The Dallas Opera will reunite the team that created Everest for a new world premiere. And the company’s annual gala will return in the fall, with Grammy award-winner Joyce DiDonato as the featured performer.
Those are highlights from the company’s 64th season, which was announced Thursday in a media release and press conference.
DiDonato’s concert on Nov. 6 will be the company’s first gala performance since canceling a gala featuring Placido Domingo that had been scheduled for March. The opera canceled the event after sexual assault allegations against Domingo surfaced last fall.
At the time, several women made anonymous harassment allegations. The opera canceled Domingo’s appearance after singer Angela Turner Wilson and others went public with their accusations. Wilson accused Domingo of reaching into her robe and grabbing her bare breast during a makeup call before a 1999 performance of the Washington Opera’s Jules Massenet’s Le Cid. At the time, Domingo denied the allegations. Wilson is a professor at TCU, and her father, Gerald Turner, is president of SMU.
“The damage was certainly significant, and we’ve made adjustments in our current season to make up for that,” Dallas Opera CEO Ian Derrer said at Thursday’s press conference.
This season’s gala, Viva Diva!, will take place Nov. 6 at the Winspear Opera House. DiDonato will sing “Camille Claudel: Into the Fire,” a work composed for her by Jake Heggie, who will also attend the event. The program will also include “The Death of Cleopatra” by Berlioz, and two works by Beethoven.
The opera continues its commitment to women in the genre with the Hart Institute for Women Conductors. The new season will also be the first to feature two female conductors leading main productions: Lidiya Yankovskaya, a 2015 Hart Institute for Women Conductors alumna, will debut on April 9, 2021, with Christophe Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo Ed Euridice. Keri-Lynn Wilson will conduct the season’s final production, Puccini’s Tosca, on April 16, 2021.
The world premiere is an adaptation of the memoir and movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It will mark the return of the Everest team: composer Joby Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer, along with Robert Brill on set design, David. C. Woolard on costume design, and Elaine J. McCarthy on projection design. British composer Talbot said he was excited to return to the Dallas Opera, where he first premiered Everest.
“I couldn’t be happier about returning to my operatic ‘home’ of Dallas for my new collaboration with Gene Scheer,” Talbot said in a press release. “Premiering Everest here was one of the great experiences of my professional life and I can hardly wait to get back into the rehearsal studio with The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Talbot and Scheer adapted The Diving Bell and the Butterfly from the story of famed Elle magazine editor, Jean Dominique Bauby, who suffered a stroke and was paralyzed.
Scheer said he spent time in Paris with Bauby’s family and former nurses to better tell his story.
“I had this incredible opportunity to hear first hand from the family, and to get to know, not just about the story that’s depicted in the book, but the story of this guy’s life,” Sheer said. “They’ll be lots of new information that’s woven into the opera that you don’t know just from the book.”
2020-2021 Season Productions
- Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” Oct. 9-25, 2020 – The opera follows the journey of lovers Figaro and Susanna as they attempt to thwart their predatory boss, the Count, who is determined to have his way with Susanna.
- Wagner’s Lohengrin, Oct. 30-Nov. 7, 2020 – The romantic opera features the hero Lohengrin who arrives on a boat drawn by a magical swan. He comes to save King Henry’s kingdom from invasion and marry Elsa – who has been accused of murdering her brother by the treacherous knight and his sister.
- Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” March 5-13, 2021 – Based on the best-selling memoir, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” follows the life of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the celebrated editor-in-chief of ELLE magazine, who suffers a debilitating stroke which leaves him almost entirely paralyzed. With the ability to blink, Bauby fights to “write” his memoir with the help of his assistant.
- Christophe Willibald Gluck “Orfeo Ed Euridice,” April 9-17, 2021 – Featuring dancers from the Texas Ballet Theater, the opera showcases the tragic Greek myth of Orpheus as he attempts to bring his dead wife back from the Underworld.
- Puccini’s “Tosca,” April 16-May 2, 2021 – The drama is set during wartime, featuring the passionate leading lady Tosca who struggles to protect her lover Cavaradossi from the corrupt police chief Scarpia, who has long lusted after her.
- Pre-performance Dinner and After Party with the Cast of The Marriage of Figaro, October 9, 2020 – The black-tie reception and dinner will be held at the Hall Arts Promenade. Following the opera, the after-party will take place at Hamon Hall.
- Viva Diva! Starring Joyce DiDonato, Nov. 6: The Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano leads the performance preceding a gala dinner.
- 2021 Robert E. and Jean Ann Titus Art Song Recital Baritone Benjamin Appl, January 31, 2021 – The recital is in honor of German baritone Benjamin Appl who was named “Gramophone” Young Artist of the Year in 2016. Tickets for the recital range from $15 to $50 and can be purchased with the renewal of a Dallas Opera season subscription.
- The Hart Institute for Women Conductors Showcase, February 19, 2021 – The popular showcase will feature six top female conductors. The event will also feature young singers who will perform with The Dallas Opera Orchestra.
- The Dallas Opera National Vocal Competition, Finals on May 1, 2021 – Young opera singers will compete on the Winspear Opera House stage after being selected from hundreds of applicants nationwide.
- 2020/2021 Family Performance Series, October 24, 2020, and Saturday, March 6, 2021 – These performances of Bizet’s “Doctor Miracle” and Davies’ “Jack and the Beanstalk” are budget and kid-friendly. In an effort to spread the love of opera to young North Texans, there will be pre-show family activities, including crafts and an instrument “petting zoo.”