by Wayne Lee Gay
Audience members in Milan, Italy, attending the world premiere of Turandot on the evening of April 25, 1926, knew full well they were viewing the end of one composer’s output; Puccini had been laid to rest some seventeen months earlier with the sort of pomp and national outpouring reserved in Italy for her greatest composers. Many of those in the audience at La Scala that night were also aware that they were seeing the work that certified the end of the brief and glorious era of operatic verismo, developed by Puccini and his cohorts thirty years earlier.
What no one could have known, on that auspicious night, was that they were also witnessing the premiere of what remains, nearly ninety years later, the final installment of the centuries-long tradition of Italian grand opera. The grand lineage that had begun early in the seventeenth century with Monteverdi, and that had extended through a parade of composers as singular and compelling as their finest creations—Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Mascagni, and Leoncavallo—came to an end early in the twentieth century with Turandot.
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I am sitting down with bass Christian Van Horn who is making his Dallas Opera debut as Timur in Turandot which opens at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House on Friday, April 5.
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From the Desk of TDO's general Director
How have supertitles changed audience reaction to opera, and what is their future? The Dallas Opera's Keith Cerny explores this topic in his latest Off the Cuff column for TheaterJones.
I attended the Opera America Board meeting in New York last week, and one of the important topics we considered was the continuing need for audience development in opera companies, whether prestigious or scrappy, large or small. I explored a variety of new and far-reaching audience outreach efforts in an earlier "Off The Cuff" column, including simulcasts and performances in non-traditional spaces (The New Opera Audience), but was reminded during my visit of the continuing importance of another longstanding operatic innovation: supertitles. Like many aspects of the opera business, supertitles have evolved considerably in the last 30 years, in different and revealing ways.
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Quote of the Week
“Some say I have a beautiful voice, some say I have not. It is a matter of opinion. All I can say, those who don't like it shouldn't come to hear me.”
— Maria Callas
Above the ten thousand mark and counting! Today we reported reaching our first official milestone in connection with the upcoming April 13th Cowboys Stadium Simulcast of Puccini’s Turandot. Sponsored by The Dallas Foundation, everything is free from the parking to your seat – unless you decide to hit the concession stands (in which case, you’re on your own). There’s a tasty new addition to the evening’s entertainment – more details in the release below.
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Fashion at the Opera
Joyce and Harvey Mitchell at the opening of the Winspear Opera House, October 2009
Facebook Question of the Week
“The Barber of Seville, I took a date there. My life was forever changed after that evening.”
“Mine was at The Dallas Opera! La bohème in 1999. My friend and coworker took me. The rest is history! Hei-Kyung Hong was Mimi, so I am very excited for her return in a few weeks as Liu in Turandot.”
“Barber of Seville, at The Dallas Opera, with my mother, Cecilia Bartoli, performing.”
“Dress rehearsal of Tosca at the Met around 1979 with Montserrat Caballé - I grew up in Greenwich and went with my high school music class.”
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