Dallas Opera announces 2016-17 season

JakeHeggieThere are still two more operas left in the current season of the Dallas Opera, but it’s not too early to know what’s coming up at the Dallas Opera. The 2016–17 season — its 60th — will include five mainstage productions and three smaller “family” operas.

The season kicks off with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (Oct. 28–Nov. 5), with four performances conducted by Emmanuel Villaume. That will be immediately followed with the return of Jake Heggie’s (pictured) Moby-Dick (Nov. 4–20), with six performances. The world premiere of Moby-Dick was in 2010 during the DO’s initial season in the Winspear Opera House. Villaume will also conduct that. This will be Heggie’s second consecutive production at the DO; his Great Scott premiered to international acclaim last fall.

There will be a break until March, when Puccini’s Madame Butterfly will return… again. Even General Director and CEO Keith Cerny joked about its familiarity to opera audiences at the press announcement. It is, however, a reliable audience favorite — a “B” in the ABCs of opera (Aida, Butterfly or Boheme, Carmen). The DO last performed it in 2010 … coincidentally enough, it followed Moby-Dick that season, too.  Its six performances will take place March 10–26.

For something new, there will be gay composer Benjamin Britten’s modern classic The Turn of the Screw, which has never been performed by the DO. Nicole Paiement will conduct; she last led the world premiere of Everest last year. Those four performances come March 17–25.

The season will conclude with another fan favorite, Norma, Bellini’s popular bel canto piece … though amazingly, the DO has never produced it. It will be performed April 21–May 7, for five performances conducted by Emmanuel Villaume.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BREAKING: Dallas Opera announces 2015-16 season

Jake Heggie

Keith Cerny, general director of the Dallas Opera, announced the upcoming season for the company (its 59th) at Hamon Hall inside the Winspear Opera House this afternoon.

Among the guests present were out composer Jake Heggie, pictured, who wrote the world premiere Moby-Dick for the DO, which closed the company’s inaugural season in the Arts District in 2009-10. As had been previously announced, Heggie has reteamed with librettist Terrence McNally to compose a new opera, Great Scott, which will launch the 2015-16 season on Oct. 30.

For the first time in the DO’s history, a Broadway musical — not an actual “opera” — will be on the slate: Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern’s 1927s hit Show Boat. The show is best remember for the song “Old Man River,” which has often been a signature performance for powerful operatic baritones, including Paul Robeson and William Warfield, who performed it memorably in the MGM film adaptation in 1951. (See a video of Warfield’s rendition after the jump.) It will be performed April 15-May 1. It will close out the season.

Among the other productions slated for the new season: Puccini’s Tosca, Nov. 6-22; a second world premiere, Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus, Dec. 4-12; Manon by Jules Massenet, March 4-12.

The current season continues later this month with two one-act opera: La Wally and the new creation Everest, both set on mountaintops.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Pell stepping down as artistic director of Dallas Opera

Pell Jonathan

Jonathan Pell in the Winspear just before it opened in 2009.

Jonathan Pell, who has spent nearly 30 years with the Dallas Opera, currently as its artistic director, and who marshaled its move from Fair Park to the Winspear Opera House, is stepping down from his full-time role with the company, the DO has announced.

Pell started with the DO in 1985 as its artistic administrator and will walk away on Dec. 31 from his day-to-day role. He will stay on as “artistic advisor.”

Pell brought such luminaries to the DO for their debuts as Cecilia Bartoli, Renee Fleming, Patricia Racette, Susan Graham, Denyce Graves and Ruth Ann Swenson. He also spearheaded several world premieres, including The Aspern Papers (which was revived last season), Therese Raquin and Moby-Dick (which will return next year).

The DO will continue its operation under general director Keith Cerny and new music director Emmauel Villaume. The DO wrapped up its 54th season earlier this month.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas Opera announces abbreviated 2012-13 season, another world premiere from Heggie

Last year, in a major cost-cutting initiative, the Dallas Opera trimmed its season from the planned five full-production operas (plus a chamber piece) down to four, one of which was scaled back to a concert version. The upcoming season looks even more spartan, with only three full-scale shows in 2012-13. But beyond that, there’s hope for some big things.

The so-called “Pursuit of Passion” season kicks off Oct. 26 with Verdi’s Aida, which will be directed by gay British composer John Copley. (I’ve been interviewing Copley for 10 years, and he always says he’s about to retire. So far, it hasn’t stuck… all the better for us. Aida will be followed in the spring with Puccini’s classic Turandot on April 6 and the return on April 12 of The Aspern Papers, which got its world premiere  25 years ago (in 1988) at the Dallas Opera.

But TDO isn’t just reminding us of its past premieres; it promises another in 2015 … once again from gay composer Jake Heggie.

Heggie, pictured — who composed Moby-Dick for its world premiere at the Winspear Opera House in the TDO’s inaugural season there — is teaming again with gay playwright and librettist Terrence McNally for the first time since Dead Man Walking. Great Scott will kick off its 2015-16 season. The rest of that season has not been announced.

The current season continues Feb. 16 with a concert version of Tristan und Isolde, followed by The Lighthouse, La Traviata and Die Dauberflote (The Magic Flute).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones