Terrence McNally to Receive Dallas Opera’s Maria Callas Award

By Francisco Salazar

The Dallas Opera has announced that Terrence McNally, the legendary American playwright, screenwriter, and librettist will posthumously receive “The Maria Callas Award,” in recognition of his contribution to two landmark events in the company’s history.

McNally wrote the libretto for Jake Heggie’s “Great Scott,” which received its world premiere at TDO in 2015 and was a major creative force behind the creation of Heggie and Gene Scheer’s “Moby-Dick,” which had its world premiere on the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House stage in 2010.

Ian Derrer, The Dallas Opera’s Kern Wildenthal general director and CEO, said “Terrence McNally’s libretto for ‘Great Scott’ was dazzling in its scope and ambition, yet filled with the warmth and humanity that characterized so many of his best works. It was truly our privilege to bring this ‘operatic love letter’ to life.”

“And Mr. McNally’s imprint on The Dallas Opera began even earlier. There is no doubt that the 2010 world premiere of ‘Moby-Dick,’ which so magnificently concluded The Dallas Opera’s inaugural season in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, was a game-changer for the company. We have Terrence to thank for the inspiration. Simply put, Terrence McNally was a brilliant artist who loved opera nearly as much as the opera world loved him.”

McNally wrote opera librettos, 10 books for musicals, over 37 plays, and a variety of screenplays for film and television. He was the recipient of five Tony Awards, an Emmy, and several Obie and Drama Desk awards. In 2019, he received the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement as well as the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award (2011) and the Lucille Lortel Lifetime Achievement Award (2015).  He died in March 2020 due to COVID-19 complications.

This year’s award plaque will be presented to McNally’s husband, Tom Kirdahy.