Bunching all of its performances into an extended, three-week span in festival style has proved to be a financial boon for the Fort Worth Opera. This year’s go-’round starts Saturday with a sold-out performance of Carmen in Bass Performance Hall. General Director Darren Woods said that season subscriptions and new-patron sales are ahead of projections, and group orders have come in from around the country. Rossini’s take on the Cinderella story will be first heard on Sunday afternoon, and Dead Man Walking, a contemporary opera by Jake Heggie, will debut here early next month. (A fourth production, the holiday-seasonal Amahl and the Night Visitors, will be performed later in the year.)
Mezzo-soprano Beth Clayton makes her local debut as Bizet’s sensuous Carmen, a role she sang last season everywhere from New York City to Wales to Calgary, as well as in Santa Fe and Austin. Her Don José will be tenor Roger Honeywell, and Morgan Smith will sing Escamillo. John de los Santos has been promoted from his usual post as the company’s occasional choreographer to full-fledged stage director here. Music director Joseph Illick will conduct the Fort Worth Symphony in the pit.