The Dallas Opera's 2023-2024 Season Features Long-Awaited World Premiere of ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly'

The new season also includes "Tosca", "Elektra", and "Romeo and Juliet" as well as two family shows and special annual events.

Lucas Meachem in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly The Dallas Opera

On January 23, 2020, The Dallas Opera hosted a season announcement event, introducing the ill-fated 2020-2021 season including the world premiere of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. More than three years later, Dallas opera lovers will finally get to see the new work at the Winspear Opera House as a part of The Dallas Opera’s 2023-2024 season.

The opera is based on the memoir of French Elle editor-in-chief, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a rare stroke that left him paralyzed and unable to speak. Although Bauby could only communicate by blinking, he managed to create a memoir that communicated his passion for life even as he was trapped in his own body.

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the remarkable true story of a man whose determination leads to one of the most poignant memoirs ever written. We are honored to bring this story to our stage for the first time anywhere,” said Ian Derrer, The Dallas Opera’s General Director and CEO.

The world premiere work reunites the creative team of Everest, another Dallas Opera world premiere. Librettist Gene Scheer and composer Jody Talbot attended the 2020 announcement event and talked about creating this emotional opera.

“Working with Gene is just so extraordinary. Gene is so incredibly experienced. He knows opera from every angle. He’s a singer, he’s a composer in his own right and very few people in the world know how to construct a libretto as well as Gene does, if anybody,” Talbot said.

“I think what we’ve come up with is something that will surprise you and win your hearts,” Scheer said.

Talbot explained how the magic of opera allows the story of a  paralyzed main character to be told fully.

“Of course, the one thing with opera is you can break with conventional methods of storytelling,” Talbot said. “It’s a very complicated, non-linear story which we hope will be a deeply uplifting and spiritually awakening kind of experience.”

Scheer spent a significant amount of time with Bauby’s family and visited the nurses who cared for Bauby.

“I had this incredible opportunity to hear first-hand from the family and get to know not just the story that is depicted in the book, but the story of this guy’s life. There’s going to be a lot of new information that’s woven into the opera that you don’t know from the book,” Scheer said.

The Dallas Opera’s Music Director Emmanuel Villaume will conduct The Dallas Opera Orchestra for the production when it debuts November 3 -11. 

"To conduct a world premiere production as inspiring as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is an extraordinary and rare opportunity," Villaume said. "It is important to offer our audiences new and exciting pieces, while also remembering the music we know and love. I find it just as thrilling to revisit those productions, as I do immersing myself into a new score. This season has it all and we cannot wait to make music in the Winspear once again."

Robert Kusel/Lyric Opera of Chicago
Elektra is back at The Dallas Opera for the first time in over 25 years.

The Mainstage Season will open with the Cincinnati Opera’s production of  Puccini’s Tosca, running October 13 -21. R. Strauss’ Elektra returns to the opera company for only the second time in company history, last performed over 25 years ago. Elektra will run February 9 -17. A co-production between The Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera and The Atlanta Opera of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet with the Dallas Opera debuts of tenor Long Long and soprano Golda Schultz rounds out the season, running March 1-9.

The last performance of each Mainstage Season production will be live-streamed exclusively on www.thedallasopera.TV on a pay-what-you-can basis with a $9.99 minimum ticket price.

"In an exciting continuation from last season, we will live stream the last performance of all four mainstage productions," Derrer said. "Our commitment to bringing world-class opera to audiences, wherever they may be, is as strong as ever. Making these performances available on a pay-what-you’re-able basis keeps our artform accessible to all viewers."

Two family shows are also part of The Dallas Opera’s offerings. Performed at the Winspear Opera House, the shows are designed for audiences aged 3 and up, are sung in English, and are under 60 minutes in duration. The Billy Goats Gruff will be performed with piano accompaniment on October 14 and March 10. Pépito will be performed with The Dallas Opera Orchestra on November 12 and March 2. 

The Billy Goats Gruff
Karen Almond
The Billy Goats Gruff is one of two family shows at The Dallas Opera this season.

Special annual events include the Robert E. and Jean Ann Titus Family Recital, featuring opera superstar Lawrence Brownlee on January 21 at the Moody Performance Hall; The People’s Choice Concert, a free, season-opening community concert on October 7; the National Vocal Competition on March 8; and The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors Showcase Concert on January 28.

Subscription renewals for the 2023/2024 Season are available now with new subscriptions available starting April 19. Subscription packages start at $89 for all four operas, with family shows and the Titus Recital available as add-ons before single tickets go on sale on July 21.

Learn more: The Dallas Opera

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