European Premiere: Dinner at Eight

William Bolcom (1938–)

Libretto by Mark Campbell (1953–) (Silent Night, 2014)

Based on the play Dinner at Eight by George S. Kaufman

First performance Minnesota Opera, 11 March 2017

Set in Depression-era Manhattan, the Kaufman–Ferber play revolves around an ill-fated dinner organized by Millicent Jordan, a society hostess labelled “vapid” by the playwrights themselves. In the week preceding the party, Millicent’s husband, Oliver, is diagnosed with a fatal heart disorder and discovers that his struggling shipping line has become the object of a hostile takeover; their daughter Paula’s lover (dissipated matinée idol Larry Renault, also an invitee) stages a theatrical suicide; the guests of honor, an English lord and lady, blow off the engagement and decamp for Florida; and the cook’s pièce de résistance, a much-hyperbolized lobster in aspic, comes crashing to the kitchen floor…  In adapting the witty and biting depression-era play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, Pulitzer- Prize and Grammy Award-winning composer William Bolcom (A view from the Bridge, A Wedding ), and renowned librettist Mark Campbell (Silent Night, The Shining, Elizabeth Cree) have created a winning new work that successfully weds American musical comedy and opera.


20 October, 8 p.m.

23 October, 8 p.m.

26 October, 8 p.m.

1 November, 8 p.m.

4 November, 8 p.m

A co-production with Minnesota Opera and Atlanta Opera

Tickets €20 - €150

Midweek accommodation/ticket packages available for this event online here.


Creative Team

Conductor (20, 26 October / 1, 4 November)
David Agler


Previously at WFO: Conductor (Šárka, Fibich, 1996; Si j’étais roi, Adam, 2000; Maria Padilla, Donizetti, 2010).

Previous engagements: Conductor (A Midsummer Marriage, Tippett, San Francisco Opera; Věc Makropulos, Janáček, Vancouver Opera; Peter Grimes, Britten, Australian Opera).

Conductor (23 October)
Leslie Dala


Previous engagements: Conductor (The Overcoat, James Rolfe / Morris Panych, Tapestry Opera; Vancouver Opera; Symphony no. 8, Mahler, West Coast Symphony/Vancouver Bach Choir; Julie, Philippe Boesmans, Canadian Stage/Soundstreams Canada).

Forthcoming engagements: Conductor (The River of Light, Brian Current, Vancouver Bach Choir / Vancouver Opera Orchestra; Sea Symphony, Vaughan Williams, Vancouver Bach Choir / West Coast Symphony; La Cenerentola, Rossini, Vancouver Opera).

Tomer Zvulun


Previously at WFO: Director (Silent Night, Kevin Puts, 2014).

Previous engagements: Director (Out of Darkness, Jake Heggie, Atlanta Opera; Silent Night, Kevin Puts, Glimmerglass Festival; Semele, Handel, Seattle Opera).

Forthcoming engagements: Director (Silent Night, Kevin Puts, Washington National Opera; The Flying Dutchman, Wagner, Houston Grand Opera; Dead Man Walking, Jake Heggie, Israeli Opera).

Associate Director
David Toro


Previous engagements: Director (Il Giasone, Francesco Cavalli, Opera NEO), Assistant Director (Il trovatore, Verdi, Central City Opera), Assistant Director (Thaïs, Massenet, Minnesota Opera).

Forthcoming engagements: Director (The Consul, Menotti, Arbeit Opera Theatre), Director (Brundibár, Hans Krása, Minnesota Opera), Assistant Director (Today It Rains, Laura Kaminsky, Opera Parellèle).

Set Designer
Alexander Dodge


Previous engagements: Set Designer (Samson et Dalila, Saint-Saëns, Metropolitan Opera; The Ghosts of Versailles, John Corigliano, Los Angeles Opera; Anastasia, Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens, Broadway and U.S., German, and Spanish Tours).

Forthcoming engagements: Set Designer (The Thirteenth Child, Poul Ruders, Santa Fe Opera; The Flamingo Kid, the Musical, Robert Freedman, Hartford Stage; The Panties, The Partner, and The Profit, David Ives, Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, DC).

Costume Designer
Victoria Tzykun


Previously at WFO: Costume Designer (Silent Night, Kevin Puts, 2014); Scenic Designer (Don Bucefalo, Cagnoni, 2014).

Previous engagements: Scenic and Costume Designer (Faust, Gounod, Lyric Opera of Chicago), Scenic Designer (The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Mason Bates, Santa Fe Opera) Costume Designer (The Passenger, Mieczysław Weinberg, The Bolshoi Theater, Ekaterinburg State Opera and  Ballet Theater, Russia).

Forthcoming engagements: Scenic Designer (MASS, Bernstein, Ravinia Festival), Scenic Designer (The Good Swimmer, Heidi Rodewald, BAM Next Wave Festival), Costume Designer (Silent Night, Kevin Puts, Washington National Opera, Austin Opera).

Lighting Designer
Robert Wierzel


Previous engagements: Lighting Designer (The Barber of Seville, Rossini, Glimmerglass Festival; Rigoletto, Verdi, Los Angeles Opera; Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky, Lyric Opera of Kansas City).

Forthcoming engagements: Lighting Designer (Ever After, Zina Goldrich/Marcy Heisler, Alliance Theatre Company, Atlanta; The Deep Blue Sea, Bill T. Jones, Park Avenue Armory, New York; Blue, Jeanine Tesori/Tazewell Thompson, Glimmerglass Festival).


Millicent Jordon
Mary Dunleavy

Soprano, USA

Previous engagements: Alice Ford (Falstaff, Verdi, Garsington Opera, Opera Omaha), Stepmother (Cinderella, Alma Deutscher, Opera San Jose), Millicent Jordan (Dinner at Eight, William Bolcom, Minnesota Opera).

Oliver Jordon
Stephen Powell

Baritone, USA

Previous engagements: Germont (La traviata, Verdi, San Francisco Opera), Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti, Los Angeles Opera), Marcello (La bohème, Puccini, Lyric Opera of Chicago).

Forthcoming engagements: Rigoletto (Rigoletto, Verdi, San Diego Opera) Baritone soloist (Requiem, Brahms, St. Louis Symphony), Christus (St. Matthew Passion, Bach, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra).

Paula Jordon
Gemma Summerfield

Soprano, UK

Previous engagements: Michal cover (Saul, Handel, Glyndebourne Festival), Rodelinda cover (Rodelinda, Handel, English National Opera), Soloist (Symphony No 9, Beethoven, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne).

Forthcoming engagements: Pamina (The Magic Flute, Mozart, Scottish Opera).

Carlotta Vance
Brenda Harris

Soprano, USA

Previous engagements: Carlotta Vance (Dinner at Eight, Bolcom, Minnesota Opera); Lady Macbeth (Macbeth, Verdi, New Orleans Opera); Eleanor (The Manchurian Candidate, Kevin Puts, Austin Lyric Opera).

Dan Packard
Craig Irvin

Baritone, USA

Previous engagements: Dan Packard (Dinner at Eight, William Bolcom, Minnesota Opera), Lt. Horstmayer (Silent Night, Kevin Puts, Atlanta Opera), Frank (Die Fledermaus, Strauss, Des Moines Metro Opera).

Forthcoming engagements: Valentin (Faust, Gounod, Opera Omaha), Lt. Horstmayer (Silent Night, Kevin Puts, Austin Opera),  Baritone Soloist (The Bells, Rachmaninoff, Portland Symphony Orchestra).

Kitty Packard
Susannah Biller

Soprano, USA

Previous engagements: Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus, Strauss, Des Moines Metro Opera), Nanetta (Falstaff, Verdi, Opera Colorado), Norina (Don Pasquale, Donizetti, Minnesota Opera).

Forthcoming engagements: Madame White Snake (Madame White Snake, Zhou Long, Hong Kong Arts Festival/Beth Morrison Projects), Musetta (La bohème, Puccini, Austin Opera), Countess (Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart, Opera Theatre of St. Louis).

Lucy Talbot
Sharon Carty

Mezzo-soprano, Ireland

Previous engagements: Dido (Dido and Aeneas, Purcell, Oper Frankfurt); Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel, Humperdinck, Landestheater Linz); Dorabella (Così fan tutte, Mozart, Theater Freiburg and Theater Erfurt).

Forthcoming engagements: Orfeo (Orfeo ed Euridice, Gluck, Irish National Opera); Amy (The Second Violinist, Donnacha Dennehy/Enda Walsh, Irish National Opera/Landmark Productions); Marc Antonio (Marc Antionio e Cleopatra, Hasse, Musica Viva Moscow).

Dr. Joseph Talbot
Brett Polegato

Baritone, Canada

Previous engagements: Amfortas (Parsifal, Wagner, Festival de Lanaudière), Balstrode (Peter Grimes, Britten, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), Celebrant (Mass, Bernstein, Orchestre National de Lille).

Forthcoming engagements: Howie Albert (Champion, Terence Blanchard, Opéra de Montréal), Sharpless (Madama Butterfly, Puccini, Irish National Opera), Rodrigo (Don Carlo, Verdi, Grange Park Opera).

Larry Renault
Richard Cox

Tenor, USA

Previous engagements: Loge (Das Rheingold, Wagner, Minnesota Opera, North Carolina Opera), Tenor soloist (Das Lied von der Erde, Mahler, Chicago Symphony Orchestra), Mitch (A Streetcar Named Desire, André Previn, Hawaii Opera Theatre

Forthcoming engagements: Captain Ahab (Moby-Dick, Jake Heggie, Opera San José).

Max Kane
Ashley Mercer

Bass-baritone, UK

Previously at WFO: Luka (The Bear ShortWork, Walton, 2016), German Soldier (Silent Night, Kevin Puts, 2014), Usher (Trial by Jury ShortWork, Sullivan, 2014), Dottore/Barone (La traviata ShortWork, Verdi, 2013).

Previous engagements: Blackbeard (Moonfleet, Hepplewhite, Salisbury Playhouse), Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti, Fulham Opera), Badger/Parson/Harašta (The Cunning Little Vixen, Janáček, Grimeborn Festival).

Sheldon Baxter

Baritone, Canada

Previously at WFO: Deuxième Archer (Le Pré aux clercs, Hérold, 2015); Peter (Hansel & Gretel ShortWork, Humperdinck, 2015).

Previous engagements: Dancairo (Carmen, Bizet, Semperoper Dresden), Don Giovanni (Don Giovanni, Mozart, Szene12), Kilian/Samiel (Der Freischütz, Weber, Immling Festival).

Forthcoming engagements: Baritone (Trouble in Tahiti, Bernstein, Semperoper Dresden), Oscar (Cabaret, Kander, Semperoper Dresden).

Miss Copeland
Maria Hughes

Soprano, Ireland

Previous engagements: Fiordiligi cover (Così fan tutte, Mozart, Northern Ireland Opera), Agrippina (Agrippina, Handel, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), Mother (Hansel and Gretel, Humperdink, St Magnus Festival).

Laura Margaret Smith

Mezzo-soprano, UK

Previously at WFO: La Gobba (Rizurrezione, Alfano, 2017)

Previous engagements: Mezzo-soprano Soloist (Little Match Girl Passion, David Lang, Hamburg Staatsoper, PODIUM Festival), Cenerentola (La Cenerentola, Rossini, Scottish Opera Unwrap), Recital Singer (Various Lieder, Various Composers, Edinburgh International Festival, Melbourne Recital Centre).

Forthcoming engagements: Mezzo-soprano Soloist (Magnificat, Bach, Thomas Coats Choral Society), Mezzo-soprano Soloist (Various, Graham Hair, Scottish Voices USA Tour).

Miss Alden
Gabrielle Dundon

Soprano, Ireland

Previous engagements: Musetta (La bohème, Puccini, Northern Ireland Opera), Liu cover (Turandot, Puccini, Northern Ireland Opera), Governess cover (The Turn of the Screw, Britten, Northern Ireland Opera).

Ranald McCusker

Tenor, UK

Previous engagements: Raoul de Gardefeu (La Vie parisienne, Offenbach, Royal Northern College of Music), Lippo Fiorentino (Street Scene, Kurt Weill, Royal Northern College of Music).

Forthcoming engagements: Tenor Soloist (Messiah, Handel, Three Spires Choral Society), Tenor Soloist (The Armed Man, Karl Jenkins, Doncaster Choral Society)

Mr Hatfield
Henry Grant Kerswell

Bass, UK

Previously at WFO: Kritzloff (Risurrezione, Alfano, 2017), Footman (Vanessa, Barber, 2016), Robin (Guglielmo Ratcliff, Mascagni, 2015), Angelotti (Tosca ShortWork, Puccini, 2015).

Previous engagements: Dr Grenville (La Traviata, Verdi, Opera Holland Park), Dr Bartolo (Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart, Opera UpClose), Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte, Mozart, Grange Park Opera).