North Texas has an exciting year for opera fans
Boosted by COVID shutdowns in 2020, the Fort Worth Opera House and the Dallas Opera each went to work on plans to engage with their communities in new ways while providing opportunities for their performers and longtime fans to experience opera safely.
Last year, Fort Worth Opera filled the start of its 75th season with concerts and productions held away from home in the immaculate Bass Performance Hall. Partnering with a number of local arts and civic organizations at events held at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens as well as outside of local libraries, the opera company aimed to strengthen its identity as a resource community.
The Juneteenth Jamboree included free seminars and master classes for students and aspiring singers. Several child- and family-friendly productions were also offered in accessible but non-traditional settings, including pop-up shows at Trinity Rail stops.
In April 2021, Dallas Opera embraced the concept of bringing opera to the people in an imaginative and literal way with the introduction of its OperaTruck. Presentation of one-act operas for the whole family, such as Jack and the Beanstalk on an 18-wheel flatbed truck, safe remote performance was made available to new audiences throughout North Texas. To honor those who have served the community, OperaTruck also made visits to the North Texas Food Bank and the local homeless family support organization Family Gateway.
The inventive way the two companies have kept the music going during the pandemic seems to have influenced their respective schedules through 2022. Let’s take a look at what Fort Worth Opera and Dallas Opera have in store for this spring.
German baritone Benjamin Appl has been a promising international talent for a few years now, long enough to deliver on that promise. Recordings of classic works by the 39-year-old artist such as the Austrian great Franz Schubert have received critical acclaim in recent years. On January 30, Appl will give a recital at Moody Performance Hall.
Continuing its tradition of producing operas in the Spanish language, the FWO will present Zorro at the Rose Marine Theater in the Stockyards from January 26-28 and a final performance on Sunday January 30 at the Will Rogers Auditorium. Featuring tenor Cesar Delgado and mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Paz, this production features a number of performers that FWO fans will recognize from past productions.
In the history of opera, few works are more recognized and loved than that of Giacomo Puccini. Lady Butterfly. Based on a short story of the same name, this tragic tale of a geisha wife who falls in love with an American naval officer is simply timeless. Featuring lyric soprano and native Texan Latonia Moore, these performances will offer virtual “pre-opera talks” as well as “post-opera responses” held from the stage before and after select performances.
The official FWO website describes Women, Words and Wisdom: Songs by Black Women Composers as “a celebration of black women composers of the 20th and 21st centuries”. This free production will include local soprano Audra Scott and iconic works by pioneers Nina Simone and Margaret Bond, among others. On February 20, women again take center stage for another Black History Month program. The event Say it Loud: A Night of Black Excellence, Songs of a Revolution will feature classical music, spoken word poetry, an African drum and dance group and more, while honoring the life and work of Opal Lee of Fort Worth, the “Grandmother of Juneteenth”.
Maybe you’ve seen Steven Spielberg’s 2004 movie The terminal, starring Tom Hanks, the rather likeable story of an Eastern European immigrant who lived in an airport terminal for nine months. The film is based on a true story, and this story is the basis of Flight, an English production composed by Jonathan Dove to a libretto by April de Angelis that will debut in Dallas March 6-12. For those looking for a more traditional and classic opera experience, later in March the old Figaro itself will bring The Barber of Seville and his instantly recognizable tunes at Winspear for four performances starting March 19.
French librettists Eugene Corman and Michael Carré knew a universal story when they saw a path in the 1860s. Two close friends risking their manly friendship while arguing over a woman’s love is an age-old storyline and the founding fight by the composer Georges Bizet. The Pearl Fishers. This romantic and colorful production runs from April 2-10 at the Winspear Opera House.
A version by Giuseppe Verdi La Traviata was the very first FWO production in 1946 at Will Rogers Auditorium. On April 22 and 24 at Bass Performance Hall, a special presentation of the legendary opera will also feature the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. This offering will take place in today’s Paris, a more appropriate scenario for a production celebrating the FWO’s past while continuing its march towards a new, more accessible future.