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Dallas Opera Announces 2011-12 Season

by Stephen Becker 13 Jan 2011 5:13 PM

The Dallas Opera announced today the five operas that will make up its 55th season, dubbed “Tragic Obsessions.”


The Dallas Opera announced today the five operas that will make up its 55th season. Dubbed “Tragic Obsessions,” the season will begin Oct. 21 with Donizetti’s Lucia Di Lammermoor, followed by Katya Kabanova on Oct. 28. Tristan and Isolde is the first production of 2012 (Feb. 16), followed by La Traviata (April 13) and The Magic Flute (April 20).

The press release has all the details on the individual operas, when they’ll be performed and who’ll play the key roles:

The 2011-2012 Season officially opens on the evening of Friday, October 21st at 7:30 PM with our first LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR in a decade, the first ever in the critically acclaimed acoustic of the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.

And what a cast!  Romanian soprano Elena Mosuc, one of the world’s most expressive sopranos, praised by the legendary Renata Scotto as the “ideal interpreter of Lucia di Lammermoor;” will make her Dallas Opera debut in the title role.

Sharing centerstage will be New Orleans-born tenor Bryan Hymel (“of clarion tone and a ringing top,” Opera) in his company debut as the passionate Edgardo and Italian baritone Luca Grassi, hailed for his “glorious rich, dark top voice” in his hotly anticipated American debut as Lord Enrico Ashton.

Gaetano Donizetti’s 1835 romantic masterpiece also stars bass Jordan Bisch in his Dallas Opera debut as Raimondo and Texas tenor Scott Quinn, a former Resident Young Artist, returns to the Dallas Opera stage in the role of Normanno.  Our current Resident Young Artist, tenor Aaron Blake, appears as Arturo Bucklaw, after making a memorable mark in a host of principal roles this season.

Set in 18th century Scotland and considered the high-water mark of the bel canto repertoire, this Dallas Opera revival will be conducted by Italian Maestro Riccardo Frizza, who prompted Tim Page of The Washington Post to write: “Riccardo Frizza’s conducting is sure and idiomatic.  He provides solid support for the singers, balances the ensembles impeccably and takes a convincing lead in the purely orchestral passages.”  The season opener will be staged by acclaimed director Garnett Bruce, who most recently directed the stunning Francesca Zambello production of MADAME BUTTERFLY that ended the Dallas Opera’s inaugural season in the Winspear.

Scenic design is by Henry Bardon, costumes by the late Peter J. Hall, and the lighting design is by Marie Barrett.

The Dallas Opera Chorus will be prepared by Chorus Master Alexander Rom.

Performances will continue on October 23(m), 26, 29 and November 6(m), 2011 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, recently selected by Southern Living as the best new venue for opera.  All evening performances begin at 7:30 PM.  Sunday matinees begin at 2:00 PM.

A free, pre-performance lecture (“The Joy and Ronald Mankoff Opera Overtures”) will be conducted one hour prior to curtain.  The Dallas Opera Guild also hosts “Opera Insights,” a lively panel discussion featuring artists, directors and designers, on the Sunday afternoon prior to opening.  For more details, visit


The second production of the “Tragic Obsessions” Season, opening Friday, October 28, 2011, is a revival of our critically acclaimed 1997 production of Leoš Janáček’s searing 1921 masterpiece: KATYA KABANOVA.  Inspired by the composer’s passionate obsession with a much younger woman, KATYA tells the tale of a wife trapped in a loveless and constricting marriage who seeks freedom in the arms of another man.

This production marks the long-awaited return of soprano Patricia Racette in the title role, who broke hearts with her devastating portrayal of the scarred yet forgiving heroine in our 2004 production of Jenůfa.  “In detail after fine detail,” wrote The Baltimore Sun, “the soprano opens up windows into Jenůfa’s soul and uncovers the dark lyricism of Janacek’s music in a voice of remarkable warmth, nuance and freedom.”

The production will also star soprano Susan Bickley in her Dallas Opera debut as the mother-in-law from hell, praised at English National Opera as “a finely drawn portrait of malicious hypocrisy” (Opera Britannia) and tenors Roger Honeywell, “who brought burnished sound and crisp diction to the sweeping vocal lines” of his performances (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times) and Anthony Dean Griffey, who “gently but firmly commands the stage at every moment” (Peter G. Davis, New York Magazine) in their Dallas Opera debuts as Boris and Tikhon, respectively.

The international ensemble also features tenor John Tessier as Kudrjas, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke in her company debut as Varvara, bass Andrew Shore as Dikoy and baritone Matthew Boehler in his TDO debut as Kuligin.  Dallas Opera Resident Young Artist Aaron Blake will sing the role of a Passerby.

Conducted by Dallas Opera Music Director Graeme Jenkins and staged by internationally acclaimed Director David Alden, who originally created this production for the Dallas Opera in 1997, with scenic design by Charles Edwards, costumes by John Morrell and lighting design by Adam Silverman in his company debut.

Chorus preparation will be by Dallas Opera Chorus Master Alexander Rom.

Sung in Czech, with English language translations projected above the stage, KATYA KABANOVA will continue with performances on October 30(m), November 2, 5 & 13(m), 2011.


The third production of the “TRAGIC OBSESSIONS” Season is a departure for the Dallas Opera, an imaginatively staged concert presentation of Richard Wagner’s epic love story, TRISTAN & ISOLDE, featuring a phenomenal international cast.

Dallas Opera Music Director Graeme Jenkins will conduct the Dallas Opera Orchestra and a tremendous, international ensemble, with staging by German director Christian Räth, who led our critically acclaimed 2002 production of Beethoven’s Fidelio, prompting Dallas Morning News Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell to write “…never has the action seemed so genuinely spontaneous.  At moments it even comes to awkward halts, as if no one knows what to do, and the effect is electrifying.”

Starring in the title roles of Irish legend are American soprano Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet (Isolde), who last appeared with the Dallas Opera in our mind-blowing, critically acclaimed 2007 production of Wagner’s Lohengrin as Ortrud, and tenor Clifton Forbis (Tristan), who inaugurated Dallas Opera performances in the new Winspear Opera House as Verdi’s Otello in October of 2009.

The opera-in-concert will also star mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop in her welcome return to the Dallas Opera as Brangäne; Finnish bass-baritone Jukka Rasilainen, a renowned Wagner specialist, in his American debut as Kurvenal; Iceland’s foremost bass, Kristinn Sigmundsson, in his Dallas Opera debut as King Marke; and Dallas Opera Resident Young Artist Aaron Blake, who is appearing in four of this season’s productions, in the roles of a Young Sailor and A Shepherd.

“We’ve assembled an incredibly exciting cast to bring Wagner’s towering achievement to life,” says Dallas Opera Artistic Director Jonathan Pell.  “This is a work we haven’t touched since 1975 because it is so extremely difficult to cast – and to cast well.

“I am supremely confident that we have put together an ensemble that will take center stage at the Winspear and transport us to a time and place beyond our imagining.”  Pell adds, “I think it’s going to be more than a concert production, and will be filled with exquisite beauty.”

The four opera-in-concert performances, sung in German with English language translations projected above the stage, will take place on February 16, 19(m), 22 and 25, 2012 in the magnificent Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.


One of the most popular works in the repertoire will return to the stage the evening of Friday, April 13, 2012, when the Dallas Opera presents a revival of Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic romance, LA TRAVIATA, for its first performances in the Winspear Opera House.

Our fourth season offering, conducted by Italian Maestro Marco Guidarini, is a powerhouse drama about a mesmerizing courtesan who strikes up a scandalous affair with the son and heir of a respectable family.  Originally created for the Florida Grand Opera, this production has never before been seen in Dallas.  LA TRAVIATA will be staged by director Bliss Hebert with sets and costumes by his longtime collaborator, designer Allen Charles Klein.

Lighting design will be by Thomas Hase.

LA TRAVIATA will boast the American debut of Greek soprano Myrtò Papatanasiu, who triumphed in the title role at both Welsh National Opera and in the recent Franco Zeffirelli production in Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera.  Paolo Isotta of Corriere della Sera wrote of her “…beautiful coloratura and balance.”

Tenor James Valenti, who wowed North Texas audiences as Rodolfo in the 2009 production of La bohème, winning that season’s “Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year Award,” and who will return this season as the magnetic but malevolent Duke in Rigoletto, portrays Violetta’s idealistic lover – Alfredo Germont.

French Baritone Laurent Naouri will sing the role of Giorgio Germont, praised at Santa Fe Opera by Chicago Classical Review as “fatherly yet compassionate and his memorable Di Provenza was a highlight of the evening.”

Chorus preparation is by Dallas Opera Chorus Master Alexander Rom.

Additional performances will take place on April 15(m), 18, 21, 27 & 29(m), 2012.

LA TRAVIATA was last performed by the Dallas Opera in 2004.  It will be sung in the original language – Italian – with English language translations projected above the stage.


The joyous season finale will be Mozart’s final masterpiece, THE MAGIC FLUTE (Die Zauberflöte).  Completed the year of his death in 1791, THE MAGIC FLUTE is set in mysterious, timeless Egypt while overflowing with a delightful hodge-podge of 18th century ideas and Enlightenment ideals, ranging from hot-air balloons and magic to Freemasonry.

THE MAGIC FLUTE, opening Friday, April 20, 2012 will star local favorite Ava Pine, a current Grammy Award nominee, in the role of the heart-wrenching Pamina.  Tenor Shawn Mathey, “a honeyed tenor…both ardent and amusing” (Lawrence A. Johnson) and a highly regarded Mozart specialist will make his Dallas Opera debut as Tamino.  Baritone Patrick Carfizzi, who practically stole the show in our final production in the Music Hall, makes an eagerly awaited return in the role of the love-sick Papageno.  “A master of movement and gesture,” wrote Opera News, “whose grace seemed worthy of a trained dancer or mime, Carfizzi gave a brilliant rendition of the loveable bird-catcher.”

Other notable company debuts include Slovak soprano L’ubica Vargicová as The Queen of the Night, about whom The New York Times raved: “devilish coloratura with fearless attack, bright tone and impressive accuracy.”  And Italian bass Andrea Silvestrelli, praised by The Washington Post for his “enormous vocal presence” as that formidable sorcerer, Sarastro.

Bass Kevin Langan will appear as The Speaker (1st Priest), acclaimed character tenor David Cangelosi as the uncontrollable Monostatos, and the Dallas Opera’s 2010-2011 Resident Young Artist Aaron Blake in the dual role of Second Priest and First Man in Armor.

This August Everding production, originally created for Lyric Opera of Chicago, will be staged by director Matthew Lata, with Scenic Designs by Jörg Zimmermann and Costumes by Renate Kalanke in their Dallas Opera debuts.

Lighting design will be by Duane Schuler.

The Dallas Opera Orchestra and ensemble cast will be under the direction of Music Director Graeme Jenkins, with chorus preparation by Chorus Master Alexander Rom, Children’s chorus preparation by Melinda Cotten.

Additional performances of THE MAGIC FLUTE will take place April 22(m), 25, 28, May 4 & 6, 2012 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.