The Ten Best and Worst Moments from Dallas Classical Music in 2012

Jaap van Zweden inside the Meyerson Symphony Center

1. Highlight: Dallas Symphony Orchestra's Jaap van Zweden Named Conductor of the Year
This was the Year of Van Zweden, according to Musical America, which named Dallas' intrepid maestro Conductor of the Year for 2012. JvZ made the most of his year in the spotlight by presenting consistently exciting, critically acclaimed work at home and abroad. In April, van Zweden made his New York Philharmonic conducting debut, showcasing what Dallas symphony-goers have come to expect from him: dynamic, sharply executed performances that make even old music sound fresh and inspiring.

2. Lowlight: The Dallas Opera and the Symphony Cut Back on Concerts
In 2012, the two biggest forces in Dallas' classical music scene, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and The Dallas Opera, both faced budgetary constraints that forced them to limit their 2012/2013 seasons. This story is hardly exceptional, as current economic conditions have arts organization from New York to L.A. tightening their belts. You can read more about the Dallas Opera's financial status in our interview with the opera's Keith Cerny.

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Image from The Dallas Opera's production of the Lighthouse at the Wyly Theater.
3. Highlight: Artistic Collaboration
In the spring of 2012, the Dallas Opera and the Dallas Theater Center collaborated to produce The Lighthouse , a haunting and beautifully produced English-language chamber opera. This was by far one of TDO's best and most innovative productions of 2012, and DTC's artistic director Kevin Moriarty's opera debut was a huge success. Here's hoping for more collaborations down the road.

4. Lowlight: OperaBowl 2012
In April, The Dallas Opera made a big splash with its simulcast of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro at Cowboy's stadium. Streaming the opera at the stadium brought opera to a huge North Texas audience for free for the first time (over 15,000 showed up). Unfortunately, terrible acoustics from stadium speakers and a lackluster production of one of the genre's cheesiest standards ruined the experience.

5. Highlight: Fort Worth Opera's 6th Annual Festival Proves Cowtown Knows How to Put on a Show
In May and June, the Fort Worth Opera's 2012 festival showcased variety and quality with four productions across two venues. Mixing classic favorites by Puccini and Mozart with modern regional premiers, the festival was a true celebration of the art form.

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Found this rather late, but I've got to point out a big error in this: Item #4--Dallas Opera presented THE MAGIC FLUTE, not MARRIAGE OF FIGARO last spring, with the stadium broadcast.  My God, woman--Do you realize you just called THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO one of opera's "cheesiest standards"?!  What the hell kind of classical music critic are you? <---I'm kidding, btw, just thought I should try to fit in with the overwhelming tone of  Observer commenters.  Although a mention of performances that "make even old music sound fresh and inspiring" is none too inspiring itself, from a classical music writer.  And I'm not kidding about FIGARO, one of the greatest of operas (especially as produced by the Dallas Opera a few seasons ago at Fair Park--glorious!).  I also found both LA TRAVIATA and TRISTAN & ISOLDE to be definite highlights of the classical scene of 2012.  But then again, I didn't get out to much classical programming, so what do I know?  And, no, I'm not particularly a Dallas Opera cheerleader, I just found those productions to be excellently done.  

 Now, even though it's late, someone correct that item #4.  And the DO should also run a correction in a hard copy issue--right, like they give two farts about classical music, or care enough to do that.  It was actually a shock to see a piece on classical music at all, even one as brief and lightweight as this one.  That last is not a complaint or knock; it's nice to have pieces like this, and I don't look to the Dallas Observer for profound, detailed, lengthy articles on classical music (well, I wouldn't mind if they were to suddenly begin providing such, but I don't expect it).  It's like they saved up all year, and gave us this one little present, and I guess we should be grateful.  So, thank you, DO.

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