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Meadows Alums and Faculty to Perform Excerpts from Simon Sargon’s "Saul" Opera

One-hour version of the dramatic struggles of King Saul features internationally recognized Meadows opera artists Donnie Ray Albert and Clifton Forbis

Program cover for Saul, by Simon Sargon. Painting is a section from Saul Attacking David by Guercino Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1591-1666), circa 1646. Oil on canvas, 57.9 in x 86.6 in.

Baritone alumnus Donnie Ray Albert (M.M. ’75) will sing the role of Saul.

Associate Professor of Voice, tenor Clifton Forbis, will sing the role of David.

Excerpts from the opera Saul, by Professor Emeritus composer Simon Sargon, will be performed on June 7, 2014 at the Jewish Community Center in Dallas and will feature several vocalists from the Meadows community.

Starring as Saul, first king of Israel, is baritone Donnie Ray Albert (M.M. ’75). Albert starred in Porgy and Bess on Broadway and has appeared with the New York City, Vancouver, Atlanta, Washington and Teatro alla Scala opera companies, among others. The role of David will be sung by tenor Clifton Forbis, associate professor of voice at Meadows School of the Arts; Forbis has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Canadian Opera Company, and Teatro alla Scala, among others. The part of Samuel will be played by bass-baritone Stephen Morscheck. Also on stage will be graduate student and mezzo-soprano Arielle Collier (M.M. Voice,’ 14) singing the role of the Witch of Endor; baritone Nathan Myers (M.M. Voice,’ 14 and M.M. Choral Conducting, ’15) will sing the role of Jonathan.

Sargon himself will play the piano accompaniment and narrate the story between musical excerpts.

Saul is set in 1200 B.C. and tells the story of the biblical King Saul, his friendship with the young shepherd David, and his tragic descent into madness and paranoia stemming from jealousy. Events are based on the writings of the biblical books of Samuel I and II, and form the basis for a tragic ending and a cautionary tale for mankind.

First commissioned by the Meadows Foundation in 1984, Saul was originally written as a three-act, two-hour opera and has undergone refinements over the years. In 1991, the third act of the original version of Saul was premiered by Meadows Opera Theatre. In 2011, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra played a suite based on musical themes from Saul, of which Dallas Morning News critic Scott Cantrell remarked, “… The outer movements, 'Saul Among the Prophets' and 'The Supreme Command,' work up dramatic clashes and turbulent rhythms. The central movements, 'Sanctuary' and 'The Oath,' weave haunting melodies, with a touch of cantorial exoticism, through soft-focus textures. …”

Sargon, who was professor of composition at Meadows for 30 years and honored with the prestigious Meadows Distinguished Professor Award in 2009, is considered to be one of the most significant composers of Jewish liturgical music in the country. His liturgical compositions are part of the worship of synagogues and temples across America. An acclaimed composer, pianist and educator whose works have been widely performed nationally and internationally, Sargon served with distinction as director of music at Temple Emanu-El for 27 years.  His works span a wide variety of genres, including opera, orchestral works, choral and chamber music. 

The performance is co-sponsored by SMU Meadows School of the Arts Division of Music; Temple Emanu-El Music Committee; Puccini Society of Dallas; Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas; Jewish Community Center; Temple Shalom; Southwest Jewish Congress; and the Wagner Society of Dallas. Event partner is Business Express Press (Bill Burns).

For more information, call Gordon Cizon, board member of the Ft. Worth Opera and the Southwest Jewish Congress, at 214 361-7179, or by email at

Excerpts from the Simon Sargon opera Saul
Saturday, June 7, 2014
7:30 p.m.
Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, Zale Auditorium
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas, Texas, 75230
Adults $25, students $10 with valid i.d. at door
Tickets may be purchased online here
Read more about Simon Sargon.

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