Good Company

by Suzanne Calvin

It’s incredibly nice to be included when the other organizations acknowledged here are the likes of the Amon G. Carter Foundation; The 500, Inc.; and TACA.  What’s it all about?  “Under the direction of (General Director and) CEO Keith Cerny, the Dallas Opera’s strategic plan is healthy and continues to earn the confidence of the community.” 

More from Marilee Vergati of Examiner.com (posted on CBS/DFW).

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR

Rollin’ Down the River

by Suzanne Calvin

New at “Theater Jones”: the latest edition of Keith Cerny’s “Off the Cuff.” The Dallas Opera General Director and CEO takes this opportunity to explore why the placement of pieces in musical time matters. Read it right here.

(Photo of Ganges River delta courtesy of loc.gov)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR

3 Questions for Keith from Harlan Crow

by Suzanne Calvin

In our continuing series, interesting people from the North Texas community are invited to pose three opera-related questions for Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny. The latest to take us up on the offer is Mr. Harlan Crow of Crow Holdings:

1. It is my understanding that the opera normally starts at 8:00 p.m. That is a difficult time for many people, particularly people that would like to introduce their families to the opera. Why can’t some presentations start earlier, resulting in an earlier opera evening?

The question of when to begin operas is an important one, and is often the subject of extensive market research. At The Dallas Opera, we typically begin our performances at 7:30 p.m., so that we can have everyone out of the theater well before 11:00 p.m. even for a moderately long opera. Some classic operas, such as Richard Strauss’s Salome, are relatively short (under two hours), and some contemporary operas are also around that length (such as Moby-Dick). With a start time of 7:30 p.m., the whole evening then finishes before 10:00 p.m. For our recent production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, we began the evening performances at 7:00 p.m., which allowed people to get home at a more reasonable hour than if we held rigidly to our usual start time. At the recent performance I attended of Wagner’s Siegfried at the Met, the mid-week performance began at 6:00 p.m. One challenge with tinkering with start times is that it always creates a certain amount of patron confusion, as they try to sort through which performances start at an unusual time.

Lyric Opera of Chicago, well-known for its devoted subscriber base and marketing prowess, offers some Wednesday and Thursday matinee performances at 2:00 p.m. These mid-week matinees have proven very popular with commuters, as they can attend an opera during the week without having to make a special trip on the weekend from the suburbs. As The Dallas Opera begins to grow its number of performances and productions in the future, we may also test such an idea.

2. At the risk of heresy to purists, why can’t an operatic presentation be abbreviated? A good solid 1-1/2 hour show would create a rewarding experience without such a lengthy commitment to an evening.

Relative to the symphonic world, opera faces two programming challenges. The first is that with rare exceptions, one opera is presented in an evening (excluding such standards as the double bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci or Puccini’s Il Trittico, which includes 3 one-act operas in an evening). In the symphonic world, most -- but not all -- programs include several different works, which lowers the perceived risk of patrons in attending. They know that if the first piece is not to their liking, they will get to hear something else in the same evening. The second challenge is that many wonderful operas are very long for today’s audiences. As a result, they are already cut quite considerably. This is particularly true for such famous Mozart operas as Così fan Tutte or The Marriage of Figaro, but many other operas are cut. (For example, we made careful cuts in last year’s presentation of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena). With the near-universal adoption of supertitles (showing the English language translation of the opera on a small screen above the stage) and increasing improvements in large-scale projection technology, one can imagine presenting key scenes of an opera and then providing detailed text describing what events took place in between. This approach would allow the audience to hear significant parts of the opera, and to maintain the dramatic thread, in a much shorter span of time. It might be difficult to cut the whole opera down to 1-1/2 hours, unless the performance was presented without intermission, but performances of 2-2.5 hours would be feasible. Such an approach would not save much on production costs, but it might be an effective way to draw new audiences. I have already held informal discussions with the General Director of another leading U.S. opera company about piloting such an approach at some point in the future. Naturally, we would need to market these abbreviated operas quite differently, to eliminate the risk of patron confusion.

3. Again, at the risk of heresy, what about an operatic “greatest hits” night? The talent, costumes and sets, of course, would be difficult but the hope of drawing a new and younger audience might be worth it.

There is nothing heretical about an operatic “greatest hits” evening, and it is an idea that we would like to consider for TDO at some point. Evenings of operatic excerpts, especially famous opera choruses, regularly sell out in London, and some opera companies in the U.S. have had great success with gala-type events featuring famous singers in several extended excerpts over the course of an evening. These events also typically include sets and costumes. While the costs can be relatively high due to the need to include singers, sets, costumes and stage directors, they can make a significant “splash” and generate a lot of community interest.

 

Harlan Crow

Harlan Crow is the chairman and chief executive officer of Crow Family Holdings, a private family-business established to exclusively manage the capital of the Trammell Crow family. He assumed overall responsibilities for the family operations in 1988 after serving in other management positions. During Mr. Crow’s tenure as CEO, the firm has continued to grow and strengthen its position as a leader in the real estate investment business. The firm has also made important strategic diversifications into a whole variety of additional asset classes. Mr. Crow is a director on several boards including the American Enterprise Institute, the Southwestern Medical Foundation, the Supreme Court Historical Society Board and the Antiquarian Society. He also serves as honorary counsel of Denmark for the Southwest region.

(Photo courtesy of Crow Holdings)

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

Introducing “Three Questions for Keith”

by Suzanne Calvin

THREE QUESTIONS FOR KEITH
(Why? Because You Really Want to Know)

This month’s questions for Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny are from James Faust, Artistic Director of Dallas Film Society and host of the DALLAS International Film Festival, April 12-22, 2012.  He asks:

1. Is Opera for everyone?

Opera at its heart is about great singing and powerful theater brought together, accompanied by an orchestra—and sometimes including dance as well. Theater has been part of the Western cultural tradition going back more than 2,000 years, which speaks to its power and universal appeal. The human voice is a remarkable instrument; it connects with performers at a visceral level more closely than any other instrument. After all, a violinist can improve his or her tone quality by upgrading their instrument, but a singer must develop the voice that they were born with. Because opera weaves together all of these important traditions, I believe passionately that opera is, in fact, for everyone. That being said, not all operas are as accessible or comprehensible for first-time listeners, so I recommend giving some thought to your first experience. This spring, we will be presenting two wonderful works that are ideal for first-time opera goers: Verdi’s La traviata and Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

2. What’s the greatest Opera turned into a film or vice versa?

My personal favorite opera turned into a film is Ingmar Bergman’s 1975 film of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. I love the musical interpretation in this film, as it beautifully captures the gentleness and innocence of the piece, and brings out its lyrical qualities. (Knowing the German version as well as I do, I still struggle with hearing the text in Swedish, but the warmth and intimacy of the film allows me to overlook this aspect). In many ways, the film anticipated the artistic choices that opera companies now face with simulcasts and DVDs of opera; Bergman’s film is a movie made on an opera set, rather than a recording of a true live performance. The movie contains many close-ups of singers that would not be possible in a typical opera house, and the lighting and theatrical makeup draw their inspiration from movies or TV rather than an actual opera performance. Bergman uses shots of the face of a young girl in the audience (his real-life granddaughter) almost as a leitmotif, to remind us of the importance of the audience in the performance. I also relish/enjoy –I don’t think savor quite works how the director films the opera’s characters on both the mainstage and backstage. The footage of the intermission contains marvelous comic touches: Pamina beating Tamino at chess, Sarastro is studying the score of Parsifal, and the Queen of the Night is smoking a cigarette.

My favorite film to include opera in a cameo role is Orson Wells’ 1941 classic Citizen Kane—still regularly selected as one of the greatest films ever made. In this film, Charles Foster Kane’s mistress, who later becomes his second wife, is an aspiring opera singer. Kane is determined to advance her career, and uses his newspapers in different cities to promote her rising “talent.” Ultimately, though, even his control of the press cannot overcome her mediocrity. The scenes showing her struggling to please her vocal coach, and the shot of two stagehands holding their noses in response to her performance is especially memorable, because it is much more difficult for an actor to play a mediocre opera singer than an out-and-out bad one.

And while we’re on the subject of opera in film, I would mention a third favorite: the cult film Diva. This 1981 film centers around a famous aria from a seldom performed opera, Catalani’s La Wally. Wilhemenia Fernandez as the film’s protagonist sings the famous aria “Ebben? Ne andrò lontan,” which is one of the highlights of La Wally. I particularly enjoy how opera as an art form is portrayed as hip and glamorous in this movie—no small feat when it is based on a lovely, yet relatively unknown, opera.

3. Will the Dallas Opera ever perform a “rock” Opera?

When I meet opera patrons for the first time, they often assume that I listen to nothing but opera. Actually, I enjoy listening to a wide range of music. The band The Who arguably created the rock opera genre in the 1970s, and the original musical Tommy, written by Pete Townsend and Des McAnuff contains some great music. The artistic impulse to knit together a series of rock songs, which tend to be relatively short, into an overall story-line was a very influential model (even if one argues that the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s got there first).

So will the Dallas Opera perform a “rock ” Opera? Probably not. But it’s not because some of them aren’t great music and theater. Every opera company is wrestling with the question of what works to add to their core repertoire. The Lyric Opera of Chicago revived Showboat this winter to great critical acclaim. Other opera companies have performed Gilbert & Sullivan, and George Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess has been revived by the Dallas Opera, as well asother major opera companies, many times.

To me, the issue is one of artistic “stretch.” The Dallas Opera’s core mission is producing grand opera, with occasional chamber operas added in. As a producing company, we hire top singers and other artists from directors to designers, and bring in orchestral players from outside of North Texas when needed (e.g. the banjo player in our mid-March production of Peter Maxwell-Davies’ The Lighthouse). While we could hire singers and rock musicians for a work like Tommy, it isn’t really what we do best. It would also put us into more direct competition for audiences and supporters with other excellent producing and presenting companies in North Texas (such as the Dallas Theater Center, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and Dallas Summer Musicals).

Thanks for the questions, James!

About James Faust: James Faust, Artistic Director of Dallas Film Society, loves his family. Loves film. Loves Dallas. Wants you to stay in school.

James Faust | Artistic Director| Dallas Film Society
Host of the DALLAS International Film Festival -- April 12-22, 2012
3625 North Hall Street, suite 740 | Dallas, Texas 75219
P 214.720.0555 | F 214.720.0551 | C 214.505.3681
Jfaust@dallasfilm.org | www.dallasfilm.org

Idea for a New Opera? Before You Start…

by Suzanne Calvin

If you’ve ever given a moment’s thought to creating a new work for the opera stage -- this is a must read! Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny’s lastest edition of “Off the Cuff” for “Theater Jones” delves into the tricky business of commissioning new works. And you don’t have to be an impresario to enjoy discovering the thought processes that motivate the decision-makers.

Read it all right here

(Photo courtesy of Karen Almond, Dallas Opera)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR

Free, Public Roundtable on the Impact of the Arts on Education

by Suzanne Calvin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, March 5, 2012
Contact: Suzanne Calvin
214-443-1014/suzanne.calvin@dallasopera.org

THE DALLAS OPERA IS PROUD TO PRESENT
“THE GENERAL DIRECTOR’S ROUNDTABLE” ON
“THE IMPORTANCE OF ARTS IN EDUCATION”
FEATURING LEANN BINFORD, DIRECTOR, CREATIVE LEARNING WORKFORCE AT BIG THOUGHT, INC., AND ZANNIE VOSS, PhD PROFESSOR AND CHAIR OF ARTS ADMINISTRATION, SMU’S COX SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AND MEADOWS SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
HOSTED BY
DALLAS OPERA GENERAL DIRECTOR & CEO KEITH CERNY
~~~~
FREE TO THE PUBLIC! RSVP AT 214.443.1044
MODERATED BY D MAGAZINE ARTS EDITOR PETER SIMEK
~~~~
TUESDAY, MARCH 27TH, 6:30 PM
NANCY B. HAMON HALL, THE MARGOT & BILL WINSPEAR OPERA HOUSE AT THE AT&T PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
~~~~
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH D MAGAZINE

DALLAS, MARCH 5, 2012 – The Dallas Opera is proud to present the fourth in a series of quarterly “General Director’s Roundtables,” featuring 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 in a genuine quest for answers.
The topic of this roundtable is “The Importance of Arts in Education,” presented in partnership with D magazine and thoughtfully moderated by D magazine Arts Editor Peter Simek at 6:30 PM, Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.
The panelists, in addition to the multifaceted Mr. Cerny who hosts these events, will include LeAnn Binford, Director of Creative Learning Workforce at Big Thought, Inc. and Zannie Voss, PhD Professor and Chair of Arts Administration at SMU’s Cox School of Business and Meadows School of the Arts.

“My wife Jennifer and I are raising four boys and have always considered arts education an integral part of our family learning experience, from music-lessons to museum excursions,” explains Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny. “I know, first-hand, how exposure to the arts touches the young and gives them insights into themselves and the world around them. Yet many questions remain: How do we measure the impact of the arts? How do we develop programs that are both appropriate and effective? How do we support arts education in schools, many of which are experiencing severe budget deficits? And most importantly,” Cerny adds, “how do we ensure that every child, regardless of background, has the opportunity for both artistic exposure and expression?
“These are just a few of the questions we will explore in our upcoming Roundtable.”

This General Director’s Roundtable will be held in the intimate salon setting of Nancy B. Hamon Hall, located within the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House. On-site paid parking for the General Director’s Roundtable is available beneath the Winspear Opera House in the Lexus Red Parking Garage.
Please note: Seating is limited; however, this special edition of the roundtable will be free and open to the public. Reservations are required; just call 214.443.1044 and leave your name and the number in your party or reserve your seat for the Roundtable online anytime, 24/7, at rsvp@dallasopera.org.
~~~~

BIOS:

LeAnn Binford, Director, Program Operations at Big Thought, Inc. is an arts administrator with over 20 years of practical experience in performing arts management who has initiated, designed, and implemented new programming, enhanced traditional programs with innovative approaches, and served as an advocate for the arts in diverse environments. A creative leader and accomplished speaker who is articulate, highly organized, and an excellent writer, she combines a focus on education with the ability to build strong relationships with artists, volunteers, trustees, and administrators.

Zannie Giraud Voss Ph.D., Institut d’Administration des Entreprises, Aix-en-Provence) is Chair and Professor of Arts Administration in the Meadows School of the Arts and the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, and an Affiliate Professor at the Euromed School of Management in Marseille, France. Prior to joining the SMU faculty, she was a professor in the Department of Theater Studies and an adjunct professor in management in the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, where she also served as producing director of Theater Previews at Duke, a professional theater company dedicated to the development and co-production of new works.
Zannie has a worked as consultant on projects for the Irvine Foundation, Theatre Development Fund and Theatre Communications Group, co-authoring TCG’s Theatre Facts since 1998. She has published articles examining the strategic factors that influence organizational performance in nonprofit professional theatres in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of Services Marketing, American Theatre, ArtsReach, and International Journal of Arts Management, for which she serves as an associate editor. She served as managing director of PlayMakers Repertory Company, associate manager of the Alley Theatre, assistant director of audience development at the Mark Taper Forum, and as a site visitor and panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. She has received research funding from the National Science Foundation, the Aspen Institute, the Marketing Science Foundation, the American Marketing Association and the Sheth Foundation.

Biographical information about Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny may be accessed online at http://www.dallasopera.org/the_company/general_director.php.

~~~~

Single tickets for the remaining main stage 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 haunting 1980 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.

THE DALLAS OPERA GRATEFULLY ACKNOWLEDGES
THE TEXAS INSTRUMENTS FOUNDATION,
PRESENTER OF THE 2011-2012 SEASON
~~~~
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT “GENERAL DIRECTOR’S ROUNDTABLE”
IS CONVENIENTLY AVAILABLE ONLINE, 24/7
VISIT WWW.DALLASOPERA.ORG AND CHECK THE CALENDAR LISTINGS

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 WISHES TO EXPRESS ITS GRATITUDE TO OUR EXCLUSIVE PARTNERS:

AMERICAN AIRLINES – OFFICIAL AIRLINE OF THE DALLAS OPERA
LEXUS – OFFICIAL VEHICLE OF THE DALLAS OPERA
CARTIER – OFFICIAL JEWELER & WATCHMAKER OF THE DALLAS OPERA
ROSEWOOD CRESCENT HOTEL – OFFICIAL HOTEL OF THE DALLAS OPERA

THE DALLAS OPERA 2011-2012 SEASON INFORMATION
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. English translations will be projected above the stage at every performance. Assistance is available for the hearing impaired.

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).

THE MAGIC FLUTE by W.A. Mozart
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 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.

###

Visiting Wagner’s Bayreuth – and TDO’s TRISTAN

by Suzanne Calvin

Be sure to catch the latest “Off the Cuff,” a regular feature from Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, on the arts website, “Theater Jones.” In this installment, you get a Cerny-vision view of the festival theater constructed by Richard Wagner at Bayreuth -- let’s face it, the Wagnerian equivalent of the Vatican -- and how it contributes to these legendary performances.

Keith also talks about our new production of Wagner’s “Tristan & Isolde” opening this Thursday evening at 7:00 pm, and the Cowboys Stadium simulcast down the road in late April.

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR

Keith, Off the Cuff

by Suzanne Calvin

 

Do check out General Director and CEO Keith Cerny’s brand new monthly column on “Theater Jones.” His first installment weaves together the topics of Martin Scorsese’s latest film, “Hugo,” and opera as an extraordinary vehicle for time-travel. Follow the winding trail, beginning right here.  (Photo: Karen Almond, Dallas Opera)

And be sure to check out Keith’s thoughts about one thing or another, each and every month at “Theater Jones.”

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR

Inside the Dallas Opera General Director and CEO

by tdoadmin

I hope you caught the Christmas Day article on Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny by respected “Dallas Morning News” business columnist and features writer Cheryl Hall. It has excellent insights into the man now leading this company and clues as to where we may be headed in future seasons.

Well worth your time--read it right here

(Photo by Kye R. Lee for “The Dallas Morning News”)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR