360 West April 2017 360 West : Page 94

The O Lights Action Drama By Laura Samuel Meyn Photo by Cory Weaver Spotlight pera Experience A Grand event The Grand Opening Night Concert features Ava Pine, a Grammy-nominated soprano, and Michael Mayes, a baritone who has become known for his mastery of pithy roles in new American works like Glory Denied, Dead Man Walking and Soldier Songs . Both audience favorites are native Texans and former Fort Worth residents. The gist The concert begins with operatic arias and ensemble pieces, including a scene from Falstaff . After intermission, things lighten up with Bernstein’s overture to Candide , Soprano Ava Pine followed by operetta and musical theater selections. Joining Pine and Mayes onstage are several of this year’s Fort Worth Opera Festival stars — and up-and-coming singers from the company’s apprentice program. The event is preceded by a ticketed black-tie dinner at City Club of Fort Worth with stars from Carmen and Voir Dire as special guests. Why you should go Talent, stage presence and charm to spare — you’d be hard-pressed to find a more endearing pair of opera stars (this will be Pine’s final performance); it also doesn’t hurt that the backup band is the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joe Illick. Trivia Pine is leaving her opera career to move to New York and pursue an advanced degree in nursing at Columbia. While Mayes is known for his powerful baritone and taking on challenging operatic roles, he loves to let his hair down with opera colleagues to perform as Cletus McHatfield and the McHatfield Fambly Singers, a fictional family of country singers. Highlights Pine plans to sing a new version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” arranged Baritone Michael Mayes especially for her by a composer friend, Emmy-winning Gary Fry. Mayes tackles “A Little More Perfect,” an ode to marriage equality penned by opera composer Evan Mack. Details 7:30 p.m. April 15 Audrey Babcock sizzles onstage as the title character in Carmen. The house lights are dimming, the singers are getting into character, the orchestra is warming up, and soon the curtain will rise. The Fort Worth Opera Festival returns with the tale of a classic femme fatale, Carmen ; an edgy new courtroom drama, Voir Dire ; and a bilingual opera that tells the story of a Mexican-American immigrant, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna . As usual, this thoughtful programming satisfies the desire for big, beautiful classics while also giving more progressive works their due, and audiences love both. Voir Dire , the edgiest work on this year’s lineup, is close to selling out. This year’s festival bears the unmistakable mark of recently departed general director Darren Woods, who during his 16-year tenure introduced the festival-season format and launched the Opera of the Americas initiative spotlighting contemporary works written in North, Central and South America. His efforts have earned Fort Worth Opera national notice, particularly for last year’s world premiere of JFK . Woods’ recent ousting has largely been explained by the organization as a need for a more financial-minded leader while it builds on Woods’ many artistic successes. “It’s about finding the productions that your community finds palatable and exciting, while producing world-class art on a responsible budget,” says FWO director of development Mark Saville. “We owe it to those who choose to invest in us to produce a season as responsibly as possible. We have a reputation of seeking to push the boundaries; I think you’ll see us taking that mantra to the next level. I think we’re setting the stage to blow your mind.” Saville anticipates that the festival and the search for a new general director will play out in unison. In the meantime, FWO staff and artists are busy preparing for the season Woods planned. Read on for cheat sheets on the productions. 94 April 2017 360westmagazine.com

Spotlight

Laura Sammel Meyn

The Lights Action Drama pera Experience


Audrey Babcock sizzles onstage as the title character in Carmen.

Photo by Cory Weaver

The house lights are dimming, the singers are getting into character, the orchestra is warming up, and soon the curtain will rise. The Fort Worth Opera Festival returns with the tale of a classic femme fatale, Carmen; an edgy new courtroom drama, Voir Dire; and a bilingual opera that tells the story of a Mexican-American immigrant, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna. As usual, this thoughtful programming satisfies the desire for big, beautiful classics while also giving more progressive works their due, and audiences love both. Voir Dire, the edgiest work on this year’s lineup, is close to selling out.

This year’s festival bears the unmistakable mark of recently departed general director Darren Woods, who during his 16-year tenure introduced the festival-season format and launched the Opera of the Americas initiative spotlighting contemporary works written in North, Central and South America. His efforts have earned Fort Worth Opera national notice, particularly for last year’s world premiere of JFK. Woods’ recent ousting has largely been explained by the organization as a need for a more financialminded leader while it builds on Woods’ many artistic successes. “It’s about finding the productions that your community finds palatable and exciting, while producing world-class art on a responsible budget,” says FWO director of development Mark Saville. “We owe it to those who choose to invest in us to produce a season as responsibly as possible. We have a reputation of seeking to push the boundaries; I think you’ll see us taking that mantra to the next level. I think we’re setting the stage to blow your mind.”

Saville anticipates that the festival and the search for a new general director will play out in unison. In the meantime, FWO staff and artists are busy preparing for the season Woods planned. Read on for cheat sheets on the productions.

A Grand event

The Grand Opening Night Concert features Ava Pine, a Grammy-nominated soprano, and Michael Mayes, a baritone who has become known for his mastery of pithy roles in new American works like Glory Denied, Dead Man Walking and Soldier Songs. Both audience favorites are native Texans and former Fort Worth residents.



Soprano Ava Pine

The gist The concert begins with operatic arias and ensemble pieces, including a scene from Falstaff. After intermission, things lighten up with Bernstein’s overture to Candide, followed by operetta and musical theater selections. Joining Pine and Mayes onstage are several of this year’s Fort Worth Opera Festival stars — and up-and-coming singers from the company’s apprentice program. The event is preceded by a ticketed black-tie dinner at City Club of Fort Worth with stars from Carmen and Voir Dire as special guests.

Why you should go Talent, stage presence and charm to spare — you’d be hard-pressed to find a more endearing pair of opera stars (this will be Pine’s final performance); it also doesn’t hurt that the backup band is the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joe Illick.

Trivia Pine is leaving her opera career to move to New York and pursue an advanced degree in nursing at Columbia. While Mayes is known for his powerful baritone and taking on challenging operatic roles, he loves to let his hair down with opera colleagues to perform as Cletus McHatfield and the McHatfield Fambly Singers, a fictional family of country singers.



Baritone Michael Mayes

Highlights

Pine plans to sing a new version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” arranged especially for her by a composer friend, Emmy-winning Gary Fry. Mayes tackles “A Little More Perfect,” an ode to marriage equality penned by opera composer Evan Mack.

Details 7:30 p.m. April 15




Cruzar la Cara de la Luna features the legendary 13-piece ensemble Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán in place of the traditional orchestra.

Photos by Tim Trumble, Arizona Opera

Bold and beautiful

Carmen, by composer Georges Bizet and librettists Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, is sung in French with English and Spanish supertitles; David Lefkowich directs.

The gist Carmen isn’t your usual 19th-century opera heroine. A gypsy working in a Spanish cigarette factory, she smokes, drinks, stabs a coworker and breaks hearts with nary a hang-up (when she tires of one lover, there’s another waiting to take his place). You might guess that it’s not going to end well even before the tarot cards reveal her number is up.

Why you should go Carmen is a sure thing for both new and longtime operagoers. First-timers will be delighted to realize that they already know a lot of the music — “The Toreador Song,” for one — and that operas often have scintillating storylines that aren’t so highbrow, after all. Traditional scenery and costumes and the full sound of the orchestra make for a lush operatic experience.

Trivia While Carmen is considered the “traditional” selection in this year’s Fort Worth Opera Festival, when it premiered in 1875, Victorian audiences were scandalized by the feisty, nonconforming female lead.

Highlights Mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock, noted for her acting chops, has performed the lead role in Carmen more than 100 times around the world; critics have called her interpretation “spellbinding.”

Performances 7:30 p.m. April 22 and May 5; 2 p.m. April 30.




OctavioMoreno isLaurentinoin Cruzar laCara dela Luna.

A new experience

The opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon) by José “Pepe” Martínez, with lyrics and book by Leonard Foglia, is sung in Spanish and English with supertitles in both languages; Foglia directs.

The gist As grandfather Laurentino is dying, his memories shift between his past in Michoacan, Mexico, and his present in Texas. He carries a dark secret: He had a wife and son in Mexico before migrant work brought him to Texas, where he eventually started a new family. His final wish is to unite with his Mexican and American sons.

Why you should go Cruzar la Cara de la Luna promises something you’ve never heard before — a mariachi opera. Standing in for the symphony orchestra is the world-famous Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, which sells out soccer stadiums in Mexico. Stunningly timely, the production explores the human side of immigration.

Trivia Cruzar la Cara de la Luna originally was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera, where it premiered in 2010. The same cast has since reprised its roles in Chicago, Phoenix and Paris — and they’ll be onstage in Fort Worth, too. While the tale originally had Laurentino settling in Houston, the local production will place his story in Fort Worth.

Highlights Though staged with minimal props and scenery, the opera does use butterflylike confetti in an especially visual moment that illuminates the symbolism of the annual monarch migration.

Performances 7:30 p.m. April 29; 2 p.m. May 7

Bonus On April 29, FWO hosts Fiesta Fort Worth, a free family-friendly festival in Sundance Square beginning at 5 p.m. That evening, the opera is simulcast in high-definition from inside Bass Hall out into the square.


THE DETAILS

Fort Worth Opera Festival The festival runs April 15-May 7. Voir Dire, performed at McDavid Studio, has sold out all but one performance; call for tickets, $75, for the 7:30 p.m. April 25 show. Other performances are at Bass Performance Hall, 4th and Calhoun streets, Sundance Square, Fort Worth. Single tickets begin at $17. The fifth annual Frontiers showcase presents 20-minute excerpts from new works, May 3-4, at McDavid Studio, 301 E. 5th St., Fort Worth (tickets are $10; call 817-731-0726). Opening-night dinners for the concert and for Carmen (in the lobby of Frost Bank and catered by GRACE) are $150 each. For all other festival tickets, 877-396-7372 or fwopera.org.

Read the full article at http://digital.360westmagazine.com/article/Spotlight/2746889/395472/article.html.

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