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Fort Worth Opera announces 2015 festival lineup

Posted 12:00am on Friday, Apr. 11, 2014

The big news about the Fort Worth Opera’s 2015 festival was announced in February: The world premiere of A Wrinkle in Time, based on Madeleine L’Engle’s young-adult classic, has been scrapped in an effort to take next season’s budget from $5.4 million to $4.5 million.

Today, the company announced the remaining three operas in the 2015 lineup: Dog Days by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek; Verdi’s La Traviata; and Hamlet, based on Shakespeare’s tragedy.

Even without Wrinkle, programming for the 2015 festival (April 24-May 10) follows General Director Darren K. Woods’ guidelines for a well-rounded season, the company says: a warhorse, a less-produced work from the canon and a newer opera. Plus, the new-works initiative Frontiers returns for a third year.

The newer work (previously announced) is Dog Days, produced in the 500-seat Scott Theatre at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, a venue that the Fort Worth Opera hasn’t used since 2012.

Based on a short story by Judith Budnitz, the post-apocalyptic tale is about an American family that is tested when a man shows up dressed as a dog, begging for food. The Wall Street Journal described the affecting opera as “a punch in the stomach.”

At the helm will be Fort Worth Opera newcomers Robert Woodruff directing and Alan Pierson conducting a new music ensemble called Newspeak. The cast will be made up entirely of singers making their FWO debuts. The opera will be sung in English with no supertitles (April 24, 26, 28 and 29; May 1-2).

The warhorse is La Traviata, last performed by the Fort Worth Opera in the 2005-06 season. And the rare work is Ambroise Thomas’ 1868 opera Hamlet. Both will be performed in Bass Hall.

In the title role of Hamlet will be Wes Mason, the baritone who earned critical acclaim for his performances of FWO’s Before Night Falls and last year’s La Boheme. FWO alumnus Rod Nelman ( Tosca, The Daughter of the Regiment) will portray Claudius, and Robynne Redmon ( Dead Man Walking, Madama Butterfly) will portray Gertrude.

Soprano Rachelle Durkin will play Violetta in Traviata. She and the other principal cast members will make their FWO debuts.

FWO favorite David Gately will direct Traviata, and Thaddeus Strassberger will direct Hamlet. Joe Illick will conduct both.

Traviata (April 25, May 3 and 9) will be sung in Italian. Hamlet (May 2 and 10) will be in French. Both will have supertitles.

Next year’s festival will offer considerably fewer performances — just 11, compared with 18 this season and last. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will play for the Bass Hall productions.

Two of the three operas will feature entire casts making their Fort Worth Opera debuts. Notably absent will be local favorite Ava Pine, a TCU graduate who has performed in every FWO season except one since 2008.

The Frontiers showcase of eight new works will take place May 7-8, 2015. A call for entries will be forthcoming.

Season subscriptions for 2015 range from $26 to $379, and single tickets (on sale Aug. 1) from $17 to $195. Call 817-731-0726 or visit www.fwopera.org.

The 2014 festival season begins April 19 and features Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers; Daniel Crozier and Peter Trask’s With Blood, With Ink; Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte; and Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Silent Night; plus the opera group Forte and the second year of Frontiers.

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