The Dallas Opera Presents LA WALLY (ACT IV) and EVEREST Double Bill Tonight
The Dallas Opera is extremely proud to present the third production in its 2014-2015 "Heights of Passion" Season, an unusual double bill: the eagerly anticipated world premiere of EVEREST -- the first opera by renowned British composer Joby Talbot with a superb libretto by Gene Scheer (Moby-Dick) -- preceded by the climactic final act of an 1892 opera rarity: Alfredo Catalani's LA WALLY (Act IV) set in the Tyrolean Alps. 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.
The first half of the evening, LA WALLY (Act IV), 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," has graciously assumed the title role from Latonia Moore, who withdrew from the production due to pregnancy.
Tenor Carl Tanner will make his Dallas Opera debut as Giuseppe Hagenbach. Following his 2010 Metropolitan Opera debut, Uptempo Magazine proclaimed "the quality of Tanner's voice gave a lasting impression with its vastly dynamic and resonant timbre."
The role of Walter will be sung 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 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 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 -- EVEREST -- a Dallas Opera world premiere with a libretto by Gene Scheer (Moby-Dick) -- 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 by Elaine J. McCarthy (Moby-Dick, Tristan & Isolde) 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, Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, Enika and Richard Schulze, and Marnie and Kern Wildenthal.
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 -- including the world premiere production of Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer's EVEREST -- 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 $25 (one per valid Student I.D.) ninety minutes prior to each performance.