Dog Days’ James Bobick, as the father Howard, hoists Josh Kelly, portraying the dog Prince, to his feet in an effort to make him stand and reclaim his humanity in second act of the opera. Photo courtesy: Peak Performances at Montclair State University (NJ) In association with Beth Morrison Projects

Of the three productions composing Fort Worth Opera’s 2015 festival, two –– David T. Little’s Dog Days and Ambroise Thomas’ rarely seen version of Hamlet –– are area premieres. The third, Verdi’s La Traviata, is a sumptuous classic.

Dog Days will kick off the three-week extravaganza on Friday at W.E. Scott Theatre. A remounting of the 2012 world premiere in North Jersey, the production will include the same scenery, costumes, and cast, including Tony Award-nominated actor Lauren Worsham. With onstage accompaniment by Newspeak, a New Music ensemble conducted by Alan Pierson, Dog Days explores the challenges facing an American family in a postapocalyptic world, including a man in a dog suit howling for scraps. (The show has nudity and violence and is not recommended for children.)

A dramatic change in mood –– and look –– follows on Saturday, when a lavish production of La Traviata opens at Bass Performance Hall. Created for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Verdi’s tale of love and lust features sets and costumes by Desmond Heeley and lighting design by Fort Worth native Chad R. Jung. Making her Fort Worth debut, here as Violetta, is Australian soprano Rachelle Durkin, who has been working her way up at the Metropolitan Opera and recently filled in for an ailing Anna Netrebko as Norina in a broadcast performance of Don Pasquale. Joe Illick will conduct the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.


In Hamlet, baritone Wes Mason, last seen as Marcello in Fort Worth Opera’s La Bohème, will sing the title character. In the challenging role of Ophelia will be soprano Talise Trevigne. The sets and costumes will be from the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Washington National Opera. –– Leonard Eureka


Fort Worth Opera Festival is Fri thru May 10 at Bass Performance Hall, 555 Commerce St and W.E. Scott Theatre, 1300 Gendy St, FW. Tickets at Scott Theatre are $17-75; tickets at Bass Hall are $17-195. Call 817-731-0726.