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FTW Opera Announces Full Season – With ‘JFK’ Premiere And Poe One-Acts
by Jerome Weeks 17 Apr 2015

We’ve known about the commissioned, world-premiere JFK, but now it joins The Barber of Seville and two updated horror stories by Edgar Allan Poe.

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Worth, Matthew JFK

Matthew Worth as John Kennedy in the Fort Worth Opera production of JFK.

We’ve known about the JFK opera for more than a year. It’s the third opera the Fort Worth Opera Festival has commissioned, a world premiere by David Little and Royce Vavrek, the duo behind the acclaimed Dog Days, which the company opens April 24th. JFK will focus on the president’s last moments in Fort Worth before he travels to Dallas on November 22, 1963. It opens the company’s 70th season next year and represents the festival’s emphasis on Operas of the Americas.

But the rest of the season combines the fun and familiar — Rossini’s Barber of Seville — with the unusual, a pair of updated Edgar Allan Poe horror stories done as one acts: Buried Alive and Embedded. Then the final week of the festival will feature Frontiers, its showcase for six to eight new composers, their works presented in 20-minute selections.

Here’s the full release:


The 2016 Fort Worth Opera Festival:
A Highly-Anticipated World Premiere, a Hilarious Italian Comedy, and
a Bold Regional Premiere are Set to Thrill Audiences Next Season.

FWOpera to celebrate company’s 70th Anniversary and 10th Festival milestone with
the long-awaited world premiere of JFK; Rossini’s delightful romantic comedy The Barber of Seville; the Regional Premiere of Buried Alive | Embedded; and debuts of new works by American composers in fourth season of new works showcase Frontiers.

FORT WORTH, TX – Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) announced today the full lineup of works that will take the stage during the 2016 FWOpera Festival, running April 23, 2016 – May 8, 2016. Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the company as well as the 10th anniversary of the Festival, the 2016 season will showcase the compelling blend of forwarding-thinking contemporary works and classic, traditional operas that has become FWOpera’s signature.

Main stage productions include the world premiere of the company’s much anticipated commissioned opera JFK by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek, together with Rossini’s bubbly, comedic romp The Barber of Seville in its first FWOpera production since the 2002-2003 season. The company’s Opera Unbound selection includes two brand-new, compelling one-act works Buried Alive | Embedded by the creative teams of Jeff Myers and Quincy Long and
Patrick Soluri and Deborah Brevoort. Rounding out the Festival, will be the fourth annual installment of FWOpera’s critically-acclaimed new works showcase, Frontiers.

In revealing the 2016 season General Director Darren K. Woods stated, “Looking back, even just the 10 years since we launched the Festival, it’s amazing to see how much North Texas, Fort Worth Opera, and opera in general has changed. When we started planning the 2016 Festival years ago, I had hoped that premiering JFK as the culmination of our Operas of the Americas initiative would send a message that new, American opera deserves a permanent
home in the opera world. Standing here now, we have witnessed success beyond what we imagined possible with this initiative, with the added benefit of having many other opera companies across the U.S. join us in embracing American opera. It has re-affirmed that Fort Worth Opera is now, and will continue to be, a catalyst for rejuvenating opera in our community and beyond.”

Fort Worth Opera will inaugurate the anniversary Festival season and celebrate the culmination of the first phase of its Opera of the Americas initiative with the world premiere of our commissioned opera JFK by the acclaimed creative duo of David T. Little and Royce Vavrek (Dog Days). JFK offers an intimate portrait of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy on the eve of the President’s fateful trip to Dallas. Set in downtown Fort Worth’s historic Hotel Texas, the opera recounts moments from the couples’ personal and political lives and features an impressive cast of FWOpera favorites including baritone Matthew Worth as President John F. Kennedy (Three Decembers), Talise Trevigne in the role of hotel maid Clara Harris (Hamlet), Sean Panikkar as secret serviceman Henry Rathbone (LaBohème, The Pearl Fishers), and Daniel Okulitch (Little Women, Frau Margot, Dead Man Walking) as Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Mezzo soprano Daniela Mack will make her FWOpera debut in the poignant role of Jacqueline Kennedy, with additional debuts from Cree Carrico as Rosemary Kennedy and Katharine Goeldner as Jackie Onassis. Thaddeus Strassberger (Hamlet) will return as director and set designer, while conductor
Steven Osgood (Hydrogen Jukebox) will conduct the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra through Little’s colorful score.

Traditional opera lovers will be rolling in the aisles as the festivities continue with Rossini’s ever-popular The Barber of Seville in its first FWOpera production since the 2002-2003 season. Beloved for its energetic and recognizable melodies, as well as its notoriously difficult virtuosic passages, this romantic romp will feature a cast of fresh FWOpera faces.

Desperately in love, Count Almaviva — sung by Andrew Stenson in his FWOpera debut — is desperate to win the affections of the beautiful and charming Rosina — portrayed by Megan Marino, also making her FWOpera debut. Standing in the way of their happiness is Rosina’s guardian and all-around curmudgeon Dr. Bartolo — sung by Tyler Simpson (Così fan tutte) — and the meddling music teacher Basilio — sung by Kyle Albertson in his FWOpera debut.

Guiding the antics and action of the story is 2014 McCammon Voice Competition winner Joo Wan Kang as Almaviva’s trusted confidant and barber, Figaro. FWOpera favorite David Gately (Ariadne auf Naxos, Così fan tutte, La Traviata) will direct while FWOpera Music Director Joe Illick will bring Rossini’s dazzling music to life.

Two additional Opera of the Americas productions, Buried Alive | Embedded, will make their regional premieres as part of FWOpera’s heralded alternative venue series, Opera Unbound. Commissioned as part of American Lyric Theatre’s Poe Project and created under the concept of what Edgar Allen Poe would write if he were alive today, Buried Alive | Embedded are one-act psychological thrillers presented back-to-back in one captivating operatic experience.

Buried Alive, by Jeff Myers and Quincy Long, borrows from Poe’s The Premature Burial and tells the story of Victor, a painter whose nightmares of death begin to become real. With Christopher Burchett (Silent Night) as Victor and FWOpera Studio Artist Maren Weinberger as Elena his wife, alternating realities are juxtaposed and culminate in a final gruesome ending.

The ensemble cast includes performances by Nathan Stark as the Gravedigger, Caroline Worra (Glory Denied) as an Undertaker’s Assistant, as well as FWOpera Studio Artists Anna Laurenzo as the Undertaker, and Brian Wallin as an Undertaker Assistant. Director Lawrence Edelson (Hydrogen Jukebox) returns to direct with Tyson Deaton (Glory Denied) conducting.

The second opera, Embedded, by Patrick Soluri and Deborah Brevoort, is taken from Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, and was featured during FWOpera’s first annual Frontiers showcase in 2013. Embedded revolves around Sylvia Malow, an aging American news anchor sung by Caroline Worra, who finds herself on the wrong side of the headlines. Desperate to prove her value while being pushed out of her job by Victoria Reilly, a young rival sung by Maren Weinberger, Sylvia is tricked by the notorious terrorist Montressor—portrayed by Nathan Stark—into traveling to see him for an exclusive interview. The opera takes an unexpected twist and ends with a moment of triumph in face of death. Rounding out the cast is Christopher Burchett as the Producer, Brian Wallin as Rory, and Anna Laurenzo as the GPS. Sam Helfrich will make his FWOpera directorial debut and Tyson Deaton will once again conduct.

The final week of the 2016 Festival will feature Frontiers, the company’s showcase for new works. Six to eight selected composers will be in residence at the Festival during the last week and their works will be presented in 20-minute performances sung by young artists of the 2016 Opera Festival and accompanied by piano. Each composer will attend the showcase and participate in an enlightening post-performance discussion. Composers will receive feedback on their work through private meetings with the Frontiers jury panel. In addition, the workshops will be recorded, so the composers can subsequently study the recording to assist in the completion of the compositional process. Final performances will be offered in two separate showcases of four works each on Wednesday, May 4, 2016, and Thursday, May 5, 2016.

The 2016 Fort Worth Opera Festival
April 23—May 8, 2016
JFK
Music by David T. Little; libretto by Royce Vavrek
April 23, May 1m, May 7, 2016 (m=matinee)
World Premiere; part of Opera of the Americas initiative
Bass Performance Hall, downtown Fort Worth
Sung in English with supertitles in English and Spanish

CAST:
Matthew Worth (John F. Kennedy)
Daniela Mack * (Jacqueline Kennedy)
Talise Trevigne (Clara Harris)
Sean Panikkar (Henry Rathbone)
Daniel Okulitch (Lyndon B. Johnson)
Cree Carrico * (Rosemary Kennedy)
Katharine Goeldner * (Jacqueline Onassis)

ARISTIC TEAM:
Steven Osgood, conductor
Thaddeus Strassberger, director and scenic design
Mattie Ulrich, costume design *
Chad Jung, lighting design
*denotes Fort Worth Opera debut season

The Barber of Seville
Music by Gioachino Rossini; libretto by Cesare Sterbini.
April 30, May 6, 8m, 2016 (m=matinee)
Bass Performance Hall, downtown Fort Worth
In Italian with supertitles in English and Spanish
First performance by FWOpera since the 2002-2003 season.

CAST:
Joo Wan Kang * (Figaro)
Andrew Stenson * (Count Almaviva)
Megan Marino * (Rosina)
Tyler Simpson (Don Basilio)
Kyle Albertson * (Dr. Bartolo)

ARTISTIC TEAM:
Joe Illick, conductor
David Gately, director
John Stoddart, set design *
Chad Jung, lighting design
* denotes Fort Worth Opera debut season

Buried Alive | Embedded
Buried Alive music by Jeff Myers; libretto by Quincy Long.
Embedded music by Patrick Soluri; libretto by Deborah Brevoort.
April 24m, 26, 29, 30m, May 3, 7m, 2016 (m=matinee)
Scott Theatre (inside the Fort Worth Community Arts Center)
Sung in English without supertitles
Regional premiere

BURIED ALIVE CAST:
Christopher Burchett (Victor)
Maren Weinberger (Elena)
Nathan Stark * (Gravedigger)
Anna Laurenzo * (Undertaker)
Caroline Worra (Undertaker’s Assistant)
Brian Wallin (Undertaker’s Assistant)

ARTISTIC TEAM:
Tyson Deaton, conductor
Lawrence Edelson, director and set designer
Zane Philstrom, costume design *
Katy Tucker, video design *
Josh Epstein, lighting design *

EMBEDDED CAST:
Caroline Worra (Sylvia Malow)
Nathan Stark (Montressor)
Maren Weinberger (Victoria Reilly)
Christopher Burchett (Producer)
Brian Wallin (Rory)
Anna Laurenzo * (GPS)

ARTISTIC TEAM:
Tyson Deaton, conductor
Sam Helfrich *, director
Zane Philstrom, costume design *
Katy Tucker, video design *
Josh Epstein, lighting design *
* denotes Fort Worth Opera debut season

Frontiers
Two separate showcases of four works each on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 6:00 pm and Thursday, May 5, 2016, at 6:00 pm

Schedule of 2016 Festival Performances
Saturday, April 23 7:30pm Scott Theatre JFK
Sunday, April 24 2:00 pm Scott Theatre Buried Alive | Embedded
Tuesday, April 26 7:30 pm Scott Theatre Buried Alive | Embedded
Friday, April 29 7:30 pm Scott Theatre Buried Alive | Embedded
Saturday, April 30 2:00 pm Scott Theatre Buried Alive | Embedded
Saturday, April 30 7:30 pm Bass Hall The Barber of Seville
Sunday, May 1 2:00 pm Bass Hall JFK
Tuesday, May 3 7:30 pm Scott Theatre Buried Alive | Embedded
Friday, May 6 7:30 pm Bass Hall The Barber of Seville
Saturday, May 7 2:00 pm Scott Theatre Buried Alive | Embedded
Saturday, May 7 7:30 pm Bass Hall JFK
Sunday, May 8 2:00 pm Bass Hall The Barber of Seville

TICKETS: Tickets for the 2016 Festival can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at the Fort Worth Opera Customer Service Office inside the Fort Worth Community Arts Center at 1300 Gendy St., Fort Worth, Texas, 76107. Season subscriptions range from $26 to $379 while single tickets range from $17 to $195 (prices subject to change). Subscriptions are available now and single tickets go on sale August 1, 2015. For more information, please visit www.fwopera.org or call 817.731.0726 or toll-free at 1.877.396.7372. To purchase tickets online, go to www.fwopera.org.

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