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For its new season, Fort Worth Opera returns to Bass Hall and to hot-button social issues

Fort Worth Opera's general and artistic director Angela Turner Wilson, standing on a Bass Hall balcony.
Kimberly Lang
Fort Worth Opera
Fort Worth Opera's new artistic and general director Angela Turner Wilson, standing on a Bass Hall balcony.

Angela Turner Wilson — who started as Fort Worth Opera's general and artistic director in December — has designed the company's 78th season to bridge its historic past and its recent efforts to embrace the Black and Latino communities. Or what Wilson called — in a press release — "the legacy and future of this beloved art form."

The season announcement comes only months after the previous general director Afton Battle's bitter departure as one of the first Black women ever to lead a U.S. opera company.

So the new season reflects something of a 'bridge over troubled waters' — combining a stabilizing influence while continuing outreach. This is perhaps best represented in three of thenew season's offerings: Puccini's La Bohème will mark the company's return to classic form in Bass Hall next April — albeit in a 'semi-staged' production — while the company will also present a new, Spanish-language version of Gian Carlo Menotti's La Médium — about a fraudulent medium — at the Rose Marine Theatre this October. The Rose Marine is where the company presented the world premiere of the Spanish-and-English opera, Zorro, in 2022.

But the new season will also feature the regional premiere of dwb (Driving While Black), a one-act montage about an African-American mother dealing with her teen-age son: her fears for him, her struggles to convey the reality of what he may face encountering police officers now that he can drive. dwb will be presented at the Cliburn Concert Hall and the Kimbell Art Museum — in collaboration with the museum and Texas Christian University.

The TCU connection is notable because, in addition to her extensive career as a soprano, performing with the New York City Opera, the Dallas Opera, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Fort Worth Opera, Wilson had been the chair of TCU's vocal arts division since 2019 and was the founding director of TCU’s “Festival of American Song.”

Wilson has no experience directing an opera company, but neither did Battle, who resigned from the company in October after only two years. And Battle's predecessor, Tuomas Hiltunen, had also lasted only two years in the director's chair as well.

So it's not surprising that a new director with long roots in North Texas and wide experience in performing opera around the world offers a season — under reduced circumstances — that's meant to find a way forward while not abandoning long-held traditions.

Fort Worth Opera 2023-24 Main Season

* Included in Season Package

** Available to Add-On to Season Package or for Single Ticket Purchase

Dinner with the Stars **

September 22, 2023
Fort Worth Club
Launching the season will be the fundraising dinner, "Dinner with the Stars," featured soloists include soprano Vanessa Becerra, mezzo-soprano Siphokazi Molteno, tenor Alok Kumar and Kofi Hayford, bass.

La Médium – Spanish Language National Premiere *

October 20-22, 2023
Rose Marine Theater
One-act opera by composer and librettist Gian Carlo Menotti, directed by Malena Dayen, internationally recognized performer, director and visual artist.

Amahl and The Night Visitors **

December 8 -19, 2023 | 2:00 pm
Botanical Research Institute of Texas

The classic one-act Christmas opera by Gian Carlo Menotti will continue the FWO's partnership with the Botanical Research Institute of Texas

Wintersong: A Musical Holiday Celebration & Sing-a-long **

December 16, 2023
Location TBD

Closing out 2023, the Fort Worth Opera will present a free community concert featuring Christmas songs, carols, holiday favorites and opera classics.

dwb (Driving While Black) – Regional Premiere *

Presented in Collaboration with the Kimbell Art Museum and Texas Christian University

February 16 -17, 2024
Van Cliburn Concert Hall

Secondary Performance Location:
Kimbell Art Museum
February 24, 2024

To accompany the performance of dwb (Driving While Black), Fort Worth Opera will also host a symposium on February 17, 2024, that will delve into the themes explored in the opera.

The symposium will be held at a location and time TBD

La Bohème – Semi-Staged Performance*

Presented by Fort Worth Opera in Partnership with The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

April 5-7, 2024 |
Bass Performance Hall

Fort Worth Opera presents a semi-staged performance of Puccini's classic story of young love set among the Bohemian artists of 19th-century Paris. Presented with a diverse, international case in Italian with English
and Spanish supertitles

An Evening with Morris Robinson *

June 18, 2024 | 7:30 pm
Location TBD

A one-man show performed by All-American college football player and 2022 Grammy Award-winning bass Morris Robinson singing opera classics and traditional Black spirituals.

Jerome Weeks is the Art&Seek producer-reporter for KERA. A professional critic for more than two decades, he was the book columnist for The Dallas Morning News for ten years and the paper’s theater critic for ten years before that. His writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, American Theatre and Men’s Vogue magazines.