Highlights from US Launch Concert in collaboration with The Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors

10th November 2019

The Dallas Opera’s Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors presented the final “graduation” concert of operatic selections that featured the fellows from this, its fifth successful incarnation. The performance, held on Nov. 9 at the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Winspear Opera House, displayed a balanced mix of excellent conducting, effusive singing and some exemplary orchestral playing. That’s three elements that elicit exuberant adjectives, conferred with enthusiasm!

This program was launched five years ago by The Dallas Opera under Keith Cerny, the visionary former General Director and CEO of the company, and inspired by the dynamism that Nicole Paiement, TDO’s Principal Guest Conductor, brings to any endeavor she undertakes. It has also benefited from strong, hands-on involvement from TDO Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, Italian conductor Carlo Montanaro and many other fine musicians.

The institute is sponsored by the munificence of many donors, led by two pairs of opera-loving philanthropists: Linda and Mitch Hart and Enika and Richard Schulze. Over just these few years, the institute has achieved stellar international recognition. But that recognition comes largely from the major careers that the previous laureates have carved out for themselves; earning a distinguished place in what has always been an exclusive gentleman’s club …

The singers, all of whom were remarkable, came from a fascinating and highly laudable international opera project called Opera for Peace-Leading Young Voices of the World. It draws on diverse cultural heritages to promote positive universal values and mutual respect.” (Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Theater Jones)

Times are changing, but a woman conducting an orchestra remains the exception to the rule. To their great credit, both the Dallas Opera and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra are taking leads in promoting women — conductors and others — in classical music.

In its fifth year, the Dallas Opera Hart Institute for Women Conductors, which ran Oct. 27 through Nov. 9, again gave up-and-coming women conductors opportunities to work with professional singers and the Dallas Opera Orchestra, and to get feedback from serious professionals. They also got career counseling from agents, managers, publicists and more.

The DSO’s overlapping Women in Classical Music Symposium, new this year, offered no performance opportunities. But between Nov. 6 and 9, it produced another starry lineup of speakers to address challenges for women in musical careers ranging from performance to administration. The greatest asset of both programs may have been opportunities for networking with industry insiders.

The Hart Institute again ended with a concert in which the six conductors took turns leading operatic overtures, solos and duets. The Saturday night concert, at the Winspear Opera House, included a pretty amazing lineup of singers, thanks to a new partnership with the international organization Opera for Peace — Leading Young Voices of the World.” (Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News)