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Dallas Opera Announces Two Series Lineups, Art&Seek Partnership

by Anne Bothwell 31 Aug 2012 3:14 PM

Composer and MIT professor Tod Machover will join soprano Sara Heaton for performance and conversation in this year’s first “Composing Conversations.” Then Fort Worth Opera’s Darren K. Woods joins Dallas Opera’s Keith Cerny to discuss commissioning new works, in “Conversations with Keith.” And the moderator? That’d be Art&Seek’s Jerome Weeks.


Want to be part of the conversation about contemporary music and opera? About what’s going on today, right now, and what’s around the corner?

Then join the Dallas Opera and Art&Seek on Sept. 18 when  “Composing Conversations” kicks off.  Cutting-edge composer, ‘hyperinstrument specialist’ and MIT Professor Tod Machover (above) will join soprano Sara Heaton (below) for an evening of performance, conversation, and your questions. And come on back Oct. 9 for the first “Conversations with Keith,” when Fort Worth Opera’s General Director Darren K. Woods joins Keith Cerny, Dallas Opera General Director and CEO.

The Opera announced the lineup for both series today. (See full release after the jump.) Art&Seek’s Jerome Weeks will moderate both series, and you’ll hear much more about them here on Art&Seek.

Machover sets the tone perfectly for this year’s “Composing Conversations.”

“Tod is one of the most relentlessly upbeat, energetic and intellectually curious individuals I’ve ever encountered,” says Cerny in the Opera’s release .  “He moves from project to project without ever losing his passion and enthusiasm to create or invent; to find new doorways into familiar worlds as well as forging bold paths into the unknown.”

He’s used technology to push the traditional boundaries of music, composing works for ensembles around the world. He’s a professor of music and media, the director of  MIT’s Media Lab and director of the lab’s Hyperinstruments and Opera of the Future groups.  He’s created software that makes it easy for anyone to compose music, and he’s used that software to give kids the experience of having their work performed by major orchestras.  And work from his lab also was used to create video games like  Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

He also composes operas, and that’s where Sara Heaton comes in. The soprano performed in the U.S. premiere of Machover’s new opera, Death and the Powers. She’ll join Machover on stage to perform, and to talk about her role in bringing Machover’s compositions to life.

We’re also looking forward to the first “Conversations with Keith” installment because Cerny (left) and Woods (right) will be focusing their conversation on what it takes to commission new works of opera.

All of the conversations will take place at Hamon Hall in the Winspear Opera House. And all are FREE.

Lots more on all of these events to come.  For now, mark your calendars:


Sept. 18:  Tod Machover, Sara Heaton

January 22:  Composer Dominick Argento (The Aspern Papers)

May 21, 2013: Pulitzer Prize winning composer Jennifer Higdon (Cold Mountain)


Oct. 9: “Commissioning New Works” with Darren K. Woods, General Director, Fort Worth Opera

March 5, 2013: “Accessible versus Avante-Garde Music and Theater”

As always, press release after the jump.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Contact: Suzanne Calvin 214.443.1014

[email protected]

Or Megan Meister 214.443.1071

[email protected]






Moderated by Art&Seek Reporter/Producer



Two Series Dedicated to Exploring and Discussing the Most Compelling Aspects of 21st Century Opera, Music, and Stagecraft – with Music and Live Audience Q&A!



And American Soprano Sara Heaton in Performance

TUESDAY, SEPT. 18, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.

Hamon Hall/the Winspear Opera House

“CONVERSATIONS WITH KEITH” on Commissioning New Works

Featuring Dallas Opera General Director & CEO Keith Cerny

And General Director Darren K. Woods, Fort Worth Opera

TUESDAY, OCT. 9, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.

Hamon Hall, Winspear Opera House

AT&T Performing Arts Center

DALLAS, AUGUST 31, 2012 – The Dallas Opera, in partnership with KERA’s “ART&SEEK”, is extremely proud to announce this season’s schedule for our ongoing series of “Composing Conversations” and “Conversations with Keith”, reflecting the company’s commitment to increasing our community footprint, while advancing the art form and making opera fresh and relevant to increasingly diverse 21st century audiences.

The first free public presentation will take place on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. in Nancy B. Hamon Hall (located in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Downtown Dallas) and will feature special guest Tod Machover, a near legendary Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge, Massachusetts) as he explores and explains his groundbreaking, critically acclaimed new opera, DEATH AND THE POWERS, and other recent projects marrying music and advanced technology.

Joining Professor Machover onstage to both perform—and illuminate the challenges and rewards of bringing his extraordinary compositions to life—will be acclaimed American opera artist Sara Heaton, “a glittering soprano with lyric power” (Boston Herald).  Portraying the loving daughter, Miranda, in the U.S. premiere of DEATH, Ms. Heaton was singled out for her “daunting power and agility in the stratospheric notes of her final scene” (Chicago Classical Review).  She has enjoyed equal critical success in recent roles at Santa Fe Opera, Chicago Opera Theater and the American Repertory Theater.

The conversation will be moderated by the award-winning KERA/Art&Seek Producer-Reporter Jerome Weeks, who also moderated the Dallas Opera’s highly acclaimed “Page to Stage” weekend with composer Jake Heggie, librettist Gene Scheer, and other special guests, in preparation for the company’s enormously successful 2010 world premiere of Moby-Dick.

“Starting with Tod Machover, this series brings some of the biggest names in cutting-edge contemporary music to North Texas,” says Art&Seek director Anne Bothwell.  “Art&Seek is thrilled to partner with The Dallas Opera on these unique conversations with innovators in the opera world and throughout the music industry.”

“Tod is one of the most relentlessly upbeat, energetic and intellectually curious individuals I’ve ever encountered,” says Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny.  “He moves from project to project without ever losing his passion and enthusiasm to create or invent; to find new doorways into familiar worlds as well as forging bold paths into the unknown.  He’s the perfect subject to launch an exciting new partnership with KERA’s Art&Seek.”

According to The New York Times, Machover’s “mating of classical instruments with computer technology has led to developments like a hypercello played by Yo-Yo Ma, a hyperfiddle designed for the virtuoso Joshua Bell and the technology that helped create ‘Guitar Hero,’ the music video game.

“But over the same years, Mr. Machover has retained his enthusiasm for classical composition. From his 1987 adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi classic “Valis” to his 1999 version of Tolstoy’s ”Resurrection” with a libretto by the American playwright Laura Harrington, Mr. Machover has searched like a scientist to find the right music to unlock each of his subjects.”

Jeremy Eichler of The Boston Globe says the sci-fi opera “sets its gaze on subjects both ancient and ultra-modern. In the former camp is the question of whether the soul, or something beyond the body, can live after our death. In the latter camp is the question of the deeper meanings of our infatuation with technology — the way we experience our lives increasingly through its prism…That trailblazing technology is itself put to the service of exploring these points is one of the work’s many ironies that cumulatively leave you with plenty to think about after the robots have powered down for the night.”

The Chicago Tribune gave the new work four stars: “Death and the Powers is a must-see for anybody who cares about the exciting new techno-driven direction music theater is taking in the early 21st century.”

Then, on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. in Hamon Hall, the Winspear Opera House, the Dallas Opera and KERA/Art&Seek will present the inaugural installment of “Conversations with Keith” featuring Dallas Opera General Director & CEO Keith Cerny with special guest Darren K. Woods, General Director of Fort Worth Opera.  Together with moderator Jerome Weeks, they will dissect the various pitfalls, pratfalls and rewards involved in commissioning new works and how they help shape the companies who create them.

“Commissioning a new opera,” explains Cerny, “is a lot like a fellow playing poker in Las Vegas.  He has carefully prepared, he knows the mathematical odds, he has experience with the house, and he’s holding a promising hand.  Yet, ultimately, a gamble remains a gamble, and despite every effort to predict the outcome, one can never be certain of succeeding—in life or in art—until all of the cards have been dealt.”

The complete schedule for the two Dallas Opera “Conversations” series follows:


September 18, 2012 – Composer Tod Machover (Death and the Powers)

January 22, 2013 – Composer Dominick Argento (The Aspern Papers)

May 21, 2013 – Pulitzer Prize winning composer Jennifer Higdon (Cold Mountain)


October 9, 2012 – “Commissioning New Works” with Darren K. Woods, Gen. Dir. FWO

March 5, 2013 – “Accessible versus Avante-Garde Music and Theater”

All “Conversations” begin at 6:30 p.m. in Nancy B. Hamon Hall in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, AT&T Performing Arts Center.  These events are FREE and open to the public.  However, seating is limited and RSVPs are requested.  To secure your seat for this extraordinary inside look at cutting edge opera-making, call 214.443.1044 or to reserve your seat online at [email protected]. Paid parking ($5 to $15) is available throughout the Arts District.


TOD MACHOVER has been called “America’s most wired composer” by the Los Angeles Times. He is widely recognized as one of the most significant and innovative composers of his generation, and is also celebrated for inventing new technology for music, including Hyperinstruments which he launched in 1986. Machover studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM in Paris. He is the Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge, MA) – where he has worked since the Lab was founded in 1985 – and is Director of the its Hyperinstruments and Opera of the Future Groups. Since 2006, Machover has also been Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Tod Machover’s music has been acclaimed for breaking traditional artistic and cultural boundaries, offering a unique and innovative synthesis of acoustic and electronic sound, of symphony orchestras and interactive computers, and of operatic arias and rock songs. Machover’s compositions have been commissioned and performed by many of the world’s most prestigious ensembles and soloists, including the Ensemble InterContemporain (Paris), the London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Speculum Musicae, BBC Scottish Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Houston Grand Opera, Bunkamura (Tokyo), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Collage New Music, Speculum Musicae, Ars Electronica, Casa da Musica (Porto), American Composers Orchestra, Tokyo String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, Ying Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Kim Kashkahian, David Starobin, Matt Haimovitz, and many more. His work has been awarded numerous prizes and honors, among others from from the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the German Culture Ministry, and the French Culture Ministry, which named him a Chevalier de l’Order des Arts et des Lettres. In 2007 he was awarded the Steinmetz Prize from the IEEE, and in 2010 received the prestigious Arts Prize from the World Technology Network, supported by CNN and Time Inc.  Tod Machover is also celebrated for being one of the world’s most prominent innovators in designing new technologies for music performance and creation, such as Hyperinstruments, “smart” performance systems that extend expression for some of the great virtuosi, from Yo-Yo Ma to Prince, but also for the general public, from young people to families to seniors and the disabled. The popular videogames Guitar Hero and Rock Band grew out of Machover’s Lab. His Hyperscore software—which allows anyone to compose original music using lines and colors—has allowed children around the world to have their music performed by major orchestras as part of Machover’s Toy Symphony project. Machover is also known for his visionary operas, including VALIS (based on Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi classic); The Brain Opera (which invites the audience to collaborate live and online and has been installed since 2000 at Vienna’s House of Music); Skellig, which premiered in the UK in November 2008 to rave reviews; and the critically acclaimed, “robotic” Death and the Powers.

DARREN K. WOODS became general director of Fort Worth Opera in July 2001. Under his leadership, Fort Worth Opera has increased both subscription and donor bases while establishing a reputation for high-quality, dynamic productions. In May 2007, Fort Worth Opera changed its format to a spring festival season and mounted its first mainstage commissioned work – Frau Margot composed by Thomas Pasatieri on a libretto by Frank Corsaro. Within only four years, Fort Worth Opera also produced Jorge Martin’s Before Night Falls as its second world premiere, and Opera News hailed the Fort Worth Opera Festival as one of the best in the country. Demonstrating Mr. Woods’ dedication to young artists, the Fort Worth Opera Studio launched in 2002, and has now expanded to include four main young artists beginning their professional careers and four apprentice artists currently in the midst of their college training. In 2011, Mr. Woods was appointed vice chairman for the board of Opera America, the national service organization for the art form. He serves on the finance and information services committees for the board, and he chairs the artist services committee. Mr. Woods was appointed general director of the Seagle Music Colony in the summer of 1996 and continues as artistic director today. Since that time, Seagle Colony has expanded from nineteen young artists, a faculty of seven, and two productions to thirty-two artists selected from over 1,000 applicants, six productions, and a faculty of seventeen. The Colony recently expanded to include the new Frank and Dorothy Shames rehearsal studio and new construction continues to expand the campus. Past Seagle Colony artists have had recent debuts at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and even on Broadway. Mr. Woods is in great demand as an adjudicator of vocal competitions. In recent seasons, he served as a panel judge for the Richard Tucker Foundation, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Lieber Competition, the Denver Opera Guild Competition, the Dallas Opera Guild Competition, and the Marguerite McCammon Competition. Recently, Opera News named him as one of the opera field’s most influential leaders in the magazine’s August 2012 article Opera’s Next Wave. Prior to his appointment in Fort Worth, he was the general director of the Shreveport Opera in Louisiana. While in Shreveport, Mr. Woods founded Shreveport Opera Express, or SOX, a touring, arts-in-education program that involved schoolchildren working with professional artists in the schools. Before becoming an opera administrator, Mr. Woods performed as a professional operatic tenor for twenty years in such venues as New York City Opera, Carnegie Hall, Washington Opera, L’Opera Madrid, Opera Trieste, Seattle Opera, Dallas Opera, Baltimore Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and many others.

JEROME WEEKS is a producer-reporter for KERA’s Art & Seek. His arts reporting and criticism have appeared on KERA FM, KERA TV, and online at

A professional critic for more than two decades, he was the book columnist for The Dallas Morning News for ten years and the paper’s theater critic for ten years before that. His writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, American Theatre and Men’s Vogue magazines. He has won five Katie Awards from the Dallas Press Club, a graduate journalism fellowship from Columbia University and a Knight Digital Media Fellowship to the University of California-Berkeley. In 2012, he received first place for specialty reporting from Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and the John G. Flowers Award for Excellence from The Texas Society of Architects. Jerome has appeared on Studio 360, C-SPAN’s Booknotes and KERA’s national documentary Sweet Tornado: Margo Jones and the American Theater. He is a member of both the National Book Critics Circle and the American Theatre Critics Association, and is a fellow of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

American soprano SARA HEATON, noted for her “gleaming lyricism” by Opera News Online and her “sweet, pure soprano” by the Chicago Tribune, is gaining recognition as a sensitive performer of both opera standards and new works. This season, Sara won first prize in the Marie Kraja international singing competition in Albania. She had her American Opera Projects debut in Numinous City by Pete Wyer, and sang her first Nedda in Pagliacci with Symphony Pro Musica. Sara returned to Chicago Opera Theater to sing Lidochka in Shostakovich’s Moscow, Cheryomushki, and this summer covers Leila in The Pearl Fishers as a second-year Apprentice Artist with The Santa Fe Opera. Sara had her professional debut as Despina in Così fan tutte with Boston Baroque. She has sung with Boston Lyric Opera, the American Repertory Theater, Opera Boston, Central City Opera, Boston Midsummer Opera, Opera Providence, Opera North, and the New Philharmonia Orchestra. In the 2010-2011 Season, Sara received critical acclaim for her performance of Miranda in the US premiere of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers, praised for her “daunting power and agility in the stratospheric notes of her final scene,” and was singled out as giving “the finest performance of the evening.” With Santa Fe Opera, she was hailed “a standout” for her performance of Gilda in the apprentice scenes program. Sara has received the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation, was a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera competition, and a finalist in the Giulio Gari Competition. She won 2nd place in the Young Patronesses of the Opera Competition, received an Encouragement Grant from the Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges, and was a semi-finalist in the Competizione dell’Opera in Germany. She holds a Masters of Music degree from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Biographical information about DALLAS OPERA GENERAL DIRECTOR AND CEO KEITH CERNY is available online at


Art&Seek brings North Texans news about arts, music and culture. The team’s arts journalists produce reports, interviews, criticism and video for KERA FM, KERA TV and online at Art&Seek’s calendar hosts profiles and events from more than 3,000 arts groups and venues. Highlights can also be heard on KERA FM and KXT 91.7 FM. Art&Seek is a service provided by KERA/North Texas Public Broadcasting.






For high-resolution, digital photographs suitable for print

To arrange an interview

Or for additional information

Please contact Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR

214.443.1014 or [email protected]

The Dallas Opera’s 2012-2013 “Pursuits of Passion Season”

Is Presented by Texas Instruments Foundation






Ticket Information for the 2012-2013 Dallas Opera Season

All performances are in the new Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Subscriptions start at just $75 and are on sale now.  Single tickets go on sale September 10, 2012, starting at just $19.  For more information, contact The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online at


The Dallas Opera celebrates its Fifty-Sixth International Season in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in downtown Dallas. Evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees will begin at 2:00 p.m.   English translations will be projected above the stage at every performance.  Assistance is available for the hearing impaired.

AIDA by Giuseppe Verdi

October 26: The Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance

Featuring Latonia Moore, The Charron and Peter Denker Rising Star (2012)

October 28(m), 31, November 3, 9, 11(m), 2012

Verdi’s Complex and Intimate Love Story Set in Spectacular Ancient Egypt!

An opera in four acts first performed at Khedivial Opera House, Cairo on December 24, 1871.

Text by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette.

Time: Old Kingdom

Place: Egypt

Conductor: Graeme Jenkins

Stage Director: John Copley

Costume Design: Peter J. Hall

Wig & make-up Design: David Zimmerman

Chorus Master: Alexander Rom

Starring: Latonia Moore (Aïda), Antonello Palombi (Radames), Nadia Krasteva* (Amneris), Lester Lynch (Amonasro), Orlin Anastassov* (Ramfis), Ben Wager (The King of Egypt), Jonathan Yarrington* (Messenger), and NaGuanda Nobles* (Priestess).

TURANDOT by Giacomo Puccini

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

Puccini’s Last Masterpiece—Riddled with Passionate Romance and Unforgettable Music!

An opera in three acts first performed in Milan at La Scala, April 25, 1926

Text by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, based on Carlo Gozzi’s fable, Turandot.

Time: Legendary times

Place: Peking, China

Conductor: Marco Zambelli

Stage Director: Garnett Bruce

Production Design: Allen Charles Klein

Wig & make-up Design: David Zimmerman

Chorus Master: Alexander Rom

Starring: Lise Lindstrom* (Princess Turandot), Antonello Palombi (Calaf), Hei-Kyung Hong (Liu), Christian Van Horn* (Timur), Jonathan Beyer (Ping), Joseph Hu (Pang), Daniel Montenegro* (Pong), Ryan Kuster* (A Mandarin), Steven Haal (Emperor Altoum).

THE ASPERN PAPERS by Dominick Argento

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

The Games People Play—Both Young and Old—To Achieve Their Twisted Desires!

An opera in two acts first performed in Dallas, November 19, 1988.

Text by Dominick Argento, based on a Henry James novella.

Time: Legendary

Place: Lake Como, Italy

Conductor: Graeme Jenkins

Stage Director: Tim Albery

Scenic Design: Andrew Lieberman*

Costume Design: Constance Hoffman*

Lighting Design: Thomas Hase

Wig & make-up Design: David Zimmerman

Chorus Master: Alexander Rom

Assistant Director: Michael Mori

Starring: Susan Graham* (Tina), Alexandra Deshorties (Juliana Bordereau), Nathan Gunn (The Lodger), Joseph Kaiser* (Aspern), Dean Peterson (Barelli), Sasha Cooke* (Sonia), Eric Jordan* (A painter), Jennifer Youngs* (Olimpia).

* Dallas Opera Debut

** American Debut


The Dallas Opera is supported, in part, by funds from:  City of Dallas, Office of Cultural Affairs; TACA; the Texas Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)American Airlines is the official airline of The Dallas Opera.  Lexus is the official vehicle of The Dallas Opera.  Cartier is the official jeweler and watchmaker of The Dallas Opera.  Rosewood Crescent Hotel is the official hotel of The Dallas Opera.  Advertising support from The Dallas Morning News.  A special thanks to Mrs. William W. Winspear and the Elsa von Seggern Foundation for their continuing support.