Fort Worth Opera in collaboration with American Lyric Theater in New York City announced the cast of the 2016 world premiere opera JFK about President John F. Kennedy’s final night and subsequent morning in Fort Worth on Nov. 22, 1963. Created by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek, JFK will be under the baton of American contemporary conductor Steven Osgood (The Metropolitan Opera, Prototype Festival, San Francisco Opera).
Baritone Matthew Worth will portray Kennedy. Worth also starred in world premiere roles, including Father Flynn in Doubt and Sergeant Raymond Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate at Minnesota Opera. Making her Fort Worth Opera debut as Jacqueline (Jackie) Kennedy is mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack. Portraying Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch, and rounding out the leading roles are soprano Talise Trevigne as Clara Harris, the hotel’s maid, and tenor Sean Panikkar as JFK’s secret service agent and confidant, Henry Rathbone.
“The casting for any opera is one of the most important decisions I have to make, but the pressure to assemble the ideal roster for JFK was intensified by of the nation’s preconceived ideas of these American icons,” said FWOpera General Director Darren K. Woods. “We spent a great deal of time searching for singers with the perfect voices who could also physically represent the real people they are portraying. When Matthew Worth auditioned for David, Royce, and me, we immediately felt his elegance and strong presidential presence. We knew the role of Jackie would require a singer who could convey strength and vulnerability in equal measure. We found that command in Daniela Mack – a warm mezzo-soprano with a little steel in the sound who carries herself with such beauty and grace that it was easy to see her as the first lady.”
American Lyric Theater will produce a workshop of the opera-in-progress this November, which will bring together the world-premiere cast together for the first time along with members of the Collegiate Chorale, who will serve as the ensemble during this stage in the opera’s development. At the conclusion of the workshop on Nov. 25 at 7 p.m., American Lyric Theater will present InsightALT: JFK at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. The series will provide the public with the opportunity to look inside the process of creating new operas at all stages of their development through a combination of performance and discussion with the creative artists behind these new works. InsightALT: JFK will feature excerpts from the opera sung by the world-premiere cast and members of the Collegiate Chorale, with a discussion between Little, Vavrek, Woods and cast members Worth, Mack, Okulitch, Trevigne and Panikkar. The discussion, moderated by ALT’s Producing Artistic Director Lawrence Edelson, will explore the genesis of the opera, the challenges of dramatizing history and re-imagining iconic figures for the opera stage and the collaborative relationship between Little and Vavrek. -Betty Dillard firstname.lastname@example.org