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Women conductors at the Dallas Opera: call for applications

March 19, 2016


Monday, February 22, 2016


Suzanne Calvin 214.443.1014

Or, Celeste Hart 214.443.1071                                                                          

The Dallas Opera is Proud to Announce

Applications Are Now Being Accepted For

The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for

Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera


Expanded 2016 Program: Nov. 26 – Dec. 11, 2016


TDO Seeks to Create New Opportunities for Talented Young Women Conductors Making Their Mark in the Field of Opera


Additional Support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,

TACA Bowden & Embrey Family Foundations Artist Residency Fund and the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation


DALLAS, FEBRUARY 22, 2016 – Working to address a long-standing career issue in the opera world, The Dallas Opera is delighted to announce that applications are now being accepted for a unique residential program designed to provide training and career support for distinctively talented women conductors: The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera.

Female conductors, as well as accomplished women singers, opera coaches and accompanists, and instrumentalists with established careers seeking a new career at the podium are encouraged to apply for the expanded institute, now in its second year.  Although the emphasis is on women conductors on the cusp of major careers in opera, more seasoned applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors will reconvene on November 26, 2016 and run through December 11, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  This year’s institute will include two public concerts (details pending) in addition to intensive one-on-one’s, master classes, career advancement curriculum, and opportunities to conduct the highly regarded Dallas Opera Orchestra.

The institute, conceived by Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, was created a year ago with initial support from the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation.  Since that time, it has garnered additional generous support from Linda and Mitch Hart, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the TACA Bowden & Embrey Family Foundations Artist Residency Fund.

Stated Mr. Cerny: “The Dallas Opera has demonstrated, in multiple ways, its commitment to reshaping the opera field through the use of innovative public outreach, and by exploring new technologies, commissioning new works to expand the operatic repertoire, and programming with passion and imagination.

“This much-needed program, generously supported by benefactors here in Dallas and elsewhere,” Mr. Cerny adds, “will enable more women conductors to add their talents and insights to our collective understanding of this incredible art form.”

The tremendous success of the inaugural institute became apparent by the evening of the concluding public concert attended by music lovers, opera VIPs and media.

Scott Cantrell, Classical Music Critic for The Dallas Morning News lavished praise on individual performances and wrote: “Some fine conducting talents were displayed; one hopes to see and hear more from them.”

The Senior Classical Music Critic for Theater Jones, Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, agreed: “They all did a fine job and got most of the details correct. Every one of them delivered involving performances and was, for the most part, right with the singers and clear in their stick technique.  Most importantly, the orchestra responded to one and all with good ensemble playing and responsiveness to each conductor’s desires.”

The 2016 Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors will provide a host of career-building opportunities:

  • To rehearse and conduct The Dallas Opera Orchestra, a full-sized professional ensemble, with outstanding young opera artists
  • Participate in master classes with Martha R. and Preston A. Peak Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement and renowned Italian Maestro Carlo Montanaro, as well as special guests
  • Attend seminars and discussions, guided by a variety of experts, on how women conductors can make a greater impact on their field and advance their conducting careers
  • Network with peers and take part in a media “refresher” course

Six women will be selected from among those applying, along with four additional American observers.

Those attending are also eligible to take part in an annual summer networking event in Dallas.  There is also the potential for one or more participants to be invited back to serve as Assistant Conductors on future Dallas Opera productions.

Maestra Nicole Paiement’s residency for this institute is supported by the

TACA Bowden & Embrey Family Foundations Artist Residency Fund.


The Dallas Opera’s Martha R. and Preston A. Peak Principal Guest Conductor, Nicole Paiement, the Artistic Director and Conductor for San Francisco’s renowned contemporary opera company, Opera Parallèle, was singled out for praise in a recent Musical America “Profile in Courage” which wrote: “Working in a profession that often leaves women scandalously underrepresented, Paiement has established stellar credentials.”

As the subject of a 2015 article in Opera News (“The Mountain Climber” by Matthew Sigman), Paiement was described as “one of opera’s most adventurous spirits.”  She also serves as Artistic Director of BluePrint, a contemporary music series at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she holds the Deléage Chair, and has broken important new ground in Dallas, where she was invited to conduct critically acclaimed performances of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse, Death and the Powers by Tod Machover, and the recent successful world premiere of Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer’s Everest.

About the institute itself, Maestra Paiement commented, “In tandem with my work as a professional conductor, I have spent many years striving to develop and support exceptional young talent, both onstage and in the orchestra pit.  I am tremendously pleased to be able to continue this aspect of my career and to help guide each carefully selected group through this still-evolving Dallas Opera program.

“You can learn a great deal by watching other conductors in action: how they interact with the orchestra, how they exercise their authority, apply their insights to a particular score, and guide the artists to greater heights of musical expression.

“The women taking part in this program will have the all-too-rare opportunity to observe another woman in this leadership role, “ Paiement added, “something that, regrettably, I never experienced in my early career as I sought role models from among my professional peers.  I sincerely hope my work with the women in this institute can serve as a source of both valuable insights and inspiration.”

Maestro Carlo Montanaro, music director of Teatr Wielki in Warsaw, Poland from 2011 through 2014, has conducted both opera and concert repertoire on many of the world’s leading stages including La Scala, the Bastille Opera in Paris, Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Seattle Opera, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Verona’s Arena, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro Communale in Florence, Vienna State Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Opera Australia, the Arturo Toscanini Foundation in Parma, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the New National Theatre in Tokyo, Munich Opera, Monte Carlo Opera, and Teatro Verdi in Trieste (a collaboration which led to a Japanese tour with the orchestra).

Future opera engagements (already announced) include Maria Stuarda in Seattle, La bohème in Sydney, Carmen for San Francisco Opera, and Rigoletto in Warsaw.


The application process opens today, Monday, February 22, 2016, with a deadline of midnight (Central Time) on Friday, April 22, 2016.  Applications can be submitted at  Early applications are definitely encouraged.

Those chosen to participate will receive a travel stipend, in-town housing, an honorarium, and a per diem to cover basic living expenses.  Most meals will be provided.

For more information on The Women’s Conducting Institute at The Dallas Opera, visit

Marc A. Scorca, President and CEO of OPERA America, remarked earlier: “The Dallas Opera continues to expand its influence and stature among American opera companies, as shown by this exciting new initiative.  The company is to be applauded for taking a significant step to remedy the existing gender imbalance on the podium.  This effort complements OPERA America’s support of the work of female opera composers and promises to enrich the art form by encouraging more gifted artists to express themselves through opera.”


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