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The Dallas Opera's Scaled-Back 2012-'13 Season

by Jerome Weeks 19 Jan 2012 8:25 PM

There are only three operas this time — two classics and the revival of one of the DO’s world premieres. Plus, the return of baritone Nathan Gunn and the Dallas debut of mezzo Susan Graham.


Frederica von Stade in the 1988 premiere production of The Aspern Papers

Following a five-show season in which the Dallas Opera had to cancel one scheduled production for budget reasons, the company has announced an even more cautious selection for its 56th season: only three operas this time. This is a significant reduction in programming — five operas had been the staple for years.

The most notable production of the three will be the 25th anniversary revival of one of the Dallas Opera’s world premieres, Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers, which the DO presented in 1988 in the Fair Park Music Hall. The other two shows are, admittedly, grand affairs: Verdi’s Aida, which will open the season on Oct. 26, and Puccini’sTurandot.

The Aspern Papers‘ revival also features the season’s biggest names, notably the Dallas debut of mezzo Susan Graham and the return of baritone Nathan Gunn, who most recently appeared with the Dallas Opera just last year in Jake Heggie’s song cycle, A Question of Light.

The press release follows.








DALLAS, JANUARY 19, 2012 — The Dallas Opera is proud to announce the three profoundly passionate musical masterpieces that will comprise the company’s 2012-2013 Season in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

The 56th International Season, “Pursuits of Passion” will transport audiences to three distinct and remarkably different worlds, beginning the evening of Friday, October 26, 2012 through Sunday, Apr

il 28, 2013.  The upcoming season will include a new 25th anniversary production of a great American opera by Dominick Argento: THE ASPERN PAPERS, based on a compelling 1888 novella by that incomparable spinner of tales, Henry James.

The upcoming Dallas Opera season also will encompass a host of thrilling and notable company debuts, in addition to two of the most popular operas in the repertoire!

Each production will feature the outstanding talents of the Dallas Opera Orchestra and Dallas Opera Chorus.

As always, these masterpieces will be performed in their original languages, with English translations projected above the stage at every performance.

The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera house is located in the heart of the Arts District in Downtown Dallas, at 2403 Flora St., Dallas TX 75201.

Renewal packets for Full Season subscribers and FLEX Season subscribers have just been mailed to patrons.  Dallas Opera Season Subscribers can renew their seats for the 2012-2013 Season, beginning today, January 19, 2012.  New patrons can purchase their subscriptions for the 2012-2013 Season as of March 1, 2012.  Subscriptions for all three productions can be purchased for as little as $75.

Single tickets are expected to go on sale to the general public next September. All single tickets for individual performances are subject to availability.  Tickets may be purchased at the door – throughout the 2012-2013 Season – or in advance by calling 214.443.1000.  Subscriptions and single tickets will also be available throughout the season online at

2012-2013 Dallas Opera Season

AÏDA by Giuseppe Verdi

October 26, 28(m), 31, Nov. 3, 9 & 11(m), 2012

TURANDOT by Giacomo Puccini

April 5, 7(m), 10, 13, 19 & 21, 2013

THE ASPERN PAPERS by Dominick Argento

Marking the 25th anniversary of the opera’s

1988 Dallas Opera World Premiere

April 12, 14(m), 17, 20 & 28(m), 2013

The benefits of becoming a Dallas Opera subscriber will take a significant leap during the 2012-2013 Season.  In addition to perks that already include priority seating, lost ticket replacement, invitations to special events and dramatic savings over the price of single tickets, the company is adding several FREE incentives for loyal season subscribers:

·         An exclusive patron appreciation “Cabaret Recital” with American baritone Rod Gilfry on November 8, 2012.  It’s now an annual tradition; a special “thank you” to our subscribers which has resulted in a host of memorable evenings, most recently featuring Patricia Racette’s stunning  Great American Songbook interpretations and Edith Piaf covers.  Mr. Gilfry has delighted and touched a host of Dallas audiences since his debut in Così fan tutte and the title role in our acclaimed 1997 Billy Budd—now’s your chance to get to know him much, much better.

·         A lively, fun-filled Dallas Opera Family Concert; details to be announced later in the season.

Season subscriptions for the 2012-2013 Season will range from $76 to $1,015.

For more information, consult the friendly staff in the Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214-443-1000 or visit us online at

“Next season at the Dallas Opera, our patrons will find themselves in the center of the cultural conversation as they experience a newly revitalized and stabilized company in transition,” explains Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny.  “It is our intention to continue to present the best-loved and most significant and influential works in the opera canon in intelligent and emotionally satisfying productions.

“However,” Mr. Cerny adds, “it is also important for TDO to introduce our audiences to the less-familiar thrills of modern, contemporary and chamber opera that made Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s 2010 Moby-Dick world premiere such an unforgettable experience for us all.

“This season, we are answering that call with our haunting inaugural chamber opera, The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies, to be conducted by Nicole Paiement and staged by the artistic director of the Dallas Theater Center, Kevin Moriarty, in his opera debut.  During the 2012-13 Season, we will maintain our momentum with an outstanding new production of the Dallas Opera’s 1988 world premiere: Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers, featuring an incomparable cast.

“After that,” says Mr. Cerny, “there’s simply no turning back.”


The 2012-2013 “Pursuits of Passion” Season officially opens on the evening of Friday, October 26th at 7:30 PM—The Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance—with our first AÏDA since 1997, the first ever in the critically acclaimed acoustic of the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.

This grand and glorious Verdian masterpiece will be conducted by Dallas Opera Music Director Graeme Jenkins and staged by veteran British director John Copley, who gave Dallas a particularly appealing staging of The Marriage of Figaro in 2008 and has contributed to many of our most memorable productions.

The star-studded ensemble cast includes soprano Latonia Moore, a former winner of the Dallas Opera Guild’s annual vocal competition (1998) who has achieved superstar status in the years since, in the title role of the slave girl, Aïda.

Miss Moore, described by musicweb-international as “the crème de la crème of American sopranos,” made her official TDO debut as Micaëla in our 2004 production of Georges Bizet’s Carmen for which she was honored with the “Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year” award.  The New York Times has praised her for “her radiant, warm sound and lovely phrasing…a distinctive, poignant sound that makes an audience sit up.”

In the powerful role of Amneris, the Dallas Opera is proud to present mezzo-soprano Nadia Krasteva in her company debut.  Hailed by as “sexy, beguiling, fiercely independent…she sang up a storm,” and by Opera Today for her “fine vocal instrument, with an especially plummy lower range;” the Bulgarian beauty is a principle singer with the Vienna State Opera and in-demand throughout Europe.

The role of Radames, a captain of the guard, will be sung by acclaimed Italian tenor Antonello Palombi, who triumphed as Canio in our memorable new 2005 production of Pagliacci.  “A thrusting, trumpet-like voice has made Antonello Palombi Seattle Opera’s go-to tenor for heavier Italian roles” wrote Seattle Weekly; “the real thing,” added, “a classic Verdi tenor with a glorious pinging top, exemplary phrasing and charisma.”

The King of Ethiopia, Amonasro, will be portrayed by baritone Lester Lynch, who appeared as the cruel and malevolent Crown in the Dallas Opera’s 1994 and 2008 revivals of our co-production of Porgy and Bess, is considered as fine an actor as he is a singer, creating characters that are “thrilling to watch” (

As Ramfis, the high priest, the Dallas Opera has cast critically acclaimed Bulgarian bass Orlin Anastassov (the off-spring of two opera singers!).  In recent seasons, Mr. Anastassov has appeared at La Scala in Turandot and Nabucco, Boris Godunov in Monte Carlo, Don Carlo and Macbeth in Geneva, and Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

This 2012 production will mark his Dallas Opera debut.

The King of Egypt will be sung by bass Ben Wager (Masetto in last season’s Don Giovanni which marked the Dallas Opera’s first free public simulcast in Annette Strauss Square), and the Messenger will be portrayed by tenor Jonathan Yarrington (the title character in the Dallas Opera’s new touring production of Bizet’s Doctor Miracle) in his official company debut.

Rounding out this splendid ensemble is soprano NaGuanda Nobles, “an outstanding talent…with secure, rich high notes” ( making her TDO debut as the Priestess.

Scenic design is by Dallas-born, Tony Award-winner Michael Yeargan, costume design by the late, great Dallas Opera Resident Costume Designer Peter J. Hall.

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

Performances will continue on October 28(m), 31, November 3, 9 & 11(m), 2012 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, 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 Pre-Opera Talks”) will be conducted one hour prior to curtain at most performances.  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

“It’s tremendously exciting to be preparing for the return of Latonia Moore,” says Dallas Opera Artistic Director Jonathan Pell, “Her extraordinary gift and the trajectory of her career have been of great interest to me since I first heard her audition for the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition back in 1998.

“And to be able to bring her back—with such a marvelous cast—to star in Verdi’s most popular opera,” Mr. Pell adds, “is a foretaste of the caliber of performances we’ll present all season long.  From tenor Antonello Palombi’s romantic star-turns as both Radames and Calaf, to soprano Hei-Kyung Hong’s poignant Liù in TURANDOT, and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham’s long-awaited Dallas Opera debut in our revival of THE ASPERN PAPERS, we’ve created a stunning season of passionate pursuits that will transport audiences through time, space and genre.”


The second production of the “Pursuits of Passion” Season, opening on Friday, April 5, 2013, is a revival of a stunningly beautiful Allen Charles Klein production of Giacomo Puccini’s final masterpiece, TURANDOT, last performed by the Dallas Opera in 2003.

Conducted by Maestro Marco Zambelli and staged by Garnett Bruce, who has staged extraordinarily popular revivals of La bohème and Madame Butterfly for TDO, and most recently, our 2011 season opener, Lucia di Lammermoor with Elena Mosuc.

Starring in the role in which she made her Metropolitan Opera debut is soprano Lise Lindstrom as Princess Turandot, about whom The New York Times wrote: “The youthful shimmer of her singing was balanced by a rich emotional maturity.”  The critics found her “dramatically alluring and vocally impressive, winning enthusiastic ovations from the audience.”

TURANDOT also stars Italian tenor Antonello Palombi as Prince Calaf, following his appearance as Radames earlier in the season.  Dean Cassella of DFW Renaissance recently wrote, “I haven’t had as much fun listening to a tenor live since Antonello Palombi sang the lead role in Pagliacci at the Dallas Opera in 2005 (Oh, how I wish I had a DVD of that production!).

Raised in Spoleto, Italy, The New York Times reported that at the age of 20, Mr. Palombi followed his father into the Carabinieri, Italy’s paramilitary police force.  During his off-hours, he sang in a cathedral choir in Umbria, where the choir director encouraged him to study for a solo career.  Antonello Palombi famously made his 2006 La Scala debut when tenor Roberto Alagna unexpectedly stalked off-stage after being booed by members of the audience, leaving his cover to sing most of that evening’s performance.

Beloved Korean-American soprano Hei-Kyung Hong returns to the Dallas Opera stage as the ever-loyal Liù.  Miss Hong was last heard in the title role of Jules Massenet’s Manon (2001) after previously singing the role of Mimì in the company’s sold-out 1999 production of La bohème.  She has appeared onstage at the Metropolitan Opera in nearly 350 performances over the past 25 years; most recently as Violetta in La traviata (also for Washington Opera, to rave reviews), Juliet in Gounod’s Roméo et Julliette, and as Micaëla in Carmen.

James Jorden of The New York Post wrote earlier this year that “her lyric soprano remains fresh and delicate, soaring to high C’s and D’s” while Truman C. Wang of Classical Voice exclaimed “There can be no doubt about the sheer vocal thrills delivered by the fine international cast, led by the incomparable Liu of Korean soprano Hei-Kyung Hong.  In her two poignantly sung arias, ‘Signore ascolta’ and ‘Tu che di gel sei cinta,’ Ms. Hong offered an object lesson on legato singing and stylish phrasing that made the last of Puccini’s Little Girls seem almost heroic.  No one today in my experience sings this role better.”

Bass-baritone Christian Van Horn (on whose webpage reviews are listed, tongue-in-cheek, as “propaganda”) will portray Calaf’s father, the exiled Tartar King, Timur.  Praised by Salvatore Calomino in Opera Today for his ability “in inject a truly credible spirit of authority into his rich and flexible bass-baritone,” Mr. Van Horn has previously triumphed in a host of roles—including Timur—for a “consistently firm and focused” vocal instrument.

Baritone Jonathan Beyer, tenor Joseph Hu and tenor Keith Jameson will sing the roles of Ping, Pang and Pong, respectively.

“Mr. Beyer,” reports The Washington Post, “has the luxury of a robust, handsome voice, and promising years ahead.”  A 2006 national finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and winner of the 2007 Marion Anderson Competition, Mr. Beyer struck gold this year, winning a George London Foundation Award, the Musical Fund Society Career Advancement Award, and the American Prize in Vocal Performance and in Art Song (to name a few).  He made his unusual Dallas Opera debut slightly off-stage, as the Voice of Captain Gardiner in the world premiere production of Moby-Dick (2010, Dallas Opera).

Joseph Hu has appeared in numerous Dallas Opera productions, most recently as The First Jew in Salome (2008).  After making his 1995 debut as Benvolio, he went on to appear in nineteen additional TDO productions to date, including notable roles in The Tales of Hoffmann, Madame Butterfly and Pagliacci (2005); Fidelio (2002), Nabucco (2006) and Macbeth (2007).

Keith Jameson made his company debut as Don Curzio in our acclaimed 2008 production of The Marriage of Figaro and made a profound impression on audiences with his “searing portrait…of the Simpleton” (William Burnett, Opera Warhorses) in last season’s smashing finale: a recreation of the late Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky’s monumental production of Boris Godunov, originally conceived for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Tenor Steven Haal will sing the role of Turandot’s father, the Emperor Altoum.  His company debut was in 2000, in the Dallas Opera’s presentation of Wozzeck.  Since that time, he has appeared as the First Sailor in Moby-Dick, the Captain in Simon Boccanegra (2001), Ambrogio in The Barber of Seville, and several other roles.  Mr. Hall also played the role of Richard Mason in a recent musical adaptation of Jane Eyre at Living Stage in Irving.

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

Sung in Italian, with English language translations projected above the stage, TURANDOT can be experienced at one of five additional performances on April 7(m), 10, 13, 19 & 21(m), 2013.


The third production of the 2012-2013 Season is a nod to the Dallas Opera’s illustrious past while beckoning towards the future: the company is creating a new production of Dominick Argento’s THE ASPERN PAPERS, which received its 1988 world premiere at the Dallas Opera (broadcast live on PBS stations as part of the “Great Performances” Series).  This new production, being unveiled on Friday, April 12, 2013, will commemorate the 25th anniversary of Argento’s thrilling masterwork.  It is being generously supported by grants from OPERA America for audience development events surrounding the new production, as well as funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

At that 1988 world premiere, New York Times Classical Music Critic Bernard Holland wrote: “In his newest opera, commissioned by the Dallas company and presented with lavish care, the 61-year old American composer continues his chosen path as a maker of genteel melodrama. Mr. Argento is also a melodic athlete; his wind is strong and his step graceful. Tina’s first-scene rumination on her aunt’s past is, indeed, the kind of sustained set piece rare in opera today.”

Dallas Opera Music Director Graeme Jenkins will conduct the Dallas Opera Orchestra and a stellar international ensemble, with staging by British director Tim Albery.  This is the same duo who inaugurated TDO performances in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House with the 2009 production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello, based on William Shakespeare’s enduring tragedy.

The revival will star “the peerless American mezzo” (New York Observer) Susan Graham in her long-awaited Dallas Opera debut as Tina.  Soprano Carol Vaness will sing the role of the possessive opera singer, Juliana Bordereau, and renowned American baritone Nathan Gunn will portray the Lodger.

Born in New Mexico and raised in Texas, Miss Graham studied at Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music.  She was Musical America’s “Vocalist of the Year” for 2004 and, two years later, her hometown of Midland proclaimed September 5th to be “Susan Graham Day” in perpetuity.

Miss Graham created the role of Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking for San Francisco Opera, and created additional roles in two recent Metropolitan Opera world premieres: Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy and The Great Gatsby by John Harbison.  Dubbed “America’s favorite mezzo” by Gramophone magazine, Susan Graham remains one of the most captivating artists of our time.

Acclaimed lyric soprano Carol Vaness, one of the greatest Toscas the world has ever known (she performed the role at the Metropolitan Opera in 2004 opposite Luciano Pavarotti in his final opera performances), has garnered critical praise in a wide range of roles as she continues to add to her repertoire.  Miss Vaness last appeared with the Dallas Opera in our critically acclaimed 2005 production of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana (“Rustic Chivalry”) as a “persuasively vulnerable but vocally potent Santuzza” (Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News) opposite Brandon Jovanovich.

Commanding operatic baritone Nathan Gunn most recently mesmerized TDO patrons in the world premiere of A Question of Light, a 2011 song cycle by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer which was inspired by several works in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art and dedicated to the incomparable Margaret McDermott.  Mr. Gunn has also delighted Dallas audiences recently as the scheming Doctor Malatesta in our popular 2010 presentation of Don Pasquale (“Dallas Opera’s best show of the last season.  Maybe two.” – Arnold Jones, Dallas Voice) and earlier, as the dashing Guglielmo in the company’s 2003 production of Mozart’s touching and intimate romantic comedy, Così fan tutte.  About Mr. Gunn The Observer raved, “As a feat of sheer athleticism, lying prone on a wooden floor and singing loudly enough to be heard in the back rows of the Music Hall beats anything you’re likely to see Cowboys running back Troy Hambrick do this season.”

THE ASPERN PAPERS will also star Canadian tenor Joseph Kaiser in his company debut as the composer, Aspern.  Proclaimed a “rising star” by, Mr. Kaiser has drawn notice for performances that suggest “a major talent has arrived on the international scene.”  Film buffs may recognize him from Kenneth Branagh’s film of Mozart’s The Magic Flute where he sang the lead role of Tamino with “bright tone and complete dramatic assurance” (The Stage, U.K.).

Bass Dean Peterson will portray Barelli, an impresario.  “With credits that include the Met, La Scala and the Vienna State Opera, Peterson combines a powerful stage presence with a mellifluous bass voice of expressive power and depth.  His dulcet soft tones were haunting in the best interplay of music and dramatic inflection” (South Florida Classical Review).  Barelli’s mistress, a singer named Sonia, will be performed by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who recently appeared as one of the trio of artists holding centerstage in the Dallas Opera’s Family Concert.  In this, her official TDO debut, Miss Cooke will have an opportunity to display “the qualities for which she has earned attention: a rich voice deployed with admirable control, an expressive countenance and a winning ease onstage” (The New York Times).

Bass Eric Jordan will make his company debut as a Painter, with soprano Jennifer Youngs (now starring as Laurette in the Dallas Opera’s touring production of Doctor Miracle) portraying a Maid.  Miss Youngs is an award-winning emerging artist, currently pursuing a master’s degree in vocal performance at the University of North Texas.

Scenic design for THE ASPERN PAPERS is by Andrew Lieberman with costume designs by Constance Hoffman—both making their Dallas Opera debuts.  Lighting design will be by Thomas Hase.

THE ASPERN PAPERS tells the story of a former diva, now living as a recluse with her niece in a decaying villa on Lake Como, Italy.  They are visited by a mysterious American writer who wants to rent a room.  In truth, he is interested in the opera singer’s previous affair with a renowned composer, Aspern, and his final work, an opera long-presumed to have been destroyed.  Does the manuscript still exist?  Is it truly a missing masterpiece?  And is the Lodger prepared to pay the price to obtain it?

Four additional performances, sung in English with the English language text projected above the stage, will take place on April 14(m), 17, 20 and 28, 2013 in the magnificent Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.


The Dallas Opera has presented five American premieres, as well as three world premiere works in its illustrious 55-year-history.  It also continues to create fresh, new productions of established masterpieces of the genre.

Evening performances during the 2012-2013 Season productions will begin at 7:30 PM, unless otherwise stated.  All Sunday matinees are slated to begin at 2:00 PM.

The “Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talks,” a free background lecture for the opera being performed that day, takes place in Nancy B. Hamon Hall located off the Winspear Opera House lobby one hour prior to each performance.

Easy-to-read English translations are projected above the stage during every Dallas Opera performance and special headsets are available at Coat-Check for the hearing impaired.

Season subscriptions for the 2012-2013 Season will range from $75 to $1,015. Single tickets from $25 to $225 apiece.

For tickets and information, call The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214-443-1000 or visit us online at