Luxury casting at Dallas’s opera about a dying opera

Luxury casting at Dallas’s opera about a dying opera


norman lebrecht

October 04, 2015

from the press release:

DALLAS, OCTOBER 2, 2015 – The Dallas Opera is proud to present one of the most eagerly anticipated new operas of the year: Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s GREAT SCOTT, featuring a once-in-a-lifetime cast headed by America’s favorite mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato, in the title role of Arden Scott; also starring soprano Ailyn Pérez, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, baritone Nathan Gunn, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, bass Kevin Burdette, tenor Rodell Rosel and baritone Michael Mayes.



In McNally’s original story and libretto, international opera star Arden Scott returns to her hometown to try to save the struggling opera company that launched her to fame and fortune. However, as American Opera prepares for the world premiere of Rosa Dolorosa, figlia di Pompei (“Rosa Dolorosa, Daughter of Pompeii”) the nearly 200-year old bel canto opera Arden recently discovered – she faces unexpected competition from an ambitious young soprano as well as community excitement surrounding the local professional football team’s first Super Bowl (Go Grizzlies!).  The fate of the opera company hangs in the balance as Arden is forced to consider the personal sacrifices she has made for her career, and comes to understand that true greatness is a matter of heart.



  • william osborne says:

    In spite of its enormous wealth, Dallas ranks 297th in the world for opera performances per year. Nevertheless, it is the norm for houses like this in the USA to hire star singers for short runs. In addition, Heggie is very well connected with the opera establishment through his work as a pianist/coach at the San Francisco Opera. He also writes in a very conservative, vocally oriented style. He is thus championed by a number of famous singers, and especially Frederica von Stade. I wouldn’t be surprised if she helped persuade some of the other stars to participate.

    Perhaps the most important point is that this opera seems to be very rare example of the American opera community honestly confronting some of the problems it faces (even if the plot sounds a bit corny,) and registering a protest, however mild. Hopefully such self-examination will continue.

    • Respect says:

      Broken record. I think everyone got your point some time ago. You do understand all of this dogmatic droning is never going to be impactful, even though you find it necessary to hijack every thread involving arts policy here?

    • Emil says:

      I think you made a typo; I think you meant to write: “Bravo, American Opera House commissions a brand new opera and invests big funds on an untested new work!”

      When the Opéra de Montréal brings in Kevin Puts’ Silent Night, or Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, or when to Québec Opera Festival puts on Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin, I don’t think “it would be better if they performed Schönberg”; I am happy that they are willing to take a risk to present anything else than Tosca and Bohème. Frankly, that opera culture you dream of is not going to build itself and presenting modern, relatable operas is one way of achieving that.

      • william osborne says:

        For a city like Dallas to rank 297th for opera performances per year is dead wrong, and no number of rationalizations changes that hard fact — not even hiding behind premieres of new operas. So much for everything being bigger and better in Texas….

        • Emil says:

          So much for this being an article about an opera premiere.

          • william osborne says:

            A premiere with expensive tickets for expensive singers for a tiny number of performances for rich people. (But as true blooded Americans, we’ll just overlook that.) Better a positive, Texas-style headline: Pint-size Opera Wears Ten Gallon Hat!

  • SoCal Dan says:

    San Diego Opera will present GREAT SCOTT in May 2016.

    According to the San Diego Opera website, Isabel Leonard replaces Joyce DiDonato, and Joyce El-Khoury replaces Ailyn Pérez, while Frederica von Stade, Nathan Gunn, and Anthony Roth Costanzo reprise their roles from the Dallas production.

  • Marg says:

    Ive enjoyed Heggie’s work and certainly Joyce wouldnt have needed her arm twisted to sing this opera – she adores his work and loves doing new things. Its a dream cast – I would love to be able to see it but live in the wrong country. Dallas Opera will have sell out houses for this whether the actual opera is any good or not!