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Fort Worth Opera Names General Director
Former opera singer Afton Battle becomes the organization's eighth General Director, effective immediately.

published Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Photo: Courtesy Fort Worth Opera
Afton Battle

Fort Worth — This week the Fort Worth Opera named its eighth general director, Texas native and former opera singer Afton Battle. Read the news release below, and look for an interview with Ms. Battle coming on TheaterJones.

 

Fort Worth Opera (FWO) is delighted to announce that after a six-month international search, the Board of Trustees has proudly chosen Afton Battle to become the company’s eighth general director, effective immediately. The appointment of Ms. Battle, a native of Amarillo, marks a return to her home state of Texas, where she graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Voice Performance, before attending Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey and receiving a Master of Music in Voice Performance and Pedagogy. After carving out a successful career as a young operatic singer, she became a highly regarded Arts Administrator, Development Director and Consultant in the art, ballet, and theater worlds of Chicago and New York City, masterminding several significant corporate campaigns, before joining Fort Worth Opera this month to lead the company.

“We are thrilled to announce that Afton will be our new General Director. Her warmth, energy, focus, and fresh perspectives on our beloved art form make her ideally suited to lead us into Fort Worth Opera’s 75th anniversary and beyond,” says Fort Worth Opera Board Chair Nelson E. Claytor, Ph.D. “Our search process was thorough and rigorous, with many excellent candidates, and I cannot say enough to thank the outstanding search committee, staff, and Board for their dedication throughout this process. Opera, and all the performing arts, face  great challenges in this time when we cannot gather      in the theater—but with Afton’s leadership I am confident that we will meet those challenges, become even more closely connected to our community, and come out of this difficult time stronger than ever.”

Ms. Battle comes to Fort Worth Opera following development and strategic consulting work with Red Clay Dance Company, the National Black Theatre, the African American Policy Forum, and Brooklyn arts and culture firm Red Olive Consulting. She was previously the Director of Development for the New York Theatre Workshop, Director of the Annual Campaign for America’s premiere ballet company, The Joffrey Ballet, and the Corporate and Foundation Relations and Individual Giving Manager for the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to that, she served as the Program and Grants Manager for Bank Street College of Education in New York. As Ms. Battle joins Fort Worth Opera this season, she gratefully acknowledges Angelique Clay, President of the Field Foundation, and Mila Gibson, voice teacher, music educator, and founder of Amarillo Opera, for their mentorship, guidance, and career development advice that encouraged her to pursue a path in opera and arts administration.

“Fort Worth Opera is in an incredibly unique position — one of rebirth, evolution, and change,” says Battle. “I am excited to work in collaboration with Maestro Illick, the Board of Trustees, and our talented staff to take the company to the next level as FWO celebrates its diamond anniversary in 2021.

“The core values that are rooted in my very being will guide me as I lead FWO in eradicating inequities, celebrating our differences in diversity and promoting racial justice by offering thought-provoking opera that transcends the boundaries of language and cultural backgrounds. By incubating and nourishing the talent of singers, composers, librettists, and directors of all races, orientations, and ethnicities, we will create an organization where diversity and inclusivity are woven into our DNA.

“I have been chosen to steer this amazing company, and together we will focus on expanding our reach and engagement into communities that have been historically marginalized (Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, LGBTQIA) by forging relationships with community leaders and stakeholders. Through innovative programming and rich partnerships, we will commune a vibrant network of engaged young professionals, build back the trust and support of the community who hold us up, and gradually move away from the festival season back to a year-round format. The work ahead of us will undoubtedly be difficult, but I am confident in the abilities of this incredible staff and Board to inspire this great city. We will become the People’s Opera Company.”

Ms. Battle’s long-term vision for Fort Worth Opera includes a commitment to forging new alliances with local arts organizations, bolstering current partnerships, expanding civic engagement through the company’s acclaimed educational programs and initiatives, and building a world-class Resident and Studio Artist Program to encourage and foster the growth of the next generation of emerging young opera singers. In addition to continuing FWO’s long legacy of offering a balance of operatic jewels, classic warhorses and cutting-edge contemporary works each season, Ms. Battle is dedicated to leveling the field of equity, inclusivity, and equality both on and off the stage. Upcoming seasons will expand upon the company’s successful Noches de Òpera programming and feature an even greater variety of fascinating stories, celebrating Fort Worth’s rich cultural mosaic.

“Afton Battle is a force of nature who will catapult Fort Worth Opera into the national spotlight,” say FWO Artistic Director, conductor and composer Joe Illick. “She has a brilliant mind, boundless energy, a genuine connection with the Fort Worth community, a deep love and understanding of opera, and above all, a real compassion for humanity that will be a guiding light for all that Fort Worth Opera does in the years to come. We are so fortunate to have her leading us! I feel inspired and excited to have this wonderful opportunity to work together with Ms. Battle.”

On May 29, 1946, three bold musicians, Eloise MacDonald Snyder, Betty Berry Spain, and Jeanne Axtell Walker, filed for a state corporation charter under the name Fort Worth Civic Opera Association. 74 years later, the company has become the longest continually active municipal opera association in Texas and the 14th oldest opera company in the United States. Under the leadership of Ms. Battle, FWO is poised to rise as an industry forerunner in artistic vitality, dedicated to serving the entire population of North Texas, while providing unparalleled access to the art form for the uninitiated, and bringing opera out into the community like never before.

 

ABOUT FORT WORTH OPERA: Founded in 1946, Fort Worth Opera is the oldest continually-performing opera company in Texas, and one of the 14 oldest opera companies in the United States. The organization has received national acclaim from critics and audiences alike for its artistic excellence. Beginning in 2017, Fort Worth Opera launched the second phase of its landmark, 10-year Opera of the Americas initiative with Noches de Ópera (Nights of Opera), a groundbreaking campaign that introduces powerful operas, each reflecting the diverse cultures of American audiences. 

Fort Worth Opera is sponsored in part by awards from The Arts Council of Fort Worth & Tarrant County, The City of Fort Worth, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and OPERA America. Additional Fort Worth Opera sponsors include: the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The Burnett Foundation; the Amon G. Carter Foundation; the Sid W. Richardson Foundation; Visit Fort Worth; Adeline & George McQueen Foundation, J.P. Morgan, Trustee; Smallwood Foundation,

J.P. Morgan, Trustee; Hattie Mae Lesley Foundation, Bank of America, Trustee; Virginia Hobbs Charitable Trust, Simmons Bank, Trustee; Garvey Texas Foundation; Mary Potishman Lard Trust; Fifth Avenue Foundation; The Thomas M. Helen McKee and John P. Ryan Foundation; R4 Foundation; Red Oak Foundation; The Rea Charitable Trust, Wells Fargo Trustee; Wells Fargo Foundation; and Autobahn.

American Airlines is the Official Airline of Fort Worth Opera.

Arts and Culture Texas Magazine is the Official Media Sponsor of Fort Worth Opera

Cliburn Competition Postponed
Due to pandemic-related challenges, the 16th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition has been moved to 2022; other Cliburn contests also change.

published Tuesday, September 22, 2020

 

 

Fort Worth — Big pandemic news regarding the biggest international arts event in North Texas, the Cliburn's quadriennial International Piano Competition. It is being moved back a year, from 2021 to 2022; and that changes the timing of the other Cliburn competitions, too, for this cycle only.

Below is the full news release:

 

The Cliburn announces today that the 16th edition of its flagship Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will now be held June 2–18, 2022, at Bass Performance Hall and Van Cliburn Concert Hall at TCU, in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. The Competition was previously slated for May 27–June 12, 2021.

The Cliburn Competition is a once-every-four-years opportunity for us to showcase exceptional artists to the world, to bring the international classical music community together in Fort Worth, to create a singular event for our hometown, and, in the end, to launch careers. It’s become clear in recent months that the continuing effects of the pandemic will prevent us from producing an event at the level and with the impact that our patrons, our supporters, and—most importantly—our competitors deserve. Now, with a clear path forward, we can plan a Competition that will achieve new heights and be a fitting celebration of international strength and unity after such challenging times.

We look forward to celebrating with you in 2022, and, in the meantime, watch for upcoming announcements that will offer opportunities to connect with the Cliburn and with stellar artists in the coming months.

No action is necessary for patrons who have already purchased tickets for the 2021 Cliburn Competition; their purchase will automatically transfer to the postponed dates. Premium subscriptions remain on sale and are available HERE. Other subscription packages and individual tickets will go on sale in 2021.

The Cliburn’s competition cycle will change, for this period only, to:

  • June 2–18, 2022 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
  • Fall 2022 Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition
  • June 2023 Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival

Details for the Amateur and Junior Competitions to be announced as venue and other confirmations are made.

 

Photo: Ralph Lauer
2017 Cliburn gold medalist Yekwon Sunwoo

The Cliburn decided to postpone the Competition, a first since the organization’s inception in 1962, citing the following:

Social distancing and safety protocols for in-person events – the vibrancy of the Cliburn Competition is built around the energy of the audience. Though the Cliburn is a leader in classical music webcasting, the in-person atmosphere is an element that also sets it apart; the competitors remember the warmth of patrons in Fort Worth for many years after. The health of the patrons is of utmost importance, and postponing will offer the opportunity to safely gather.

International travel – the international nature of the Competition is foundational, and it is uncertain if people from all around the globe (competitors, attendees, press) will be able to or feel comfortable with traveling to Texas in 2021.

Winners’ touring – The primary goal of the Competition is the launch of careers. Doing so at a time when concert tours have been suspended is not in the best interest of the new winners.

Planning uncertainty – the planning of the Competition is a complex, multiyear process, which is obviously hindered by the unpredictability of the pandemic globally.

 

NEW DATES

  • October 14, 2021 |Application submission deadline
  • March 6–12, 2022 | Screening Auditions*
  • March 30, 2022 | Announcement of competitors to the public
  • June 2, 2022 | Competition begins
  • June 18, 2022 | Awards ceremony

* For the first time, the Screening Auditions will be held in the Cliburn’s hometown, Fort Worth, Texas. Seventy-two applicants will be chosen to perform a 25-minute recital in front of a live audience and the Screening Jury. From those, 30 will be selected to return to Fort Worth in June to compete.

Women in Classical Music Symposium Updated
The Dallas Symphony's second annual symposium will offer online and in-person events.

published Monday, August 24, 2020
Photo: Dana van Leeuwen | Ted Moore | Jurgen Frank
From left: Violinist Hilary Hahn, Composer Katherine Balch, NY Phil CEO and President Deborah Borda

 

 

The Dallas Symphony has updated details for its second Women in Classical Music Symposium, to be held Nov. 8-11. Below is the news release about the event.

 

Dallas — Today the Dallas Symphony announces updates to its 2020 Women in Classical Music Symposium. This intensive and comprehensive symposium, sponsored by Billingsley Company, will be held November 8-11, 2020, with featured talks and panel discussions on topics relevant to women in the classical music industry and their unique struggles and triumphs. Additional support for the symposium was provided by Texas Women’s Foundation, Joanne Bober and Yon Jorden.

In response to COVID-19, the Women in Classical Music Symposium will be available both in-person in Dallas and virtually through a web-based conferencing platform. Both attendance options will allow attendees to engage with each other in multiple ways, including breakout sessions, networking and the speed dating mentorship session. The in-person symposium will still include additional networking, socialization and performance opportunities. To ensure the safety of our in-person attendees, masks will be required at all times, temperatures will be taken and socially distanced seating will be enforced throughout the entire symposium, with all events occurring in large, open spaces. The keynote luncheon, coffee hours and symposium dinner will feature pre-packaged meals. With the safety of DSO musicians and concert audiences foremost in planning, the performances will be performed with no intermission, will be composed of smaller, socially-distanced orchestral ensembles that have received COVID-19 tests and audiences will be limited. Registration for both in-person and virtual attendees will be $90 and registrations can be purchased at  www.womeninclassicalmusic.com

“Though we were optimistic that a large, in-person event would be able to happen, we know that the current realities make it difficult for people to travel and gather,” said Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony. “In these times, it’s important to look to ways to creatively engage those who were planning on joining us, and the virtual component should provide a robust and rewarding experience.”

Also, in addition to previously announced events, a new panel has been added for Wednesday, November 11 at 12:15 PM. “Amplifying Voices – Shaping the Future of Orchestral Music Through Collective Action” is being co-hosted by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and New Music USA and moderated by Vanessa Reed. Panelists will include JoAnn Falletta and Joseph Young.

The Women in Classical Music Symposium will include networking opportunities with pathways for discussions and conversations relevant to individuals in all roles of classical music – orchestra members, soloists, composers, conductors and administrators – and at all stages of careers.

This year, the DSO will honor three extraordinary women for their work in the field. Violinist Hilary Hahn will receive the Award of Excellence for decades of musical innovation and performance. A three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning violinist guided by artistic curiosity, Hahn matches expressive musicality and technical expertise with a diverse repertoire. She is a prolific recording artist and commissioner of new works with a barrier-breaking attitude toward classical music and a commitment to sharing her experiences with the global community.

Hahn has nominated composer Katherine Balch to receive this year’s Career Advancement Award which will be presented at the conference. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as "breathtakingly beautiful” and “some kind of musical Thomas Edison — you can just hear her tinkering around in her workshop, putting together new sounds and textural ideas," Balch’s music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles including the Tokyo, Albany, Oregon, Indianapolis and Minnesota Symphony Orchestras, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the London Sinfonietta and the Argus Quartet. She recently completed her three-year tenure as composer-in-residence with the California Symphony and is managed by Young Concert Artists, where she was the 2017-2019 composer-in-residence. In 2021, she will be in residence at the American Academy in Rome, as the Elliot Carter Rome Prize Fellow. She is currently on faculty at Mannes School of Music, while pursuing her D.M.A. at Columbia University.

Long-time orchestra executive and current President and CEO of the New York Philharmonic, Deborah Borda will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Throughout her distinguished career, Borda has been an inspirational leader, extending and expanding the artistic and technological boundaries of American symphony orchestras. She has championed and mentored many in the industry, from countless administrators to women composers and conductors, all of whom have benefitted from her counsel and action.

During the symposium, the DSO will present concerts led by Marin Alsop and featuring violin soloist Hilary Hahn as part of its Texas Instruments Classical Series.

Topics for this year’s Symposium include “Breaking Barriers – Women in Classical Music,” “Motherhood and Music – Women as Caregivers,” “DEI: Transforming (presented by Laura Colgate & Joy-Leilani Garbutt, Co-Founders, Boulanger Initiative) and “Music and Wellness.” Returning this year, the popular Mentorship Speed Dating session allows attendees to make meaningful connections and was a favorite event during the inaugural Symposium.

The full panel lineup and guest speakers is available at www.womeninclassicalmusic.com. This event is presented as part of the DSO’s extensive Women in Classical Music initiative, which is supported in part by Capital One, The Eugene McDermott Foundation and Martha Wells.

 

 

About the Dallas Symphony Orchestra

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, under the leadership of Music Director Fabio Luisi, presents the finest in orchestral music at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, regarded as one of the world's premier concert halls. As the largest performing arts organization in the Southwest, the DSO is committed to inspiring the broadest possible audience with distinctive classical programs, inventive pops concerts and innovative multi-media presentations. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the orchestra reaches more than 243,000 adults and children through performances, educational programs and community outreach initiatives annually. The DSO’s involvement with the City of Dallas and the surrounding region includes an award-winning multi-faceted educational program, community projects, popular parks concerts and youth programming.  The DSO has a tradition dating back to 1900 and is a cornerstone of the unique, 68-acre Arts District in Downtown Dallas that is home to multiple performing arts venues, museums and parks; the largest district of its kind in the nation. The DSO is supported, in part, by funds from the Office of Arts and Culture, City of Dallas.

Call for Frontiers Submissions
The Fort Worth Opera is looking for new operas to showcase in its eighth annual Frontiers showcase, this presented online.

published Friday, August 21, 2020
Photo: Images courtesy Fort Worth Opera
Frontiers 2020 judges, clockwise from top left: Talise Trevigne, Octavio Cardenas, Nicole Brooks, Hector Armienta,
Alison Moritz, Rachel J. Peters Blythe Gaissert, Kelly Rourke, Mark Campbell

 

This just in from Fort Worth Opera:

 

Fort Worth — Fort Worth Opera (FWO) is pleased to announce a call for submissions for Frontiers: FWO Libretto Workshop, an exciting exploration of operatic storytelling, and the eighth installment of the company’s innovative new works showcase. Led by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning librettist and lyricist Mark Campbell, this two-night online event will be held in front of a live Zoom audience on October 7 and 8, 2020, at 7 PM CT. In addition to Mr. Campbell’s presence, FWO’s workshop will feature a distinguished panel of librettists, composers, directors, and artists, including Héctor Armienta, Nicole Brooks, Octavio Cardenas, Blythe Gaissert, Alison Moritz, Rachel J. Peters, Kelly Rourke, and Talise Trevigne. Submissions will be accepted through Monday, September 14, 2020, at midnight. On Tuesday, September 29, six librettists will be chosen, and the winning selections will be publicly announced. 

While the first seven installments of Frontiers highlighted thrilling new unproduced works-in-progress, the company’s latest workshop strips away the musical elements and focusses entirely upon the text of new operas in-the-making. In creating this program, FWO wanted to provide librettists with a platform for dramaturgical development and assure the industry and opera lovers everywhere that the storytellers within this incredible art form would not be neglected during this pandemic. The company continues its commitment to supporting the creation of new works, and Frontiers: FWO Libretto Workshop will provide librettists with an exclusive opportunity to hone their craft. Not only will they experience passages of their libretto performed by professional actors, but they will receive real-time feedback from some of the top creative minds in opera. Librettists will also be able to obtain a recording of the Zoom workshop to assist them further in their compositional process. 

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, operatic productions have temporarily come to a halt until companies can safely return to the theater. Just as plagues have inspired art, literature, and music for centuries, the resulting economic uncertainty has fostered a sense of community and ingenuity within the opera world that will undoubtedly continue to resonate long after a vaccine has arrived and the industry has normalized. Music and drama are the essential ingredients of any operatic work, and the two must be stylistically united for the piece to be successful. As the text or “script” of an opera, the libretto should have clear sense of internal timing throughout its dramatic structure. It should embrace the emotional resonance and importance of silence, as well as offer up pages of dialogue or monologues, and it must be able to live within a musical space. What works for theatrical plays, does not necessarily translate well to the grandeur or intimacy of the operatic stage. Above all, a libretto should inspire a composer, spark conversation, connection, and the imagination. 

Hailed as “one of the most significant music events of the year” by D Magazine, Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiersshowcase has yielded numerous regional and world premieres since its inception. Commissioned by the American Lyric Theater, Patrick Soluri and Deborah Brevoort’s macabre, Edgar Allan Poe-inspired opera Embedded (Frontiers2013) appeared during Fort Worth Opera’s 2016 Festival. Matthew Peterson and Jason Zencka’s critically acclaimed, true crime opera Voir Dire (Frontiers 2014) proved to be a highlight of the company’s 2017 Festival and recently received its official cast album recording. Composer and librettist Rachel J. Peters’ acclaimed dark comedy Companionship (Frontiers 2018) received its world premiere during FWO’s 2019 Festival.

Beyond North Texas, Robert Paterson and David Cote’s trio of comic, one-act operas, Three Way, premiered at Nashville Opera and BAM Fisher in 2017, and Opera Colorado presented the world premiere of Gerald Cohen and Deborah Brevoort’s true-life WWII romance, Steal a Pencil for Me (Frontiers 2016) during their 2018 season. Griffin Candey and Thom Miller’s delectable dark comedy, Sweets by Kate (Frontiers 2017), received its NYC premiere at the legendary Stonewall Inn in July of 2017 with OperaRox Productions. In 2019, Clint Borzoni and John de los Santos’ erotic opera, When Adonis Calls (Frontiers 2015), received its world premiere by Asheville Lyric Opera.

Visit https://www.fwopera.org/frontiers-libretto-workshop

 

Frontiers: FWO Libretto Workshop Submission Information: 

Applications must be submitted between August 19 and September 14, 2020.

 

Librettists from the Americas (citizens or residents of North, Central, and South America, as well as associated territories) are eligible and invited to submit a libretto. All application materials must be submitted electronically through the Frontiers web portal. Six libretti will be selected and showcased. Works not selected will not be automatically reconsidered for future showcases. 

Only completed libretti will be considered. Due to the online forum of this workshop, libretti must be in English, and submissions must include a synopsis. There is no fee for submissions. Fort Worth Opera retains the right to select fewer than six works for the showcase. Please contact Fort Worth Opera at frontiers@fwopera.org.

 

Frontiers: FWO Libretto Workshop Panelists:

Night One Panel (October 7, 2020): Mark Campbell, Nicole Brooks, Octavio Cardenas, Blythe Gaissert, and Kelley Rourke.

Night Two Panel (October 8, 2020): Mark Campbell, Héctor Armienta, Alison Moritz, Rachel J. Peters, and Talise Trevigne.

 

PANELIST BIOS

 

Héctor Armienta

Héctor Armienta, a nationally recognized composer/librettist, focuses on creating work that explores the Mexican and Mexican-American cultural experience.  His awards and commissions include those from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Southwest, Opera Pacific, the Pacific Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, and others. His work for orchestra, theater, and opera has received support from seven NEA grants in artistic excellence. Upcoming projects include Mi Camino and the world premiere of Zorro. Drawing on his training as a classical composer, his mission is to reinvent classical musical forms by incorporating music from both sides of the border. https://www.hectorarmienta.com/

 

Nicole Brooks

In the performing arts world, Nicole Brooks is beyond a triple-threat. Her extensive accomplishments include: filmmaker, director, performer, singer, playwright, composer, curator, teacher and ‘art-ivist’. Brooks has devoted over 20 years producing innovative content (for the stage and screen), with a focus on narratives that illuminate the peoples of the African Diaspora. In 2012, Brooks officially added playwright to her list of talents. Her debut theatrical work Obeah Opera - which she created, wrote, composed and performs in - has been staged in various incarnations from festivals to staged workshop productions in Toronto between 2009 and 2014. Honoured with a Dora nomination for Outstanding New Opera/Musical in 2012 and with continued development thereafter, an updated version of Obeah Opera premiered in August 2015, as a prestigious commission from the cultural arm of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games.  Its final incarnation mounted in June 2019 as part of the critically acclaimed roaster of the Luminato Festival in Toronto  and was honoured with two additional DORA nominations in 2020 for Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Feature Performance.http://obeahopera.com

 

Mark Campbell

The work of Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning librettist/lyricist Mark Campbell is at the forefront of the contemporary opera scene in this country. Mark has written 38 opera librettos, lyrics for 7 musicals and text for 5 song cycles and 2 oratorios. His best known works are Silent Night, Sanctuary Road, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, As One, Elizabeth Cree, StonewallLater the Same Evening, The Manchurian Candidate, Volpone, Bastianello/Lucrezia, and Songs from an Unmade Bed. Mark also mentors future generations of opera composers and librettists through such organizations as the American Opera Project, American Lyric Theater and the American Opera Initiative and recently created the first prize in the history of opera designated specifically for opera librettists, called the Campbell Opera Librettist Prize. www.markcampbellwords.com

 

Octavio Cardenas

Stage director Octavio Cardenas captivates audiences with his visionary, visceral, and physical style of directing. Born in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico, Opera News has praised him for “an immersive theater experience” while the Dallas Morning News hailed him for bringing “every character and situation to life.” Recent projects include Dead Man Walking for Opera Delaware and La boheme for Des Moines Metro Opera and Madame Butterfly for Opera Santa Barbara. As the former Director of Opera for Baylor University, Mr. Cardenas directed productions of L’elisir d’amoreThe Turn of the ScrewDialogues of the Carmelites, and Rita. He has served as the Head of the Directing Staff at Des Moines Metro Opera and has also been part of the directing staff at Chautauqua Opera. http://www.octaviocardenas.com

 

Blythe Gaissert 

Mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert has established herself as one of the preeminent interpreters of some of the brightest stars of new classical music. A true singing actress, she has received critical acclaim for her interpretations of both new and traditional repertoire in opera, concert, and chamber repertoire. “Gaissert gave a dramatically powerful, vocally stunning portrait of a woman growing increasingly desperate and delusional from lack of contact with the outer world. Gaissert’s development of Loats’s personality was utterly believable, and she gave a virtuoso performance of this very challenging music” (Arlo McKinnon, Opera News for The Echo Drift). Known for her warm tone, powerful stage presence, and impeccable musicianship and technical prowess….”Mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert was impossible to ignore as the headstrong Mother Marie. She has a pure, powerful and appealing voice and a forceful stage presence to match.” (Denver Post). http://www.blythegaissert.com

 

Alison Moritz

Alison Moritz’s productions have been lauded as “raw, funny, surreal, and disarmingly human” by Opera News. Upcoming 2020-2021 projects include new productions for Glimmerglass, Chicago Opera Theatre, Opera Santa Barbara, and world premieres for Experiments in Opera and Contemporaneous. In fall of 2020, Alison makes her first foray into the world of VR directing Miranda - a dystopian satire imagining an alternative American legal system (Sankaram/Reese; co-produced by LUMA Projection Festival and Tri-Cities Opera). Her 2019-2020 season included mainstage debuts at Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Omaha, the Ravinia Festival, and Rice University. Other recent directing highlights include the world premieres of Taking Up Serpents (Sankaram/Dye; Washington National Opera), Candide (Tanglewood), Chunky in Heat (Experiments in Opera), and Penelope(Snider/McLaughlin; new performing edition for Lyric Opera of Kansas City). Committed to contemporary American repertoire, Alison has workshopped pieces for Opera Philadelphia, directed the world premiere of Proving Up (Mazzoli/Vavrek; Washington National Opera), and created a visceral new production of The Manchurian Candidate (Puts/Campbell; Austin Opera) in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election. https://www.alisonmoritz.com

 

Rachel J. Peters

Composer/librettist Rachel J. Peters writes all manner of works for the stage. Operas: Companionship (Fort Worth Opera), Rootabaga Country (Sarasota Opera), The Wild Beast of the Bungalow (Oberlin Conservatory), No Ladies in the Lady’s Book (Utah Opera). Steve (Boston Opera Collaborative), Musicals: Only Children (NYU), Tiny Feats of Cowardice (NYC Fringe), Tomato Red (UC Irvine), Octopus Heart (NYU). Concert works: Ethel Smyth Plays Golf in Limbo (Semperoper Dresden), If You Can Prove That I Should Set You Free (Albany Symphony), Jack's Vocabulary(Hartt School), Fronds: The Wisdom of Fanny Fern (Walt Whitman Project). Contributor to The AIDS Quilt Songbook. Scores for plays: Stretch (a fantasia) (New Georges), Tania in the Getaway Van (Flea Theater), Transatlantic (Arkansas Rep). Upcoming premieres: Opera Kansas, Opera Steamboat, Lyric Opera of the North. https://www.racheljpeters.com

 

Kelley Rourke

Kelley Rourke is a librettist, translator and dramaturg. She collaborates frequently with John Glover, with whom she has written Lucy, Natural Systemsand Guns n’ Rosenkavalieramong others. She has written libretti for three youth operas that have been performed across the country: Odyssey and Robin Hood (both with Ben Moore) and Wilde Tales (with Laura Karpman). Kelley's modern English adaptations of numerous standard and not-so-standard operas have been hailed as “crackingly witty” (The Independent, London) and “remarkably well wedded to the music and versification in arias” (New York Times). Her work has been commissioned and performed by Washington National Opera, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Young People’s Chorus of NYC, Seattle Opera, Minnesota Opera, Carnegie Hall, Urban Arias (Washington, DC), Met LiveArts, Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco, San Francisco Conservatory, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, American Opera Projects, Atlanta Opera, Kentucky Opera, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Nautilus Music-Theater, among others.

https://www.kelleyrourke.com

 

Talise Trevigne

Grammy-nominated American soprano Talise Trevigne made her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut last fall as Kitty Heart in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and joined the Metropolitan Opera cast of Porgy & Bess. Besides creating key roles in the world premieres of Moby-DickJFKProving Up and It’s A Wonderful Life, she has headlined productions on both sides of the Atlantic, proving herself “a Butterfly worthy of mention alongside Maria Callas” (Voix des Arts).  Last season Miss Trevigne debuted the role of Ma in Missy Mazzoli/Royce Vavrek’s highly lauded Proving Up at Omaha Opera and at Lincoln Centre and made a further role debut at Madison Opera as Nedda Pagliacci. She travelled to Theater Basel for one of her signature roles, Cio-Cio-san in Madama Butterfly, a role that originally brought her great accolades at North Carolina Opera and at Kentucky Opera. She finished the season at Cincinnati Opera in the title role in Porgy & Bess reviving her great success in the role at Glimmerglass Festival the previous season. https://arbourartists.com/roster/talise-trevigne/

 

ABOUT FORT WORTH OPERA: Founded in 1946, Fort Worth Opera is the oldest continually-performing opera company in Texas, and one of the 14 oldest opera companies in the United States. The organization has received national acclaim from critics and audiences alike for its artistic excellence. Beginning in 2017, Fort Worth Opera launched Noches de Ópera (Nights of Opera), a groundbreaking campaign designed to introduce powerful operas to the community, each reflecting the diverse cultures of American audiences.

T3 Announces Fall Virtual Lineup
Theatre Three has two virtual theater experiences this fall, including Halloween-themed plays by local writers, and the return of DGDG's Bippy Bobby Boo Show.

published Friday, August 21, 2020
Photo: Theatre Three
It Came from Theatre Three

 

This just in from Theatre Three:

 

Something spine-chilling this way comes… in the form of a new virtual offering from Theatre Three to replace The Rocky Horror Show. Theatre Three has commissioned four local playwrights; Jonathan Norton, Blake Hackler, Nicole Neely and The Drama Club to contribute short, frightening pieces to be produced virtually in one jam-packed program with two very distinguished hosts to keep things moving along. Directed by Theatre Three Artistic Director Jeffrey Schmidt and Associate Artistic Director Christie Vela, It Came from Theatre Three will be performed and designed to work within the necessary current social distancing restrictions. Streaming access codes are only $15 and are available for purchase at www.Theatre3Dallas.com.

“The idea for It Came from Theater Three really came out of practicality,” says Vela. “Because we’re having to watch every single penny, we chose to retell classic tales from urban legends/myths/folklore which are all in the public domain. We knew we needed help writing them and because Jeffrey and I love our local playwrights, we decided ‘Why don’t we commission a few of our colleagues to write original scary tales instead!’”

“It will be similar in that in order to keep performers safe, they will be recorded individually,” Schmidt continues. “Their performances will be edited together. Aesthetically, part of the show might look a lot like our production of The Immigrant. However, that has now become our baseline. We learned a lot. Now it's time to build on those lessons and maybe break some of our own creative rules!”

Are we bringing back the critically acclaimed variety Halloween special courtesy of Danielle Georgiou Dance Group? You better boo-lieve it! Bippy Bobby is BACK with The Bippy Bobby Boo Show: 2020 Call-in Special. Tickets are $15 and also available for purchase at www.Theatre3Dallas.com. Keep an eye out for specials to see both Halloween offerings for a special scare-tacular price!

Patrons will purchase virtual tickets for streaming. Tickets for each performance are limited! Consider each viewing opportunity as a performance that begins at the published time. Videos must be accessed within 30 minutes of the start times for each show. In addition to the streamed performance, viewers will be provided with a digital version of a traditional performance program. Plus, Theatre Three will host talkbacks on Facebook following the evening performances on October 19, October 23, and before the performance on October 31. (www.facebook.com/theatre3dallas

 

It Came from Theatre Three

Conceived by Christie Vela & Jeffrey Schmidt

Plays by Jonathan Norton, Blake Hackler, Nicole Neely and The Drama Club

Join our two haunted hosts for an evening of old school scary fun featuring short plays written by Dallas playwrights, commissioned by and filmed at our very own Theatre Three and presented in a story anthology format.

 

Monday, October 19 at 7:30 PM

Thursday, October 22 at 7:30 PM

Friday, October 23 at 8:00 PM

Saturday, October 24 at 8:00 PM

Sunday, October 25 at 2:30 PM

Wednesday, October 28 at 2:00 PM

Thursday, October 29 at 7:30 PM

Friday, October 30 at 8:00 PM

Saturday, October 31 at 2:30 PM

Saturday, October 31 at 8:00 PM

Sunday, November 1 at 2:30 PM

 

The Danielle Georgiou Dance Group’s

The Bippy Bobby Boo Show: 2020 Call-in Special

Written by Justin Locklear & Danielle Georgiou

Directed by Danielle Georgiou

 

The ghosts of Theatre Three are back!! Coming this October, spend an evening, or 6, with a new live show each night! Commemorating the scariest year ever, THE BIPPY BOBBY BOO SHOW: 2020 CALL-IN SPECIAL will be full of glitz, gags, and glamorous ghosts! After spending a glorious run with live audiences, the ghosts have become stir-crazy in the theatre without a show going on! Instead of waiting for audiences to return in person, the ghosts will be haunting the internet with this live-streamed interactive event! Do you have a joke for Bippy Bobby? Join the tradition and call in with your favorite Halloween humor! Want to give Bippy a piece of your mind? Ring the Halloween hotline and howl! Get your tickets for this wild internet extravaganza and come join in the fun! Bonus: Bippy will be hosting an Election Day special that you don't want to miss!

 

Friday, October 23 at 10:00 PM

Saturday, October 24 at 10:00 PM

Thursday, October 29 at 9:30 PM

Friday, October 30 at 10:00 PM

Saturday, October 31 at 10:00 PM

Tuesday, November 3 at 7:30 PM

Stage West Goes In the Box
Stage West joins the Adirondack Theatre Festival and Bloomington Playwrights Project for virtual experiences, including magic shows, a mystery, films, and more.

published Friday, August 21, 2020

 

Fort Worth — Stage West is pleased to be one of several theatres nationwide to offer In the Box Entertainment, a unique set of virtual experiences, created and produced by Adirondack Theatre Festival and Bloomington Playwrights Project, beginning September 10-12, and running through February 9-20, 2021. 

The first ever of its kind, these experiences include a from-your-couch cruise, hands-on-insane magic shows, an interactive hunt for a criminal, and a “wine and canvas” night gone wrong. All shows are ticketed live performances that will entertain audiences from the comfort of their homes.

Producing Artistic Director Chad Rabinovitz says, “Our goal from the start was to create entertainment that isn’t a consolation prize for not having live theatre, but instead to develop an iteration of live theatre that benefits specifically from being digital.  We’re not putting our art form on Zoom, we’re creating an art form for Zoom.  Imagine signing up for our Living Room Cruise Lines where we send you a Cruise in a Box,” explains Rabinovitz.  “It’ll arrive in the mail (the real, physical mail) prior to your scheduled departure.  In it you’ll find things like a pocket fan, a Hawaiian lei, a tiny umbrella to put in your drink, a passport, an ocean-scented candle and other important items to set the mood.  Your ticket is your boarding pass to an exclusive live Zoom room where our ukulele-playing Cruise Director welcomes our guests and gets you ready for travel.   As you set sail for your first tropical destination, you might find yourself tasting a local delicacy from your upcoming port.  Along the way, there’s plenty of shipboard entertainment to experience as our Cruise Director introduces you to singers, magicians, comedians, jugglers, and more.  Or perhaps Shipboard Bingo is more your speed, where you can relax and stamp those bingo cards (which we’ve provided) as the artificial wind blows across your face.  It’s an experience you won’t soon forget, especially since there’ll be a towel animal (that we’ll teach you to make) waiting on your bed later that night!” 

The full season of performances will be branded as IN THE BOX ENTERTAINMENT presented by ATF & BPP.  All shows will include a box mailed to the ticket holder prior to the show which will fuel their at-home experience.

Each show is $50 for the box and the Zoom event, and $35 for the event only. 

In addition, In the Box includes an option for Film Festival in a Box, in which audiences can choose from over 100 short and feature-length films to see, and the box includes typical film festival swag.  This “film fest experience” schedule will exist from Thursday through Saturday.  For those wanting to watch whatever they want, whenever they want it, the full catalogue of films will be available “on demand” for Sunday.  The cost for Film Festival in a Box is $75 for the event (includes all films) and box, and $45 for the event only (includes most films, but not headliners).

 

The full lineup is:

 

MAGIC IN A BOX:  VIRTUAL REALITY

September 10-12, 2020

You’ll take part in this ground-breaking LIVE Show from the comfort of your own home, where world-renowned mentalist (and current contestant on America’s Got Talent), Max Major, will literally get inside your head through the screen.  With an uncanny ability to predict thoughts and control the actions of others, this “real-life Sherlock Holmes,” leads at-home audiences through an intimate and fully interactive journey - together they discover the power of virtual connection made possible through hypnosis and mentalism.

The intrigue kicks off before the show even begins when each participant receives a special package in the mail - the contents of which cannot be revealed until Max gives the word…

 

FILM FESTIVAL IN A BOX:  ADIRONDACK FILM FESTIVAL

October 15-18, 2020

Film selection is currently underway, led by Programming Director, Jessica Levandoski, and will be announced in early September.  Festival blocks will be created for the short films, as in previous years, by theme (e.g. Laugh Therapy, Sweet & Sour, A Shot in the Dark, Tasting Menu, etc.)  But this year these blocks may be combined with box items to enhance the experience.  AFF Kleenex may accompany a drama block or a scented candle will help set the mood for a romance block.

 

CRUISE IN A BOX:  LIVING ROOM CRUISE LINES

November 4-14

Set sail for an unforgettable, high seas staycation on the world's first ever Cruise in a Box! Your ticket doesn't just buy you passage on this not-so-nautical adventure, we'll also be mailing you a special "SHIPment" - filled with everything you'd expect from a luxury cruise liner; plush towels that we'll teach you to transform into animals for your cabin, ocean-scented candles, a little umbrella to shade your favorite tropical drink, and so much more! Then, you'll join your Live Virtual Cruise Director for a night of world-class Shipboard entertainment and variety performances as you sail across the globe – all from your own couch! 

 

MYSTERY IN A BOX:  MANHUNT

January 12-23, 2021

You buy a ticket. You're delivered a box. Inside the box, you find a variety of objects, along with an invitation... beckoning you to solve a mysterious puzzle. You accept the invitation, and are connected online to a detective who needs the clues in your box to start connecting the pieces... but... the pieces to what? As the plot unfolds into a night of twists and turns - along with virtual live performances that plunge you deeper into a world of noir and intrigue - you realize this is about much more than random items in a box. You begin to wonder: in this virtual game of cat and mouse... who's chasing who? And why is one of your objects a clock that's slowly counting down? And... perhaps most importantly of all... what happens when it hits zero?

 

PAINT IN A BOX:  PAINTING FOR ONE

February 9-20, 2021 

It's time for Andy and Laura's Painting for Two - the BEST paint-by-numbers instructional show on public access WBPP! By signing up for this week's show, you've received your canvas and paints in the mail, and you'll be following along with Andy and Laura to make it a masterpiece in a night where wine and canvas meets live theatre. One small change: Laura isn't here. She's gone. But... Andy's here, live... from the living room they once shared... and he's ready to make this blank canvas into a stunning piece of art with YOU! Also, due to budget cuts, we may need him to host a few more shows throughout the evening... also the future of the station may be at stake. But... it'll be fine, right? Yeah... yeah it'll be... fine...

 

Writers for these interactive scripted events are:

Hank Greene (Cruise/Mystery/Paint) is an award-winning playwright who made his professional debut with the BPP as a writer on The Blizzard in 2012. He has returned to Bloomington as a frequent collaborator on works such as Vintage Scenes, Death Metal Family Radio Hour, and the Reva Shriner Award-winning Knights of the Sales Office, which also appeared at ATF. Other works include Arumforn (or Yiddish for Journey) (developed with The New Colony’s Writers Room), One and Two Makes Universe, and his most recent piece, Benjamin Harrison Chased a Goat, was commissioned by Art for Lawrence’s Theater at the Fort in Indianapolis. As a performer, he is a former member of the critically-acclaimed sketch comedy trio Vienna Juvenile, with whom he performed on stages across the country.

E.J. Cameron (Cruise) has lived in Chicago for eight years, where he has graduated from and performed at The Second City, iO and Comedy Sportz. He was a recipient of The Second City Training Center’s Bob Curry Fellowship in 2016 before joining the cast of the e.t.c.’s 43rd revue, Grinning from Fear to Fear and e.t.c.’s 44th revue. Prior to moving to Chicago, E.J. received his BFA in Acting at Columbus State University (not Ohio!) and performed with multiple troupes. He is represented by Paonessa Talent and is an avid pro-wrestling fan who loves the color purple. Follow @Ej_Cam19 on twitter and Eeeezeejeeezus19 on Instagram.

Emily Goodson (Mystery/Paint) is a playwright and librettist working in the Midwest. Her musical Spun (with Jeremy Schonfeld) was a 2017 finalist for the National Alliance of Musical Theatre, and is currently optioned for a 2021 off-Broadway production through Indie Theatricals. Her other musical Calling All Kates (with Jeremy Schonfeld) has also received numerous productions, most recently at the Adirondack Theatre Festival in the summer of 2019. As a recipient of the 2019 Lincoln City Fellowship through the Speranza Foundation, Emily developed the book and concept for Sticks & Stones: A New Musical Featuring the Work of Neko Case. As both a librettist and lyricist, she is currently developing a piece called Kuliling (with Ed Gatchalian) to open in July 2020 in Makati, Philippines. Other musical projects include Greta (with Jeremy Schonfeld), Hide & Seek, and The Unmothering of Little Fish. As a playwright, her play Besties! has been featured at the Northern Writers Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Tea Light Reading Series in Boise, Idaho. Her one-act Lady Bits was produced at the Indianapolis Fringe Festival in the Summer of 2012. Other non-musical writing projects include The Meltdown, The Blizzard: 30 Plays in 60 Minutes, and The Blizzard Sells Out: 30 Plays in 60 Minutes. To date, Emily is proud to have received hundreds of rejections from some of the most prestigious companies across the United States.

Founded in 1994, Adirondack Theatre Festival (ATF) is a professional not-for-profit summer theatre located in Glens Falls, NY.  ATF strives to challenge, entertain, and nourish its audience through the development and production of new and contemporary musicals and plays. During its 26-year history, ATF has launched more than 35 world premieres and produced 25 new play workshops. Each summer ATF produces a nine-week season of theatre for an audience of more than 9,500 using professional artists from New York City and across the country. Its summer season includes four mainstage productions, a new play workshop, two cabarets, and a children’s dinner theatre. ATF is the only professional summer theatre in the Capital District, Saratoga and Adirondack regions of upstate New York solely committed to producing new works. ATF also operates the Adirondack Film Festival, now entering its 5th season.  Serving over 4,000 patrons in one weekend, the film festival brings in major stars from the industry and showcases more than 100 films across multiple screens in Downtown Glens Falls.

The Bloomington Playwrights Project is the only professional theatre in the entire state of Indiana focused solely on new plays. Over the last 40+ years, BPP has developed and produced more than 500 new plays and musicals. Many BPP shows have reached significant success, including recent hits like: Kalamazoo, which has been published by Dramatists Play Service and performed across the country, Rap Guide to Culture which had a successful off-Broadway run, and Ugly Lies the Bone that was produced off-Broadway by Roundabout Theatre Company.

BPP has been has been privileged to develop and produce works by hundreds of playwrights including such well-known writers/performers as:  Dan Castellaneta (Voice of Homer Simpson), Marc Summers (Double Dare, Food Network), Jesse Eisenberg (Academy Award nominee), Jeff Daniels (Tony & Golden Globe nominee), Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), Greg Kotis (Tony winner), Paris Barclay (Two-time Emmy winner), Jon Marans (Pulitzer-Prize finalist), Erin Levy (Emmy winner), Alex Brightman (Two-time Tony Award nominee), and countless more.

BPP is the home of two annual playwriting awards, including the prestigious Woodward/Newman Drama Award in honor of the many incredible dramas created by Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman.  The award was initially started and supported by Joanne Woodward and the Newman’s Own Foundation.

Chad Rabinovitz is the only artist in the United States simultaneously serving as the Producing Artistic Director of two theaters devoted to new works: Adirondack Theatre Festival (Glens Falls, NY) & Bloomington Playwrights Project (Bloomington, IN). In addition to producing new works, Chad has directed more than 100 productions across the country, focusing primarily on new and contemporary plays and musicals. He is also currently the Producer of the acclaimed Adirondack Film Festival, Managing Director of the Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre, and Producer of a visual arts festival, Arts Fair on the Square.

TBT Cancels Nutcracker
The monthlong run of Texas Ballet Theater's The Nutcracker, in Dallas and Fort Worth, has been canceled due to the Coronavirus.

published Thursday, August 13, 2020
Photo: Steven Visneau
Texas Ballet Theater has canceled the 2020 The Nutcracker

Just in from Texas Ballet Theater: The 2020 production of The Nutcracker, which runs in both Dallas and Fort Worth, has been canceled due to the pandemic. Below is the full news release.

 

Texas Ballet Theater (TBT) has canceled its annual run of Ben Stevenson, O.B.E.’s The Nutcracker, scheduled for November 27-December 6, 2020, at Winspear Opera House in Dallas and December 11-27, 2020 at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth.

The nonprofit ballet company made the decision to cancel its 2020-2021 season-opening production after exploring all options for the holiday performance. Organizational leaders deemed it impossible to effectively prepare for and perform the production with social distancing and other safety measures in place.

When dancers return from their regularly scheduled summer break August 24, TBT will follow COVID-19 prevention protocols developed in consultation with health and safety professionals, peer ballet organizations across the country and TBT leadership, including the Board of Governors. These current protocols prevent dancers from partnering or dancing within six feet of each other. The company is unable to rehearse The Nutcracker while adhering to these regulations.

Additionally, TBT’s venues require social distancing among audiences. These guidelines dramatically reduce the number of patrons who can enjoy Dallas-Fort Worth’s biggest production of The Nutcracker. Due to the magnitude of sets, costumes and special effects, the company cannot recoup the expenses of its largest production of the season without its regular audiences.

“Bringing The Nutcracker to life requires large numbers of dancers, crew and staff to be in close proximity with each other as early as September, which causes serious concerns amid our public health landscape,” Executive Director Vanessa Logan said. “We will still connect with our community this holiday season, just in a different way.”

TBT is committed to supporting its artists and connecting with the Dallas-Fort Worth community. Despite canceling The Nutcracker, the company will continue to employ its dancers and will develop new programs to engage audiences during the holiday season. To stay up to date with TBT and its upcoming announcements, visit www.texasballettheater.org or follow the company on social media @txballettheater.

Fort Worth Opera Launches Green Room
To kick off its 75th season, the Fort Worth Opera launches digital initiatives, including master classes, online performances, and Zoom readings of new work.

published Thursday, August 13, 2020
Photo: Chris Singer
Soprano Jennifer Rowley

Just in from Fort Worth Opera: The organization has launched FWO Green Room, a digital initiative to start the organization's 75th anniversary season. The full news release is below:

 

Fort Worth — Fort Worth Opera (FWO) is proud to announce the launch of FWO Green Room, a new digital initiative to kick off the company’s 75th anniversary season. In this time of social distancing, as opera companies across the globe continue to explore innovative ways to connect with audiences and build dynamic relationships through technology, FWO is thrilled to offer a blend of entertaining and interactive online content for opera lovers and novices alike. The FWO Green Room will feature exhilarating performances, seminars, masterclasses, a two-night libretto workshop with an all-star panel, and round-table discussions with some of the most remarkable luminaries of the opera world.

Following an immensely popular weekend masterclass series with FWO this summer, Metropolitan Opera soprano Jennifer Rowley will offer an exclusive, six-week Virtual Audition Intensive to prepare young opera singers for the fall audition season ahead. As a result of the ongoing pandemic, physical auditions have been replaced with video submissions and virtual performances for audition panels. Over the course of six sessions, Ms. Rowley and her renowned guests will offer invaluable guidance each week on how to deliver an impressive audition, while navigating the current digital landscape successfully.

Beginning August 22, Jennifer Rowley’s Virtual Audition Intensive will be held on Zoom each Saturday through September 26, and simultaneously streamed to FWO and Ms. Rowley’s Facebook pages. These insightful masterclasses and seminars will discuss vocal health and fatigue, the audition circuit in Europe, and the anatomy of a perfect video audition with special guests David and Francisco Salazar of OperaWire, and production company La Cuarta Productions. FWO is also delighted to announce that E. Loren Meeker, General and Artistic Director of OPERA San Antonio, will return after the first summer session to hold another fantastic acting masterclass. Additionally, Ms. Rowley will host classes and talks on young artist programs, mainstage auditions, international competitions, and acquiring management, but with a twist — live audition panels featuring top industry professionals.

While Fort Worth Opera was saddened to announce the cancellation of the 2020 Festival, this unforeseen global crisis has truly invigorated the company. Now is a time ripe for reinvention. Challenges have yielded opportunities to connect with our local and artistic communities in ways that had rarely been mined before the pandemic. FWO looks forward to the moment when these extraordinary artists can be flown to North Texas for live performances. In the interim, the company has invited many of the past season’s stars to join us virtually.

Starting the week of August 17, FWO will debut Festival Artists Online, the company’s digital platform for thrilling concerts, intimate living room performances, and fascinating discussions. Fort Worth Opera is honored to have internationally acclaimed artists Martin Bakari, Vanessa Becerra, Emily Fons, Devon Guthrie, Abigail Levis, Curt Olds, Luis Alejandro Orozco, Donovan Singletary, Efraín Solís, and Talise Trevigne as the project’s inaugural guests. Performances, IGTV interviews, and scheduled conversations will be announced on the company’s official website and social media platforms in the weeks to come.

FWO Green Room will also feature the return of Fort Worth Opera’s celebrated new works showcase Frontiers, in a slightly different format on Zoom. Stripped of any musical elements for this latest incarnation, Frontiers: FWO Libretto Workshop will highlight some of the most vibrant literary voices in contemporary opera, with a two-night exploration of storytelling led by Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell and a prestigious panel of librettists, directors, and singers. A call for submissions, further details, and the full list of panelists will be announced shortly.

The Fort Worth Opera Chorus has become a force to be reckoned with over the past two seasons under brilliant new Chorus Master Alfrelynn Roberts. Next month, FWO will unveil a stunning, inspirational choral performance from a revered 20th-century American composer, arranger, and choral director. Forty-two choristers will be highlighted on the company’s social media platforms weekly until this virtual choral project premieres, and information will be forthcoming.

FWO Green Room is part of Fort Worth Opera’s ongoing desire to stay connected and engaged with our community during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This exciting initiative will evolve throughout the company’s 75th anniversary season, as FWO continues to foster strong partnerships with our devoted patrons, inspire the next generation of opera lovers, and support the incredible artists who are the lifeblood of the performing arts here in North Texas and beyond. Visit www.fwopera.org to learn more.

ABOUT FORT WORTH OPERA: Founded in 1946, Fort Worth Opera is the oldest continually-performing opera company in Texas, and one of the 14 oldest opera companies in the United States. The organization has received national acclaim from critics and audiences alike for its artistic excellence. Beginning in 2017, Fort Worth Opera launched Noches de Ópera (Nights of Opera), a groundbreaking campaign designed to introduce powerful operas to the community, each reflecting the diverse cultures of American audiences.

Terrence McNally Receives Maria Callas Award
The Dallas Opera bestows its biggest award to the late librettist and playwright, who wrote the libretto for TDO world premiere Great Scott and was a creative force behind Moby-Dick

published Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Photo: Robert Hart/TheaterJones
From left: Librettist Terrence McNally, composer Jake Heggie and director Jack O'Brien photographed in 2015 for the Dallas Opera premiere of Great Scott

 

This just in from The Dallas Opera:

DallasTerrence McNally, the legendary American playwright, screenwriter, and librettist will posthumously receive The Dallas Opera’s most prestigious honor, The Maria Callas Award, in recognition of his contribution to two landmark events in the company’s history: Mr. McNally wrote the libretto for Jake Heggie’s Great Scott, which received its world premiere at TDO in 2015; and he was a major creative force behind the creation of Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick, which had its world premiere on the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House stage in 2010.

Ian Derrer, The Dallas Opera’s Kern Wildenthal general director and CEO, said that Mr. McNally’s long-term impact on the company had been extraordinary, thus honoring the literary lion with TDO’s most important award was particularly fitting.  “Terrence McNally’s libretto for Great Scott was dazzling in its scope and ambition, yet filled with the warmth and humanity that characterized so many of his best works. It was truly our privilege to bring this ‘operatic love letter’ to life.

“And Mr. McNally’s imprint on The Dallas Opera began even earlier,” Derrer explained. “There is no doubt that the 2010 world premiere of Moby-Dick, which so magnificently concluded The Dallas Opera’s inaugural season in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, was a game-changer for the company. We have Terrence to thank for the inspiration.”

“Simply put, Terrence McNally was a brilliant artist who loved opera nearly as much as the opera world loved him,” Derrer said.

Over the course of a career spanning six decades, Terrence McNally’s prolific output included opera librettos, ten books for musicals, over 37 plays, and a variety of screenplays for film and television. He was the recipient of five Tony Awards, and he also won an Emmy and several Obie and Drama Desk awards. In addition to the 2019 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement, his other honors included the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award (2011) and the Lucille Lortel Lifetime Achievement Award (2015). He received honorary degrees from the Juilliard School and NYU. One of his most important honors was conferred in 2018, when McNally was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Between his early life in St. Petersburg, Florida and his successes on-and-off Broadway, McNally attended high school in Corpus Christi, Texas, where an English teacher encouraged his love of Shakespeare and language. McNally scored his first commercial success with Next in 1969, which was directed by Elaine May and starred a then-unknown James Coco. This was followed by plays and musicals including The Ritz (1975), Frankie and Johnnie in the Claire de Lune (1987), The Lisbon Traviata (1989), and Lips Together, Teeth Apart (1991), culminating in a string of critically acclaimed Tony Award winners: Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993), Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994), Master Class (1995), and Ragtime (1997).

In 1997, at the suggestion of Lotfi Mansouri, general director at San Francisco Opera, Terrence McNally teamed up with a newcomer—composer Jake Heggie—to bring Sister Helen Prejean’s searing 1993 memoir Dead Man Walking to the opera stage. Two decades after its premiere, this work remains the most frequently produced American opera of the 21st century.

“When the Dallas Opera called in 2005 about a big, bold new American opera to be a featured part of the opening season in the Winspear Opera House, it was Terrence’s idea to tackle Moby-Dick,” explains Mr. Heggie.

“I was overwhelmed and daunted at first, but I saw a twinkle in his eye—a fiery sparkle of possibility—and knew he had thought of a way. Due to health problems, Terrence wasn’t able to see the project through and the libretto was eventually written by Gene Scheer. So, when The Dallas Opera called again for a follow-up to Moby-Dick, it felt only right to go back to Terrence.

“This time, he wanted to explore something even more dangerous and daring: a comic opera based on an original story. Great Scott emerged as a moving, funny and challenging story of our time, posing big questions about life, art, culture, identity, passion and belonging. His work inspired a whole new kind of music from me,” Heggie writes. “We were able to give big, juicy roles to our super starry cast, and the audience roared, laughed and wept along with us. Great Scott was recorded live at The Dallas Opera and received a Grammy Nomination for Best New Classical Composition.”

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato won the 2016 Maria Callas Award for her Dallas Opera debut as Arden Scott, the central character in Great Scott. The phenomenal original cast included Ailyn Pérez, Frederica von Stade, Nathan Gunn, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Kevin Burdette, Michael Mayes, and Rodell Rosel.

The Dallas Opera’s Maria Callas Award was inaugurated at the conclusion of The Dallas Opera’s 1991-1992 Season. Illustrious past winners include Cecilia Bartoli, Stephanie Blythe, Laura Claycomb, Marina Costa-Jackson, Susan Graham, Denyce Graves, Ben Heppner, Hei-Kyung Hong, Kyle Ketelsen, Isabel Leonard, Indira Mahajan, Latonia Moore, Patricia Racette, and Christopher Ventris.

Winners receive an etched-crystal plaque which bears the likeness of the company’s unofficial “Godmother”—iconic soprano Maria Callas—who inaugurated performances at TDO with a splendid concert of opera arias in 1957. It is especially fitting that this award should go to the author of the Tony Award-winning play Master Class in which Callas herself is the focus.

This year’s award plaque will be presented to Terrence McNally’s husband, Tom Kirdahy.

 

ABOUT THE DALLAS OPERA

One of the leading opera companies in the country, The Dallas Opera has an extraordinary legacy of world-class productions and thrilling premieres featuring the greatest operatic artists of our time. Inaugurated in 1957 with a concert featuring the incomparable Maria Callas, TDO is known for the notable U.S. debuts of a host of legendary artists including Plácido Domingo, Dame Joan Sutherland, Jon Vickers, Franco Zeffirelli, and Sir David McVicar. The company has long been an industry leader and innovator through groundbreaking initiatives including TDO Network, the Hart Institute for Women Conductors, free public simulcasts, acclaimed art song recitals, the national vocal competition, special concerts, and outstanding family and award-winning education programs. TDO’s home is the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, a jewel in the Dallas Arts District. As one of the largest performing arts employers in North Texas, TDO is proudly committed to diversity, onstage and off, and is a major contributor to the economic vitality and international cultural reputation of this region.

DCT to Co-Present A Kids Play About Racism
Dallas Children's Theater and 36 Theatre for Young Audiences organizations collaborate to stream the 30-minute play for free via Broadway on Demand. Extended through Aug. 7.

published Monday, July 27, 2020
Photo: Courtesy
Author Jelani Memory and Director Khalia Davis

 

This just in from Dallas Children's Theater:

Dallas — Dallas Children’s Theater joins a groundbreaking collaboration of 37 Theatres for Young Audiences (TYA) across the United States, led by the lead producing team of Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. The collaborative will present the virtual premiere of A KIDS PLAY ABOUT RACISM, a theatrical adaptation of Jelani Memory’s A Kids Book About Racism. Premiering free on August 1 and extended through August 7 on the streaming platform Broadway On Demand, the new work is adapted and directed by award-winning director and TYA artist Khalia Davis and will be brought to life by an entirely Black and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) cast and creative team from across the United States. The 30-minute production will be free to everyone, but a Broadway On Demand account is required. Interested persons can create their account now at https://www.broadwayondemand.com/signup. All links can be found here: dct.org/akidsplay

A KIDS PLAY ABOUT RACISM will utilize theatre to offer young children and families a way to engage in meaningful conversation about race. As part of the production, educational materials developed by Seattle Children’s Theatre in collaboration with the Northwest African American Museum will extend the experience and enhance age-appropriate engagement. All 37 partnering theatres are members of Theatre for Young Audiences USA (TYA/USA), the national organization representing the field of theatre for children and family audiences.

“I jumped at the opportunity to adapt Jelani Memory's book A Kids Book About Racism into a theatrical piece for young audiences simply because it meant we were recognizing the importance of including children in these difficult conversations,” shared lead artist Khalia Davis. “This show embraces the full spectrum of emotional response children may have as they navigate comprehending racism and how it may affect them."

“When I wrote A Kids Book About Racism, I wrote it from my own kids. I never could have imagined it would have spread so far and wide to thousands of kids all over the world, or turned into a nationwide theatrical event.  I am excited to see what Khalia and these other amazing artists create,” offered Jelani Memory, whose book provides the inspiration for the production. A Kids Book about Racism is part of Memory’s children’s book publishing company A Kids Book About, which offers titles on a range of big topics to explore including feminism, belonging, gratitude, cancer, and many more. 

DCT actor, Isaiah Christopher-Lord Harris (Panic), is very excited to be a part of this national production! Recent/Favorite credits include DCT’s national tour: (Worm) Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly. Regional credits include: Frank-N-Friend and Jack Frost (Casa Mañana), Beauty and The Beast (DCT), Priscilla Queen of The Desert and Aida (Uptown Players), and Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration (Disney World). He also recently got cast in his first Short film 33 RPM.

According to Harris, “A KIDS PLAY ABOUT RACISM addresses a conversation that needs to be had and it not only needs to be had with adults, but it needs to be had with kids. We have to have that conversation with an open heart because that’s the only real way we’re going to be able to listen to each other. I want it to bring up conversation and questions. I want there to be a dialogue because kids witness a lot, they hear a lot, they think about a lot more than we think. To be able to have a conversation with their parent and truly understand what’s going on is very special. That way when a child is in an environment where racism is happening, they can be able to point it out and say ‘Hey, that’s not right. You’re not supposed to do that. Just because that person is different doesn’t mean they’re wrong.’”

The scale and breadth of this co-production has been made possible in part through the network cultivated by TYA/USA, which connects organizations and artists across the country focused on theatre for young people and families. Through the last few months, TYA/USA has offered a range of programming to provide deep connections and resource sharing in response to COVID-19. Through this network, TYA theatres across the country have been able to come together to find ways to support each other and their audiences through new and innovative collaboration models.

A KIDS PLAY ABOUT RACISM will be streaming for free on Broadway On Demand on August 1 and 2 along with accompanying interviews and educational videos.

On Friday, August 7 at Noon, Dallas Children’s Theater in partnership with Texas Instruments and Capital One will present a virtual Lunch & Learn Talkback Event.  Author Jelani Memory and Play Adaptor and Director, Khalia Davis will be featured speakers along with national cultural competence expert, Anthony Peterson.  To learn more about the speakers and get the link to the event, go to dct.org/akidsplay.

A KIDS PLAY ABOUT RACISM is adapted and directed by Khalia Davis, with music composed by Justin Ellington and Costume Design by Ron McCann (California). It will be performed by Davied Morales (California), Angel Adedokun (California), Moses Goods (Hawaii), Rapheal Hamilton (Arizona), Isaiah Harris (Texas), Jessenia Ingram (Georgia), and Regan Sims (New York).

The work is produced by Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Alliance Theatre, in partnership with Adventure Theatre MTC, Arts on the Horizon, Children's Theatre of Charlotte, Chicago Children's Theatre, Children's Theater of Madison, Children’s Theatre Company, Childsplay, Children's Theatre of Cincinnati, Coterie Theatre, Dallas Children's Theater, Dare to Dream Theatre, Des Moines Performing Arts, Filament Theatre, First Stage, Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Imagination Stage, The Kennedy Center, Magik Theatre, Metro Theater Company, Nashville Children's Theatre, New York City Children's Theater, Oregon Children's Theatre, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Orpheum Theatre Group, Pink Umbrella Theater Company, ReNew Productions, Rose Theater, Seattle Children's Theatre The Growing Stage - The Children's Theatre of New Jersey, The Gottabees, The Open Eye Theater, TheatreWorksUSA, Trike Theatre, Trusty Sidekick Theater Company, and Wheelock Family Theatre at Boston University.

 

About Dallas Children’s Theater

Dallas Children’s Theater features professional actors performing for an annual audience of 250,000 young people and their families through mainstage productions (9 in the 2019-2020 season), a national -touring company, and an arts-in-education program. As the only major organization in Dallas focusing solely on youth and family theater, DCT builds bridges of understanding between generations and cultures, instilling an early appreciation of literature, art, and the performing arts in tomorrow’s artists and patrons. 

 

About Khalia Davis: Khalia Davis(she/her) is a bicoastal multidisciplinary artist splitting her time between the San Francisco/Bay Area and New York. Directed and devised new works with prominent theaters such as Bay Area Children’s Theater, Atlantic Theater Company’s Atlantic for Kids, New York City Children’s Theater, Spellbound Theatre and more. Ms. Davis recently served as the Director of Inclusion and Education with Brooklyn Children’s Theatre restructuring their children’s musical theater programming through an anti-racism lens and currently teaches with New York City Children's Theater, the Atlantic Acting School, and for Disney Theatrical Group leading music and movement workshops and facilitating audience and community engagement. She is also an Artistic Associate for the nationally-known arts education organization The Story Pirates. As a performer, she has worked regionally and toured nationally on both coasts. Recently awarded the 2019 Emerging Leader Fellowship with TYA/USA and the NYCCT Leader Fellowship for 2019/2020. BA in Theater Arts from the University of Southern California. To learn more about Ms. Davis, check her out at www.khaliadavis.com.

 

About Broadway On Demand: Broadway On Demand is the premiere streaming service offering an extensive and wide-ranging library of video on demand content, exclusive livestream events, interactive platforms, and educational resources.  It is designed as a virtual performing arts complex offering not only Broadway shows and movie musicals but also, individual artists, concert series, performance venues, and theatres around the world. Additionally, using a unique licensing interface, approved middle school, high school, and college productions will have the opportunity to be streamed to a global audience.  Broadway On Demand fulfills Broadway’s long-held promise of being the ‘longest street in the world.’

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