Dallas — The opera world was recently shocked to learn that James Levine, the maestro who made the Metropolitan Opera one of the top companies in the world, was dismissed from the new production of Tosca because of sexual misconduct allegations. The next production opens in just a few weeks and the attention immediately moved to the question of who would fill his sizeable shoes and conduct the show.
They have now found a replacement, and it is Emmanuel Villaume, the music director of The Dallas Opera who has already brought international praise to our local company. He is also the Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Prague Philharmonia.
His appointment to conduct this prestigious and eagerly anticipated production is a surprise but not surprising. Villaume has conducted at the Met on numerous occasions in the past, most recently with Massenet’s Thaïs. He made his Met debut in 2004 conducting Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Since then, he has returned to conduct Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila, Bizet’s Carmen, Massenet’s Manon and Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. In Dallas, he recently conducted Samson et Dalila in October 2017, and made his debut as TDO music director with Carmen.
This new production of Puccini’s Tosca, staged by Sir David McVicar, opens on Dec. 31. The cast includes Sonya Yoncheva as Tosca, Vittorio Grigolo as Cavaradossi, and Bryn Terfel as Scarpia. Adding to the cachet, the Jan. 27 matinee will be broadcast to thousands of movie houses in America as well as to theaters in 73 countries, as part of the Met’s Live in HD series.
This development clearly demonstrates the forethought of TDO General Director and CEO Keith Cerny for bringing Villaume to Dallas. Before the rest of us realized it, he saw a major conductor on his way up to the very top of the profession. Let’s just hope that we can keep them both here.