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The Dallas Opera opens 2009-10 season with Otello

On October 23, The Dallas Opera opens its first season in the company’s new home, the 2,200-seat Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House designed by Foster+Partners under Pritzker Prize-winning architect Norman Foster. The inaugural season, which will later feature the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick, opens with a new production of Verdi’s Otello. Directed by Tim Albery, who, like set- and costume-designer Anthony Baker, is making his Dallas Opera debut, the production stars tenor Clifton Forbis, an alumnus of The Dallas Opera Chorus, in the title role. The Dallas Opera’s music director, Graeme Jenkins, conducts.

“Having Clifton Forbis sing the title role in Otello has a special significance for us,” explains Jonathan Pell, artistic director of The Dallas Opera. “He sang in The Dallas Opera Chorus for two years and made his first solo appearance in an opera in Dallas as a messenger in a production of Aida. He has, of course, gone on to sing in the major opera houses of the world. He has sung the title role in Otello at La Scala and has become known as well for Wagner’s mammoth role of Tristan, which he recently sang opposite Deborah Voigt at Lyric Opera of Chicago. The connection of his having started his career here seemed poetic, and we loved the symmetry of his coming back to open our new opera house.” Forbis has also portrayed Siegmund in Wagner’s Walküre at the Met opposite Voigt’s Sieglinde.

The Dallas Opera moves into the new Winspear Opera House after many decades in the Music Hall at Fair Park. “The first thing our patrons will notice is the incredible intimacy of the Winspear Opera House compared to the enormity of the Music Hall,” explains Pell. “The back wall of the new opera house is proportionately where the front of the balcony starts in the Music Hall! The other big change for Dallas audiences will be our ability to have multiple productions in repertoire at the same time. Now, opera lovers can travel to Dallas and experience more than one opera in the course of a weekend.”

A new Desdemona for The Dallas Opera’s Otello

The Dallas Opera is pleased to announce the addition of thrilling young Canadian soprano Alexandra Deshorties to the cast of Otello. She will now sing the part of Desdemona, the role that was to have been filled by German soprano Annette Dasche, who has withdrawn from the production due to illness.

Deshorties, a Montreal native who will portray the ill-fated Desdemona in all six performances of Otello, recently made debuts in Valencia, Spain as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and at the Bard SummerScape festival in New York as Valentine in Les Huguenots, where she was described by the New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini as “vocally incisive and dramatically vulnerable.” She was a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and made her house debut there as the High Priestess in Aida. Also at the Metropolitan Opera, Deshorties has performed many major Mozart roles, including Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Elettra in Idomeneo, and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Her other big Met roles have been Tytania in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Musetta in La bohème.

The Dallas Opera’s season continues with three beloved operas and a world premiere

In its storied half-century history, The Dallas Opera has produced two world premieres and five American premieres. The opening season in the Winspear Opera House will include the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick, starring powerhouse tenor Ben Heppner, in a season that comprises 30 performances of five operas.

Based on Herman Melville’s novel, Heggie and Scheer’s Moby-Dick will receive its world premiere on April 30, 2010, in a co-production with the San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera, and South Australian State Opera. In his Dallas Opera debut, Ben Heppner is to star as Captain Ahab, with Stephen Costello as Greenhorn, Morgan Smith as Starbuck, and Jonathan Lemalu as Queequeg. The production will be staged by Leonard Foglia and conducted by Patrick Summers.

The Dallas Opera’s additional productions this season are Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. A 500-guest benefit celebration of the new Winspear home will be given onstage on November 7, preceded by a concert performance by soprano Deborah Voigt.

Further information about the new Winspear Opera House, the coming season, and The Dallas Opera’s illustrious history can be found at

Details of all five productions in The Dallas Opera’s 2009-10 season are listed below.

DALLAS OPERA 2009-10 inaugural season in new Winspear Opera House

OTELLO by Giuseppe Verdi
October 23, 2009, October 25(m), 28, & 31; November 5 & 8(m), 2009
A new Dallas Opera production to inaugurate the Winspear Opera House!
An opera in four acts first performed at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, February 5, 1887.
Text by Arrigo Boito after William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Otello, or The Moor of Venice.
Time: the 15th century
Place: The island of Cyprus
Conductor: Graeme Jenkins
Stage director: Tim Albery*
Production design: Anthony Baker*
Lighting design: Thomas C. Hase
Wig and make-up design: David Zimmerman
Chorus master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Clifton Forbis (Otello); Allan Glassman (Otello, Oct 25); Alexandra Deshorties* (Desdemona); Lado Ataneli* (Iago); Sean Panikkar* (Cassio); Elizabeth Turnbull (Emilia); Mark McCrory (Montano); and Raymond Aceto (Lodovico).

February 12, 2010, February 14(m), 18, 20, 26, & 28(m), 2010
One of the world’s greatest composers on the subject of love!
An opera in two acts first performed in Vienna’s Burgtheater, January 26, 1790.
Text by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Time: 18th century
Place: Naples, Italy
Conductor: Graeme Jenkins
Stage director: John Cox
Production design: Robert Perdziola*
Lighting designer: Duane Schuler
Wig and make-up design: David Zimmerman
Chorus master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Elza van den Heever* (Fiordiligi); Jennifer Holloway (Dorabella); Michael Todd Simpson (Guglielmo); Brian Anderson (Ferrando); Sir Thomas Allen* (Don Alfonso); and Nuccia Focile (Despina).

DON PASQUALE by Gaetano Donizetti
February 19, 2010, February 21(m), 24, 27; March 5 & 7(m), 2010
Production from Los Angeles Opera
A comic opera in three acts first performed in Paris’ Théâtre Italien, January 3, 1843.
Text by Giovanni Ruffini and the composer after Angelo Anelli’s libretto for Stefano Pavesi’s Ser Marcantonio.
Time: mid-19th century
Place: Rome, Italy
Conductor: Stefano Ranzani*
Stage director: Candace Evans
Production design: Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
Lighting design: Duane Schuler
Wig and make-up design: David Zimmerman
Chorus master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Donato Di Stefano (Don Pasquale); Adriana Kucerova** (Norina); Nathan Gunn (Dr. Malatesta); and Norman Shankle* (Ernesto)

MOBY-DICK by Jake Heggie (world premiere)
April 30, 2010; May 2(m), 5, 8, 13, & 16(m), 2010
A new Dallas Opera co-commission, co-production with San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera, and the State Opera of South Australia
World Premiere Performances
An opera in two acts
Text by Gene Sheer after Herman Melville’s novel, Moby-Dick
Time: The 19th century
Place: The South Seas
Conductor: Patrick Summers
Stage director: Leonard Foglia*
Scenic design: Robert Brill*
Costume design: Jane Greenwood*
Lighting design: Donald Holder*
Wig and make-up design: David Zimmerman
Chorus master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Ben Heppner* (Captain Ahab); Morgan Smith* (Starbuck); Stephen Costello (Greenhorn); Jonathan Lemalu* (Queequeg); Allan Glassman (Flask); Robert Orth* (Stubb); Talise Trevigne* (Pip); and Jonathan Beyer* (Captain Gardiner).

MADAME BUTTERFLY by Giacomo Puccini
May 7, 2010, May 9(m), 12, 15, 20, & 23(m), 2010
A Francesca Zambello Production!
An opera in two acts first performed at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, February 17, 1904.
Text by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica after David Belasco’s play Madame Butterfly, based on a short story by John Luther Long.
Time: Beginning of the 20th century
Place: Nagasaki, Japan
Conductor: Graeme Jenkins
Stage director: Garnett Bruce
Production: Francesca Zambello
Scenic design: Michael Yeargan
Costume design: Anita Yavich
Lighting design: Alan Burrett
Wig and make-up design: David Zimmerman
Chorus master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Adina Nitescu (Cio-Cio San); Brandon Jovanovich (B.F. Pinkerton); James Westman (Sharpless); Maria Zifchak* (Suzuki); David Cangelosi (Goro); Young-Bok Kim* (The Bonze); and Yungbae Yang* (Prince Yamadori).

* Dallas Opera Debut
** American Debut

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© 21C Media Group, September 2009

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