Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato will star in Jake Heggie\'s <em>Great Scott</em>
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2015-16 for Dallas Opera

The Dallas Opera plans two world premieres, two classics and its first musical for the 2015-16 season.

published Monday, January 12, 2015

Photo: Pari Dukovic
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato will star in Jake Heggie'sGreat Scott

Dallas — There is much to trumpet in The Dallas Opera's 2015-16 season, not the least of which are two world premieres. The new operas we knew about from previous announcements, and they contribute to a landmark 2015 for the organization, which features three world premieres when you count the upcoming production of Everest, which is in the 2014-15 season.

Next season we'll have Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's Great Scott and Mark Adamo's Becoming Santa Claus.

The 2015-16 season includes another first for the Dallas Opera: a musical, with the groundbreaking 1927 Show Boat by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. Show Boat is one of those works, like Bernstein's Candide, Loesser's The Most Happy Fella and Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music, that straddle the worlds of opera and musical theater.

The other shows in the season are opera classics, Puccini's warhorse Tosca and Massenet's Manon.

The announcement was made in a press conference Monday, which featured Heggie, DiDonato and a marching band from Highland Park High School (football figures into Great Scott). Also on hand was Mary M. Jalonick, president of the Dallas Foundation, who announced that the Dallas Opera's series of spring simulcasts at AT&T Stadium will continue for at least three more years. Next up is Puccini's La bohemeMarch 21. (And based on the 15-16 announcement, we'd guess that Show Boat would be the 2016 simulcast.)

We'll post more analysis on the season in an upcoming article, but for now, here is the complete press release about the season, which has dates, performers, directors, descriptions, ticket info and much more:


DALLAS, JANUARY 12, 2015 — The Dallas Opera is proud to announce the five phenomenal mainstage productions of the 2015-2016 Season, “Seeking the Human Element,”to be presented in the magnificent Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center located in the Dallas Arts District.

The season line-up was announced this afternoon by Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, with special guests that included composer Jake Heggie and one of opera’s brightest stars: mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.

The 59th International Season consists of works from the 19th and 20th centuries – in addition to two eagerly awaited Dallas Opera world premieres.  This season also marks the company’s first exploration of the musical theater repertoire, as TDO stages one of the genuine landmarks in American Theater in a popular production by acclaimed directorFrancesca Zambello. 

The Dallas Opera’s 2015-2016 Season explores the circumstances that prompt individual initiative, self-sacrifice, artistic integrity, the quest for social justice, and plain, old-fashioned “gumption,” in five outstanding stories designed to engage and inspire for many years to come. 

The first performance of the 2015-2016 Season takes place the evening of Friday, October 30, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. (please note special time for the Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance, in conjunction with The Dallas Opera’s high-profile FIRST NIGHT celebrations). Performances of the five productions that constitute the season will continue through the final curtain calls on Sunday, May 1, 2016. 

“From the company’s first venture into the greatest repertoire of the American Musical Theater to the enthusiastic response generated by the decision to schedule two world premieres in a single season,” explains Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, “there’s every indication that The Dallas Opera is attuned to the desires of an increasingly diverse and sophisticated twenty-first century audience. 

“Despite the many challenges of our times, American Opera is experiencing a remarkable golden age,” Mr. Cerny adds.  “Commissioning, guiding and supporting intelligent new works and world-class productions are important facets of the mission of this company—and will be, for as long as I am privileged to lead it.  I am also proud to say that The Dallas Opera has been a significant contributor to the technological advancement of this art form in recent years, both onstage and off. 

“However, we will always honor and remember where we came from; presenting extraordinary artists in iconic productions each season, along with rarely performed gems from every era.  We hope you’ll want to be a part of this adventure!” 




Among the highlights of the upcoming season are 20 Dallas Opera debuts; however, every Dallas Opera performance will feature internationally renowned singers, exceptional conductors, and other artists of the top rank—whether new to TDO or returning to the scene of earlier triumphs. 

Each TDO production will feature the outstanding talents of the Dallas Opera Orchestra andDallas Opera Chorus, led by some of the finest conductors at work in the world today: Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, Patrick Summers, and Graeme Jenkins.  

Off-stage, the talent roster reads like a theatrical “Who’s Who”: preeminent producers and stage directors including Jack O’Brien, David McVicar, E. Loren Meeker, Francesca Zambello and Paul Curran; in addition to illustrious designers Bob Crowley, Gary McCann, Paul Tazewell, Mark McCullough, Tanya McCallin, Peter J. Davison, Ulisse Santicchi and David Zimmerman. 

As always, each of these outstanding works will be performed in their original languages (English, French and Italian) with English translations projected above the stage at every performance. 



“Seeking the Human Element”



A Dallas Opera world premiere

By Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally

October 30, Nov. 1(m), 4, 7 & 15(m), 2015



By Giacomo Puccini

November 6, 8(m), 11, 14, 20 & 22(m), 2015



A Dallas Opera world premiere by Mark Adamo

December 4, 6(m), 9, 12, 2015



by Jules Massenet

March 4, 6(m), 9 & 12, 2016



By Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II

April 15, 17(m), 20, 23, 29 & May 1(m), 2016




The benefits of becoming a Dallas Opera subscriber include priority seating, lost ticket replacement, invitations to special eventsand dramatic savings over the price of single tickets.  

Renewal packets for season subscribers are being mailed to patrons shortly; however, Dallas Opera Season Subscribers are eligible to renew their seats for the 2015-2016 Season, beginning today, January 12, 2015, and an email with renewal instructions and options will be sent this afternoon. 

New Dallas Opera patrons can purchase their subscriptions for the 2015-2016 Season in April, 2015.  Subscriptions for all five productions can be purchased for as little as $95. 

Single tickets will go on sale to the general public in July, 2015, starting at just $19.  All single tickets for individual performances are subject to availability.  Tickets may be purchased at the door – throughout the 2015-2016 Season – or in advance by calling214.443.1000.  Subscriptions and single tickets will also be available for purchase online throughout the season at

The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera house is located in the heart of the Arts District at 2403 Flora St., Dallas TX 75201.  

For more information, consult the friendly staff in the Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214-443-1000 or visit us online




The 2015-2016 Season, “Seeking the Human Element,” officially opens on the evening of Friday, October 30th at 8:00 PM(please note special time)—The Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance—with the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s eagerly anticipated GREAT SCOTT, featuring a phenomenal, once-in-a-lifetime cast headed by America’s favorite mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato, in the title role of Arden Scott. 

This full-length opera by renowned composer Jake Heggie and Tony Award/Drama Desk Award-winner Terrence McNally marks the duo’s first major collaboration since Dead Man Walking(2000) and Heggie’s first opera since his 2010 Dallas Opera triumph with Moby-Dick, a modern-day masterpiece which has since gone on to win critical acclaim in sold-out performances from Canada to Australia. 

The world premiere will be conducted by the distinguished Patrick Summers in his first TDO appearance since Moby-Dick, staged by Broadway legend and Tony Award-winner Jack O’Brien, and designed by Tony and Olivier Award-winner Bob Crowley. 

In McNally’s original story and libretto, international opera star Arden Scott returns to her hometown to try to save the struggling opera company that launched her to fame and fortune. However, as American Opera prepares for the world premiere of Rosa Dolorosa, Daughter of Pompeii – the 200-year old bel canto opera Arden recently discovered – she faces unexpected competition from an ambitious young soprano as well as community excitement surrounding the local pro-football team’s first national championship game (Go Grizzlies!). The fate of the opera company hangs in the balance as Arden is forced to consider the personal sacrifices she has made for her career, and comes to understand that true greatness is a matter of heart. 

Superstar mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who prompted Michael Church of The Guardian (U.K.) to write, “No other singer could match what this blonde bombshell from Kansas does, marrying coloratura with the serene liquidity of birdsong to an expressiveness of heart-stopping beauty,” leads a brilliant all-star cast that includes soprano Ailyn Pérez, praised by the San Diego News Network for her “big, powerful, beautiful, lyrical and endlessly supple voice,” as Tatyana Bakst, a fiercely ambitious young singer from Eastern Europe, eager to assume the mantle of stardom—as quickly as possible.  

The cast also includes the legendary Frederica von Stade as Mrs. Edward “Winnie” Flato, the founder and chief benefactor of the American Opera Company, who also happens to be married to the owner of the Super Bowl-bound local football team.  Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “Even if she were not one of the great singers of our day, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade could probably draw a full house…eager just to be in her presence and watch her be herself.  She’s that enchanting.” 

In the role of architect Sid Taylor, the man from Arden Scott’s past who might not be content to remain there, is opera heart-throb Nathan Gunn, “a vivid, appealing stage presence, with that gorgeous, well-focused baritone” (Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News); a singer who most recently dazzled Dallas Opera audiences as clever Figaro in The Barber of Seville and as the mysterious Lodger in TDO’s highly praised 2013 revival of Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers. 

Rounding out the GREAT SCOTT cast is counter-tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo in his company debut as a no-nonsense stage manager and longtime friend of Arden Scott.  Mr. Costanzo possesses, “the kind of high-voltage, high-register male singing that comes once in a generation” (Ken Smith, Musical America).  

Versatile bass Kevin Burdette, attracting attention for his “large powerful voice with a burnished robust sound” and “a vibrant personality” (Opera Today) performs the dual roles of conductor Eric Gold and The Ghost of Vittorio Bazzetti, the composer of Rosa Dolorosa, the long-lost, never-performed bel canto opera being championed by Arden.  Tenor Garrett Sorenson portrays Anthony Candolino and baritone Michael Mayes sings the role of Wendell Swann—both in their Dallas Opera debuts.

Dallas Opera Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement will serve as Associate Conductor of GREAT SCOTT. 

The Dallas Opera Chorus will be prepared byChorus Master Alexander Rom. 

Performances will continue on November 1(m), 4, 7 & 15(m), 2015 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, selected by Southern Living as the best new venue for opera.  All evening performances besides the Opening Night of the Season will begin promptly at 7:30 PM. Sunday matinees begin at 2:00 PM. 

A free, pre-performance lecture (The Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talks) will be conducted one hour prior to curtain at most performances.  The Dallas Opera Guild also hosts “Opera Insights,” a lively panel discussion featuring artists, directors and designers, on the Sunday afternoon prior to opening.  For more details, visit 




The second production of the Dallas Opera’s 2015-2016 Season, opening on Friday,November 6, 2015 at 7:30 p.m., is Giacomo Puccini’s immortal TOSCA in one of The Dallas Opera’s most beautiful and beloved traditional productions. 

It’s not enough to live for art when the winds of change threaten to radically reshape the political landscape.  However, famed Roman diva Floria Tosca, one of opera’s most unforgettable female characters, sung by soprano Emily Magee (Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro), and her beloved painter, Cavaradossi, portrayed by the charismatic Chilean tenor Giancarlo Monsalvein his Dallas Opera debut, share a love that can withstand any test or torture Baron Scarpia (Raymond Aceto, praised by Gregory Barnett of Opera News for his “powerful, pathologically evil baron”) can devise. 

That doesn’t guarantee a happy ending; just the promise of a riveting musical experience. 

Experience one of Puccini’s greatest works—and expect edge-of-your-seat excitement! 

Love, lust and loyalty blend with political intrigue and religious fervor in this superb action-packed opera conducted by critically acclaimed Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, who inspired Edward Seckerson of Grammophon (U.K.) to recently write: “The refinement of Villaume’s conducting is a constant source of delight.” 

Emily Magee is described by Robert Levine ofClassics Today as “a super Tosca, singing with clarity and grand tone, delivering outrage and tenderness in equal proportions.   Her ‘Vissi d’arte’ is gorgeous.”  The New York Times, too, has praised her “richly resonant soprano.” 

Giancarlo Monsalve, according to The Washington Times, “displayed a smooth, flexible tenor range…his diction remained superb as he accurately hit each top note”; and Rebecca Evans of DC Theater Scene added: “All that needs to be said about Monsalve is that his presence is unparalleled.  Bravo.” 

Also featuring tenor William Ferguson as Spoletta (a singer described by The Denver Postas “unforgettable…with a pliable, expressive voice” and by The Advertiser as possessing “an absolutely swoonworthy” top range), baritoneDale Travis in his TDO debut as a Sacristan, and bass Ryan Kuster as Angelotti, an escaped political fugitive. 

This breathtaking Dallas Opera production was designed by Ulisse Santicchi, an Italian master in his field and staged by director Ellen Douglas Schlaefer in her company debut. 

Sung in Italian, with English language translations projected above the stage, TOSCA can be experienced at any of five additional performances: November 8(m), 11, 14, 20 & 22(m), 2015 in the Winspear Opera House. 

The third production of the “Seeking the Human Element” Season, opening on Friday, December 4, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. in the Winspear Opera House, is another outstanding world premiere: BECOMING SANTA CLAUS by American composer Mark Adamo (Little Women), an original new work brimming with the true spirit of the holidays! 

In an Elven kingdom in the Far, Far North, Prince Claus (Juan José de León) is about to celebrate his 13th birthday with a party to end all parties.  If the evening proceeds without a hitch, a family curse is lifted; and the working elves get their first day off in a thousand days.  However,Queen Sophine’s best-laid plans for her son fall victim to a host of last-minute cancellations from relatives around the world.  A bright star has signaled a momentous birth.  Claus, who has filled the emotional gaps in his own life with possessions, decides to dazzle this newborn with an assortment of the very latest toys before discovering that love is the most treasured gift of all.  Also starring Jennifer Rivera, “a powerful stage presence,” in her company debut. 

BECOMING SANTA CLAUS will be conducted by Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, applauded by Anthony Tommasini ofThe New York Times for eliciting “glowing and nuanced playing from the orchestra.”  This family friendly opera will be staged by award-winning Scottish stage director Paul Curran, former artistic director of the Norwegian National Opera.  

Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera (Queen Sophine), a former New York City Opera “Debut Artist of the Year,” has earned accolades on both sides of the Atlantic for her extraordinary vocalism and versatility, prompting Opera Newsto write of her “ravishing mezzo bloom from top to bottom.” 

Tenor Juan José de León, a graduate of the University of North Texas who pursued post-graduate studies at Southern Methodist University, most recently completed a residency at Pittsburgh Opera and made his 2013 Metropolitan Opera debut in the American premiere of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys, “a dark, ambitious and innovative work” (The New York Times).  “The thrust of de León’s voice is thrilling to experience,” wrote Mark Kanny of TribLive

 Bass Matthew Boehler makes his company debut in the role of Donkey.  His voice, wrote, “has fantastic dexterity and power.” 

Production designer Gary McCann leads a team that includes lighting designer Paul Hackenmueller and Driscoll Otto, designing projections for this world premiere production.

There are other wonderful surprises in store but, just like Christmas, you’ll have to wait and see. 

Discover the real meaning of this very special time all over again, and make this worldpremiere opera your most joyful, tuneful family tradition! 

Additional performances of BECOMING SANTA CLAUS sung in English, with English language supertitles projected above the stage) will take place in the magnificent Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House on December 6(m), 9 & 12, 2015.   Don’t be surprised if Adamo’s newest opera proves to be the hit of the North Texas holiday season!  Ensure your seats by renewing your Dallas Opera subscription today. 




The fourth production in The Dallas Opera’s upcoming season is Jules Massenet’s heart-wrenching MANON, opening March 4, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. in the Winspear Opera House. 

This production, by Sir David McVicar for Lyric Opera of Chicago, marks the return of Dallas Opera Music Director Emeritus Graeme Jenkins to conduct, in his first appearance with TDO since The Aspern Papers in 2013.  E. Loren Meeker will direct.

MANON stars soprano Ailyn Pérez in the title role (an adorable Zerlina in our 2010 Don Giovanni opposite Paulo Szot, the 2012 Richard Tucker Award winner will make her Metropolitan Opera debut next month as Micaëla).  Praised byKronenzeitung for her “sumptuous lyric soprano voice (which) displays every nuance of expression and emotion,” she will be singing opposite another Dallas Opera favorite, tenorStephen Costello (Moby-Dick) in the role of Chevalier des Grieux.  San Diego News Networkwrites “Costello’s voice is passionate and powerful, but with a quality of impetuosity and innocence.”  The role of Lescaut will be performed by French-Irish baritone Edwin Crossley-Mercer in his exciting Dallas Opera debut.  Jean-Luc Macier of Opéra Magazinedescribes him as “a demonstration of pure class with perfect vocals, and excellent style.” 

The star-studded international cast also includes bass-baritone David Pittsinger, extolled in The Washington Times for a brilliant delivery that provided “the perfect mix of romance, passion, and masculine bravado” in his company debut as Le Comte.  Greg Fedderly, “one of the nation’s superb character tenors” (Opera Warhorses) makes his company debut as Guillot de Morfontaine. Baritone Troy Cook sings the role of Brétigny. 

The three actresses: Pousette, Javotte and Rosette will be portrayed by Canadian sopranoKatherine Whyte, mezzo-soprano Kathryn Leemhuis, and mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock (respectively). 

Set in late 19th century France, this timeless tale of young love and the allure of life’s unavoidable temptations stars American soprano Ailyn Pérez, described by The New York Times as “a beautiful woman who commands the stage” singing the title role opposite tenor Stephen Costello (Moby-Dick), “a prodigiously gifted singer” at the head of an all-star cast.  Can a woman with a taste for the best things in life sacrifice it all – for the one man whose love is both unconditional and never-ending?  

The production design is by Tanya McCallin, wig and make-up design by David Zimmermanand chorus preparation by Dallas Opera Chorus Master Alexander Rom.

Additional performances will be on March 6(m), 9 & 12, 2016 in the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. 

One of the perks of subscribing is a 20 percent discount on all additional single tickets purchased for friends, family, co-workers—or yourself.  Learn more today at




The Dallas Opera’s 2015-2016 Season Finale is the work that changed American Musical Theater forever, in a brilliant Francesca Zambello production created for Lyric Opera of Chicago.  SHOW BOAT, opening on Friday, April 15, 2016 at 7:30 p.m., carries us down the Mississippi through love’s choppy waters, as life rolls on for Magnolia and the gambling man she adores.  This 1927 masterpiece by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II stars Canadian soprano Andriana Chuchman, praised by The Chicago Tribune for radiating “enough vocal allure, physical beauty and charm to light up the stage,” in the role of Magnolia Hawks and “elegant” baritone Michael Todd Simpson (Huffington Post), a Dallas Opera favorite, as the irresistible Gaylord Ravenal.  

This production also marks the company debut of Alyson Cambridge as Julie, whose secret reveals shameful attitudes that once hovered beneath the surface of American life.  

In the iconic role of “Joe,” bass Morris Robinson, a commanding Commendatore in TDO’s 2010 Don Giovanni, “brings a penetratingly deep operatic bass to ‘Ol Man River’,” according to Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times.  

Soprano Angela Renée Simpson, with a voice that can “bring the house down” (Opera News) will perform the role of Queenie.

Broadway dancer, singer, actor Lara Teetermakes his Dallas Opera debut as Cap’n Andy, the owner of The Cotton Blossom, and Cindy Gold as Parthy Ann Hawks. 

Conducted by Music Director Emmanuel Villaume and staged by E. Loren Meeker, “whose megawatt talent lights up the stage” (Berkshire Fine Arts), our season finale is a high watermark in this season’s altogether extraordinary journey.  

Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, SHOW BOAT is the source of memorable musical numbers including “Make Believe,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” and “Ol’ Man River.”  The landmark musical also tackled such taboo subjects as racism, addiction and miscegenation on this journey through the lives of those associated with the show boat.

Additional performances are scheduled for April 17(m), 20, 23, 29 & May 1, 2016 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House. 

The Dallas Opera has presented five American premieres, as well as three world premiere works in its illustrious 58-year history.  It also continues to create fresh, new productions of established masterpieces and rarities of the genre. 

Evening performances during the 2015-2016 Season will begin at 7:30 PM, unless otherwise stated (including an 8:00 p.m. curtain for theLinda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance).  All Sunday matinees are slated to begin at 2:00 p.m.

The “Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talks,” a free background lecture for the opera being performed, takes place in Nancy B. Hamon Hall located just off the Winspear Opera House lobby one hour prior to each performance, except for Opening Night of the Season. 

Dallas Opera performs works in their original languages.  Easy-to-read English translations are projected above the stage during every Dallas Opera performance and special headsets are available for the hearing impaired. 

No late seating is permitted at Dallas Opera performances once the house doors are closed. 

Flex subscriptions begin at $75 for the 2015-2016 Season.  Full Subscriptions begin at $95. 

“It is my sincere hope that, over the course of this season, ours eyes will be opened—many times—to the power and wonder of this shared experience we call ‘opera”,” adds Music Director Emmanuel Villaume. 

“Won’t you join us?” 

For additional information about the coming season, call The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214-443-1000 or visit us online at www.dallasopera.orgThanks For Reading

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2015-16 for Dallas Opera
The Dallas Opera plans two world premieres, two classics and its first musical for the 2015-16 season.
by Mark Lowry

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