The Classical Note: These Are the Concerts You Won’t Want to Miss This Spring

This spring, area classical music lovers will be thinking about piano music, opera, and Fort Worth.

A few years ago, I bragged to folks from other less fortunate regions about the high rate of opera production in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Various factors have contributed to a saddening drop-off—this past fall saw only one major main stage professional production, the Dallas Opera’s Aïda—but the upcoming months offer a taste of the good old days, when buffs could count on professional opera as a regular option in north Texas. And who knows, maybe it’s a harbinger of a busier opera future in these parts.

Though we still have to wait a few months for the action to crank up again, Dallas Opera steps up with six performances of the grandest of grand operas, Puccini’s Turandot, on April 5-21 at Winspear opera house, along with five performances of American composer Dominick Argento’s Henry James-inspired The Aspern Papers on April 12-28.

Even while the Dallas season winds down, Fort Worth Opera will step up to the plate with a characteristically varied and intriguing menu including Puccini’s La Boheme, Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment, Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, and American composer Tom Cipullo’s post-Vietnam opera Glory Denied, all playing at Bass Performance Hall (or, in the case of the Cipullo piece, next door at McDavid Studio) between April 20 and May 11. Fort Worth Opera will very admirably close the festival with two consecutive programs featuring segments of eight new operas on May 9 and 10 at McDavid Studio, with composers and librettists present.

Outside of the operatic realm, fans of American music and of American piano music in particular will want to take in a rare performance of that enduring monument of the American spirit, Charles Ives’ “Concord” Sonata, performed by Gilbert Kalish, one of the leading Ives interpreters of our time, on April 26 on the Soundings Series at the Nasher Sculpture Garden.

And, finally, one of the grandest shows in classical music, Fort Worth’s quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, will increasingly dominate the classical news cycle through the spring. The preliminary screening auditions began on January 5 in Hong Kong and will continue through upcoming weeks in Hannover, Moscow, Milan, and New York before closing in Fort Worth at TCU on February 20-22; the 30 competitors selected in these auditions will perform through a grueling (and, for audience members, immensely rewarding) three-tiered elimination process on May 24-June 9 at Bass Performance Hall for the privilege of joining the ranks of past Cliburn gold medalists such as Olga Kern and Radu Lupu among the superstars of the instrument.

Photo: Soprano Lise Lindstrom, who will star in the Dallas Opera’s Turnandot, singing the role of Salome at the Wiener Staatsoper (Credit: Michael Pöhn)