<i>Sunken Garden</i>&nbsp;at English National Opera
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2017-18 for Dallas Opera

Next season the Dallas Opera has two warhorses, an American premiere, Samson and Dalila and a Korngold pairing of an opera and concerto.

published Friday, January 27, 2017

Photo: Mike Hoban
Sunken Garden at English National Opera


Dallas — The 2017-2018 season for The Dallas Opera has been announced, and it's one of of the more interesting lineups in a while. It includes two warhorses, Verdi's La traviata and Mozart's Don Giovanni, and opens with Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila, which is in the major opera repertoire, but doesn't crack the top 100 of the most performed operas in the world according to Operabase. (La traviata is often number one, and Don Giovanni in the top 10.)

Also on the season is the previously announced American premiere of Michel van der Aa's Sunken Garden, which the composer will direct; it uses innovative 3-D projection and video design.

The most intriguing selection is a pairing of Erich Wolfgang Korngold works: His first opera, the one-act The Ring of Polykrates (1916), which will be preceded not by an opera, but by his Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 (1945), performed by the Dallas Opera Orchestra. The Dallas Opera recently received an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the production of Polykrates.

In other news, the Dallas Opera announced that its annual free simulcast of a major production in the current season will be of Puccini's Madama Butterfly, happening at The Star in Frisco—the first one of these major spring simulcasts not at AT&T Stadium). The simulcast is 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 18, 2017. The production stars soprano Hui He and tenor Gianluca Terranova, and is conducted by Donato Renzetti.

You can read more about the simulcast here.

Below is the full press release about the 2017-18 season, with dates, descriptions and subscription info.



The Dallas Opera is proud to announce its ambitious 2017-2018 Season, “Motives Unmasked!” consisting of five entertaining and varied mainstage productions, including a dazzling U.S. premiere and a new Dallas Opera production of a very early opera by Viennese wunderkind Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

The 61st season of The Dallas Opera mixes classics with the cutting edge in both unfamiliar and favorite productions.

Considered by many to be the ultimate art form, each opera will feature the powerful singing and acting of acclaimed international artists; outstanding conductors, directors and designers; The Dallas Opera Orchestra and The Dallas Opera Chorus; superb sets and costumes; imaginative technological enhancements and more.

In an effort to present each work in its truest form as written by the composer and librettist, The Dallas Opera will continue to produce each opera in its original language with English supertitles projected above the stage for maximum enjoyment.

“We have enlisted the talents of some of the finest composers, singers, conductors, directors and designers to create visually arresting, intellectually and emotionally satisfying performances filled with a wide range of extraordinary music and drama,” explains Keith Cerny, the Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO of The Dallas Opera.

“Our 61st International Season, “Motives Unmasked!” will include three beloved classics, a U.S. premiere, an exquisite concerto, and a delightful opera rarity so rare, that we believe it has only had two professional productions in this country since it originally premiered in Munich 100 years ago.”

“Great opera will always speak to us,” explains General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, “because it illuminates aspects of our nature and helps us define the times in which we live. 

“It is my aim to give Dallas Opera audiences the opportunity to better understand their world through the powerful mediums of music and drama.  I sincerely believe that the 61st International Season, filled with remarkable storytelling and unforgettable performances, will make good on that promise.”

The Dallas Opera continues to expand and increase its reputation for producing important, world-class opera and the 2017-2018 season will be no exception.

The company will also present internationally renowned conductors: Emmanuel Villaume, the Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director, at the podium for three operas, Nicole Paiement, the Martha R. and Preston A. Peak Principal Guest Conductor, and Italian conductor Carlo Montanaro.

Every mainstage production will be presented in the magnificent Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, located at 2403 Flora Street in the heart of the Dallas Arts District.

Subscription prices for the 2017-2018 Season start at $95 for all five mainstage opera productions and go on sale April 3, 2017. The benefits of becoming a Dallas Opera subscriber include substantial savings off single ticket prices, priority seating, lost ticket replacement, ticket exchanges and invitations to special events. Single Tickets, starting at the low price of $19, go on sale to the public in July.   For more information, please contact the friendly staff in The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214-443-1000 or visit us online at






By Camille Saint-Saëns

October 20, 22(m), 25, 28 and November 5(m), 2017


Photo: Martin O\'Conner
Clifton Forbis will sing the role of Samson

The Dallas Opera’s 2017-2018 Season, begins with The Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance on Friday, October 20, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. (note the special time). Camille Saint-Saëns’ passionate and romantic SAMSON & DALILA will launch the new season by bringing the house down!

Tenor Clifton Forbis and Russian soprano Olga Borodina—in her eagerly awaited Dallas Opera debut!—portray the doomed twosome, trapped in a love affair of biblical proportions.

Samson is the only hope of his people, the Hebrews, in the oppressive grip of the Philistines.  Enter Dalila, the calculating seductress capable of capturing men’s hearts with ease.  Her temptation of Samson continues until she gets what she wants: the secret of his strength.  Camille Saint-Saëns’ opera builds to the familiar, spectacular climax, taken straight from the Book of Judges.

Music Director Emmanuel Villaume will conduct the renowned Dallas Opera Orchestra in “one of the brightest jewels of French opera.”

Recently, Maestro Villaume triumphed in a revival of Jonathan Kent’s production of Tosca at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; prompting Hannah Nepil of The Financial Times to praise Villaume for “teasing out sultry, sumptuous playing from his orchestra.”

He also earned uniformly outstanding notices for his superb conducting of The Dallas Opera’s 2016 revival of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick, which prompted Gregory Sullivan Isaacs of Theater Jones to write, “…with Villaume on the podium, Heggie’s score comes across as much more neo-tonal, lush, magnificently constructed and neo-romantic opera than what I perceived in the score back then. Vocal lines soar, giving singers some great bel-canto phrases that are grateful for the voice.”

Dramatic tenor Clifton Forbis has sung some of the most challenging roles in the operatic repertoire.  He has mesmerized Dallas Opera audiences as Siegmund in Die Walküre, as well as a “forceful and manly” Tristan.  Samson is a signature role for Mr. Forbis, who has performed this part at Bilbao, San Francisco Opera and the Met.

He will star opposite the legendary Olga Borodina, the ultimate Dalila, according to London-based critic Rupert Christiansen of The Telegraph.  Adam Wasserman of Opera News observed “…to watch Borodina is to see the masterful emergence of a truly human, fully formed character…buttressed by some of the most luxurious, thrilling vocalism that one can hope to encounter in an opera house.”

Other members of this cast include Grammy-winning baritone Richard Paul Fink as the High Priest of Dagon, baritone Michael Chioldi in his TDO debut as Abimélech (the Philistine provincial governor), and bass-baritone Ryan Kuster as the Old Hebrew.

This Pittsburgh Opera production was designed by Peter Dean Beck (sets) and Carrie Robins (costumes) in their company debuts.

The opera will be staged by German director Bruno Berger-Gorski in his house debut. As always, chorus preparation is by Dallas Opera Chorus Master Alexander Rom.

Performances continue on October 22(m), 25, 28 and November 5, 2017 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.  Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m., (except for the opening night performance mentioned above) and the curtain rises on our Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m.  There is no late seating.

SAMSON & DALILA will be performed in its original language, French, with English-language translations projected above the stage at every performance.




By Giuseppe Verdi

October 27, 29(m) and November 1, 4, 10 and 12(m), 2017


Photo: Roberto Giostra
Georgia Jarman

Back by popular demand, the second production of The Dallas Opera’s 2017-2018 Season is Giuseppe Verdi’s heartbreaking 1853 masterpiece, LA TRAVIATA, opening on Friday, October 27, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. with an extraordinary cast.

Performed in Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage, the romance continues with additional performances October 29(m), November 1, 4, 10 and 12(m), 2017 with evening performances beginning promptly at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2:00 p.m.

It is a story that has been told for thousands of years in millions of ways, but, in this case, the tale of a woman of questionable virtue sacrificing her own happiness for the man she loves is based on an actual person. The famed “Lady of the Camillias” comes to life on the Winspear stage, under the guidance of two dynamic Italians: conductor Carlo Montanaro and director Stefania Panighini in their company debuts.

Easily Giuseppe Verdi’s most romantic work, this revival of a magnificent Lyric Opera of Chicago production, originally directed by Frank Galati and designed by Desmond Heeley, is the perfect “Pretty Woman” night at the opera as well as a perennial crowd pleaser.

Soprano Georgia Jarman, who possesses “a show-stealing coloratura with immaculate style” (The New York Times) will sing the lead role of the fatally ill courtesan, Violetta Valery.  Praised by Opera magazine for her “crystalline tone and uncommon attention to expressive detail,” Ms. Jarman made her TDO debut in our steamy Don Giovanni opposite Paolo Szot.

This time around, she’ll be making sparks with tenor Zach Borichevsky.  F. Paul Driscoll of Opera News wrote that the young American has “the dashing good looks, the soft-eyed charm and the gleaming tenor needed” and he considers the role of Alfredo a personal favorite.

As Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, The Dallas Opera is bringing back an extraordinary baritone: Vladislav Sulimsky from Belarus, bringing another of what Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell of The Dallas Morning News describes as “deeply sympathetic” portrayals to the Winspear stage.  His 2015 company debut as the mysterious Ibn-Hakia in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta was a show-stopper, even in the midst of a very strong cast.

Mezzo-soprano Abigail Levis makes her Dallas Opera debut as Flora Bervoix. applauded her “warm and resonant mezzo voice” but went on to note: “She has the rare interpretive gift of using coloratura to highlight emotional truth rather than to simply show off.”

Tenor Brenton Ryan, “singing with a fresh, clarion tone and dramatic aplomb” (Corinna de Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times) will also be making his TDO debut as Alfredo’s friend, Gastone.  Also featured in the ensemble cast are baritone Dale Travis as Baron Douphol, baritone Daniel Armstrong in his Dallas Opera debut as the Marchese D’Obigny, bass-baritone Ryan Kuster as the sympathetic Doctor Grenvil, and soprano Rachel Sterrenberg in her company debut as Violetta’s maid, Annina.

The chorus is a strong presence in this opera and will be prepared by Dallas Opera Chorus Master Alexander Rom.





By Erich Wolfgang Korngold

February 9, 11(m), 14 and 17, 2018


Photo: Elias
Violinist Augustin Dumay

The third production of The Dallas Opera’s 61st Season is a unique pairing of two works by one of the great proponents of the early twentieth century “Viennese sound,” composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold.  The Dallas Opera is proud to present Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 (1945) and The Ring of Polykrates (1916) opening Friday, February 9, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in the Winspear Opera House.

Revered French violinist Augustin Dumay (with more than 40 recordings in his discography) will be the featured soloist with The Dallas Opera Orchestra. Dumay is considered “an absolute master of using changes in tone color as an expressive device” (Fanfare) and many of his recordings are considered the “gold standard” in their repertoire.  Heather Kurzbauer of The Strad put it simply: “This is the stuff that dreams are made of.”  As for his live concert hall performances, Geoffrey Norris of The Daily Telegraph writes: “Mr. Dumay is a violinist of remarkable individuality…excitingly musical, stimulatingly original, a marvelously fresh but idiomatic interpretation with a strength of personality that made it so powerfully communicative and memorable.”

Critically acclaimed Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume will conduct.

The concerto will be paired with Korngold’s very first opera, The Ring of Polykrates, a one-act domestic comedy composed in 1913 when he was just sixteen years old.  The work premiered in 1916 on a double bill in Munich.

The plot revolves around a musician, Wilhelm Arndt, whose career is on an upswing, along with his finances.  His happiness, he tells his wife, Laura, would be complete if only he could see his long-lost friend Peter Vogel again.  But you’re aware of the old saying, right? “Be careful what you wish for!”

Conducted by esteemed Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, directed by Peter Kazaras, and starring tenor Paul Groves, soprano Laura Wilde and bass-baritone Craig Colclough in their TDO debuts.  This really is a once-in-a-lifetime musical event!

Scenic Designer Donald Eastman will make his TDO debut.  This new Dallas Opera production will also feature period costumes by Tommy Bourgeois and lighting by Krista Billings.

Performed in German with English translations projected above the stage, the Korngold program will have three additional performances on February 11(m), 14 (a romantic Valentine’s Day evening) and February 17, 2018.




By Michel van der Aa

March 9, 11(m), 14 and 17, 2018


The fourth production of The Dallas Opera’s 61st season is SUNKEN GARDEN by Michel van der Aa with libretto by British novelist David Mitchell. This production opens on Friday, March 9, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. in the Winspear Opera House.

The U.S. premiere of this groundbreaking opera will be directed by the composer himself–-in both 2-D and 3-D.  SUNKEN GARDEN will be performed in English with English supertitles projected above the stage.

Michel van der Aa’s critically acclaimed contemporary operatic masterpiece, SUNKEN GARDEN, has been applauded by both critics and audiences as “a fantastical tale to set the ears and eyes popping” (New York Times headline).

The work, described by its creator as an “occult mystery film opera,” fuses film and live performance (including 3-D and other visual effects) to deliver what Steve Smith of The New York Times called “a bold, rewarding venture” during its 2013 English National Opera world premiere at the Barbican.  The production coming to Dallas was reworked for a successful 2015 relaunch of the production at Opéra de Lyon.

A filmmaker’s obsession with the disappearance of a young girl leads to the discovery of a walled garden, which is the barrier between life and death.  Does this place actually exist or is it just a stunning journey of the imagination?  Either way, it immerses audiences into a world of crime and mystery to create a one-of-a-kind production unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

SUNKEN GARDEN was originally a co-production of ENO, Toronto’s Luminato Festival, Opéra de Lyon, the Holland Festival and London’s Barbican Centre.  This opera also marked the first collaboration between the Dutch composer and British novelist David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas).

Heidi Waleson, reviewing for The Wall Street Journal described the experience: “The inventive and haunting music is acoustic and electronic, live and prerecorded, classical and pop…Film and music align seamlessly; neither would make sense without the other…When the live singers enter the 3-D garden, the music grows richer and more expansive…The images here are spectacular: the opulent trees and flowers; the quivering holograms of the two captives, Amber and Simon; and the vertical pool through which Zenna enters and departs, which explodes out toward the audience as a shower of droplets or a giant, whirling funnel.

“The fine singers—live and on film—adeptly captured the ferocity and pathos in Sunken Garden.  And the lively actors…were completely believable…technical wizardry enhanced the humanity of the piece rather than overwhelming it,” Ms. Waleson added.

Antony Craig of Gramophone (UK) emphasized that SUNKEN GARDEN is a compelling theatrical work: “This is real drama and it works dramatically. The mystery is as complex as TV film noir. The spoken interviews work as film and the 3D successfully drew me right into the sunken garden. Crucially, Sunken Garden works as opera, with Van der Aa’s fusion of musical styles matching the fusion of mediums.”

And Andrew Clement of The Guardian added, “Van der Aa has directed the show as well as the often sumptuous-looking film sequences. As always he’s done it with immense technical skill, and both his orchestral writing and the electronic soundtrack are strikingly effective.”

SUNKEN GARDEN will star English baritone Roderick Williams as Toby Kramer, British soprano Katherine Manley as Zenna Briggs, and renowned Swedish soprano Miah Persson as Iris Marinus.  All will be making their Dallas Opera debuts in this production.

Williams has been praised for “his astonishing ability to perform highly emotional music…from the top of his vocal range (where he was clear as a bell and his diction impeccable) to rich, low notes that stirred the heart.” (Laura Kate Wilson, Bachtrack)

Set and lighting design for SUNKEN GARDEN is by Theun Mosk with costumes by Astrid Schulz, both in their company debuts.

SUNKEN GARDEN will be conducted by the Martha R. and Preston A. Peak Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement, who has developed an international reputation as a conductor of contemporary music and opera.

Wayne Lee Gay of D Magazine’s Front Row wrote of The Dallas Opera’s 2015 world premiere of Everest: “(Paiement) combined old-fashioned precision and discipline with up-to-the-minute insight into the complex modernity of the score.”

Three additional performances of Michel van der Aa’s SUNKEN GARDEN will take place on March 11(m), 14, and 17, 2018.  Season subscriptions will go on sale to the public on April 3, 2017.  Current season subscribers may renew at any time by contacting the friendly professionals in The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office, at 214.443.1000.




By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

April 13, 15(m), 18, 21, 27 and 29(m), 2018


Photo: Mikołaj Mikołajczyk
Baritone Mariusz Kwiecień

The final production of the 61st international Season is Mozart’s hell-raising operatic masterpiece, the comedy-drama, DON GIOVANNI, based on the exploits of the legendary Don Juan, opening Friday, April 13, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.

After more than two centuries, the argument rages on as to whether DON GIOVANNI is the greatest of Mozart’s many masterpieces. Decide for yourself as Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume conducts an all-star cast in this boldly provocative, R-rated production from Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecień stars as the insatiable womanizer who became a living legend.  William Burnett of Opera Warhorses writes, “Kwiecien was extraordinary, an utterly charming but lethally sociopathic bad boy…his Giovanni is a masterpiece.”  Added Michael White of The New York Times: “glamorous, handsome of voice and presence, (charismatic) and intelligent besides.  It’s the whole package and explains why he’s in such demand to play the part.” 

Soprano Laura Claycomb (Rigoletto) returns to the Winspear stage as Donna Anna, after captivating North Texas audiences as Gilda several seasons back, prompting Scott Cantrell of The Dallas Morning News to praise her “limpid tone, dazzling technique and eloquence.”

Tenor David Portillo is this production’s steadfast Don Ottavio, soprano Ellie Dehn will sing the bitter and betrayed Donna Elvira, bass Kyle Ketelsen is the irrepressible Leporello, with stars Virginie Verrez as the coquettish Zerlina, baritone Craig Verm (Everest) as her fiancé, Masetto, and bass Morris Robinson (Show Boat) as The Commendatore!

Disguises and deceptions abound in Lorenzo Da Ponte’s scathing and often humorous portrait of this jaded and unrepentant anti-hero, directed by Robert Falls (Artistic Director of the famed Goodman Theater) in his eagerly awaited Dallas Opera debut.

Critically acclaimed international conductor and TDO Music Director Emmanuel Villaume leads The Dallas Opera Orchestra in Mozart’s action-packed season finale.

“One of the most satisfying perks of being a music director,” says Maestro Villaume, “is the opportunity to conduct productions that I find of particular interest—musically, dramatically, or both.  This season is no exception and I am thrilled to be conducting a masterpiece from the late Classical Period, a splendid example of 19th century French Romanticism, and a pair of works from the neo-Romantic Viennese School of the early 20th century.

“I sincerely hope, when you leave the performance, you will feel as passionate about these works as we do.”

Scenic Design for DON GIOVANNI is by Walt Spangler, with costumes by Ana Kuzmanic and lighting design by Duane Schuler.

Performed in Italian with English translations projected above the stage, this acclaimed period production will command centerstage for five additional performances, April 15(m), 18, 21, 27 and 29(m), 2018.

Evening performances during the 2017-2018 Season will begin at 7:30 p.m., unless otherwise stated (including the 8:00 p.m. curtain for the Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance).  All Sunday matinees are slated to begin at 2:00 p.m.


Additional info:

The “Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talks,” a free background lecture designed to enhance your enjoyment of 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 mainstage works in their original languages.  Easy-to-read English translations are projected above the stage during every Dallas Opera performance—even those sung in English—and special headsets are available for the hearing impaired.

No late seating is permitted at Dallas Opera performances once the house doors are closed.  Latecomers will be seated at the first available opportunity (usually, intermission).

Flex subscriptions for three mainstage performances of your choice begin at $75 for the 2017-2018 Season.  Full Subscriptions begin at $95 for all five productions.  New subscriptions will become available on April 3, 2017.

Single Tickets for next season will start at $19 and are expected to go on sale next July.  Group rates are available.

For additional information about the “Motives Unmasked!” 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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2017-18 for Dallas Opera
Next season the Dallas Opera has two warhorses, an American premiere, Samson and Dalila and a Korngold pairing of an opera and concerto.
by Mark Lowry

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