Performing Arts

Case closed: ‘Voir Dire’ sells out ahead of Fort Worth Opera Festival

Baritone Trevor Martin as the tormented Dr. Henry Milton in “Voir Dire.”
Baritone Trevor Martin as the tormented Dr. Henry Milton in “Voir Dire.”

Everyone in the opera world knows that new works do not sell tickets as well as those in the established repertoire.

But don’t tell that to Fort Worth Opera: Its world premiere presentation of “Voir Dire,” a contemporary chamber opera set in a rural courthouse, has sold out all six of its performances scheduled for McDavid Studio, the 180-seat venue across the street from Bass Hall.

It is the first time the company’s presentation of a new work has sold out, Fort Worth Opera marketing and communications manager Ryan Lathan says.

“I think it maybe has to do with pop culture, and the general fascination with macabre true crime,” Lathan says.

“Voir Dire,” which is the creation of composer Matthew Peterson and librettist Jason Zencka, is based on criminal cases Zencka covered while working as a reporter for a small Wisconsin newspaper. Part of the opera was presented in 2014 in Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers event, a competitive showcase for new works done during the opera’s festival each year. It is the second opera to emerge from that competition and have a complete presentation in the festival. (The other was last year’s “Embedded,” which was presented at Scott Theatre.)

Although the opera is sold out, Lanthan stresses that some tickets are always returned for all of the opera’s productions. They’re scheduled April 23, 25, 29, 30 and May 2 and 6. And he also thinks some ticketholders may not be aware that the opera contains “dark and startling” subject matter and strong language.

“It’s nothing like ‘Dog Days,’ ” says Lathan, referring to an especially intense new work presented in the 2015 festival. “It does have some very funny moments. But it is not a light, bubbly affair.”

While the strong response to this year’s virtually unknown work is a bit surprising, Lathan says that tickets to the festival’s other two operas, Bizet’s classic “Carmen” and the mariachi-fueled “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon),” are also selling well.

To be placed on a waiting list for “Voir Dire” tickets, call the opera at 817-731-0726.

Fort Worth Opera Festival

  • April 15-May 7
  • Grand opening night concert: 7:30 p.m. April 15 at Bass Hall. $17-$89
  • “Carmen”: 7:30 p.m. April 22, 2 p.m. April 30 and 7:30 p.m. May 5 at Bass Hall. $17-$195
  • “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna”: 7:30 p.m. April 29 and 2 p.m. May 7 at Bass Hall. $17-$175
  • “Voir Dire”: All performances are sold out at the McDavid Studio at Bass Hall. To be placed on the wait list, call 817-731-0726.
  • Frontiers: 8 p.m. May 3 and 4, McDavid Studio at Bass Hall
  • Festival packages are $36-$379.
  • For more information and tickets, call 817-731-0726 or visit