Hilary Grace Taylor – May 8, 2021

The Puccini Society of Dallas Presents

Hillary Grace Taylor

Hilary Grace Taylor, soprano

 “From Madness to Seduction”

 Saturday, May 8, 2021
3:00 P.M. 

At the home of Enika and Richard Schulze 
5042 Lakehill Court, 75220

    RSVP to jgirwin@sbcglobal.com
Members $25 Non Members $30


Many of us are looking forward to next Saturday (May 8) when we have a regular, indoor Puccini concert for the first time in a year and a half!  We will meet at the home of Enika and Richard Schulze (5042 Lake Hill Court) at our regular 3:00 p.m.  For those who wish to sit outdoors, seating on the patio just outside the sliding glass doors of the music room will be offered.  We kindly request that everyone who attends has been fully vaccinated, which thus allows us to gather safely with masks indoors.  Our reception will be held outdoors.

In order to provide a better response email, Jana Irwin has renewed our old Puccini e-mail address.  PucciniSociety@gmail.com will be our RSVP address from now on.  If you still need to respond please use this address; we’ll be delighted to see everyone after such a long intermission!

Now I’m happy to share my excitement in presenting our singer for this very special reunion event. I know you will share my enthusiasm for this outstanding young artist and I look forward to seeing everyone together to celebrate our “coming out” party.

Marilyn Halla 

Singer BIO

Hilary Grace Taylor, mezzo-soprano, is a native of Dallas and is becoming known for her versatility of repertoire and love of contemporary music. This year she returns for a second season as an Education Outreach Young Artist with The Dallas Opera and most recently was a Young Artist with Chautauqua Opera in their 2020 virtual season. 

Hilary is a Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the First Place Winner of the Lewisville Lake Symphony International Voice Competition, and a winner of the University of North Texas Concerto Competition. She has debuted a number of opera roles nationally and internationally including Dorabella (Così fan tutte) and Principessa (Suor Angelica) with Gregory Buchalter at Varna International Opera Academy, Giovanna (Rigoletto) with the Sacramento Symphony and Opera, and appeared as the mezzo soloist in the Verdi Requiem at the Durham Cathedral in Durham, England with conductor Paul Leddington Wright at the Brass Band Festival.

Hilary holds degrees from The University of Texas at Austin and the University of North Texas. With UNT Opera she debuted Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Desirée Armfeldt (A Little Night Music), Madame de Croissy (Dialogues des Carmélites), Dritte Dame (Die Zauberflöte), Martha (Faust), Mrs. Jones (Street Scene), Regina (Regina) and Gertrude Stein (After Life by Tom Cipullo). Visit the artist’s webpage at hilarygracetaylor.com and follow her on instagram @hilarygracetaylor. 

Puccini Society November Happy Hour

Jay Gardner, tenor

Jay Gardner, Tenor
Jesse Fry, Piano

Operatic Arias by Verdi and Puccini
Broadway Hit Songs

Date: Cancelled due to weather
Reschedule Date: November 8, 2020. 4:00 P.M.
Location: 12402-12428 Montego Plaza

Admission: $10 payable at the door.
Bring a chair!

Jesse Fry, piano


Friends;  We will have rescheduled our Puccini Happy Hour to Nov. 8th, at 4:00 P.M., on the lawn at Preston Square (where many of you came last week in the mist).  The time is 4:00 because of the time change (not 4:30, as last time).  The charge will be $10 per person. Preston Square is at the end of Noel Rd, just south of Harvest Hill.  It is between the N Dallas Tollway and Preston Rd., south of LBJ.  Parking instructions will be in a followup email.  Please bring a chair if you can, and masks are of course required.  Guests are always welcome.

Jay Gardner, tenor will present Puccini and Verdi songs (which we haven’t had before on programs) followed by Broadway hits.  Jay will be assisted by Jesse Fry on keyboard.  In case of inclement weather we have a good “plan B” alternative.  

Once again the weather forecast is for a lovely day with the high of 76 degrees.  Let’s hope this forecast proves to be accurate! I’ll be sending more details in the next few days.  And because it was so gratifying to just say “hello” to many who did come last week, we know it will be wonderful to get together to enjoy some beautiful live music.

Our singer will be Jay Gardner, tenor.  Below please click on the link to read his extensive bio.  Some of us know Jay through his long time membership in the Dallas Opera Chorus and the roles he has sung in those productions. We first tried to engage Jay the following weekend to give everyone a little more advanced notice of our event, but he will be singing with the Dallas Symphony concerts that weekend. Perhaps some of us will have the pleasure of hearing him both weekends.

The program will include Puccini songs and Verdi songs (which we’ve not had on a previous program) as will as Broadway hits. There should be something for everyone.

 I hope you’ll put this on your calendar and make your plans to attend.  Bring a lawn chair if that’s convenient, dress casually and wear your mask.  We’ll stay distanced and safe and enjoy another outdoor event while we can take advantage of the lovely fall weather.  We suggest a $10 donation for members and guests.

I’m looking forward to seeing you on Sunday afternoon.

Marilyn Halla


Preston Square is a neighborhood of condos which is located at the end of Noel Road, just south of Harvest Hill (just east of the Tollway). There is one circular street, Montego Plaza and as you enter the neighborhood you must turn onto Montego. Drive around to the left on Montego to the back of the circle where you’ll see a sign indicating the street numbers of the condos 12402-12428. There is a small cul-de-sac with parking for several cars there and you can walk up to the green space where we’ll meet. There is additional street parking and other small cul-de-cacs with additional parking all around the circle with access to our meeting place. We’ll put balloons out to mark entrance of the green space.

Artists’ Bios

JAY GARDNER’s Operatic roles include Canio in Pagliacci with Kansas Concert Opera, Judge Danforth in The Crucible with Rimrock Opera, the Second Jew In Salome with The Dallas Opera and Parpignol in La Bohème, also with The Dallas Opera. As a concert artist Jay was a soloist in the Carnegie Hall premier of Sing For The Cure and has performed with the Dallas symphony and the Schola Cantorum of Texas. In 2014 Jay was a Cabaret Fellow at the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and currently teaches musical theater performance and commercial voice at Collin College. 

JESSE FRY is a native of Findlay, OH but has been a Texan since 2003.  He has served as music director and pianist for roughly 60 different productions at Regional and Community Theatres across DFW. Last year’s highlights include The Drowsy Chaperone at Firehouse Theater,The Producers and Annie at Casa Mañana, As You Like It and In the Heights at the Dallas Theater Center and the national tour of Miss Saigon at Bass Hall. Jesse is also the owner of the Music Institute at Carrollton Square, www.micsquare.com, and the co-founder of Trekorda, The Collaborative Musician’s Network,  www.trekorda.com. He and his wife Emily, a middle school choir director, live in Carrollton with their two children Molly (11) and Max (6).

Jay Gardner, resume

Puccini Society Happy Hour

Rachel Davies, Soprano
Rachel Davies, Soprano

Featuring Soprano
Rachel Davies
in a Program of Arias and Broadway Songs

Saturday, October 3, 2020,
at 4:30 p.m.


Bring a chair and Wear a Mask!

12000 Preston Road
Dallas, TX 75230

Behind La Madeleine in Preston Forest Shopping Center.
Ample parking near and behind La Madeleine

On Sat., October 3rd, at 4:30 p.m., the Puccini Society will host an outdoor program featuring Rachel Davies, soprano.  You may recall that Rachel sang a beautiful program for us last fall at the home of Susan and Mark Geyer.

Marion Dunton has graciously arranged for us to meet at a perfect neighborhood space at 12000 Preston Rd.  It is at the end of her street, Tavel Circle, which begins just across from the Aerobic Center, off Willow Lane.

 We ask everyone to wear a mask and there is plenty of space to allow for social distancing.  Bring a lawn chair if that’s convenient and we will furnish drinks and small snacks.  Rachel will present arias by Saint Saens, Verdi, and Mozart as well as some Broadway show tunes.

This space is directly north (behind) the La Madeleine in Preston Forest Center, and there is ample parking near and behind La Madeline.  We can enter through “The Gate” just a few steps north on Preston Rd from the back of Preston Forest Center along the brick wall.  For those who need to drive to the concert area, come to the end of Tavel Circle.

Dress casually and comfortably for the shady outdoor space, and enjoy seeing friends again!  I know we’re all missing these kinds of events, and we promise to make this one safe for all.

Please reply to this e-mail if you can attend so we’ll have ample seating and drinks.  I hope to see you for our Happy Hour Concert on Sat., Oct. 3rd.

Marilyn Halla

Puccini Society Event – March 21, 2020 – Cancelled

Dear Puccini Society Members,

Due to health considerations, all classes and activities scheduled for the University of North Texas will be canceled from March 16-22.  John Richmond, dean of the School of Music advises that their students will not be able to perform for the Puccini Society, or other Dallas performances during that time.  Therefore, the Puccini Society will not meet on March 21 as announced.  

Willem Van Schalkwyk, who was presenting these students, regrets this unfortunate turn of events, and hopefully we can reschedule this special program.  They had planned a wonderful all Puccini program of arias, duets, and ensembles.  We hope to reschedule this program before the end of the year as we want this memorial concert to honor the memory of Eleanor Krebs in a fitting way.  Most importantly, we do want to do our part in keeping everyone safe and well.

There is also another sad item of news to share with you:  our long time member Edward Lynch, who has not been well, passed away.  There will be a service planned for early in April when all his family is able to gather here.  Jill is now living at the Tradition, 5850 East Lovers Lane, No 344.  We’ll announce the plans for a service when that information is available. And we all extend our deepest sympathy to Jill.

I hope everyone stays well,

Marilyn Halla

Lauren’s Favorite German Lieder – February 15, 2020

The Puccini Society of Dallas Presents

“Lauren’s Favorite German Lieder”

Lauren McNeese, mezzo soprano
Elvia Puccinelli, piano

February 15, 2020, at 3:00PM

Hosted by Antony Francis
5075 Lake Hill Court
Dallas, TX 75220
Valet Parking
Guests $30 – Members $25

R.S.V.P. to Jana Irwin
at 817-999-5509 or
P.O. Box 25105
Dallas, TX 75225 or
puccinisociety @ aol.com

Puccini Friends;  

I am especially anticipating our upcoming program on Feb.15, featuring mezzo soprano Lauren McNeese.  She will give us a program of Lieder by Strauss, Brahms, Mahler, and Wagner and I’ll admit I love Strauss as much as I love Puccini!  

Lauren has sung in major opera companies around the country including Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, San Diego Opera, San Francisco Opera, recently Dallas Opera’s Magic Flute (one of the three ladies), Opera in Concert, and others, including a number of leading roles.  Please find a link to her bio below.  Pianist Elvia Puccinelli will collaborate with Lauren for our program.

We are fortunate to live in an area so rich in talent, and indeed fortunate to have Lauren and other accomplished artists present our programs.

We will meet at the lovely home of Antony Francis, 5075 Lakehill Court, 75220.  Be sure to look up the street name in one word to find it on your map app.  They are in the same block as Richard and Enika Schulze, so it’s a familiar place to find.  Please respond to Jana (jgirwin@sbcglobal.net) or to this email to assure we have adequate seating in place.

Marilyn Halla

Julie Liston Johnson – December 14, 2019

The Puccini Society of Dallas presents

Julie Liston Johnson, soprano
Molly Fillmore, mezzo soprano
with Szu-Ying Huang, pianist

At the home of

Linda and Tom Smith
6614 Forestshire Drive
Dallas, Texas 75230

December 14, 2019, 3:00 P.M.

Members $25 – Guests $30 – Valet Parking

Please RSVP to

P.O. Box 25105
Dallas, Texas 75225
puccinisociety @ aol.com

Puccini Friends;

I want to share with you my enthusiasm for our upcoming program next Saturday at the home of Linda and Tom Smith.

Linda suggested we invite soprano Julie Liston Johnson to perform, and when I contacted her she was happy to accept our invitation. She received her Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School where she held a teaching fellowship and is currently on the voice faculty of the University of Texas at Arlington while also finishing her DMA at the University of North Texas. She has sung solos at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Trinity Church Wall Street as well as prestigious halls in Italy and England. A frequent performer in the Metroplex, many of you may have heard her performances. Favorite opera roles include Donna Anna, Dido, and Madama Butterfly as well as concert performances of The Queen of the Night’s vengeance aria and Gilda in Rigoletto. She lives in Dallas with her husband Bart Johnson and their daughter Ava Grace.

Julie has invited mezzo soprano Molly Fillmore to join her for our program. Molly made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Helmwige in Die Walkure, conducted by James Levine. During her seven seasons at the Met she also appeared in Philip Glass’ Satyaraha; both of these were broadcast worldwide in movie theaters and on PBS television. She sang over 25 roles at the Cologne Opera, performed title roles with San Francisco Opera, and Arizona Opera as well as appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Kennedy Center, Spoleto Festival and Tanglewood Festival. She is now Chair of the Division of Vocal Studies and Professor of Voice at the University of North Texas College of Music.

Taiwanese pianist Szu-Ying Huang will perform with Julie and Molly. She has performed extensively as soloist and chamber musician in major cities throughout the United States, Canada, Austria, China and Taiwan. She will soon receive her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance at the University of North Texas where she held assistantships in opera accompanying, collaborative piano and choral accompanying.

This promises to be a truly memorable program as well as a festive holiday celebration. Linda and Tom live at 6614 Forestshire Dr., 75230 and we meet at 3:00 p.m. If you haven’t replied please do so now in order for us to have adequate seating. I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

Marilyn Halla

Puccini Society 2019/2020 Season

Hello friends!  We’re definitely at the end of summer this weekend, and most groups are well into their plans for the coming year.  While I was in Santa Fe I contacted several singers whom we want to have this year, and whom I had talked with previously.  It looks like another good year of programs.  I sent out our dates and the singers made their choices. We can still book one more program if anyone has suggestions.

This is what it looks like so far:

  • Oct. 19;  Francisco Bedoy, tenor
  • Nov. 16; Rachel Davies, mezzo
  • Dec. 14; Julie Johnson, mezzo at the home of Linda and Tom Smith
  • Jan. 18 or 25; Mary Dibbern with Gabby Gifford and Malcom Payne, baritone
  • Feb. 15 or March 21; hopefully Lauren McNeese, sop. singing Strauss songs
  • April 18; Josefina Maldonado, soprano

I look forward to seeing everyone again soon, and welcome any suggestions. 

I hope everyone has had a good summer,

Marilyn Halla

End of Season Supper – May 5, 2019

The Puccini Society of Dallas Presents

Ed Flaspoehler and Friends
A Program of New Music by Dallas Composers

Sunday, May 5, 2019, 5:30 PM

Join us in celebrating the end of the season with supper and an evening of music by Dallas Composers. Program includes the premiere performance of the Sonata for Flute and Piano (2018) by Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, and the Piano Trio, “Moments in Memory,” by Mark Landson.

Ed Flaspoehler Flute
Gregory Sullivan Isaacs Composer
Mark Landson Composer and Violin
John LandefeldCello
Sunny Heesun YunPianoS

Hosted by Bettie Francis
3600 Princeton Avenue
Dallas, TX 75205

Members $40, Guests $45

Valet Parking

R.S.V.P. to Bettie Francis
at 214.528.4554 or
P.O. Box 25105
Dallas, TX 75225 or

Gregory Sullivan Isaacs is an American musician, composer, classical music critic and music director who has held musical directorships of opera, choral, and symphonic organizations. Since 2014, he has been the senior classical music critic for the online arts magazine TheaterJones, as well as a freelance writer for other publications, including The Fort Worth Star Telegram.  He is a member of ASCAP and the Music Critics Association of North America.

Mark Landson is a violinist, violist, composer, the founder and Director of Open Classical, and the founder and violist of contemporary music group Neo Camerata. He has been featured by the Dallas Observer in their “Top 100 Creatives in Dallas” series, by DFW arts website TheaterJones in their “Forward Thinkers” series, and through numerous other broadcast interviews and press articles as a prolific contributor to the creative culture of North Texas.

Pianist Sunny Heesun Yun is from South Korea. As a solo pianist, she has performed throughout America, Europe, and South Korea. She won the first place in several international competitions, including Rose Petroff Foundation Piano Competition in San Antonio, Texas, American Protégé International Piano and String Competition in New York City, American Protégé International Concerto Competition in New York City, and International Symphonic Workshops Piano Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. Sunny Yun is a member of the piano faculty at Eastfield College in Dallas.

Puccini Society member Ed Flaspoehler is an accomplished flutist. In 2018, he commissioned his friend, Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, to write a Sonata for Flute and Piano, which will receive its first public performance with Puccini Society of Dallas on May 5, 2009. Ed also performs frequently at Open Classical, hosted by Mark Landson, and has invited Mark to perform his piano trio, “Moments in Memory,” on the same program.

Cellist, John Landefeld, will perform as part of the piano trio.

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut – February 23, 2019

The Puccini Society of Dallas Presents

Dr. Stephen Dubberly, UNT Opera
A Lecture and Performance on
Puccini’s Opera Manon Lescaut

Alisa Magallon, Soprano, and
James Chamberlain, Tenor

Hosted by
Enika and Richard Schultz
5042 Lakehill Court
Dallas, TX 75220

Valet Parking
Members $25 – Guests $30

R.S.V.P. to Bettie Francis
P.O. Box 25105
Dallas, TX 75225 or
puccinisociety @ aol.com

STEPHEN DUBBERLY Associate Professor and Music Director at UNT’s Opera Department

Our February program will be presented by Stephen Dubberly, UNT School of Music Director of Opera.  Many of you know Stephen and will welcome him back again.  He will discuss Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” which will be presented by the Dallas Opera in early March.  Along with his informative talk on the composition and history and story of this work, he will bring singers from the UNT Opera Program to sing arias from this opera.  Enika and Richard Schulze will host us once again, and members of the Dallas Opera Guild will be invited to attend.  

Please put Saturday, Feb. 23 on your calendar and plan to attend this program.  “Manon Lescaut” is one of the less familiar Puccini operas, and your attendance of a performance will be greatly enhanced by learning more about it.

In 2016 The Dallas Opera presented the French version of this story, “Manon” by Jules Massenet, but the Italian version is an entirely different work, and is one of Puccini’s most beautiful compositions.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Marilyn Halla

Wind Song Trio – January 13, 2019

The Puccini Society of Dallas Presents

The Wind Song Trio
Haley Sicking, Soprano,
Robin Korevaar, Clarinet, and
Jonathan Tsay, Piano

Sunday, January 13, 2019, 3:00PM

Hosted by Bill and Leslie Cornog
6812 Hunter’s Glen Road
Dallas, TX 75205

Valet Parking
Guests $30 – Members $25

R.S.V.P. to Bettie Francis
P.O. Box 25105
Dallas, TX 75225 or
puccinisociety @ aol.com

Haley Sicking

Puccini Friends:  Happy New Year!  We begin the new year with a program presented by the Wind Song Trio on Sunday ( not the usual Sat.) afternoon, Jan. 13.  You may recall this trio presented our program a few years back at the home of Faye Briggs and were enthusiastically received by all.

Haley Sicking, soprano recently sang on the program given in conjunction with the Dallas Opera’s Women Conductors Symposium with the Dallas Opera Orchestra under the direction of Emmanuel Villaume.  She will sing for us along with Robin Korevaar, clarinet and Jonathan Tsay, piano.  This fine professional trio has presented various programs throughout the community, among which is the Basically Beethoven summer series at the Moody Performance Hall.

Our program is given in memory of our well remembered member, Gus Hoehn.  Gus was a music enthusiast and life long clarinet player in addition to being a successful engineer.  Many of Gus’ friends will join us to remember and honor him.

We meet at the lovely, art filled home of Bill and Leslie Cornog, 6— Hunter’s Glen, 75205, at our regular 3:00 time.  I hope to see you there!

Marilyn Halla