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It’s ‘Tosca’ In The Park – For Free
by Jerome Weeks 20 Oct 2015
2014 Simulcast-Karen Almond

Photo: Karen Almond

This one’s the eleventh simulcast from Dallas Opera, and like several of the previous ones, there’ll be a pre-show Warner Brothers cartoon directed by Chuck Jones. This time it’s “One Froggy Evening” with LA nightclub baritone Bill Roberts singing such numbers as “Largo al Factotum” from “The Barber of Seville” — all in the character of Michigan J. Frog. But in Klyde Warren Park, there’ll also be a pizza dough toss contest and SCPA puppies available for adoption (“Puccini’s Pups”).

Here’s the full release:

THE DALLAS OPERA IS VERY PLEASED
TO ANNOUNCE ITS ELEVENTH
FREE LIVE SIMULCAST!
TOSCA IN HI-DEF
AT KLYDE WARREN PARK!
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FRIDAY, NOV. 6, 2015
Curtain Time, 7:30 p.m. from the Winspear Opera House at
The AT&T Performing Arts Center
~~~~
Pre-Performance Entertainment includes the 1955
Warner Bros. Classic Cartoon: “One Froggy Evening”
~~~~
Support for “TOSCA: the Simulcast” from
The AT&T Performing Arts Center
And J.P. Morgan

DALLAS, OCTOBER 20, 2015 – The Dallas Opera is delighted to announce the eleventh in a series of free public simulcasts: TOSCA by Giacomo Puccini, in high-definition at Klyde Warren Park! The special simulcast presentation will coincide with opening night of the production on Friday, November 6, 2015 (curtain time, 7:30 p.m.). Klyde Warren Park is located at 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Dallas, TX 75201.

The simulcast, produced by The Dallas Opera, and hosted by KLUV’S Jody Dean and Nathan DeShon Myers, Director of Opera/Assoc. Choral Director at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, will feature lots of opportunities for “audience participation,” including:

• A pizza dough TOSS-CA for semi-fabulous prizes (start warming up your throwing arm now) courtesy of Yummy Pizza Food Truck (available on site).
• “Puccini’s Pups”—the SPCA of Texas will be on site collecting new toys and treats for shelter pets (Pup-Peronis are especially popular!).
• Foster dogs, available for adoption, can be visited on site. Stop by and find the perfect pet for your household. Sponsored by the SPCA of Texas.
• TOSCA Trivia—it will have you leaping over your lawn chair!

The pre-performance festivities (beginning at 6:30 p.m.) will also include a special screening of the 1955 Warner Brothers cartoon masterpiece described by director Steven Spielberg as “the Citizen Kane of animated film”: “One Froggy Evening” directed by Chuck Jones and marking the debut of cartoon character Michigan J. Frog – who later served as the mascot of The WB Television Network.
In it, a twentieth-century demolition worker discovers a box inside a cornerstone with a document dating from 1892. The box also contains a singing, dancing frog (complete with top hat and cane) who regales his rescuer with popular songs of the day. However, every attempt to profit from the frog’s remarkable talents falls flat. Listen for an excerpt from Rossini’s “Largo al factotum” from The Barber of Seville.

“Since launching The Dallas Opera’s free simulcast program five years ago, with support from The Dallas Opera Board and our union partners,” explains Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, “it’s proven to be one of our most significant innovations, attracting tens of thousands to experience opera in a whole new way – many, for the very first time.
“It’s gratifying to see The Dallas Opera simulcasts evolving into a North Texas tradition. Five years ago, the skeptics were saying ‘they must be kidding’; however, these days, I’m asked all the time, by people from all walks of life, when we plan to present our next simulcast.
“By any measurement—that’s progress!”
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TOSCA is regarded as one of the company’s most beautiful and beloved classic productions, complete with magnificent sets, costumes, The Dallas Opera Orchestra, The Dallas Opera Chorus and spectacular performances by internationally acclaimed singers conducted by The Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director Emmanuel Villaume.
This superb, action-packed opera will originate in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center and will be presented in the park on two, high-definition LED screens.

“The Dallas Opera’s public simulcasts have proven to be a powerful tool to engage new audiences in this classic art form; they’ve really set the standard,” said Doug Curtis, President and CEO of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, co-sponsoring the event. “And doing this once again in Klyde Warren Park, with visitors from every corner of North Texas, just seemed like a tremendous fit. We’re proud to support this!”

The public is encouraged to arrive early to secure their spot on the lawn and take advantage of the variety of available wining-and-dining options ranging from Savor, a modern on-site “gastropub,” to other nearby eateries and food trucks. Those interested in attending are advised to mark their calendars and to be counted in advance at www.dallasopera.org/simulcast/.

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TOSCA stars soprano Emily Magee in the title role of celebrated singer Floria Tosca; Chilean tenor Giancarlo Monsalve in his Dallas Opera debut as Cavaradossi; bass Raymond Aceto as the dastardly Baron Scarpia; bass-baritone Ryan Kuster as freedom fighter Cesare Angelotti; bass-baritone Dale Travis in his Dallas Opera debut as the Sacristan; tenor William Ferguson as the police detective, Spoletta; baritone Wes Mason (the Phyllis A. McCasland and Thomas H. McCasland, Jr. Young Artist) as the Police Sergeant, Sciarrone; bass Christopher Harrison as the Jailer and boy soprano Campbell S. Colllins III in his TDO debut as the Shepherd Boy.
Support for The Dallas Opera’s TOSCA Simulcast is provided by the AT&T Performing Arts Center and by J.P. Morgan. If you have never experienced opera before, this is the perfect opportunity to “make the leap.”

“We are honored to work with The Dallas Opera to host the simulcast of the world-renowned opera, Tosca, in Klyde Warren Park,” says Tara Green, President of Klyde Warren Park. “The visionary leaders of The Dallas Opera have given Dallas a true gift by hosting these annual simulcasts in the park. The community has embraced opera in the park and our audience size is growing, year by year.”
“We cannot wait to see the tremendous turn out for 2015,” she adds.
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Set in Rome during turbulent times, the story centers on famed diva Floria Tosca, one of opera’s most unforgettable female characters. Portrayed by lovely soprano Emily Magee, Tosca faces seemingly insurmountable challenges but carries on, driven by love, loyalty and her devotion to her art.
Tosca’s lover, the painter Mario Cavaradossi, consents to hide a former Consul of the Roman Republic, now, an escaped political prisoner at the height of the Napoleonic Wars; an act which exposes the romantic duo to the dangerous machinations of Baron Scarpia, a corrupt local police chief. Cavaradossi is arrested, questioned and tortured. Scarpia, obsessed with his lust for power and for the one woman who spurns him, counts on the lovers’ loyalty to each other to force them to reveal the location of the sought-after fugitive. Unless Floria Tosca consents to give herself, body and soul, to the evil Scarpia—Cavaradossi will be tortured to death!
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TOSCA will feature the renowned Dallas Opera Chorus—50 members strong—as well as a 20-member children’s chorus. The 74-piece Dallas Opera Orchestra and this cast will be conducted by critically acclaimed Music Director Emmanuel Villaume. The French-born conductor has led the most prominent opera companies and symphony orchestras around the world. Currently in his third season as Maestro Villaume leads the company’s 2015-16 Season in performances of Tosca, Show Boat, and the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus.
In September, Villaume began his tenure as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the PKF – Prague Philharmonia. Emmanuel Villaume returns to the Royal Opera House, Muscat in December 2015 for a concert with the PKF and guest soprano Sondra Radvanovsky.

“After working on contemporary operas and preparing for a world premiere production,” notes Maestro Villaume, “it’s fascinating to revisit the classics of the repertoire, in all their complexities, with a fresh and re-focused perspective.
“The Dallas Opera’s Tosca benefits tremendously from a strong, youthful cast that makes these characters come vividly to life,” he adds. “Together, these people are capable of almost anything a man or woman might do—from displays of extraordinary courage and heroism to moral indifference and the most terrible depravity. Throughout the opera, the composer and librettist explore the relationship between man and art—and how both are lifted up or knocked flat by the winds of change.”

This classic period piece will be staged by director Ellen Douglas Schlaefer in her Dallas Opera debut. Among her professional credits, Ms. Schlaefer serves as the Director of Opera Studies at the University of South Carolina, School of Music. She has staged Faust for Washington National Opera; La bohème and Don Giovanni for Lyric Opera of Kansas City; Scott Joplin and Treemonisha for Opera Memphis; Le nozze di Figaro, Carmen, La bohème, and Roméo et Juliette with the National Symphony Orchestra and Wolf Trap Opera; The Little Prince (Francesca Zambello’s production) for Houston Grand Opera and Tulsa Opera; and many more projects for both the opera and theatrical stage.
Ms. Schlaefer is also the founder and General Director of FBN Productions, Inc., “Opera for Kids,” a professional touring company that takes opera into schools, libraries and community venues throughout the Southeast.

Emily Magee (Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro) is described by Robert Levine of Classics Today as “a super Tosca, singing with clarity and grand tone, delivering outrage and tenderness in equal proportions. Her ‘Vissi d’arte’ is gorgeous.” The New York Times, too, has praised her “richly resonant soprano.”
Giancarlo Monsalve, a charismatic Chilean tenor, makes his Dallas Opera debut in the role of the passionate Cavaradossi. According to The Washington Times, Mr. Monsalve as Cavaradossi “displayed a smooth, flexible tenor range…his diction remained superb as he accurately hit each top note”; and Rebecca Evans of DC Theater Scene added: “All that needs to be said about Monsalve is that his presence is unparalleled. Bravo.”
Raymond Aceto, who will create the role of Scarpia, was praised by Gregory Barnett of Opera News for his “powerful, pathologically evil baron.”
TOSCA also stars tenor William Ferguson (a singer described by The Denver Post as “unforgettable…with a pliable, expressive voice” and by The Advertiser as possessing “an absolutely swoonworthy” top range) as Spoletta, baritone Dale Travis in his TDO debut as the Sacristan, and bass Ryan Kuster as Cesare Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner.
This breathtaking, classic period production was designed by Ulisse Santicchi, an Italian master of the craft.
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TOSCA is based on the 1887 play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou that opened with iconic French actress Sarah Bernhardt in the title role. Two years after its premiere, Puccini considered setting the play to music. Its premiere in Rome in January 1900 was a success with most of the audiences, but the chief opera critics were unimpressed. However, due in part to Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini’s subsequent performances in Milan later that year, TOSCA was grudgingly granted the respect it deserved and today is the most recorded of Puccini’s operas.

Sung in Italian, with English language translations projected above the stage, TOSCA can be experienced at any of five additional performances: November 8(m), 11, 14, 20 & 22(m), 2015 in the Winspear Opera House with tickets starting at just $19. They may be purchased online, 24/7, at www.dallasopera.org or by contacting the friendly professionals in The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000.