The 8 Best Moments in Classical Music and Opera in 2013

Our critic rounds up the best moments in the concert halls and on opera stages in Dallas-Fort Worth this year.

The Orchestra of New Spain Presents Sebastián Durón

The Orchestra of New Spain, a Dallas-based ensemble dedicated to music of the baroque from Spain and its American colonies, opened a new vista for Dallas audiences with a fluid production of the Sebastián Durón’s zarzuela Las Nuevas armas de amor of 1711 on February 14 under conductor Grover Wilkins III at Dallas City Performance Hall.


Ava Pine

Homegrown soprano Ava Pine continued to impress with her versatility and insight; her performance of works for soprano and orchestra by Handel shed new light on the musical and expressive possibilities of this repertoire with the Dallas Bach Society at the Church of the Incarnation on February 16.


Charles Ives’ “Concord” Sonata of 1947 at the Nasher’s Soundings series

Although it’s widely recognized as a  monument of American music, Charles Ives’ “Concord” Sonata of 1947 remains a rarity on the concert stage, at least in part because preparation for the work is a daunting intellectual and physical challenge for the pianist. Gilbert Kalish, one of the few pianists who has dared to take the “Concord” on, presented it in live performance—and took his listeners along on an unforgettable musical oddysey—at the Nasher Sculpture Center on the always intriguing Soundings series on May 3.


Gérard Grisey’s Le Noir de l’Etoile at Soundings

Just a few weeks later, the Soundings series scored again by presenting the local premiere Gérard Grisey’s Le Noir de l’Etoile, a work featuring sounds from pulsars, performed by an outstanding guest percussion ensemble at the Nasher Sculpture Center on May 29.


Tom Cipullo’s  Glory Denied at the Fort Worth Opera

In April and May, Fort Worth Opera continued to establish itself as one of the crown jewels of the local cultural scene as well as one of the most innovative companies in America. The best among many memorable moments in its annual spring festival at Bass Performance Hall and adjacent facilities arrived with a beautifully performed, emotionally riveting production of Tom Cipullo’s  Glory Denied, an exquisitely crafted operatic retelling of the true story of one of Vietnam War POW Jim Thompson.


Sean Chen at the Cliburn Piano Competition

Later that month, the quadrennial Cliburn Piano Competition proceeded for the first time in its fifty-year history without the presence of its beloved namesake, who died earlier in the year. As usual, there was plenty of gossip and controversy both onstage and off, as the nation’s piano groupies gathered in Fort Worth to see and hear the latest crop of young artists hoping for a career on the international stage. When the dust cleared at Bass Performance Hall on June 9, American Sean Chen, third-place winner, seemed the most likely of the current crowd to win the hearts and minds of audiences hungry for the combination of artistry and charisma that make a classical music superstar.


Robert Xavier Rodriguez at UTD 

Local music lovers were reminded that one of America’s greatest living composers is in our midst when the University of Texas at Dallas presented a concert devoted to piano works of Robert Xavier Rodriguez, repeating an event from one week earlier at Weill Recital Hall in New York. Jeff Lankov was soloist for the event on the UTD campus on October 11.


The Especially Gallic Carmen at the Dallas Opera

Making her American debut in the title role of perennial favorite Carmen at the Dallas Opera, French mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine left an indelible impression with an unforgettable combination of intelligence, a beautiful voice, striking musicality, and old-fashioned sexiness. American soprano Mary Dunleavy came up with an equally unforgettable performance as Carmen’s foil, the pure-hearted Micaela, while the company’s new music director Emmanuel Villaume conducted with convincing Gallic insight in performances in October and November at Winspear Opera House.