The Fort Worth Opera continues to combine tradition with the cutting edge in opera. Well, at least the accessible side of the cutting edge. The season they announced for the 2012 festival has one warhorse (Puccini’s Tosca), one perennial favorite (Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro) and two recently composed operas in their regional premieres, Mark Adamo’s Lysistrara and Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers. Both of these contemporary operas are written in a highly accessible musical language, without (thankfully) the unrelenting dissonance and screeching vocal lines that characterizes some of the modern offerings.
As FWO has done for the past two seasons, the festival will run all four operas in repertory, from May 12 to June 3, 2012. Most of the performances will take place at Bass Performance Hall in downtown Fort Worth.
Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, a tale of love, lust, revolution and murder will open the season on May 12. With Music Director Joe Illick in the pit, you can expect some real fireworks. Two of the singers who appeared in this opera in 2005 will return top reprise their roles. Soprano Carter Scott will sing the title role and Michael Chiodi will once again fail to win her affections, and pay for his miscalculation with a dinner knife in his chest, as the slimy Baron Scarpia. Daniel Pelzig, who did a bang up job directing Turrendot for them will direct. He seems to have a flair for these juicy Italian operas.
Although Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro suffers from over-exposure─everyone from junior colleges to major companies produce it regularly─a clever and well-sung performance will always remain one of life’s greatest joys. On May 19, we shall see. Director Eric Einhorn is an unknown quantity to this writer so what will happen with the stage action is a mystery. On the other hand, conductor Stewart Robertson is one of the best working today, so we can expect some sparkle musically. Only one of the singers has been here before, and that is Baritone Donovan Singletary, who we have yet to hear in this season’s product in of Handel’s Julius Caesar. But he won the FWO 2010 McCammon Competition Audience Choice Award so his return should be welcomed. The others in the young cast are Andrea Carroll as Figaro’s fiancée Susanna, 2010 McCammon winner baritone Jonathan Beyer as Count Almaviva, soprano Jan Cornelius as the Countess and mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta as Cherubino.
Composer Mark Adamo, whose opera Little Women enchanted Fort Worth audiences, will be represented with the regional premiere of his opera Lysistrata. This is a battle of the sexes riff on war by Aristophanes (who lived in Athens from 446 to 386 B.C. in case you were wondering). The women of Athens and Sparta, weary of the endless war between the two cities, refuse to have sex with any of the men until a truce is signed and war banished. It’s a silly proposition that is rife with comic possibilities, and Aristophanes play (and versions of it) has been popular for the past 10 years especially, as the U.S. has been engaged in war in the Middle East.
Ava Pine, a favorite of audiences in the Metroplex, will sing the leading role and tenor Scott Scully, who shined in FWO’s Angels in America in 2008, will portray her lover, Nico. Joe Illick will return to the pit and FWO favorite David Gately will direct.
Last will be Three Decembers by composer Jake Heggie, the composer of Dead Man Walking, and librettist Gene Scheer, the team that brought Moby-Dick to the stage in Dallas last season. This is the story of three decades in the life of a Broadway diva and her adult son and daughter. The story is told through a series of phone calls, visits, and Christmas letters. The Chicago Tribune called it “sharp, witty and poignant” so it is something completely different from the women on war’s warpath in Lysistrata. Janice Hall will return to sing the leading role. Local audiences remember her from her star turn in Angels in American in 2008. The conductor of that production, Christopher Larkin, will be in the pit. Two singers will make local debuts, soprano Emily Pulley and baritone Matthew Worth. The brilliant stage director Candace Evans, who has impressed in her work for the Dallas Opera, will take the helm of a new production designed for the 500 seat Scott Theatre. (This is the only production that won’t be at Bass Hall.) The sets will be by Bob Lavallee, costumes by Rondi Hillstrom Davis , and lighting by Lisa Miller, who deigned the upcoming Hydrogen Jukebox, which will close out the current season.
Schedule of 2012 Festival Performances
Saturday, May 12, 7:30 p.m. Tosca at Bass Hall
Sunday, May 13, 2 p.m. Three Decembers at Scott Theatre
Friday, May 18, 7:30 p.m. Three Decembers at Scott Theatre
Saturday, May 19, 7:30 p.m. The Marriage of Figaro at Bass Hall
Sunday, May 20, 2 p.m. Tosca at Bass Hall
Sunday, May 20, 7:30 p.m. Three Decembers at Scott Theatre
Friday, May 25, 7:30 p.m. Tosca at Bass Hall
Saturday, May 26, 2 p.m. Three Decembers at Scott Theatre
Saturday, May 26, 7:30 p.m. Lysistrata at Bass Hall
Sunday, May 27, 2 p.m. The Marriage of Figaro at Bass Hall
Thursday, May 31, 7:30 p.m. Three Decembers at Scott Theatre
Friday, June 1, 7:30 p.m. The Marriage of Figaro at Bass Hall
Saturday, June 2, 2 p.m. Three Decembers at Scott Theatre
Saturday, June 2, 7:30 p.m. Tosca at Bass Hall
Sunday, June 3, 2 p.m. Lysistrata at Bass Hall
Tickets can be purchased by phone or in person at Bass Performance Hall or at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. Season subscriptions range from $70 to $455 while single tickets range from $18 to $180. Season subscriptions are available now. Single tickets will be available starting Sept. 1, 2011. For more information or tickets, visit www.fwopera.org or call 817-731-0726 or 877-396-7372.