Photo by Ellen Appel

Fort Worth Opera is moving in a new-new direction for its 2023-24 season, and landing somewhere between the hefty "festival years" of the 2010s and the leaner, post-COVID seasons of the early 2020s. No, the Fort Worth Opera Festival is not coming back, but fans will be glad to know a performance of a beloved work in Bass Hall (where FWO has remained a resident company) is back on the new season.

This is the first full season under the direction of new FWO general and artistic director Angela Turner Wilson, who says in a June 8 release that the 2023-24 slate "embodies both the legacy and future of this beloved art form."

Puccini's La Bohème will be the first FWO performance in Bass Hall since 2022's semi-staged La Traviata. The classic tale of love and tragedy (voted No. 2 on BBC's list of Greatest Operas of All Time) will be a semi-staged performance directed by Chuck Hudson and will feature the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under the direction of former music conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya. FWO last programmed La Bohème in 2013 to great critical and audience acclaim (note: this writer saw it twice). It had been scheduled as part of FWO's 2020 Festival, which got canceled due to COVID. Cast includes lyric soprano Elizabeth Caballero as Mimi, tenor Alok Kumar as Rodolfo, and bass Kofi Hayford as Colline.
Date: April 5 & 7, 2024
Tickets: $22-$195

The rest of the season consists of:

Dinner with the Stars, a fundraising dinner of musical performances, hosted by Joe Illick, FWO music director emeritus, and featuring soprano Vanessa Becerra, mezzo-soprano Siphokazi Molteno, tenor Alok Kumar, and bass Kofi Hayford. The special event kicks off the season in the fall.
Date & location: September 22, 2023 at Fort Worth Club
Tickets: TBA (not included with season packages)

La Médium, a one-act opera by Gian Carlo Menotti, a Spanish language production making its national premiere, FWO says (the work previously premiered in Spanish in Puerto Rico in 1989). Timed to Halloween, the work explores a woman's descent into madness and "delves into themes of sanity and the supernatural," FSO says. Directed by Malena Dayen, the production stars Janara Kellerman and Cristina María Castro.
Date & location: October 20-23, 2023 at Rose Marine Theater
Tickets: Start at $50

Amahl and The Night Visitors, a holiday favorite and FWO tradition, is the one-act opera composed by Gian Carlo Menotti that tells the story of a young boy named Amahl and his mother, who are visited by three kings to see the newborn baby Jesus. The performances will star the FWO's Hattie Mae Lesley Resident and Studio Artists.
Date & location: December 8-10, 2023 at Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT)
Tickets: TBA (not included with season packages)

Wintersong: A Musical Holiday Celebration & Sing-a-long, a community concert featuring "Christmas songs, timeless carols, holiday favorites, opera classics, and more performed by Fort Worth Opera's Hattie Mae Lesley Resident and Studio Artists," FWO says.
Date & location: December 16, location TBA
Tickets: Free

dwb (Driving While Black), being presented in collaboration with the Kimbell Art Museum and Texas Christian University during Black History Month, this modern work makes its regional premiere in Fort Worth. Composed by Susan Kander and librettist Roberta Gumbel, it is described as a "deeply affecting ...montage of poetic and haunting moments examining the trials and triumphs Black mothers experience as their children come of age in a society plagued by racism and inequality." An accompanying symposium on February 17 will examine the themes in the opera.
Date & location: February 16-17, 2024 at Van Cliburn Concert Hall at TCU and February 24, 2024 at the Kimbell Art Museum
Tickets: $20-$55

An Evening with Morris Robinson, a one-man show performed by All-American college football player and 2022 Grammy Award-winning bass Morris Robinson, which will feature "works from the classic cannon and as well as traditional Black spirituals in honor of Juneteenth," FWO says.
Date & location: June 18, 2024, location TBD
Tickets: $50

Season subscription renewals are on sale as of June 8, and individual tickets will be available in mid-July; for more information and subscriptions, see the FWO website.

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

U.S. Gymnastics Championships land atop this week's 5 hottest Fort Worth headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere.

1. U.S. Gymnastics Championships come to Fort Worth ahead of 2024 Paris Olympics. For the country's top gymnasts, the road to the Paris Olympics will run through Fort Worth next year: The 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships will take place at Dickies Arena, May 30-June 2, 2024. The four-day men's and women's competition will crown national champions and determine the members of the U.S. National Team who will then compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Minneapolis, June 27-30, 2024.

2. Fort Worth neighbor booms as 6th fastest-growing U.S. college town, report says. Fort Worth might be one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., but there's one North Texas city that's outdoing it in a different category of population growth. A new study by university scholarship website BrokeScholar has deemed Denton the No. 6 fastest-growing college town in the country.

3. RSVP to the 13 must-attend galas and fêtes in Fort Worth this fall. To borrow the oldest pun in the checkbook, philanthropic events are putting the "fun" in "fundraising" around Fort Worth this fall. With themes like "Disco Cowboy" (Cowtown Ball), "Rewind to the '90s" (Behind the Mask), and "Out of this World," (Monster Mash), who wouldn't want to RSVP to every gala and soiree this season?

4. Fort Worth chef Hao Tran plots new gourmet grocery for Magnolia Ave. A new grocery store and take-out food market is coming to the Near Southside, courtesy of one of Fort Worth’s most well-known chefs. Called Hao's Cho Bep, it’s a new concept from Hao Tran, who earned acclaim in Fort Worth foodie circles for her dumplings, and will open in early 2024.

5. Wondrous wine shop in Fort Worth's Sundance Square salutes the ladies. A new wine spot has opened in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square – one with the ladies in mind. Called Wines From A Broad, it's from popular Fort Worth chef-restaurateur Dena Shaskan, and features wines made entirely by women winemakers.

Fat tacos, crispy pepperoni pizza, and more Fort Worth restaurant news

News You Can Eat

We have lots of tasty restaurant dish in Fort Worth right now, including a new pizzeria, a new AYCE pizza buffet, and new limited-edition tacos. There's more than one fried chicken offering, and at least two pumpkin specials including pumpkin frozen yogurt and pumpkin cookies for dessert.

Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news:

Shinjuku Station, a Near Southside sushi bar and pub, closed after 13 years. In a note posted on Facebook, owners Casey, Jarry, and Mary Ho said they were closing "with great sadness" and their final night was September 2. "Over the past three and a half. years, our little izakaya has weathered the most turlent economic times, heavy building construction, and a global pandemic," their note said. "We're proud of the way we've been able to survive, finally and in spite of our best efforts, we say Goodbye. While the Near Southside development grows and new businesses move in we hope you'll join us in supporting small and local. In the meantime our sister restaurant Tokyo Cafe at 5121 Pershing Ave. is there to fulfill your Japanese and sushi cravings."

Mountain Mike’s Pizza, a California-based chain known for its crispy, curly pepperonis and mountain-sized pizzas, has opened its first location in Fort Worth, at 3488 TX-144, across the street from the Texas Motor Speedway and around the corner from the Tanger Outlets. Fort Worth marks their second location in Texas, with possibly a dozen more planned for Dallas-Fort Worth. The restaurant is owned and operated by local resident Varinder Basati, whose brother Robby Basati is Mountain Mike’s largest franchisee in California. In addition to their signature pizza, there are big-screen TVs and a 500-square-foot patio, arcade games, an all-you-can-eat pizza and salad lunch buffet, and a full craft beer and wine list.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria has a new fall menu that includes Buffalo Chicken Pizza, Apple Walnut Salad, a charcuterie Briidge Board, Pumpkin Cheesecake, and Choco'nana Cheesecake: Banana cheesecake with an Oreo cookie crust.

Eatzi’s Market & Bakery has new menu items: Chia Seed Pudding in two varieties: the Original, topped with granola, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries; and the Matcha with kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, and raw almonds. Also power bowls: Bistro Filet Power Bowl or Chicken Power Bowl, with barley, arugula, mixed greens, mustard dill potatoes, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and shiitake mushrooms with a green harissa dressing; Salmon Power Bowl with brown rice, spinach, mixed greens, cucumber, carrot, edamame, radish, and green onion with ginger miso dressing; and Vegetarian Power Bowl with couscous, kale, mixed greens, roasted chickpeas, sweet potato, cauliflower, and shiitake mushrooms in a lemon tahini dressing.

Dog Haus has three new Hawaiian-themed menu items, $1 of which will be donated to Hawai‘i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund: Ohana Chicken Sando ­with a fried chicken tender and slaw on a King’s Hawaiian bun; Mighty Moa bone-in wings tossed in teriyaki aioli and topped with spicy mayo; and an island-inspired cocktail with rum, Aperol, orange curaçao, and pineapple.

Salata pumpkin cookieWho could resist this pumpkin puff cookie from Salata?Salata

Salata has brought back the Pumpkin Puff Cookie, a pumpkin-flavored cookie with a light fluffy texture, macadamia nut, white chocolate chunks, and cinnamon. Launching Tuesday, September 19, the cookie returns for the second year to Salata and will remain in restaurants through the end of the year.

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery launches its new fall menu on September 21 with the following dishes: Pumpkin Pecan Pie Pancakes: with vanilla cream cheese filling, caramel sauce, and candied pecans; Monte Cristo Brioche Toast; Carbonara Breakfast Pasta featuring spaghettini tossed with Parmesan scrambled eggs, habanero pork belly, red onions, garlic and diced tomatoes; Blood Orange Punch; Pumpkin Latte, and Pumpkin Martini with oat milk.

Fish City Grill and Half Shells have two chalkboard specials through September: Chimichurri Shrimp Tacos, featuring avocado crema, pico de gallo, Cheddar jack cheese, cilantro, Cuban black beans & rice for $16; and Herb-Crusted Texas Redfish with roasted Brussels, red bell pepper, lemon basil rice, for $26.

Bonefish Grill has a new three-course dinner for two for $46, featuring two salads, two entrées, and a shareable dessert, from choice of Caesar, Atlantic salmon, Pork Tenderloin, Sirloin, Chicken, Rainbow Trout, Mahi Mahi, Linguine & Clams, and Key lime cake.available for a limited time starting September 12 through October 29.

City Works Eatery & Pour House in Fort Worth is celebrating Oktoberfest from September 16-October 3 with German-inspired beers and bites includeing Smokehouse Currywurst (Spicy hot link, currywurst sauce, bacon-braised sauerkraut, caramelized onions, steak roll), Pork Schnitzel (pork chop, brown butter spaetzle, braised red cabbage, dijon-herb cream sauce), German Flatbread (Smoked hot link, bacon-braised sauerkraut, spicy mustard bechamel, swiss cheese, scallions). Oktoberfest specialty beers include Rahr & Sons Barrel Fest in Fort Worth.

El Pollo Loco has brought back Stuffed Quesadillas in three varieties: Poblano Chicken Stuffed Quesadilla with chicken, Oaxaca cheese, poblano peppers, pico de gallo, sliced avocado and cilantro; Chipotle Chicken Stuffed Quesadilla with chicken, Oaxaca cheese, salsa roja, sour cream, and pico de gallo; Beef Avocado Stuffed Quesadilla with shredded beef, Oaxaca cheese, avocado salsa, sliced avocado, onion and cilantro.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar has a new Birria Burger, their take on Birria tacos, made with beef patties, house-made chorizo stacked on a grilled/crisp quesadilla, cilantro onion aioli, and a side of "consome" (does someone not know how to spell consommé?); and a Churro Shake in collaboration with Siete Foods made with vanilla custard, cinnamon sugar, Siete churros, and whipped cream.

Chicken Salad Chick has a new Chick Melt featuring choice of chicken salad flavor or pimento cheese, paired with provolone cheese, atop croissant. The Chick Melt’s golden-brown, crispy exterior harmonizes with its melted, cheesy interior. It's a permanent menu addition that debuted September 12.

Shake Shack has fiery menu additions, all dusted with a hot pepper spice blend of cayenne pepper, brown sugar, vinegar powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. The Hot Menu items include Hot Chicken sandwich, Spicy Shackmeister Burger, Spicy Fries with Ranch Sauce, and Spicy Cheese Fries with Ranch Sauce.

Cicis Pizza is bringing back its all-you-can-eat Adult Buffet deal for $5 every Monday and Tuesday from September 18 to October 24.

SusieCakes has new fall-inspired treats with seasonal ingredients through September: Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcake made with pumpkin spice cake frosted and filled with coffee buttercream; Mocha Cupcake, a chocolate cupcake frosted and filled with coffee buttercream and topped with white jimmies; and the Whoopie Pie, with two thick, chewy chocolate cookies sandwiched with vanilla buttercream.

Yogurtland has brought back Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Swirl frozen yogurt, made by swirling Pumpkin Pie and Cheesecake flavors together using the middle handle.

Wendy's has added two new seasonal pumpkin items: the revolutionary Pumpkin Spice Frosty, a pumpkin version of their thick ice-creamy shake with notes of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg; and Pumpkin Spice Frosty Cream Cold Brew, featuring cold-brewed coffee with Frosty creamer swirled over ice.

Malai Kitchen has launched a traditional Marzen version of Oktoberfest beer, an amber lager that is semi sweet with a crisp finish. Plus, all taps at all locations will transform into Bavarian style beers September 16 through October 3 featuring a Helles Lager pale ale, Hefeweizen German unfiltered wheat ale, Schwarzbier traditional dark lager or "black beer," Munich Pale Ale, and Apple Strudel Milkshake IPA, a take on a popular Oktoberfest dessert made with apple puree, milk sugar, oats, cinnamon, and vanilla. At all four locations in Uptown Dallas, Preston Center, Southlake, and Fort Worth.

Howdy Homemade, the ice cream brand providing employment for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs), is now sold by the pint at H-E-B, Albertsons, Tom Thumb, Safeway, and Randalls stores.

The ADD SOY Act (H.R. 1619) is a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Troy Carter (D-LA) and Nancy Mace (R-SC). The ADD SOY Act (Addressing Digestive Distress in Stomachs of Our Youth) would provide soy milk as an option for kids and reimburse the schools for providing soy milk. In 2020, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for America recognized fortified soy milk as a nutritional equivalent to dairy cow milk. However, schools are not presently being reimbursed if they provide soy milk as an option, yet the USDA is reimbursing public schools for cow’s milk to the tune of $1 billion annually – despite the fact that studies show that nearly one third of it is being thrown away by the students.