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The Late Terrence McNally Chosen For Dallas Opera’s Most Prestigious Award 24

The five-time Tony Award winning-playwright Terrence McNally, who died at 81 in late March of coronavirus complications, will be posthumously honored with the Dallas Opera’s 2020 Maria Callas Award.

Although born in St. Petersburg, Florida, McNally had lived in Dallas and Corpus Christi, Texas, where he went to high school.

The award recognizes McNally’s contributions to writing librettos for contemporary opera, including Jake Heggie’s Great Scott, which received its world premiere at the Dallas Opera in 2015. He is also recognized for his role in Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick, which had its world premiere at the Winspear Opera House in 2010.

Ian Derrer, the Dallas Opera’s general director and CEO, said in a press release that McNally has had a lasting impact on the company.

“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,” Derrer said. “We have Terrence to thank for the inspiration.”

McNally’s career spanned more than six decades and included opera librettos — notably for Dead Man Walking with Jake Heggie — ten books for musicals, more than 37 plays, various screenplays for film and television. He also received many awards, including the multiple Tonys, an Emmy and the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award (2011).

The etched plaque bears the likeness of the iconic soprano Maria Callas — who began performing for the TDO in 1957. Coincidentally, McNally’s Tony Award-winning play, Master Class, features the character of Callas in a series of classes she taught at Juilliard towards the end of her career.

The Maria Callas Award will be presented to McNally’s husband, Tom Kirdahy.

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