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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in News | 0 comments

Dallas Opera Announces Major New Commission









New Commission Announced This Evening at the Dallas Opera’s Latest “Composing Conversation,” Focused on the Work of Joby Talbot

DALLAS, MAY 15, 2012 – The Dallas Opera is tremendously proud to announce the commissioning of a new original one-act opera by renowned British composer Joby Talbot (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and the critically acclaimed American librettist Gene Scheer (Moby-Dick, Cold Mountain) in their first joint project.

EVEREST is expected to command center stage in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in February of 2015 (cast and specific dates to be announced at a later time).

This new commission, the first since the company announced that composer Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally are at work on Great Scott, a rapid-fire new comedy slated to open the Dallas Opera’s 2015-2016 Season, will become the fifth world premiere work commissioned by the Dallas Opera for the new millenium: Thérèse Raquin, Moby-Dick, A Question of Light (song cycle in partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art) Great Scott, and now, Everest.

Based on a harrowing 1996 expedition (the subject of two films and at least five books thus far) to summit the world’s tallest mountain peak.  Everest will blend documented facts and contemporary recollections of the transformative journey experienced by Everest survivors, with flights of the imagination designed to keep audience members transfixed in this harshly beautiful place at the top of the world.

This project will mark composer Joby Talbot’s first foray into opera, after establishing himself as a significant composer of original works for the recording studio, stage and screen.  Among his best-known composition are the rapturously received ballet Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (2011) commissioned by the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden and the National Ballet of Canada, and original film and British television scores including The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, based on the iconic science fiction of the late Douglas Adams, who also contributed the screenplay for the 2005 release.

“We thought it was vitally important to the success of this project to encourage Mr. Talbot to find a librettist with vast operatic experience and a collegial temperament,” explains Dallas Opera Artistic Director Jonathan Pell, who announced the new commission earlier this evening.  “Gene Scheer, who has worked with us on several important commissions in recent years, immediately sprang to mind.  We arranged for them to meet in Toronto and then again in New York,” Pell added, “and the composer and librettist evidently hit it off at once.”

“I’ve been intrigued by the idea of Joby Talbot composing for the opera stage since experiencing his brilliant work on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” says Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny.  “I was fortunate enough to attend the premiere, which made a strong impression on me.  It was clear that Joby’s score supported the ballet magnificently as it progressed through a wide range of scenes, characters, and stage effects.  I found myself taking a serious interest in his body of work and quickly realized that this was a composer ‘without borders’; who had proven successes in film, ballet, choral writing, chamber music, orchestral writing, and many other genres—so, why not opera?

“And it goes without saying,” Mr. Cerny added, “that I’ve been in awe of Gene Scheer’s tremendous abilities as both a lyricist and librettist—whether capturing the essence of an American classic like Melville’s Moby-Dick for a 21st century audience, or creating the beautiful poetic language that flowed throughout our world premiere song cycle, A Question of Light—from the moment I arrived here in Dallas.

“We wouldn’t be enlisting Gene’s services for the fourth time if he didn’t have something very special to bring to the table.”

Composer Joby Talbot and Librettist Gene Scheer were on-hand for the announcement this evening in Nancy B. Hamon Hall.  Work on the project will commence later this summer.  Mr. Scheer is currently crafting the libretto for the 2015 Santa Fe Opera world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s opera, Cold Mountain, based on the best-selling 1997 Civil War novel by Charles Frazier, which won the National Book Award for Fiction and became an Academy Award winning film.

“I am thrilled to be working with Joby Talbot on this exciting new project for the Dallas opera,” says librettist Gene Scheer.  “About a year ago, Jonathan Pell, the artistic director of the Dallas Opera, arranged for me to see Joby’s stunning ballet based on ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in Toronto.  In addition to being so impressed with the brilliance of the score, Joby and I got to spend quite a bit of time together.  With each conversation it became more and more clear that Joby is someone who, in addition to his great musical gifts, has keen theatrical instincts and that an opportunity to collaborate with him would be a privilege indeed.

“As we discussed a number of subjects, the idea of doing a piece about the people who experienced the tragedy on Mount Everest in 1996 sparked both of our imaginations. The story, which captured the world’s attention when it happened, offers a wonderful chance for music to explore aspects of the human spirit.  There is clearly one common theme that emerges from the stories of those who endured that storm over Everest.  They all felt that their lives were profoundly changed by the tragedy and by the acts of heartbreaking heroism and love that they all experienced on the top of the world.”

Adds Mr. Scheer: “I look forward to working with Joby to find ways to illuminate those transformations and to bring this thrilling story to the Dallas opera.”

A similar sentiment was echoed by the composer, Joby Talbot, who writes: “I am enormously excited at the prospect of working with Gene Scheer and the Dallas Opera on Everest.  I have been keen to write an opera for some years now.  Many of my recent projects have been narrative pieces and I’ve found that I very much enjoy the challenge of communicating a story through music.  In its breadth of scale and emotional drama, Everest seems to have all the ingredients for a wonderful collaboration.”


Full season subscriptions are now on sale (three performances) for the 2012-2013 “Pursuits of Passion” Season range from $75 to $1,020 through the Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or online at  Single tickets will become available September 10thStudent Rush best-available tickets are available for $25 (one per valid Student I.D.) at the Winspear box office, ninety minutes prior to each performance.  Inner Circle seating may be higher.

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