Eons ago Maurice Chevalier captivated great grandmamas with his smile, the twinkle in his eye and an ooh-la-la French accent. Maurice and his ways may only be seen in celluloid, but today his charisma is alive and well thanks to The Dallas Opera (TDO). That uber charming and disarming Frenchman is Emmanuel Villaume, TDO’s music director.
On Thursday, January 25, he admitted he couldn’t remember if he had been in Chicago or NYC the day before. Who could blame him? After all, in helping out the Metropolitan Opera, he had impressed critics with his conducting the orchestra for “Tosca” earlier in the month.
The occasion that brought him back to Dallas was the reveal of the The Dallas Opera’s 2018-2019 season — “Swept Away” — to the opera friends like TDO Board of Directors Board Chair Holly Mayer and Tucean Webb and local music critics like Scott Cantrell in Hamon Hall at the Winspear.
TDO hierarchy admitted that one of former TDO General Director/CEO Keith Cerney’s greatest accomplishments was lassoing Emmanuel.
TDO Interim General Director/CEO Kern Wildenthal added that in addition to being a great conductor, Emmanuel was a savvy businessman.
As Emmanuel reeled out the season’s programs, he described the talent as if he were envisioning the most deliciously perfect Jean-Paul Hévin gold stiletto to melt in your mouth. This season will include:
- Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman on Friday, October 12; Sunday, October 14; Wednesday, October 17; and Saturday, October 20, featuring Greer Grimsley as The Dutchman, Anja Kampe as Senta, Jay Hunter Morris as Erik and Luretta Bybee as Mary.
- George Bizet’s “Carmen” on Friday, October 19; Sunday, October 21; Wednesday, October 24, Thursday, October 25; Friday, November 2; and Sunday, November 4, featuring Stéphanie d’Oustrac as Carmen, Stephen Costello as Don José, Vanessa Vasquez as Micaëla and Alexander Vinogradov at Escamillo.
- Giacomo Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” on Thursday, March 1; Saturday, Mary 3; Tuesday, March 6; and Friday, March 9, featuring Kristin Lewis as Manon Lescaut, Gregory Kinde as Chevalier des Grieux and Musa Mgqungwana as Lescaut.
- Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème” on Thursday, March 15; Saturday, March 17; Tuesday, March 20; Friday, March 23; Thursday, March 29; and Saturday, March 3, featuring Jean Francois Borras as Rodolfo; Pumeza Matshikza as Mimi, Anthony Clark Evans as Marcello, Sara Gartland as Musetta, Nicholas Brownlee as Colline, Will Liverman as Schaunard and Samuel Ramey as Benoit-Alcindoro.
- Verdi’s “Falstaff” on Thursday, April 26; Saturday, April 28; Tuesday, May 1; and Friday, May4 featuring Mark Delavan as Sir John Falstaff, Angela Meade as Alice Ford, Stephanie Blythe as Dame Quickly, Quinn Kelsey as Ford, Mojca Erdmann as Nanetta, Airam Hernandez as Fenton and Megan Marino as Meg Page. It will be the first time “Falstaff” has been produced by TDO.
As if Emmanuel’s charm wasn’t enough, TDO Education Program Senior Manager Kristian Roberts announced plans for the Family Performances and Education Programs which ease adults and kids into a wondrous world of music, theater and singing. The series will include
- “Mozart and Company” on Saturday, October 27, and Saturday, May 4, 2019
- Jacques Offenbach‘s “Pépito” on Saturday, November 3, and Saturday, April 27, 2019
- John Davies‘ “The Breme Town Musicians” on Saturday, October 6, and Saturday, March 16
Just hearing Kristian describe “The Bremen Town Musicians” would have made an ardent country-western loyalist break down to check it out.
Thanks to underwriters like Season Sponsor The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family, The Perot Foundation Education and Community Outreach Programs, The Betty and Steve Suellentrop Educational Outreach Fund, Texas Instruments Foundation and others, TDO’s offerings are easily available, thus removing any thought that opera is for the very wealthy, blue blood.
BTW, the days of plump sopranos and non-buff baritones are so yesterday. Dallas is showcasing tomorrow’s voices and faces in addition to the supporters. Need a for instance? Well, those fashionable types — Tiffany Divis, Kara Goss and Rhonda Marcus — are co-chairing The Juanita and Henry S. Miller Jr. Founders Award Luncheon on Monday, March, 19 at the Hotel Crescent Court honoring Ellen and Don Winspear. Needless to say, support hose and men’s sock garters will not be in attendance.