Ft Worth Opera Fest Rocks on

Fort Worth Opera happens in the beautiful of Bass Hall, a venue with incredible sweetness of sound and few "dead spots" (where listening is muddled or dulled)

It has quickly become an annual treat to attend the Fort Worth Opera festival with one of my oldest and dearest friends, a boy whose contagious enthusiasm for the genre sparked my own interest in this art form way back in 1975. We began our opera going lives with "Siege of Corinth" starring Beverly Sills and Shirley Verrett - not a bad way to begin this life-long adventure, with famous stars and a world class performance from the Dallas Civic Opera. Soon we added Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde" (we still joke about the wisdom or weirdness of teens choosing to spend 5 hours enduring a minimalist production of Wagner) and another iconic Beverly Sills performance in "La Traviata" - all before we graduated from high school. Here we are, some 30+ years later, still enjoying opera together, and this year's addition to the roster of performances seen together has proven a refreshing delight.

"It's not over till the FIT lady sings !

It must be noted that the Fort Worth Opera Fest typically puts on three or four productions a year, and has recently evolved into a compact season with an intense series of full (2 or 3 shows, each differing performances) weekends that run through May and June. Hectic end-of-school year scheduling often prohibits me from attending more than one show a year; my childhood friend, now a noted opera critic, flies in from France to experience as many performances as he can. We have recently been joined by a young friend and enthusiast whose charm and education in this and many areas adds vibrancy to our intermission conversations. This small slice of operatic heaven provides such fun that it carries me for weeks.
The opera I saw last year, "Dead Man Walking" (written by Jake Heggie) was a modern style opera written/sung in English and was so moving and beautiful that the ancient Greek concept of catharsis (i.e., great art should produce in the viewer emotional release) was achieved and my friends and I sobbed the entire time.
This year my schedule permitted me to attend a lighter, more comedic (in the true Shakespearean sense, that is, a romance with comedic moments) opera, "The Elixir of Love" ("L'elisir d'amore")by Gaetano Donizetti. The show was staged with a pre WWI setting in small town America, much like "The Music Man" or "Carousel". While no major headliners sang this year with the Fort Worth Opera Fest, the local singers did quite nicely. This bel canto style opera was sung with great skill and dexterity by Ava Pine, Michael Fabiano, and Rod Nelman. The beauty of the trilling notes and vocalizations felt like coming home to me, with moments recalling some of the vocal dexterity of Beverly Sills at her greatest.

1 comment:

  1. It turns out that the "fit lady," the lovely soprano Ava Pine, studied ballet when she was younger. Next year at FWO, she'll be singing Cleopatra in Julius Caesar -- the role that made Beverly Sills a star. So don't be surprised if I'm back on your doorstep, asking you to the opera, when the Festival rolls around again.