Dallas Opera's LA WALLY Debuts Tonight

The Dallas Opera presents a new production of Alfredo Catalani's LA WALLY (Act IV).

Mexican tenor Rodrigo Garciarroyo will perform the leading role of Giuseppe Hagenbach tonight, January 30 (opening night), February 1 and 4, 2015. Tenor Arnold Rawls will sing the role for the final performance scheduled on February 7, 2015. The singers are assuming the role after Carl Tanner recently withdrew, due to illness.

In addition, soprano Melissa Citro will sing the final performance of La Wally in the title role. Earlier, soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams took over the part from Latonia Moore, who withdrew because of her pregnancy.

Mr. Garciarroyo, who is making his Dallas Opera debut in LA WALLY, has been praised by John Bills of Pro Opera Magazine as "...combining a rich sound and a smooth legato with secure and heroic high notes: first class singing."

Mr. Rawls makes his Dallas Opera debut in this production after earning rave reviews from Opera News, which wrote, "He owned the stage dramatically and musically...nailing each note."

Ms. Citro, making her house debut with The Dallas Opera as the intrepid title character of Wally (short for "Walburga," in case you were wondering), has excelled in a variety of Wagnerian roles. Writing about her Glimmerglass Festival appearance in The Consul, one reviewer claimed Miss Citro "stopped the performance in the second act with her aria, when she finally snaps in the face of the unseen Consul's inhumanity to his fellow man. Ms. Citro is already singing such Wagnerian roles as a Norn and a Valkyrie in major houses. She has a great career ahead of her. See her now."

LA WALLY is the first half of the sole double bill in The Dallas Opera's 2014-2015 "Heights of Passion" Season. The climactic final act of this rarely produced 1892 work is being paired with the world premiere of EVEREST-the first opera by renowned British composer Joby Talbot (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) and Gene Scheer (Moby-Dick).

Opening night will take place tonight, January 30, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

That night, LA WALLY will star Mary Elizabeth Williams, described by Opera News as "the next great Verdi soprano," as Wally, on the heels of her performances as Floria Tosca for Seattle Opera (where she was selected as the 2011-2012 "Artist of the Year"). Ms. Williams, praised by The Washington Post for "wonderful stage presence, both regal and human." Ms. Williams will perform the role on January 30, February 1 and 4, 2015.

The role of Walter will be sung throughout by Dallas Opera favorite Jennifer Chung, who appeared as Juliette in last season's critically acclaimed production of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's twentieth-century masterpiece, Die tote Stadt.

Conducted by Anthony Barrese (Tosca, 2008) and staged in this abridged production by renowned stage director Candace Evans (Don Pasquale, The Merry Widow), this is the tale of a free-spirited and fiercely passionate young woman who realizes, too late, that love delayed isn't always love denied. TDO's production also will incorporate the famous Act I aria, "Ebben, ne andrò lontana."

Other members of the top-notch production team include acclaimed set designer Robert Brill (Moby-Dick), costume designer David C. Woolard (Oscar, Death and the Powers), lighting designer Christopher Akerlind (The Dream of Valentino, La bohème, The Marriage of Figaro), wig and make-up designer David Zimmerman and projections designer Elaine J. McCarthy.

On the slopes of Mount Everest, luck and the weather can turn with equal ferocity and swiftness, and dreams die even for the most valiant of men.

British composer Joby Talbot's first opera confronts the tragic events surrounding an ill-fated 1996 Everest expedition with a cast that includes tenor Andrew Bidlack and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, as well as bass Kevin Burdette and baritone Craig Verm in their company debuts. This much-anticipated Dallas Opera world premiere will be conducted by contemporary music specialist and Dallas Opera Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement and staged by director Leonard Foglia (Moby-Dick) - this season's James R. Seitz, Jr. Stage Director in Honor of John Gage - with stunning projections designed to carry us to the one of the highest, most awe-inspiring, and dangerous places on earth.

"It's a thrill to have this opportunity to bring together artists from several of the most memorable productions in recent Dallas Opera history," says Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, "and to combine their extraordinary talents in fresh and exciting new ways.

"I am also delighted to cement The Dallas Opera's newfound reputation as a creative force in American Opera with the first of three world premieres scheduled to take place in 2015," Mr. Cerny adds. "My team and I are confident that this thrilling original work by Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer will bring us a step closer to our goal of providing adventurous North Texas audiences with thought-provoking new works, in addition to carefully conceived productions of rarely performed and much-loved favorites from the opera repertoire."

Dallas Opera Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement made a profound impression on theatergoers during the 2012 launch of our chamber opera series: The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies. Wrote Willard Spiegelman of Opera News, "Nicole Paiement led the ensemble briskly through a score that is rhythmically as well as harmonically complex." Dallas Observer Classical Music Critic Katie Womack expounded further: "The success of Friday's performance was largely due to Nicole Paiement, who conducted the orchestra skillfully and artistically, and DTC's artistic director, Kevin Moriarty, whose staging of this work marked his opera directorial debut. Moriarty's transition to this genre seemed effortless and his work at home in the Wyly Theatre space. Together, the two produced one of the most interesting hours of opera I've seen in a while."

The conductor also led brilliant performances of Tod Machover's Death and the Powers last season, easily the most cutting-edge and technologically sophisticated opera ever produced in North Texas.

Andrew Bidlack, praised by David Fleshler of The Miami Herald for his "smooth legato and heroic top notes," prompted Classical Voice of New England to proclaim that he has "vocal color to match one of the original 'Three Tenors'." Mr. Bidlack made his TDO debut as Sandy in The Lighthouse, which launched our chamber opera series in 2012.

Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who debuted with Dallas Opera in the acclaimed 2013 production of Dominick Argento's The Aspern Papers before creating the role of Mary Magdalene in the San Francisco Opera world premiere of Mark Adamo's most recent work, "made a brilliant impression," according to Georgia Rowe of Opera News. "Cooke sang with complete conviction, sounding unforced and lustrous." While San Francisco Chronicle Critic Joshua Kosman wrote that her singing was "eloquent and shimmeringly rich."

Bass Kevin Burdette will be making his company debut but he's already attracting a lot of attention for his "large powerful voice with a burnished robust sound" and a "vibrant personality that pervaded the entire theater" (Opera Today).

Baritone Craig Verm, who will also be making his TDO debut in this production, has earned raves for his "brilliantly performed" roles and "consistently solid and well-colored" singing" (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).

The Dallas Opera Chorus is prepared by acclaimed Chorus Master Alexander Rom.

EVEREST is generously underwritten by Alice W. and Richard D. Bass, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts, TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund, and the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund.

Performances of this unique double bill (LA WALLY sung in Italian, EVEREST sung in English, with English language supertitles projected above the stage) will take place in the magnificent Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House on January 30, February 1 (2:00 p.m. matinee), 4 & 7, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. These works will be separated by an intermission.

Single tickets for the remaining mainstage productions of the Dallas Opera's "Heights of Passion" 2014-15 Season (La bohëme, Iolanta) are on sale now, starting at just $19, through the Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or online at www.dallasopera.org. Student Rush best-available tickets can be purchased at the lobby box office for as little as $15 (one per valid Student I.D.) ninety minutes prior to each performance.

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