What's on Stage
3 big Fort Worth arts groups fill new lineups with applause-worthy acts
UPDATE: Fort Worth Opera has announced that a winner from its 2018 Frontiers series will be part of its upcoming season. Companionship, by Rachel J. Peters and based on the short story by Arthur Phillips, will be staged next spring at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden as part of FWOpera's alternative venue series Opera Unbound. This is the first opera written by a woman to be produced by the company in its 73-year history.
Pinocchio and Cleopatra will dance across stage, a beloved Gershwin opera will usher in summertime, and Fort Worth's favorite "hometown" soprano will return for a rare recital. Three of the largest Fort Worth arts groups — Fort Worth Opera, Texas Ballet Theater, and The Cliburn — have just announced their 2018-19 seasons.
All are residents of Bass Hall, but their performances are spread out across venues throughout Fort Worth and Dallas. (The fourth Bass Hall resident company, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, announced its season earlier this year.)
Here's a look at the new season lineups for all three organizations — including performance descriptions they have provided. Check their websites for more information and tickets.
Fort Worth Opera
Next year’s Fort Worth Opera Festival will take place April 26-May 12, 2019.
The season will start with renowned opera director Francesca Zambello’s critically acclaimed production of Porgy and Bess. Music by George Gershwin; libretto by Dubose Heyward and Ira Gershwin (April 26, 28, 30, 2019 at Bass Hall). Opera director Garnett Bruce brings Zambello’s acclaimed revival to life, with spectacular new scenery created by British set designer Peter J. Davison. Based upon DuBose Heyward’s 1925 novel Porgy, the opera follows the impoverished residents of the neighborhood of Catfish Row on the shores of Charleston, South Carolina. It features iconic arias like “Summertime” and “I Got Plenty of Nothing” and the music blends opera, jazz, blues, spirituals, ragtime, and folk.
Next will be the emotionally stirring mariachi opera that is set on the eve of the Mexican Revolution, El Pasado Nunca se Termina (The Past Is Never Finished). Music by José “Pepe” Martínez; libretto by Leonard Foglia (May 10, 12, 2019 at Bass Hall). It is a stunning bilingual family drama blending the folk tradition of mariachi music with opera.
There also will be a public showcase of the company’s 2020 world premiereEl Ultimo Sueño de Frida y Diego (The Last Dream of Frida and Diego). Music by Gabriela Lena Frank; libretto by Nilo Cruz (May 30, 31, 2019, location TBD). This ground-breaking new work is set in 1957 during the Mexican holiday of El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The first full libretto reading of the opera was held on August 24, 2017, at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.
The season will also include the seventh year of Fort Worth Opera’s new works showcase, Frontiers (dates and location TBD). Six to eight selected composers and librettists will present their works in 20-minute performances sung by young artists of the 2019 festival.
Texas Ballet Theater
The season opens at Dallas' Winspear Opera House with Cinderella, August 24-26, followed by Cleopatra, accompanied by Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra at Bass Hall, Sept. 28-30.
The holiday season brings The Nutcracker at Winspear Opera House November 23-25 and November 30-December 2 before moving to Bass Performance Hall December 7-9; 13; 15-16; and 20-24. The Nutty Nutcracker, an unconventional take on the holiday classic, will be at Bass Hall on December 14.
The first mixed repertoire, March 1-3, 2019, at Bass Performance Hall, features the work of two renowned choreographers, William Forsythe and Christopher Bruce in In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and Ghost Dances respectively. TBT dancer Andre Silva will share his contemporary choreography in a world premiere called 11:11.
A collection of works by TBT Artistic Director Ben Stevenson is on the bill for the second mixed repertoire and includes Four Last Songs, Twilight, Esmerelda (pas de deux only) and L. The pieces will be performed at Bass Hall March 29-31, 2019.
TBT will conclude the season with a co-production with the National Ballet of Canada and the American premiere of Pinocchio at Winspear Opera House May 17-19, 2019, accompanied by Dallas Opera Orchestra and at Bass Performance Hall May 24-26, 2019, with accompaniment by Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
The Cliburn marks the 42nd year of its signature Cliburn Concerts recital series, continues its more informal Cliburn Sessions season, hosts its annual Cliburn Festival, and presents Cliburn in the Community artists.
The season is highlighted by the singular Cliburn at the Bass concert, Cliburn Laureates + Rachmaninov (October 2), which features three Cliburn winners — Fei-Fei (2013 finalist), Yeol Eum Son (2009 silver), and Haochen Zhang (2009 gold) — performing Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and the Second and Third Piano Concertos with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Eugene Tzigane.
Cliburn at the Kimbell: Masters brings the return appearances of tenor Lawrence Brownlee with baritone Eric Owens (September 20-21), and violinist Leonidis Kavakos with pianist Enrico Pace (February 1, 2019) — as well as the Texas debut of pianist Alexandre Tharaud performing Bach’s Goldberg Variations (April 4-5, 2019).
Cliburn at the Kimbell: Virtuosos welcomes two Fort Worth favorites making their Cliburn Concerts debuts — pianists Adam Golka (October 18) and 2017 Silver Medalist Kenny Broberg (November 8) — and the North Texas debut of piano duo Christina and Michelle Naughton (March 7, 2019).
Cliburn at the Modern, which focuses on the work of living American composers, takes a fresh twist with Gabriel Kahane’s groundbreaking project 8980: Book of Travelers (November 3), as well as an afternoon devoted to an all-piano take on beloved Broadway songs entitled “My Favorite Things” (March 23, 2019).
Cliburn Sessions, a classically alternative music scene at Scat Jazz Lounge, presents the series debut of the Aaron Diehl Trio (October 25), and return engagements of soprano Ava Pine and baritone Jonathan Beyer with “A Night of Cabaret” (January 24, 2019), and prolific cellist Joshua Roman (April 18, 2019) in a solo performance.
The 2019 Cliburn Festival: Iconic Paris (February 15-17, 2019) focuses on early 20th-century Paris, a Golden Age where the city became a center of intellectualism, politics, and innovation — and an ideal environment for artists to flourish. Pianists Dasol Kim (2017 Cliburn jury discretionary award winner), Louis Schwizgebel (2012 Leeds and 2005 Geneva second prize winner), and Joyce Yang (2005 Cliburn silver medalist) will be joined by the Rolston String Quartet to take audiences on a journey through works by Saint-Saëns, Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Franck, and more at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
Cliburn in the Community, designed to provide the experience of live classical music performance for free to a broad audience through partnerships with vibrant venues and organizations throughout the North Texas area, will once again bring two artists in for weeklong residences: in the fall, 2017 Cliburn Finalist Rachel Cheung (December 6-11), and 2017 Cliburn Semifinalist and jury discretionary award winner Leonardo Pierdomenico (April 29-May 3, 2019). Schedules are to be announced, and concerts are free and open to the public, with no tickets required.