Dallas Opera Premieres New Terrence McNally Opera, GREAT SCOTT Tonight

The Dallas Opera is proud to present one of the most eagerly anticipated new operas of the year: Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's GREAT SCOTT, featuring a once-in-a-lifetime cast headed by America's favorite mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato, in the title role of Arden Scott; also starring soprano Ailyn Pérez, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, baritone Nathan Gunn, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, bass Kevin Burdette, tenor Rodell Rosel and baritone Michael Mayes.

GREAT SCOTT, (Presenting Sponsor, Eugene McDermott Foundation) a co-commission/co-production of TDO and San Diego Opera, officially opens The Dallas Opera's 2015-2016 Season, "Seeking the Human Element," on the evening of Friday, October 30, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. (please note the later curtain time) in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Centerin Dallas, Texas.

The Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance will be followed by four additional performances on November 1(m), 4, 7 & 15(m), 2015.

In addition to acclaimed American composer Jake Heggie and award-winning librettist Terrence McNally-who conceived the original story-Great Scottfeatures a phenomenal production and artistic team. In his first TDO appearance since Moby-Dick, the distinguished Patrick Summers will conduct the world premiere, Broadway legend and Tony Award-winner Jack O'Brien is staging the production, and Tony and Olivier Award-winner Bob Crowley (An American in Paris, Skylight, Once) has designed both sets and costumes for Great Scott in his Dallas Opera debut.

Other key contributors include Associate Conductor Nicole Paiement (Everest), Lighting Designer Brian MacDevitt (another multiple Tony winner!-most recently for The Book of Mormon) and renowned Projections Designer Elaine J. McCarthy (Moby-Dick, Everest, Iolanta).

"It's a homecoming for Terrence and a creative homecoming for me," writes Great Scott composer Jake Heggie. It's also a homecoming for our brilliant director, Jack O'Brien, who made his Dallas Opera directorial debut in 1972, and has since created dozens of iconic Broadway shows, including Hairspray and The Full Monty."

This timely and poignant full-length opera marks Mr. Heggie and Mr. McNally's first major collaboration since Dead Man Walking (2000), which was hailed as a "masterpiece" by the San Francisco Chronicle. One of theater's most prominent playwrights, Mr. McNally has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and has won multiple Tony and Drama Desk Awards, as well as an Emmy Award.

Mr. Heggie's 2010 collaboration with librettist Gene Scheer: Moby-Dick, now considered a modern-day masterpiece, premiered at The Dallas Opera and has since gone on to earn critical acclaim in sold-out performances from Canada to Australia.

This star-studded 2015 Dallas Opera world premiere is generously supported by Hoblitzelle Foundation, Diane B. Wilsey, Carol Franc Buck Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and The Opera Fund, a program of OPERA America.

Miss Joyce DiDonato is the Marnie and Kern Wildenthal Principal Artist.

"Having seen, first hand, the tremendous success of Moby-Dick in Dallas back in 2010, I was determined to give Jake a second opportunity to compose a major new work for The Dallas Opera," explains Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny. "With the support of TDO's Executive Committee, I commissioned Jake to begin planning his next opera over four years ago, in the summer of 2011, and we were later joined by San Diego Opera.

"All of us are absolutely thrilled to have begun rehearsals for this outstanding new work, featuring as it does the exceptional writing talents of Terrence McNally, a once-in-a-lifetime cast and an artistic 'dream team.'

"Critical anticipation and audience enthusiasm has been tremendous-even in advance of the premiere-and we are all looking forward to bringing this brilliant new work to the public on October 30th."

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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, figlia di Pompei ("Rosa Dolorosa, Daughter of Pompeii") - the nearly 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 professional football team's first Super Bowl (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.

"I'm a playwright because of opera," says Great Scott librettist Terrence McNally, who was awarded the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, "so it was inevitable that I would say 'yes' when Jake Heggie asked me to write an opera with him. That was Dead Man Walking.

"Fifteen years later we're in Dallas for the world premiere of our second collaboration, Great Scott, in the city where my passion for this impossible art form was ignited some 65 years ago."

"Filled with surprising characters, plot twists and turns," writes Mr. Heggie, "Great Scott unfolds as deeply touching, human and completely hilarious."

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Composer Jake Heggie has written more than 250 songs, as well as chamber, choral and orchestral works. His operas: Moby-Dick, Dead Man Walking, Out of Darkness, Three Decembers, To Hell and Back, The End of the Affair, and The Radio Hour-most, in collaboration with writers Terrence McNally and Gene Scheer, have been produced to great acclaim on five continents. Following Great Scott, his next major project is an opera based on Frank Capra's 1946 film classic, "It's a Wonderful Life," for Houston Grand Opera.

Inducted into The Theater Hall of Fame in 1996, librettist Terrence McNally, "a probing and enduring dramatist" (The New York Times), has had a significant impact on American Theater through such Tony Award-winning works as Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class, as well as his books for Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Woman. Other works include Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; Lips Together, Teeth Apart; The Lisbon Traviata; It's Only a Play; Corpus Christi and The Ritz. McNally's Mothers and Sons premiered on Broadway in 2014.

Houston Grand Opera Artistic and Music Director and Principal Guest Conductor for San Francisco Opera, Patrick Summers commands a vast repertory. Mr. Summers has led an array of productions at the Metropolitan Opera, including Madama Butterfly, Salome, and I Puritani, which were broadcast live in HD to movie theaters globally. He has also conducted at the world's preeminent opera companies, including Barcelona's Gran Teatre Del Liceu, Lisbon Opera, Bordeaux Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Bregenz Festival, Welsh National Opera, Opera Australia, Seattle Opera, and Los Angeles Opera, as well as The Dallas Opera.

Maestro Summers is a constant collaborator with Jake Heggie. Together, they have premiered such works as Dead Man Walking, Three Decembers, Moby-Dick and, now, Great Scott.

Director Jack O'Brien's contributions to the Broadway stage include It's Only a Play, Macbeth, The Nance, Dead Accounts, Catch Me If You Can, Impressionism, The Coast of Utopia, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Henry IV, The Invention of Love and many more. Mr. O'Brien has successfully staged Il trittico at the Metropolitan Opera, Guys and Dolls at Carnegie Hall, and Much Ado About Nothing in New York's Central Park. The longtime Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre has also directed half-a-dozen movies for "American Playhouse" on PBS.

Grammy Award-winning superstar mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, 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." She leads a brilliant all-star cast that includes in-demand soprano Ailyn Pérez (winner of the 2012 Richard Tucker Award), 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.

Great Scott also stars 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. More recently, Gunn attracted glowing reviews as Inman in the Santa Fe Opera world premiere of Jennifer Higdon and Gene Scheer's Cold Mountain.

Sid's eleven-year-old son, Tommy Taylor (a speaking role), will be played by Mark Hancock in his company debut.

Rounding out the GREAT SCOTT cast is counter-tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo in his Dallas Opera 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 (Beck Weathers in Everest), known 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.

Rodell Rosel, a tenor, creates the role of Anthony Candolino, while baritone Michael Mayes sings the role of Wendell Swann, both in their company debuts.

The Dallas Opera Chorus will be prepared by Chorus Master Alexander Rom. Wigs and make-up designed by David Zimmerman. The Assistant Conductor is Keith Chambers. J. Knighten Smit serves as Assistant Director; Hally Albers is the Stage Manager.

Choreography by John de los Santos. Musical preparation by Robert Mollicone and Kirk Severtson. Italian Language Consultant, Valentina Simi.

All performances will take place in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, selected by Southern Living magazine as the best new venue for opera.

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 dallasopera.org.

Single tickets, starting at just $19, are subject to availability. Tickets may be purchased at the door - throughout the 2015-2016 Season - or in advance by calling 214.443.1000. Subscriptions and single tickets are also available for purchase online throughout the season at www.dallasopera.org.

Other than on FIRST NIGHT, the curtain for evening performances is at 7:30, except where noted; matinees begin Sunday afternoons at 2:00 p.m.

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




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