Dallas Opera, The Aspern Papers
The Dallas Opera presents Dominick Argento's riveting 1988 opera, THE ASPERN PAPERS, in a brand-new production to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of its TDO world premiere. THE ASPERN PAPERS will open on the evening of Friday, April 12, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Arts District (the Marnie and Kern Wildenthal Performance) with additional underwriting support from Mrs. William W. Winspear, Sally Von Behren, National Endowment for the Arts, OPERA America's Opera Fund and the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund.
The new production of this atmospheric opera, based on an 1888 novella by acclaimed author Henry James (The Turn of the Screw, The Bostonians, The Portrait of a Lady, Washington Square, The Wings of the Dove) will be conducted by Dallas Opera Music Director Graeme Jenkins in his final TDO appearances before he assumes the status "emeritus." This production will be staged by the renowned British director Tim Albery, The James R. Seitz, Jr., Stage Director in Honor of John Gage. This is the same duo who inaugurated TDO performances in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House with the 2009 production of Giuseppe Verdi's Otello, based on William Shakespeare's enduring tragedy.
The third production of the 2012-2013 "Pursuits of Passion" Season is a nod to the Dallas Opera's illustrious past while beckoning towards the company's future as a presenter and producer of more opera rarities and contemporary works. It has been generously supported by additional grants from OPERA America for audience development events surrounding the new production.
At that 1988 world premiere, New York Times Classical Music Critic Bernard Holland described the composer as "a melodic athlete; his wind is strong and his step graceful. Tina's first-scene rumination on her aunt's past is, indeed, the kind of sustained set piece rare in opera today."
"While the 25th Anniversary seemed like the right time to consider a possible revival of what many feel is Dominick Argento's greatest work," explains Dallas Opera Artistic Director Jonathan Pell, "but the decisive factor was the availability of a phenomenal cast of internationally acclaimed singers who could rival the incredible group of artists who originated these roles in 1988. We knew that if we didn't seize this opportunity now, it might very well take another twenty-five years to assemble such a glorious group of singers to bring these roles back to life."
This revival will star "the peerless American mezzo" (New York Observer) Susan Graham in her long-awaited Dallas Opera debut as Tina. Canadian-born French soprano Alexandra Deshorties will sing the role of the possessive opera singer, Juliana Bordereau, and renowned American baritone Nathan Gunn will portray the Lodger.
Born in New Mexico and raised in Texas, Miss Graham studied at Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music. She was Musical America's "Vocalist of the Year" for 2004 and, two years later, her hometown of Midland proclaimed September 5th to be "Susan Graham Day" in perpetuity. Recently, she made the cover of Opera News ("Hail to the Queen!" December 2012, published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild) reinforcing her current status as operatic superstar and "National Treasure" (Audiophile Audition).
Miss Graham created the role of Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking for San Francisco Opera, and created additional roles in two recent Metropolitan Opera world premieres: Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy and The Great Gatsby by John Harbison.
After triumphing as Dido in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Les Troyens, transmitted around the world as part of the Met's HD Series. Miss Graham embarked on a select, nationwide recital tour with soprano Renée Fleming and - this summer-she will sing Offenbach's The Grand Duchess of Gersolstein for Santa Fe Opera. Dubbed "America's favorite mezzo" by Gramophone magazine, Susan Graham remains one of the most captivating artists of our time.
Soprano Alexandra Deshorties was born in Canada and raised in Marseilles, France. A winner of the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions, she earned a spot in the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Program and made her Metropolitan Opera debut at the age of 24 as the High Priestess in Aida.
Ms. Deshorties has since appeared at the Met in roles including Elettra in Idomeneo, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos (taped for television broadcast), and the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, conducted by James Levine. She also appeared as Musetta in La bohéme, and Tytania in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Previously, she debuted as Desdemona in the Dallas Opera's production of Verdi's Otello that inaugurated TDO performances in the Winspear. Gregory Sullivan Isaacs of Theater Jones wrote, "Soprano Alexandra Deshorties, who had stepped in at the last minute as Desdemona, provided a wonderful example of what a great house can do for a great singer. Thanks to the theater's acoustical environment, Deshorties' most subtle moment, the Ave Maria, was the finest segment of her performance, and, arguably, of the entire evening-not because of knock-you-over pyrotechnics, but because of the careful sculpting of every note and nuance."
More recent career highlights include her 2011 star turn in the title role of Luigi Cherubini's Medea at Glimmerglass Opera that made her the talk of the opera world.
Critically acclaimed American baritone Nathan Gunn most recently mesmerized TDO patrons in the world premiere of A Question of Light, a 2011 song cycle by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer which was inspired by several works in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art and dedicated to the legendary arts patron and philanthropist Margaret McDermott. Mr. Gunn has also delighted Dallas audiences recently as the scheming Doctor Malatesta in our popular 2010 presentation of Don Pasquale ("Dallas Opera's best show of the last season. Maybe two." - Arnold Jones, Dallas Voice) and earlier, as the dashing Guglielmo in the company's 2003 production of Mozart's touching and intimate romantic comedy, Così fan tutte.
In 2012, Mr. Gunn was appointed Director of Opera Company of Philadelphia's newly formed American Repertoire Council, to guide OCP in its commitment to produce a new American work in ten consecutive seasons through its American Repertoire Program.
THE ASPERN PAPERS will also star Canadian tenor Joseph Kaiser in his company debut as the composer, Aspern. Proclaimed a "rising star" by playbillarts.com, Mr. Kaiser has drawn notice for performances that suggest "a major talent has arrived on the international scene." Mr. Kaiser's 2012-13 Season began with performances as Flamand in Strauss's Capriccio at the Opéra National de Paris in a production by Robert Carsen conducted by Philippe Jordan. Operatic engagements this season include Houston Grand Opera's mounting of the Francesca Zambello production of Showboat as the leading man Gaylord Ravenal; semi-staged performances of Capriccio at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden led by Sir Andrew Davis; and Christof Loy's production of Gluck's Alcesteat the Vienna State Opera in the role of Admète. Joseph Kaiser has been eagerly sought by major companies and presenters around the globe for his beauty of tone, intelligent programming and innate sense of style and elegance. He is widely regarded as one of the most gifted artists of his generation and enjoys success in opera, oratorio, and concert in prestigious venues throughout Europe and North America.
Film buffs may recognize him from Kenneth Branagh's film of Mozart's The Magic Flute where he sang the lead role of Tamino with "bright tone and complete dramatic assurance" (The Stage, U.K.) .
Bass Dean Peterson will portray Barelli, an impresario. "With credits that include the Met, La Scala and the Vienna State Opera, Peterson combines a powerful stage presence with a mellifluous bass voice of expressive power and depth. His dulcet soft tones were haunting in the best interplay of music and dramatic inflection" (South Florida Classical Review). Peterson has made a deep impression on Dallas Opera audiences in a wide range of leading roles, starting with his debut in The Barber of Seville (1993) and continuing through stand-out performances in Elektra (1996), The Cunning Little Vixen and Wozzeck (2000), the villains in our 2005 production of The Tales of Hoffmann and his most recent appearance as King Heinrich in our acclaimed 2007 production of Lohengrin.
Barelli's mistress, a singer named Sonia, will be performed by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who recently appeared as one of the trio of artists holding centerstage in the Dallas Opera's Family Concert. In this, her official TDO debut, Miss Cooke will have an opportunity to display "the qualities for which she has earned attention: a rich voice deployed with admirable control, an expressive countenance and a winning ease onstage" (The New York Times); the same qualities that earned her a role in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of John Adams' Doctor Atomic, seen world-wide as part of the Met HD Series.
Bass Eric Jordan will make his company debut as A Painter, with soprano Jennifer Youngs (who starred as Laurette in the Dallas Opera's touring production of Doctor Miracle) portraying The Maid. Miss Youngs is an award-winning emerging artist, currently pursuing a master's degree in vocal performance at the University of North Texas. The role of The Gardener will be sung by bass Mark McCrory.