorrow’s broadcast.


by Megan Meister


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Contact: Suzanne Calvin (214.443.1014/suzanne.calvin@dallasopera.org)

Or Megan Meister (214.443.1071/megan.meister@dallasopera.org)







SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 2012 at 7:30 PM






            DALLAS, TX, MARCH 1, 2012 – The Dallas Opera, in partnership with Cowboys Stadium, is thrilled to announce that more than 21,000 tickets to the Dallas Opera’s April 28th Cowboys Stadium Simulcast have been requested by opera lovers from throughout Texas and 23 additional states.  Ticket requests have also come in from the District of Columbia and Canada, since the joint announcement was made one month ago on January 26th at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Additional data collected from those making ticket requests indicate that, as of today, 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 to experience a live classical performance or opera for the very first time.

An additional five thousand reserved seats will be made available to area schools and student groups as part of the Dallas Opera’s newly expanded educational efforts.

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 on 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 www.dallasopera.org/cowboys.

“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.

“I hope that the centralized location of Cowboys Stadium will draw music and theater lovers from all across North Texas to this free simulcast of Mozart’s action-packed masterpiece,” Mr. Cerny adds, “especially those who, for a variety of reasons, have perceived opera as an intimidating or challenging art form, rather than the fantastic entertainment experience it is.”


            THE MAGIC FLUTE will star soprano Ava Pine, the Dallas Opera’s very first Resident Young Artist, in the role of Pamina—one of her personal favorites.  Ms. Pine, a Baroque specialist with a tremendous local fan base, made her Dallas Opera debut as Anna in our 2006 production of Nabucco, and has appeared on our stage in numerous roles including Adele in Die Fledermaus, Zozo in The Merry Widow, Elvira in L’italiana in Algeri, the Slave in Salome and, most recently, as one of three featured artists in the Dallas Opera’s Family Concert, performed in the Winspear last November.

Wherever she goes, Ms. Pine makes the critics struggle for superlatives.  Of her 2008 role debut as Adele, Dallas Morning News Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell wrote: “She can sparkle through coloratura, but also radiate lower-register warmth.  And she’s no less dazzling an actress, dancing, flirting and pretty much tying everyone around her little finger.”

Ava Pine’s performance is made possible with support from The Charron and Peter Denker Rising Stars Endowment Fund.

Alongside Ms. Pine, the Dallas Opera has cast celebrated tenor Shawn Mathey as Tamino.  “He is simply one of the finest Mozartean tenors in the world,” explains Artistic Director Jonathan Pell “and we have spent years trying to tempt him to come to Dallas for his long-awaited debut on our stage.  I think audiences will find him absolutely thrilling, from his first note to his last.”

Mr. Mathey’s 2011-12 Season engagements have included debuts with San Francisco Opera as Don Ottavio and with Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera as Lysander in Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  He is also slated to record Bruckner’s Mass No. 3 in F minor with Marek Janowski conducting the Orchestre de la Suisse Romand.  Praised by Lawrence A. Johnson of Chicago Classical Review for “displaying a honeyed tenor and proving both ardent and amusing,” Mr. Mathey is in tremendous demand overseas (Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, Italy, and Sweden) as well as at opera companies across the U.S.

“This production from Lyric Opera of Chicago,” says Mr. Pell, “is the most magical Magic Flute I’ve ever experienced.  It’s been revived there, time and again, because it’s so immensely popular but it’s a production that could never have been done in our previous performance venue.

“Our move to the Winspear Opera House has finally made it possible to bring this incredibly charming, classic, August Everding production to Dallas and we’ve gone out of our way to stack-the-deck with the addition of a delightful cast.”

Bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi, a comic genius who nearly galloped away with the Dallas Opera’s final production in the Music Hall, The Italian Girl in Algiers, returns in the role of the original Birdman, Papageno, Tamino’s love-sick companion.  The multifaceted Mr. Carfizzi’s recent engagements include Paolo in Simon Boccanegra with San Francisco Opera, Brander in Le damnation de Faust (Berlioz) at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Nourabad in Les pêcheurs de perles for Seattle Opera, Dr. Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia for the Canadian Opera Company, and additional roles at the Met.

Slovakian soprano L’ubica Vargicová, praised by the international media for her remarkable technique, her glittering high notes, and her commanding stage presence has made the Queen of the Night a signature role since her operatic debut while still a student in Bratislava, and she has left audiences gasping around the world.  The New York Times wrote of her Metropolitan Opera debut in this role, that Ms. Vargicová “dispatched the Queen of the Night’s devilish coloratura with fearless attack, bright tone, and impressive accuracy.”  That she is breathtakingly beautiful is merely the icing on the cake; it is her artistry in the coloratura repertoire that has enabled her to earn rave reviews as Lucia di Lammermoor, Ophelia, Amina in Bellini’s La sonnambula, and Marie in La Fille du régiment opposite Juan Diego Flórez.

Bass Raymond Aceto, the chilling Sparafucile in the Dallas Opera’s acclaimed 2011 production of Rigoletto, has appeared in more than a dozen productions with TDO since his 1995 debut as Monterone, portraying a host of unforgettable characters from Leporello in Don Giovanni (2003), Colline in La bohème (1999), and Fafner in Siegfried (2000) to Lodovico in the Dallas Opera’s 2009 inaugural production in the Winspear Opera House: Verdi’s Otello.

Opera News reported in November 2008 “The American bass has a magnificently warm, round and full voice coupled to a compelling stage presence.”  He was also identified as one of the “world class” artists in the Dallas Opera’s cast of Rigoletto (Opera Warhorses).

Bass Kevin J. Langan, who has sung numerous roles with the Dallas Opera, will appear in the role of The Speaker.  He was recently described as “the complete package: vibrant, ringing tone, polished phrasing, incisive diction and convincing, unfussy acting” (MusicalCriticism.com).  Mr. Langan has nearly 1300 performances to his credit and a vast repertoire (more than 80 roles from the early Baroque through the 20th century) that has made him a leading bass for San Francisco Opera for three decades.  Recently, he became the first artist in SFO history to sing 300 performances in leading roles.  Mr. Langan has also been a leading bass for Lyric Opera of Chicago for the past eleven years, in addition to fourteen seasons—and 165 performances—at Santa Fe.

Tenor David Cangelosi, one of the most consistently insightful opera artist bloggers in cyberspace, will sing the role of Monostatos.  Heaped with critical plaudits for his contributions to the success of the recent San Francisco Ring Cycle, Heard and Seen International declared him: “…possibly the greatest Mime ever.  Nobody has ever been more effective or as amusing as David Cangelosi…he made every minute of this often annoying role a total pleasure.”  He most recently appeared with the Dallas Opera in our monumental, widely acclaimed 2011 production of Boris Godunov.


            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.


            Soprano Angela Mannino will make her Dallas Opera debut in the role of Papagena, and the Three Ladies will be sung by soprano Caitlin Lynch, mezzo-soprano Lauren McNeese, and mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani in their company debuts.

Resident Young Artist Aaron Blake will return to the Dallas Opera stage in the dual role of Second Priest and First Man in Armor.  Bass Darren K. Stokes will sing the role of the Second Man in Armor.

The simulcast performance will be conducted at the Winspear Opera House by the Dallas Opera’s Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director Graeme Jenkins, who most recently raised the baton on our season opening production of Lucia di Lammermoor.

Maestro Jenkins drew tremendous praise for the work that brought our 2010-2011 Season to a close: Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov.  According to Dallas Morning News Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell, it was “a triumph for any opera house, anywhere.”  Additional plaudits came his way for his superb conducting of the Dallas Opera’s triumphant new production of Wagner’s Tristan & Isolde, which played to sold-out houses this month.

Jenkins has conducted more than a hundred different operas from Australia to Amsterdam to Vienna, and has served as music director for this company since 1994.

This production will be staged by Matthew Lata, making his TDO debut.

Mr. Lata has staged more than a hundred productions with leading opera companies throughout the U.S.  He began his career as a director on the staff of the Lyric Opera of Chicago for five seasons.  During that time he directed revivals and special productions for the Lyric Opera of Chicago Center for American Artists.  Currently, he serves as Director of Opera at Florida State University.

            Scenic design for The Magic Flute is by Jörg Zimmermann in his company debut, with costumes designed by Renata Kalanke.

Lighting design will be by Duane Schuler, with wig and make-up designs by David Zimmerman.

Chorus preparation will be by Dallas Opera Chorus Master Alexander Rom and Children’s Chorus Master Melinda Cotton.


            Single tickets for the remaining 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 www.dallasopera.org.  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, as well as the Dallas Opera’s brand-new production of a haunting1980 chamber opera: The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies.  Marking the operatic debut of director Kevin Moriarty, Artistic Director of the Dallas Theater Center, this work will play to intimate audiences in the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre across the street from the Winspear.









 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 suzanne.calvin@dallasopera.org








The Dallas Opera celebrates its Fifty-FifthInternational 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.



Megan’s Musings Volume 6: Kevin Moriarty

by tdoadmin

I’m sitting here with Kevin Moriarty, Artistic Director for the Dallas Theater Center and our Director for The Lighthouse which opens on Friday, March 16th. Kevin is making his Dallas Opera debut as well as this being his first time directing an opera.

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

Previously: Volume 5: Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet (2012-02-02)

Next: Volume 7: Ethan Herschenfeld (2012-03-22)

The Mystery of The Lighthouse by Wayne Lee Gay

by Megan Meister

The disappearance, in December of 1900, of the staff of three keepers at a remote lighthouse in the Flannan Isles of Scotland attracted attention not only throughout the British Isles but across Europe and the English-speaking world. No human suspect emerged, and no logical scenario entirely explained the obvious fact that three men, presumably living their lives routinely and doing their appointed tasks, were suddenly and simply no longer where they were supposed to be, or, for that matter, anywhere else.

After an initial report from a passing vessel that the lighthouse was not operating, a follow-up investigational landing from the British lighthouse service discovered an eerily calm scene. A single upturned chair in the kitchen of the living quarters provided the only clue of any disturbance; other than that, the lighthouse and living quarters were completely in order, except for the absence of the occupants. Although a mutual accidental death on the storm-wracked coast provides the most reasonable and likely explanation, the public has, in the ensuing decades, created narratives ranging from a murder-suicide to speculation of supernatural intervention and even extra-terrestrial abduction.

In 1979, increasingly fascinated by and attached to the wild, isolated islands of northwestern Scotland (where he still lives), English-born composer Peter Maxwell Davies turned to the mystery of the Flannan Isles lighthouse as the subject for an opera. Already internationally renowned for his Eight Songs for a Mad King, a hybrid song cycle-chamber opera inspired by the insanity of Britain’s King George III, Maxwell Davies wrote the libretto himself, fictionalizing the historic mystery by creating three original characters to represent the missing men and inventing a location closely resembling the Flannan Isles.

The result, The Lighthouse, is a theater piece that questions and destabilizes reality on several levels. The viewer is pulled almost without warning—in an effect that might be characterized as either cinematic or surrealistic, or both—from a Court of Enquiry in Edinburgh to the island at the moment of discovery and, eventually, to the events leading up to the mysterious disappearance. Adding to the dreamlike quality of the piece, the questions at the enquiry are delivered wordlessly, by the horn (which Maxwell Davies suggests to be placed in the audience); as in a dream, in which the individuals one encounters may unexpectedly shift or become ambiguous, the same three singers portray the officers who arrived on the scene to investigate as well as the three keepers of the lighthouse. And each of these three characters represents an extreme but credible human personality trait: blasphemous sociopathy, religious fanatacism, sentimental eroticism.

Musically, The Lighthouse is rich with the often engaging, frequently disturbing combination of whimsicality, dissonance, parody, and borrowing—both of musical styles and melodic material—typical of Maxwell Davies’ music. The chamber orchestra, including banjo, guitar, “out-of-tune upright piano” and referee’s whistle, along with an entourage of traditional winds, strings and percussion, is at times blatantly descriptive, at times coldly abstract. Vocal and instrumental lines are disjunctive in the extreme (octave leaps are common, and the bass is required to reach up into the soprano range at one point); references to popular music and hymnody abound (the alert listener will notice the bass whistling a fragment of the naval hymn, “For Those at Peril on the Sea,” for instance).

Structurally, the heart of the opera lies at the center, in a set of three “songs” corresponding roughly to the development section of a symphony or sonata. The baritone Blazes delivers a searing, confessional ballad of abuse, murder, and betrayal; the tenor Sandy presents an ironic romance that transforms, as the other two pick it up, trancelike, into a bawdy joke; the bass Arthur piously narrates the murderous vengeance of Jehovah on the idolatrous Children of Israel.

The deliberate confusion Maxwell Davies introduces resolves, however, not in rationality, but in hallucination and insanity, and in an unexpected—and horrifying—solution of the mystery of the disappearance at the lighthouse.

The Lighthouse premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 1980, conducted by the late Richard Dufallo (who eventually settled in Denton, where his wife, pianist Pamela Mia Paul, currently serves as Regents Professor of Piano at the University of North Texas). Resonating through the obvious metaphor of the lighthouse, a symbol both of guidance and isolation, the work holds a secure place both as one of Maxwell Davies’ most frequently performed pieces and as one of the most frequently presented of all contemporary operas. As with so many of the most beloved works in the operatic repertoire (e.g., Peter Grimes, Traviata, Butterfly), its story can be traced to a real occurrence; in the case of The Lighthouse, it was a real occurrence that resonated on a deep level, masterfully realized by Maxwell Davies both as librettist and composer, concerning the disturbing fact that any of us can at any time, and all of us will, eventually, disappear.

Wayne Lee Gay, a regular contributor to Playbill, writes award-winning fiction and teaches in the English Department at the University of North Texas.

Composer Peter Maxwell Davies

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” (examiner.com), 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