Dallas Opera's DIE TOTE STADT Opens 3/21

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The Dallas Opera is proud to present the third production of the company's 2013-2014 "By Love Transformed" Season, Erich Wolfgang Korngold's late-Viennese style masterpiece, DIE TOTE STADT ("The Dead City") which received an unprecedented two-city world premiere in 1920.

DIE TOTE STADT will open on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District. This hauntingly beautiful Dallas Opera production was originally created for the Danish National Opera by Mikael Melbye.

Before Alfred Hitchcock filmed the James Stewart / Kim Novak classic, "Vertigo," Erich Wolfgang Korngold created Die tote Stadt, the tale of one man's dark obsession with the woman he loved and lost. Dallas Morning News Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell recently wrote "No opera ever composed has music more gorgeous, more sumptuous."

Featuring state-of-the-art projections and composed by a prodigy in his early twenties who evolved into one of the great masters of music for the Golden Age of Cinema ("The Adventures of Robin Hood," "Deception," "The Sea Hawk," "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex"), Die tote Stadt features an extraordinary cast that includes tenor Jay Hunter Morris in the role of Paul, fresh from his triumphs as Ahab in the San Francisco Opera revival of Moby-Dick and as Siegfried in the Met's new Ring Cycle; soprano Mardi Byers as Marie/Marietta; and baritone Morgan Smith, the poignant voice of reason in TDO's world premiere production of Moby-Dick, as Fritz.

Other principal singers include Australian mezzo-soprano Katherine Tier in her TDO debut as Brigitta; baritone Weston Hurt (La bohème) as Frank and tenor Andrew Bidlack (The Lighthouse) as Albert; with Jennifer Chung as Juliette, Angela Turner Wilson as Lucienne, and Danish tenor Jan Lund in his American debut as Victorin.

Production underwriters for Die tote Stadt are Marnie and Kern Wildenthal.

"As part of The Dallas Opera's ongoing commitment to programming a wide range of operatic repertoire, including 'evergreen' classics, 20th and 21st century works, new commissions, and neglected gems," explains Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, "we are thrilled to present Korngold's masterwork, Die tote Stadt.

"This work is a personal favorite, and I am delighted to bring it to the Winspear for its Texas debut. I'm confident that audiences will love the opera's magnificent compositional style and orchestration, and the production and associated video content will be sure to delight our patrons."

Jay Hunter Morris has been conquering the opera world, one production at a time. About his performance in the San Francisco revival of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's Moby-Dick, Mercury News critic Richard Scheinin wrote: "He sang with a pressurized fury that practically shook the seats of the War Memorial Opera House. Think Old Testament. Think King Lear." As Siegfried in the Metropolitan Opera's new Ring, Morris "found his own way to sing this heldentenor role with a lighter yet athletic and youthful sound. His clarion top notes projected nicely over the orchestra" (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times).

Praised by Opera News for her Bolshoi Theater performances as Marie in Wozzeck, "coloring phrases with a fine expressive sense;" and by The New York Times for her "memorable" characterizations and for "singing with a wealth of vocal colors," Colorado-born soprano Mardi Byers (who now resides in Switzerland) has a repertoire that includes Wagner, Verdi, Puccini and Richard Strauss - as well as Korngold. This production will mark her TDO debut.

Morgan Smith made an indelible impression on Dallas audiences in the world premiere production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's Moby-Dick. Critic Joshua Kosman of The San Francisco Chronicle felt that same depth of humanity in Smith's recent recap of the role: "The real star of the cast was baritone Morgan Smith, whose Starbuck joined vocal splendor, moral authority and deep empathy in a phenomenal combination."

Maestro Sebastian Lang-Lessing, the music director of the San Antonio Symphony, will conduct in this, his Dallas Opera debut. Writing about a concert appearance in Portland, Oregon, critic James McQuillen noted that "under the direction of...Lang-Lessing, who led with sweeping gestures and never missed an opportunity for a fortissimo punch at the close, the orchestra sounded superb."

This production is both staged and designed by director Mikael Melbye, the acclaimed former baritone who has gone on to forge a second distinguished career in opera, with video projections designed by Wendall Harrington. The duo have earned the applause of critics for their designs of ballets as well as operas, prompting Lisa Jo Sagolla of backstage.com to observe: "Melbye's and Harrington's designs hug the space with gorgeous period video images...making it look like the characters are actually in a setting, as opposed to a stage set." It "also allows the dream-like narrative to jump-cut from ballroom to boudoir," adds Louise Levene of The Telegraph (U.K.) "with a flick of a switch."

Costume design is by Deirdre Clancy (TDO debut); with lighting design by Mark McCullough; choreography by Assistant Director Matthew Ferraro and chorus preparation by Dallas Opera Chorus Master Alexander Rom.

Paul's fierce grip on the memory of his dead wife will be challenged by an equally determined young woman. Can he let go of his obsessive fantasy-trapped in his perpetual "Dead City"-in order to live again? This production of a too-long-neglected twentieth-century masterpiece will leave you wondering "Where has this opera been all my life?"

DIE TOTE STADT will be sung in the original German with English language translations projected above the stage. Additional performances are planned for March 23(m), 26 and 29, concluding with a final Sunday afternoon matinee on April 6, 2014 in the magnificent Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Single tickets range from $19 to $250 (box seats may be higher for select performances).

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