The Dallas Opera has a proud first on tap for its 64th season: it will be the first time two women conductors are leading main stage productions during the same season.
Themed "Embrace the Passion!", the season includes beloved classics — all of which are new to Dallas, by the way — a new collaboration with Texas Ballet Theater, and a Dallas Opera world premiere from the team behind 2015's Everest.
"Great opera starts at the podium," says general director and CEO Ian Derrer. "These outstanding musicians bring great artistry and passion to their work and we look forward to hearing the results next season."
TDO music director Emmanuel Villaume is behind the podium for the first three productions, with the debuts of conductors Lidiya Yankovskaya (a 2015 Hart Institute for Women Conductors alumna) and Keri-Lynn Wilson for the closing two.
First up is the Washington National Opera's production of The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a comic masterpiece with more domestic dramas than Downton Abbey. Figaro and Susanna want to marry, but their boss, the predatory Count, has other ideas. He'd like to reassert his feudal rights and have his way with Susanna whenever he wishes — crushing his despairing wife's heart in the process. But fear not, because Figaro and the ladies are on the case. Plots are hatched, subterfuge is employed, mayhem and hilarity ensue, and real love triumphs in the end. There will be six performances: October 9, 11 (matinee), 14, 17, 23, and 25 (matinee), 2020.
Next is Lohengrin by Richard Wagner, a new Dallas Opera presentation with the TDO orchestra and chorus joining the singers onstage. King Henry needs a hero to save his kingdom from invaders. And the virtuous Elsa needs a champion to clear her of accusations that she murdered her brother — leveled by a throne-seeking venomous knight and his sorceress sister. Enter the mysterious Lohengrin, arriving in a boat drawn by a magical swan. He's the hero who will save the day and marry Elsa, as long as she never asks the three forbidden questions (spoiler: she does).
"This Wagnerian masterpiece has a very special place in my musical heart," says Villaume. "The poetry of the score reaches into the most profound and tender depths of the human soul. Love is presented in Lohengrin in all its power but, also in its destructive madness. Hearing that score for the first time as a teenager was such a revelation and, indeed, a shock, that there is for me a clear line of demarcation in my life: before and after experiencing Lohengrin."
There will be four performances: October 30, November 1 (matinee), 4, and 7, 2020.
The Dallas Opera world premiere of Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is next. Based on Jean-Dominique Bauby's memoir as the celebrated editor of Elle magazine, whose life as a husband, father, and major player on the Paris social scene shatters when a devastating stroke leaves him paralyzed and unable to speak. But Bauby's spirit is indomitable, and he blinks with the only muscle he can control to "write" his book with the help of an assistant.
"I couldn't be happier about returning to my operatic 'home' of Dallas for my new collaboration with Gene Scheer," says Talbot. "Premiering Everest here was one of the great experiences of my professional life and I can hardly wait to get back into the rehearsal studio with The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."
There will be four performances: March 5, 7 (matinee), 10, and 13, 2021.
Christoph Willibald Gluck's Orfeo Ed Euridice is next, featuring dancers from Texas Ballet Theater. The Greek myth of Orpheus, who uses the transcendent power of music to reclaim his dead wife from the underworld, has inspired countless operas and dramas, but none more sublime than this glorious masterwork of 257 years ago. No Greek togas here, but a fresh realization in this production from Des Moines Metro Opera, where the land of the living is filled with beauties. Sung in Italian with English supertitles, there will be four performances: April 9, 11 (matinee), 14, and 17, 2021.
The final production of the 64th season is a blockbuster by any standard: Tosca, Giacomo Puccini's intense drama of love and loyalty in a time of war. Tosca is the fiery Italian prima donna adored by her audiences, passionately involved with the artist and revolutionary Cavaradossi, and relentlessly pursued by the fearsome police chief Scarpia, who vows to have the diva in his bed and her lover shot dead. There will be six performances: April 16, 18 (matinee), 21, 24, 30, and May 2 (matinee), 2021.
Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has been announced as the special performer for TDO's fall concert and gala dinner, Viva Diva!. It will be held on November 6, 2020, at 7 pm. Performing with The Dallas Opera orchestra under the baton of music director Emmanuel Villaume, DiDonato will perform a program that includes Jake Heggie's song cycle, "Camille Claudel: Into the Fire" (composed for the artist), "The Death of Cleopatra" by Berlioz, and two works by Beethoven. Following the concert, dinner patrons will join DiDonato and composer Jake Heggie onstage for an exceptional gala dinner.
The Dallas Opera's acclaimed family performance series, which aims to help children develop an early love of opera and music, also continues with two shows.
First is the return of Doctor Miracle by Georges Bizet, a romantic, one-act operetta about love and omelets that Bizet composed for a music competition when he was just 18 years old. A youthful vitality permeates this story, set in 19th-century Padua, Italy, in the home of the mayor, his wife Veronica, and his love-struck daughter, Laurette. She's enamored of the ever-resourceful Silvio, an army captain, who dons one disguise after another to infiltrate the household, in order to win the hand of the girl he adores. Performances are October 24, 2020, and March 6, 2021.
Second is Jack and the Beanstalk by John Davies with music by Sir Arthur Sullivan. Jack's mother sends him off to sell the family cow so they can use the money for food. However, Jack gets talked into buying some supposedly magic beans. Oddly enough, the beans are magic — sprouting into a cloud-high beanstalk that leads Jack to a magic castle filled with riches and occupied by a very mean giant (with a very nice wife). However, what goes up must come down, and Jack does, with the giant's priceless golden hen in hand and an angry giant in hot pursuit. Performances are October 10, 2020, and March 27, 2021.
Family Series performances are just $5 — $4 per ticket when you buy both shows — and tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door.
Subscriptions for the five main stage performances begin at $109. New subscriptions will become available on April 6, 2020.
Single tickets for next season will start at $19 and are expected to go on sale in July. Student rush $15 tickets are available 90 minutes prior to curtain with a valid student ID.
For additional information, call the Dallas Opera ticket services office at 214-443-1000 or go online at www.dallasopera.org.