It may be the oddest pairing since Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito played twins in the 1988 movie of the same name or since Harold met Maude in the 1971 spring-December romance film. A surprising announcement was made at a celebratory press conference at Cowboys Stadium on Thursday afternoon: The Dallas Opera and the Dallas Cowboys, together at last!
Well, at least Cowboys Stadium will join forces with the Dallas Opera for what the press release called "…first classical music simulcast ever conducted in a North Texas sports venue." Best yet, it will be free of charge, with free parking. Seating will be reserved and the free tickets can be obtained through the Dallas Opera website, effective immediately, at www.dallasopera.org/cowboys.
Even stranger, this event will be a simulcast of Mozart's The Magic Flute, which seems like an unlikely candidate for the testosterone-laden stadium. Mozart's opera is a bit of a strange pairing itself. It combines fairy tales fantastical creatures, bird people and dragons for example, with mysterious Masonic rituals.
The simulcast will take place on April 28 at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) at the home of the Dallas Cowboys at One Legends Way in Arlington. The complete, unabridged live performance, will be projected on the world's largest high-definition video board structure, comprised of four jaw-droppingly big viewing screens (the largest, 72 feet tall and 160 feet wide) suspended directly above the playing field. A soprano's open mouth could look like the entrance to the Holland Tunnel.
"How great that people who might not ever venture into a museum are going to experience it by going to a football game," said Gene Jones, wife of Jerry Jones, in the opening remarks at Thursday's event. She was speaking about the artwork that graces the stadium, which segued nicely into the idea of opera at the stadium. "We hope to expose the beauty of the performing arts to a much broader audience through the Dallas Opera."
This event has Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny's fingerprints all over it. Ever since he arrived, he has reached out to local organizations, both arts related and not, to forge partnerships with the Dallas Opera. This includes a joint production with the Dallas Theater Center and the Dallas Children's Theater.
"We want to get this artform off its pedestal," Cerny said at the press conference, "and bring this to a larger audience."
In a news release, Cerny said:
"As part of our commitment to expanding our community outreach we are thrilled to announce an unprecedented, 'game-changing' collaboration with the Cowboys organization. Let me also say that the Dallas Opera is especially grateful for the generous support of the Jones Family, encouraging our efforts to create one of the most unique and memorable events in the history of this opera company. I hope that the centralized location of Cowboys Stadium will draw music and theater lovers from all across North Texas to this free simulcast of Mozart's action-packed masterpiece, especially those who, for a variety of reasons, have perceived opera as an intimidating or challenging art form, rather than the fantastic entertainment experience it is."
Even better news is that local favorite soprano Ava Pine will sing the role of Pamina. She greatly pleases every time she steps on the stage. Others in the cast are equally impressive. tenor Shawn Mathey will be her Tamino. Bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi will be the birdman, Papageno. Soprano Angela Mannino will make her Dallas Opera debut as the birdy of his dreams, Papagena. Slovakian soprano L'ubica Vargicová will soar into the vocal stratosphere as the Queen of the Night. Bass Raymond Aceto will explore the opposite vocal depths as Sarastro. Tenor David Cangelosi, will play the evil Monostatos. Bass Kevin J. Langan, who has sung numerous roles with the Dallas Opera, will appear in the role of The Speaker. The simulcast performance will be conducted at the Winspear Opera House by the holder of the Dallas Opera's Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director chair, Graeme Jenkins.
Interestingly, another artsy event will happen in a North Texas stadium this spring, as the Broadway concert Do You Hear the People Sing, featuring the music of Schönberg (Claude-Michel of Les Misérables, not Arnold of Moses and Aaron, thank heaven) and Alain Boublil, which happens at American Airlines Center in March.
Of course there will be beer and hot dogs (you can get beer at the actual Dallas Opera performances). And what about a half-time—oops, intermission—show? Maybe featuring the Pamina-ettes?
UPDATE Jan. 31, 2012: The initial 7,500 tickets the Dallas Opera had set aside for the event have already been taken, and they're going to be releasing more. And there are rumors of tail-gate parties. We'll keep you updated.