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JFK opera in 2016

FWOpera festivals to feature three world premieres

President Kennedy speaking in Fort Worth on the morning of Nov. 22, 1963 In 2014, FWOpera will present the first in the series of world premieres with the first professional production of the award-winning opera With Blood, With Ink, by composer Daniel Crozier and librettist Peter M. Krask.

Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) announced a 10-year plan to produce works by contemporary North and South American composers, including three world premieres, its second commissioned work and a Pulitzer-Prize winning regional premiere.

Included in the plans are a new work in 2016 that will focus on the late President John F. Kennedy’s last fateful trip to Texas, including his visit to Fort Worth. Tentatively titled JFK, the work be part of the company’s 70th anniversary in 2016.

 “In presenting compelling contemporary works by accomplished American composers, and fresh productions of traditional operatic repertoire, we look to re-define opera as an exciting experience that, at its core, has a unique, personal connection for our audiences,” said FWOpera General Director Darren K. Woods.

In 2014, FWOpera will present the first in the series of world premieres with the first professional production of the award-winning opera With Blood, With Ink, by composer Daniel Crozier and librettist Peter M. Krask. The opera is based on the true story of 17th-century Mexican nun and women’s rights advocate Sor (Sister) Juana Inés de la Cruz, and will feature costume designs by American celebrity fashion designer Austin Scarlett and sets by designer Erhard Rom.

Presented alongside With Blood, With Ink will be the regional premiere of composer Kevin Puts’ 2012 Pulitzer-Prize winning opera, Silent Night, in co-production with Minnesota Opera, Cincinnati Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. The piece is based on the 2005 French film Joyeux Noel, about the legendary World War I 1914 Christmas Eve cease-fire/truce between French, German and Scottish forces. The opera follows the upcoming 2013 Festival production of Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, the true story of America’s longest-held Vietnam prisoner of war based on the bestselling book by journalist Tom Philpott.

Silent Night will be presented in the 2014 Festival slot announced last spring for the world premiere of A Wrinkle in Time by composer Libby Larsen and librettist Bradley Greenwald. A Wrinkle in Time, based on the popular 1962 Madeleine L’Engle award-winning novel of the same name, will receive its premiere in the 2015 season. The story is about a teenage girl, her younger brother, and their search for their father, a government scientist who disappears while working on a top-secret project.

FWOpera has committed to bringing two works by one of opera’s most talked about creative pairs – composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek. Dog Days, in co-presentation with Beth Morrison Projects, will make its regional premiere within the first three years of Opera of the Americas. Dog Days is the tale of an apocalyptic wartime world and a family facing starvation trapped inside this new reality. The opera is based on a short story of the same name by Judy Budnitz and is told from the perspective of the central character, 13-year-old Lisa.

The first phase of Fort Worth Opera’s 10-year plan culminates during the company’s 70th anniversary in 2016 with the world premiere of the second commissioned opera and the second work FWOpera will produce by Little and Vavrek, JFK (working title).

“We are excited to have commissioned David and Royce to create the final work in our three-years of world premieres, and for our 70th anniversary season,” Woods said. “Reflecting a significant moment in American history, JFK will tell the story of the lives and relationships of those connected to the 35th President of the United States with a focus on their moments in Fort Worth the morning before his fateful trip to Dallas. This is not only a part of our country’s history, but our local history; and it had not only a global and national impact, but is extremely significant to our community.”

William V. Madison, the classical music journalist whose professional career included working as assistant to CBS broadcast journalist Dan Rather, researched and interviewed living witnesses from Fort Worth, including the cameraman from that tragic day.

The full cast and creative team for the above operas, as well as performance dates and other details, will be announced at a future date.

Founded in 1946, Fort Worth Opera is the oldest continually performing opera company in Texas, and one of the 14 oldest opera companies in the United States.

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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