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Darren Woods to Run Fort Worth Opera through 2018

by Jerome Weeks 2 Feb 2012 9:35 AM

Two years were added to the ebullient Woods’ current contract as general director of FWO — the third consecutive time the board has extended it. Someone must like him and/or he must be doing something right. You think?


Fort Worth Opera announced the six principal artists for its 2012 season — and oh yeah. They’re re-upping general director Darren Woods’ contract, adding two more years to it. That’s the third consecutive time the board has extended the ebullient Woods’ tenure and it puts him helming the company through 2018 — for a total of 17 years.

Among the artists making their debut at FWO are former SMU teacher Candace Evans, who’s directing Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers, University of North Texas grad Emily Pulley, who’s a soprano in Three Decembers,  and native Texan Jan Cornelius, a soprano in The Marriage of Figaro.

The full release:

Fort Worth Opera Welcomes Six Principal Artists in their Company Debuts for the 2012 Festival


Congratulates General Director Darren K. Woods on his Contract Extension by the Board of Directors

FWOpera welcomes sopranos Andrea Carroll, Jan Cornelius, and Emily Pulley, mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta, and baritones Jonathan Beyer and Matthew Worth as they make their House Debuts during the 2012 season

FORT WORTH, Texas – Now in its 66th season and staging its sixth festival this May/June 2012, Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) proudly offers audiences four compelling operas – Puccini’s passionate blockbuster Tosca, Mozart’s effervescent romantic comedy The Marriage of Figaro, and two regional premieres: Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata (based on the ancient Greek comedy) and a new production of Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers (based on Terrence McNally’s play, Some Christmas Letters).  This will be the first time audiences can experience Adamo’s and Heggie’s works programmed together, and the casting—a mixture of returning favorites and new exciting voices on the cusp of major careers—is typical of Fort Worth Opera under the eleven-year tenure of General Director Darren K. Woods, whose contract was just extended for the third time.

Festival fans this season will hear six talented singers making their company debuts in leading roles. In Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, audiences will be introduced to four young artists: soprano Andrea Carroll (“a bright soprano” The New York Times) as Figaro’s fiancée Susanna, baritone Jonathan Beyer (“a robust, handsome voice, and promising years ahead” The Washington Post) as Count Almaviva, soprano Jan Cornelius (“a wonderfully attractive soprano with a solid core” Opera News) as the Countess, and mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta (“vocally outstanding” Opera News) as Cherubino.  Bass-baritone Donovan Singletary returns to FWOpera to take on the title role for the first time, and director Eric Einhorn makes his house debut with this period production.

In the highly anticipated regional premiere of Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers (based on Terrence McNally’s play Some Christmas Letters), audiences will hear soprano Emily Pulley (“faultless and exquisite” The New York Times) and baritone Matthew Worth (“fully powered and persuasively expressive” The New York Times) for the first time on the company’s stage, joined by returning soprano Janice Hall.  The chamber opera chronicles the dysfunctional family relationships between Broadway diva Madeline (Hall) and her adult children Bea (Pulley) and Charlie (Worth) over a period of three decades.  Three Decembers will receive a new production conceived by director Candace Evans, set designer Bob Lavallee, and costume designer Rondi Hillstrom Davis, all of whom are making their house debuts.

The 2012 Festival continues with a second regional premiere: Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata, which gives audiences an opportunity to hear some of their favorite FWOpera alumni, all making role debuts.  In a striking satire of humanity’s endless legacy of war (between nations and between the sexes), soprano Ava Pine appears in the title role opposite tenor Scott Scully singing the role of her lover, the Athenian soldier Nico.  Mezzo-soprano Meaghan Deiter sings the role of the Athenian female leader Kleonike, and mezzo-soprano Alissa Anderson sings her Spartan counterpart, Lampito, with bass-baritone Seth Mease Carico singing the role of Lampito’s husband, the Spartan general Leonidas.  Soprano Ashley Kerr and baritone Michael Mayes round out the cast as the Athenian couple Myrrhine and Kinesias.

Rounding out the four Festival offerings, FWOpera opens the 2012 season with Puccini’s Tosca, and welcomes back soprano Carter Scott and baritone Michael Chioldi in the title role and as Baron Scarpia, respectively.  When they appeared together in the company’s 2005 acclaimed production of this tale of love and lechery, “the intensity they projected was almost frightening,” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram).  Tenor Roger Honeywell returns to Fort Worth as the passionate painter Cavaradossi.

This season’s casting of local favorites as well as new singers is a staple at FWOpera, whose audiences have had the privilege of hearing many young singers on the brink of major careers (like the ones mentioned above) performing in the Festival before their debuts in other houses.  Woods has also instituted several other successful endeavors, ranging from the Fort Worth Opera Studio (a year-round training program for emerging young artists) to switching the company over to its current month-long festival format, to the recently announced Frontiers new works showcase.  During Woods’ time, the company also has produced two world premieres (Thomas Pasatieri’s Frau Margot, 2007, and Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls, 2010), which were both released on CD as well.

Announcing the two-year extension of Woods’ contract, FWOpera board president Kris Lindsay commented on his accomplishments, stating, “Darren’s artistic and financial leadership have created an incredible era of growth and innovation at FWO, and have taken us from a small, provincial opera company to a well-respected and critically acclaimed opera festival.”  The extension to June 2018 will bring Woods’ tenure as General Director to 17 years.  This is the third consecutive time that the board has voted to extend his contract.


Baritone Jonathan Beyer (Count Almaviva, The Marriage of Figaro) has performed with Pittsburgh Opera, Dallas Opera, Oper Frankfurt, Austin Lyric Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Hong Kong Opera, and Teatro di Verdi, among others.  The Chicago native has also appeared with the orchestras of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, Lorin Maazel’s Châvteauville Foundation, the Netherlands Radio Orchestra, and the Festival at Aix-en-Provence.  A national finalist in the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Competition, Mr. Beyer has won numerous competitions, among them the Marian Anderson Prize for Emerging Classical Artist, the George London Foundation Competition, and the Opera Guild of Fort Worth’s McCammon Competition.  He has degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

A fourth-year student at Manhattan School of Music, soprano Andrea Carroll’s (Susanna, The Marriage of Figaro) honors include being a 2011 Sarah Tucker Study Grant nominee from the Richard Tucker Foundation, a second prize winner in the Gerda Lissner Foundation competition, and a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Encouragement Award Winner. This past summer, she was the youngest member of Glimmerglass Festival’s Young Artist Program, where she sang Rose Segal and covered Elaine O’Neill in John Musto’s Later the Same Evening.  A Bethesda, Maryland native, she has trained and performed roles with the American Center for Puccini Studies, the Arcadia Opera, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Seagle Music Colony, and Dicapo Opera’s resident artist program.

A native Texan, soprano Jan Cornelius’s (Countess, The Marriage of Figaro) engagements this season have included performances with the Santa Barbara Opera and the Des Moines Metro Opera, and recent seasons have included debuts with the Virginia Opera and Atlanta Opera.  She recently earned first prize in the Giulio Gari International Vocal Competition and the Gerda Lissner Vocal Competition.  Among her other awards are second prize from the Licia Albanese–Puccini Foundation, the Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation, and the Loren L. Zachary Society.  A graduate of the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, Ms. Cornelius attended Louisiana State University and received her master’s degree at the University of Houston Moores School of Music.

This season, Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta’s (Cherubino, The Marriage of Figaro) joined the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and made her debuts at the New York Festival of Song and in The Nightingale and other short fables (Stravinsky) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  She travels to Tuscany this July to join Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s young artists’ program at the Solti Te Kanawa Accademia di Bel Canto, and will then record a series of concerts with the Bavarian Radio.  She created the title role of Dean Burry’s opera Pandora’s Locker and the role of King’s Mistress in R. Murray Schafer’s highly anticipated work, The Children’s Crusade. She received Encouragement Awards from both the George London Competition and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, as well as the top prize of the New Discoveries Auditions.

Soprano Emily Pulley’s (Bea, Three Decembers) radiant voice and electrifying acting have won her both national and international acclaim.  A frequent presence at the Metropolitan Opera, Ms. Pulley’s roles there include Marguerite in Faust, Nedda in I Pagliacci, Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, Musetta in La Bohème, Valencienne in The Merry Widow, and Thérèse in Les Mamelles de Tirésias, among others.  She made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Mimì in La Bohème.  A Texan, she graduated summa cum laude from West Texas A&M and earned her M.A. in Music from the University of North Texas.  Ms. Pulley sang the role of Bea at Central City Opera last season.

Recently profiled in Opera News, baritone Matthew Worth (Charlie, Three Decembers) is enjoying successes on both the operatic and concert stages, in all styles from the Renaissance to new repertoire.  He comes to Fort Worth following earlier season debuts with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Minnesota Opera.  He first sang the role of Charlie with Chicago Opera Theater last season, and he has also sung with Santa Fe Opera, Virginia Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, New Orleans Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Boston Lyric Opera, among others.  Orchestra appearances include the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Atlanta and Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestras.  A native of New Mexico, he recently joined the Metropolitan Opera roster and made his Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist in Brahms’ Requiem.


Lauded by Opera News for his “keen eye for detail and character insight for which the result was a seamless, gripping flow,” director Eric Einhorn (The Marriage of Figaro) has been a member of the Metropolitan Opera directing staff since 2005.  He has worked with such houses as the Metropolitan Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Glimmergass, Michigan Opera Theatre, Bard Music Festival, and Florida Grand Opera.  Upcoming engagements include his debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. His recent direction of Dialogues des Carmélites for Austin Lyric Opera was awarded “Best Opera” at the Austin Critics Table Awards in addition to garnering him a nomination for “Best Director.”  He has recently joined the adjunct music faculty of Ramapo College of New Jersey.

Director Candace Evans (Three Decembers) has been praised by Opera News for her “flawless sense of timing.”  With a career of directing and choreographing over eighty operas, musicals, plays, and ballets, she is known for her collaborative spirit. Her staging of The Merry Widow for Dallas Opera was named third among the Top Ten Dallas Classical Music Events.  Her Carmen for Madison Opera was similarly acclaimed in the Top Ten.  She taught in Southern Methodist University’s theatre/music departments from 1994 to 2000.  She has lectured nationally, including workshops for the National Opera Association, Taos Opera Institute, and Fort Worth Opera.  She holds an MFA in Classical Theatre, was trained as an opera singer, danced with the Wisconsin Ballet Company, and has toured the world as a stage actor.


Janice Hall, soprano – Madeline, role debut, Three Decembers; Before Night Falls, 2010, Angels in America, 2008; Dialogues of the Carmelites, 2006; Turn of the Screw, 2003

Ashley Kerr, soprano – Myrrhine, role debut, Lysistrata; Don Giovanni, 2010; Carmen, 2009; Dead Man Walking, 2009

Ava Pine, soprano – title role, role debut, Lysistrata; Julius Caesar, 2011; The Elixir of Love, 2010; Angels in America, 2008

Carter Scott, soprano – title role, Tosca; Turandot, 2008; Tosca, 2005

Alissa Anderson, mezzo-soprano – Lampito, role debut, Lysistrata; Cinderella, 2009; Lucia di Lammermoor, 2008; Angels in America 2008

Meaghan Deiter, mezzo-soprano – Kleonike, role debut, Lysistrata; The Mikado, 2011; Julius Caesar, 2011

Roger Honeywell, tenor – Cavaradossi, Tosca; Carmen, 2009

Scott Scully, tenor – Nico, role debut, Lysistrata; Angels in America, 2008; Of Mice and Men, 2008; Dialogues of the Carmelites, 2006

Michael Chioldi, baritone – Scarpia, Tosca; Falstaff, 2007, Tosca, 2005

Michael Mayes, baritone – Kinesias, role debut, Lysistrata; Dead Man Walking, 2009; Carmen 2009

Seth Mease Carico, bass-baritone – Leonidas, role debut, Lysistrata; Before Night Falls, 2010; Carmen, 2009; Dead Man Walking, 2009

Donovan Singletary, bass-baritone – title role, role debut, The Marriage of Figaro; Julius Caesar, 2011

FWO Music Director Joe Illick, conductor – Tosca and Lysistrata; The Mikado, 2011; Il Trovatore, 2011; Don Giovanni, 2011; Before Night Falls, 2010; Carmen, 2009; Dead Man Walking, 2009; Turandot, 2008, among others

Christopher Larkin, conductor – Three Decembers; Falstaff, 2007; Dialogues of the Carmelites, 2006; Little Women, 2005

Stewart Robertson, conductor – The Marriage of Figaro; The Elixir of Love, 2010

David Gately, director – Three Decembers; Julius Caesar, 2011; Before Night Falls, 2010; Cinderella, 2009; Angels in America; 2008; Lucia di Lammermoor; 2008

Daniel Pelzig, director – Tosca; Turandot 2008


Music by Giacomo Puccini and libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
May 12, 7:30 pm; May 20, 2:00 pm; May 25, 7:30 pm; June 2, 7:30 pm; Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth
In Italian with projected English and Spanish translations
Tosca: Carter Scott; Cavaradossi: Roger Honeywell; Scarpia: Michael Chioldi
FWOpera Music Director Joe Illick, conductor; Daniel Pelzig, director

Music by Jake Heggie and libretto by Gene Scheer, based on the play Some Christmas Letters by Terrence McNally
May 13, 2:00 pm; May 18, 7:30 pm; May 20, 7:30 pm; May 26 at 2:00 pm; May 31, 7:30 pm; June 2, 2:00 pm; Scott Theatre, Fort Worth Community Arts Center
In English
Madeline (mother): Janice Hall; Bea: Emily Pulley; Charlie: Matthew Worth
Regional premiere (world premiere: Houston, 2008, under original title Last Acts)
Christopher Larkin, conductor; Candace Evans, director

Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
May 19, 7:30 pm; May 27 at 2:00 pm; June 1, 7:30 p.m.; Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth
In Italian with projected English and Spanish translations
Figaro: Donovan Singletary; Susanna: Andrea Carroll; Count Almaviva: Jonathan Beyer; Countess Almaviva: Jan Cornelius; Cherubino: Wallis Giunta
Stewart Robertson, conductor; Eric Einhorn, director

Music and libretto by Mark Adamo
May 26, 7:30 p.m.; June 3, 2:00 pm; Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth
In English with projected English translations
Regional premiere (world premiere: Houston, 2005)
Lysia (title role): Ava Pine; Nico: Scott Scully; Kleonike: Meaghan Deiter; Lampito: Alissa Anderson; Leonidas: Seth Mease Carico; Myrrhine: Ashley Kerr; Kinesias: Michael Mayes
FWOpera Music Director Joe Illick, conductor; David Gately, director

Plot summaries and other details of the 2012 Festival can be found at

TICKETS: Tickets for the 2012 Festival can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at the Fort Worth Opera Box Office inside the Fort Worth Community Arts Center at 1300 Gendy St., Fort Worth, Texas, 76107. Season subscriptions start at $70 while single tickets start at $15. For more information, please visit or call 817.731.0726 or toll-free at 1.877.396.7372. To purchase tickets online, go to