The Fort Worth Opera has announced that the contract for General Manager Darren Woods have been extended for two years, meaning he'll be there at least through June 2018. And that's a good thing, because Woods has brought some positive changes to the organization, notably proving that you can get crowds for new and less often-produced opera.
Most recently, he announced a New Works initiative, to take place in the FWO's 2013 festival season.
The Opera also announced six principal artists for its upcoming 2012 season, which features the opera Tosca and The Marriage of Figaro, plus Mark Adamo's version of Lysistrata, and the Jake Heggie/Terrence McNally chamber piece Three Decembers. Here's more info on that.
And here's the latest release from the Fort Worth Opera:
Now in its 66th season and staging its sixth festival this May/June 2012,
Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) proudly offers audiences four compelling operas—Puccini's passionate blockbuster Tosca, Mozart's effervescent romantic comedy The Marriage of Figaro, and two regional premieres: Mark Adamo's Lysistrata (based on the ancient Greek comedy) and a new production of Jake Heggie's Three Decembers (based on Terrence McNally's play, Some Christmas Letters). This will be the first time audiences can experience Adamo's and Heggie's works programmed together, and the casting—a mixture of returning favorites and new exciting voices on the cusp of major careers—is typical of Fort Worth Opera under the eleven-year tenure of General Director Darren K. Woods, whose contract was just extended for the third time.
Festival fans this season will hear six talented singers making their company debuts in leading roles. In Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, audiences will be introduced to four young artists: soprano Andrea Carroll (―a bright soprano, The New York Times) as Figaro's fiancée Susanna, baritone Jonathan Beyer (―a robust, handsome voice, and promising years ahead‖ The Washington Post) as Count Almaviva, soprano Jan Cornelius (―a wonderfully attractive soprano with a solid core" Opera News) as the Countess, and mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta ("vocally outstanding" Opera News) as Cherubino. Bass-baritone Donovan Singletary returns to FWOpera to take on the title role for the first time, and director Eric Einhorn makes his house debut with this period production.
In the highly anticipated regional premiere of Jake Heggie's Three Decembers (based on Terrence McNally's play Some Christmas Letters), audiences will hear soprano Emily Pulley (―faultless and exquisite‖ The New York Times) and baritone Matthew Worth ("fully powered and persuasively expressive" The New York Times) for the first time on the company's stage, joined by returning soprano Janice Hall. The chamber opera chronicles the dysfunctional family relationships between Broadway diva Madeline (Hall) and her adult children Bea (Pulley) and Charlie (Worth) over a period of three decades. Three Decembers will receive a new production conceived by director Candace Evans, set designer Bob Lavallee, and costume designer Rondi Hillstrom Davis, all of whom are making their house debuts.
The 2012 Festival continues with a second regional premiere: Mark Adamo's Lysistrata, which gives audiences an opportunity to hear some of their favorite FWOpera alumni, all making role debuts. In a striking satire of humanity's endless legacy of war (between nations and between the sexes), soprano Ava Pine appears in the title role opposite tenor Scott Scully singing the role of her lover, the Athenian soldier Nico. Mezzo-soprano Meaghan Deiter sings the role of the Athenian female leader Kleonike, and mezzo-soprano Alissa Anderson sings her Spartan counterpart, Lampito, with bass-baritone Seth Mease Carico singing the role of Lampito's husband, the Spartan general Leonidas. Soprano Ashley Kerr and baritone Michael Mayes round out the cast as the Athenian couple Myrrhine and Kinesias.
Rounding out the four Festival offerings, FWOpera opens the 2012 season with Puccini's Tosca, and welcomes back soprano Carter Scott and baritone Michael Chioldi in the title role and as Baron Scarpia, respectively. When they appeared together in the company's 2005 acclaimed production of this tale of love and lechery, ―the intensity they projected was almost frightening, (Fort Worth Star-Telegram). Tenor Roger Honeywell returns to Fort Worth as the passionate painter Cavaradossi.
This season's casting of local favorites as well as new singers is a staple at FWOpera, whose audiences have had the privilege of hearing many young singers on the brink of major careers (like the ones mentioned above) performing in the Festival before their debuts in other houses. Woods has also instituted several other successful endeavors, ranging from the Fort Worth Opera Studio (a year-round training program for emerging young artists) to switching the company over to its current month-long festival format, to the recently announced Frontiers new works showcase. During Woods' time, the company also has produced two world premieres (Thomas Pasatieri's Frau Margot, 2007, and Jorge Martín's Before Night Falls, 2010), which were both released on CD as well.
Announcing the two-year extension of Woods' contract, FWOpera board president Kris Lindsay commented on his accomplishments, stating, ―Darren's artistic and financial leadership have created an incredible era of growth and innovation at FWO, and have taken us from a small, provincial opera company to a well-respected and critically acclaimed opera festival. The extension to June 2018 will bring Woods' tenure as General Director to 17 years. This is the third consecutive time that the board has voted to extend his contract.