Fort Worth — A week before the 2014 Fort Worth Opera Festival is to begin, the 2015 festival season for organization has been announced. We already knew that group would be cutting back next season, dropping its much anticipated world premiere of A Wrinkle in Time, based on the Madeleine L'Engle young adult novel. But even with about a million dollars cut from the buget, the group will still do a warhorse (La Traviata), a lesser produced work from the canon (Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet) and a newer piece, the previously announced Dog Days. The third annual Frontiers, showcases of new work in progress, will return, too.
Here's the full news release about the season, with lists of artists involved with each production. And look for our coverage of the 2014 festival beginning next week on TheaterJones:
FORT WORTH, TX – Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) announced today details of the company’s bold and compelling repertoire selections scheduled for the 2015 season, running April 24 – May 10, 2015. Featuring a well-known Italian favorite and two regional premieres, the 2015 Fort Worth Opera Festival will come to life in three productions pulled from the pages of great literary works. Main stage productions include Verdi’s beloved La Traviata, returning to the FWOpera stage for its first production since the 2005-2006 season. The company will also produce the spellbinding regional premiere of Ambroise Thomas’ grand opera Hamlet, based on Shakespeare’s iconic play. Building on the success of the first year of FWOpera’s Opera of the Americas initiative, the company will bring audiences the regional premiere of the riveting Dog Days—based on the short story by Judith Budnitz—by acclaimed creative team David T. Little and Royce Vavrek and will usher in the third year of its pioneering new works showcase, Frontiers.
“The 2015 Festival lineup is one I am proud to bring to our North Texas patrons and to offer to the larger opera community world-wide,” stated General Director Darren K. Woods. “This season marks a bold step forward with three provocative works that challenge the human experience – from sacrificial love to testing the limits of one’s own humanity. From the traditional to the contemporary, each work is vivid and spectacular, showcasing exceptional singers, exquisite sets, brilliant staging, and a one-of-a-kind musical experience.”
Woods continued, “Art is a valuable method used to challenge the thoughts and ideas of our community. This season will take this challenge to the next level.”
Fort Worth Opera will emphasize its commitment to contemporary works by launching the 2015 season with the revolutionary new opera Dog Days, by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek, in the intimate setting of the Scott Theatre at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center (1300 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, Texas). Based on the powerful short story of the same name by Judith Budnitz, the opera depicts the harrowing saga of an American family in a post-apocalyptic world. Facing imminent starvation and struggling to retain their dignity, the family is put to the ultimate test of humanity when a man appears at their home dressed as a dog and begging for scraps. Sure to be one of the most raw and affecting pieces to ever take the Fort Worth Opera stage, Dog Days has been described as “a punch in the stomach,” and “one of the most exciting operas in recent years” by The Wall Street Journal.
Having made its world premiere in 2012, FWOpera, in partnership with Beth Morrison Projects, will present this pivotal work with its original cast, set, and orchestra including Laura Worsham as Lisa, John Kelly as the Dog, and David T. Little’s very own new music ensemble NEWSPEAK, in its first mounting since the opera’s world premiere.
Robert Woodruff will direct the production with conductor Alan Pierson leading NEWSPEAK through Little’s riveting and tuneful score. Set and video designer Jim Findlay, costume designer Victoria “Vita” Tzykun, and lighting designer Christopher Kuhl complete the creative team. The production was originally commissioned and produced by Peak Performances at Monclair (NJ) in association with Beth Morrison Projects. The 2015 remount is produced by Beth Morrison Projects and presented by Fort Worth Opera.
Opening the Bass Hall season will be Verdi’s masterpiece La Traviata. Based on La Dame aux camellias by Alexander Dumas, fis, and renowned for its unforgettable melodies, this timeless love story will play out against Verdi’s rich orchestration and features a cast of fresh faces all making their FWOpera debuts in this traditionally staged production. Although deeply in love, the beautiful but frail Violetta Valéry—sung by Australian rising star Rachelle Durkin—resigns her passionate affair with Alfredo Germont – portrayed by Patrick O’Halloran—to maintain his family’s respected name. Rounding out the leading roles is Nicholas Pallesen as Alfredo’s father, Giorgo Germont.
FWOpera favorite David Gately (Ariadne auf Naxos and Così fan tutte) will direct, while FWOpera’s Music Director Joe Illick conducts the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. La Traviata will also include lighting design by Fort Worth native Chad R. Jung and set and costumes by Desmond Heeley, originally designed for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
The 2015 Bass Hall series concludes with the regional premiere of Ambroise Thomas’ riveting retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. From the moment guests enter Bass Hall, they will be catapulted into the haunting world of intrigue and vengeance with a set recalling images of a stark Soviet-era city. This mesmerizing production will welcome baritone Wes Mason (Before Night Falls and La Bohème) back to FWOpera in the title role, while Rod Nelman (Tosca, The Marriage of Figaro, and The Daughter of the Regiment) will portray the lecherous Claudius.
Robynne Redmon (Dead Man Walking and Madama Butterfly) will appear as Gertrude, and Talise Trevigne will take on the challenging role of Ophelia in her FWOpera debut, following her success in Jake Heggie’s monumental Moby Dick with the Dallas Opera.
Conductor Joe Illick will return to the podium to lead the orchestra through Thomas’ emotive score, and acclaimed director Thaddeus Strassburger will make his Festival debut. Lighting designer Chad R. Jung, and costume designer Mary Traylor round out the creative team.
The final week of the 2015 Festival will feature Frontiers, the company’s showcase for new works. Six to eight selected composers will be in residence at the Festival during the last week and their works will be presented in 20-minute performances sung by young artists of the 2015 Opera Festival and accompanied by piano on May 7 – May 8, 2015. Each composer will attend the showcase and participate in an enlightening post-performance discussion. Composers will receive feedback on their work through private meetings with the Frontiers jury panel. In addition, the workshops will be recorded, so the composers can subsequently study the recording to assist in the completion of the compositional process. Final performances will be offered in two separate showcases of four works each on Thursday, May 7, 2015, at 6:00 pm, and Friday, May 8, 2015, at 6:00 pm.
The 2015 Fort Worth Opera Festival April 24—May 10, 2015
Music by David T. Little; libretto by Royce Vavrek
April 24, 26m, 28, 29, May 1, 2m, 2015 (m=matinee)
Regional Premiere; part of Opera of the Americas initiative and Opera Unbound series
Scott Theatre, Fort Worth Community Arts Center (1300 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, TX 76107) Sung in English (no supertitles)
Laura Worsham* (Lisa) James Bobick* (Howard)
Marnie Breckenridge* (Mother) John Kelly* (Prince—the Dog) Cherry Duke* (Captain) Michael Marcotte* (Elliott) Peter Tantsits* (Pat)
Beth Morrison, creative producer Alan Pierson*, conductor
Robert Woodruff*, director
Jim Findlay*, scenic and video designer; Christopher Kuhl*, lighting designer; Victoria “Vita” Tzykun*, costume designer; NEWSPEAK*, musical ensemble
Produced by Beth Morrison Projects
Set courtesy of Peak Performances @ Montclair State (NJ)
* denotes Fort Worth Opera debut season
Music by Giuseppe Verdi; libretto by Francesco Maria Piave.
April 25, May 3m, 9, 2015 (m=matinee)
Bass Performance Hall, downtown Fort Worth In Italian with supertitles in English and Spanish
First performance by FWOpera since the 2005-2006 season.
Rachelle Durkin* (Violetta Valéry) Patrick O’Halloran* (Alfredo Germont) Nicholas Pallesen* (Giorgio Germont)
Joe Illick, conductor David Gately, director
Desmond Heeley*, set and costume design
Set and costumes courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago
* denotes Fort Worth Opera debut season
Music by Ambroise Thomas; libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier.
May 2, 10m, 2015 (m=matinee)
Bass Performance Hall, downtown Fort Worth
In French with supertitles in English and Spanish Regional premiere; first performance in FWOpera history
Wes Mason (Hamlet) Talise Trevigne* (Ophelia) Rod Nelman (Claudius)
Robynne Redmon (Gertrude)
Joe Illick, conductor
Thaddeus Strassburger*, director and set designer
Chad R. Jung, lighting design; costume design, Mary Traylor
Set courtesy of Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Washington National Opera
*denotes Fort Worth Opera debut season
Two separate showcases of four works each on Thursday, May 7, 2015, at 6:00 p.m., and Friday, May 8, 2015, at 6:00 p.m.
Schedule of 2015 Festival Performances
TICKETS: Tickets for the 2015 Festival can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at the Fort Worth Opera Customer Service Office inside the Fort Worth Community Arts Center at 1300 Gendy St., Fort Worth, Texas, 76107. Season subscriptions range from $26 to $379 while single tickets range from $17 to $195 (prices subject to change). Subscriptions are available now and single tickets go on sale August 1, 2014. For more information, please visit www.fwopera.org or call 817.731.0726 or toll-free at 1.877.396.7372. To purchase tickets online, go to www.fwopera.org.
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. Under the leadership of General Director Darren K. Woods since 2001, the organization has gained national attention from critics and audiences alike for its artistic quality and willingness to take risks. Known throughout the operatic world as a champion of new and rarely-performed works, the company has taken a leadership role in producing contemporary operas. In 2007, when the company changed its fall/winter schedule to a condensed one-month long Festival in the spring, FWOpera staged its first world premiere, Frau Margot, and followed up the next season with Angels in America (which resulted in More Life: the Art and Science of AIDS, a community-wide collaboration amongst organizations in the performing and visual arts, children’s education, medicine, and social services), Dead Man Walking in 2009, the world premiere of Before Night Falls in 2010, and Hydrogen Jukebox in 2011. The 2012 Festival staged the regional premieres of Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata and Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers, the first time the two composers’ works have been co-programmed, and the 2013 season featured the regional premiere of Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, as well as the inaugural season of its new works showcase, Frontiers, featuring works by eight composers from the Americas. Fort Worth Opera’s CD recordings of Frau Margot, Before Night Falls, and Glory Denied are available on the Albany label.
The company’s upcoming 2014 season, part of Phase One of its recently announced ten-year artistic vision Opera of the Americas — funded in part by support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — includes two premieres: the professional world premiere of Daniel Crozier and Peter M. Krask’s With Blood, With Ink; and the regional premiere and national co-production of Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Pulitzer Prize award-winning Silent Night. Reinforcing its leadership role in contemporary opera, the 2014 Festival includes the second season of its annual new works program, Frontiers, showcasing new works by composers from the Americas. The company will also feature fresh productions of two popular works: the company’s second staging of Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, last performed in 1983; and Mozart’s Così fan tutte, last staged in 1995.
Established in 2002, the Fort Worth Opera Studio is a year-round training program for emerging young artists who are cast from annual national auditions. In addition to receiving professional training while in Fort Worth, the singers also perform in the Children’s Opera Theatre, the company’s educational program that tours fully costumed, portable operas to elementary schools. COT performances span the whole state of Texas and reach as many as 40,000 children a year, many of whom have no other access to arts education. Since 2007, attendance of Festival performances by out-of-town audiences has grown almost 5%. The local economy has also benefitted, with over 1,900 hotel rooms booked for the 2012 Festival alone. The company has balanced its budget for the eighth consecutive year.