The Dallas Opera’s long dream of life in a new home has just moved closer to wide-awake reality. The company has announced details of its first season in the Winspear Opera House. A world premiere is included.
The house will open on Friday, Oct. 23, 2009, with a performance of Verdi’s Otello. The season will continue with Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, the premiere of Moby-Dick by Jake Heggie, and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.
Many details remain to be filled in, but the first announcement does contain a few surprises.
For one thing, the number of productions in the new theater will not be increased from what has been the standard in the Music Hall for quite some time: five. However, the number of performances per production — now four — will almost certainly be increased. This will be necessary to accommodate patrons in the much smaller Winspear Opera House.
Aside from the opening night and the Moby-Dick premiere (April 30, 2010), the Dallas Opera’s announcement contains no specific dates. However, the spacings given — Otello in October, Così fan tutte in February, Don Pasquale in February/March, Moby-Dick in late April and Madame Butterfly in May — show a significant shift of the season toward spring. The gap between Otello and Così fan tutte is large, and it’s not clear that the company plans alternating performances in its first season.
Specific dates will be announced in January 2009.
The Moby-Dick premiere throws a spotlight on one of America’s rising compositional stars, Jake Heggie. His listenable music and theatrical sense (his librettist will be Gene Scheer) have won him an increasing number of commissions. His chamber opera Last Acts, with libretto by Scheer, will open at the Houston Grand Opera this Feb. 29 and continue in March.
Moby-Dick will also bring a major operatic star to Dallas. Taking the role of Ahab will be tenor Ben Heppner. Patrick Summers, music director of the Houston Grand Opera, will conduct.
Here are some other details of the Dallas Opera’s 2009-2010 season (many details remain to be filled in):
Otello will star Clifton Forbis in the title role, with Lado Ataneli and Annette Dasch. Directing will be Tim Albery, with Graeme Jenkins conducting.
Così fan tutte will feature Thomas Allen as Don Alfonso and Nuccia Focile as Despina, with other cast members to be announced. Jenkins will conduct.
Don Pasquale will have Donato DiStefano as Don Pasquale, with Adriana Kucerova as Norina and Nathan Gunn as Malatesta.
Madame Butterfly will star Adina Nitescu and Brandon Jovanovich.