Flying From the Nest – Feb. 18, 2024

The Puccini Society of Dallas
Invites you to attend our February Program

“Flying from the Nest”

A program of songs and arias with:

Lauren Manon, soprano
Cherisse Williams, soprano
Sarah Foshee, mezzo-soprano
Eleanor Williams, mezzo-soprano
Stephen Dubberly, piano

Sunday, February 18, 2024 at 3:00 pm
Members $30 Guests $40
Valet Parking provided

Please RSVP no later than Feb. 14 to
[email protected]

Mail checks to:
Puccini Society of Dallas
P.O. Box 1782
Colleyville, TX 76034-1782
Call Jana at (817) 999 – 5509 for credit card payments.

Photo Gallery

Eleanor Williams, Mezzo-Soprano

Sara Fochee, Mezzo-Soprano

Lauren Manon, Soprano

Clarissa Williams, Soprano

Party Pictures

Puccini Friends; I am still excited about our beautiful event yesterday!  Stephen put together a wonderful program with those very talented young singers from the Opera in Italy program.  We were all very impressed with their talent and potential.  Stephen’s commentary put each aria into context and helped us relate to the character being portrayed.  We are so fortunate to have Stephen in our society and that he is willing to put together these outstanding program for us!

Linda and Tom are such gracious hosts and are so kind to invite us time and again.  Their home is truly beautiful and interesting, as many of you observed yesterday.  Thank you for your welcoming hospitality.

Mac presented another of his fabulous receptions!  We are so grateful that he does this for us and for his culinary talents.  Everything was beautiful and delicious.  His featured cocktail of the day was particularly enjoyed by everyone. Jana always makes things run smoothy with her many responsibilities.  You two are our Puccini Valentines, along with Patsy and Bob who always assist Mac, set up and serve drinks, and even bring chairs.  Lots of logistics are involved in our meetings, and thanks to all who helped out with that yesterday.

Our next event is planned for March 30 and will feature soprano Jocelyn Hansen.  Jocelyn has performed in three main stage productions for the Dallas Opera the season, and is equally outstanding in musical theater performances.  I know she’ll bring us a program that will be enjoyed by everyone.  Please save this date.

Thanks to everyone for your ongoing support of the Puccini Society.


Introducing Cherisse Williams

Brooklyn, New York, native soprano Cherisse Williams is a Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Business Administration in Music Business student at the University of North Texas, under the tutelage of Dr. Carol Wilson.

 In performance with The Dallas Opera’s Educational Outreach, she will perform the role of Manuelita (Pépito).

Last season, Ms. Williams sang the role of Micaëla (Carmen). She has played the role of Adina in L’elisir d’amore with UNT Opera, Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel) with Once Upon an Opera, and Nannetta in the Midwest Institute of Opera’s production of Falstaff.

Her Manhattan School of Music credits include the Princess in their mainstage production of L’enfant et les Sortilèges, and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro for their opera scenes titled “A World Made Real: Five Stories of Women in Pursuit of Dreams.” Other credits include the role of Sally Hemings in the world premiere of Dana Wilson’s The Wolf by the Ears, Beth (cover) in Little Women, Mademoiselle Silberklang in The Impresario with the Ithaca Hidden Gems Project, The Princeton Festival’s production of Porgy and Bess (ensemble), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Peaseblossom) at Westminster Choir College Opera Theatre.

Ms. Williams was a winner of the Willam Gammon Henry Concerto Competition at the University of North Texas and a first-prize winner at the NATS-CNYFL competition. She is a member of the New York Philharmonic Chorus and holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Westminster Choir College, a Master of Music from Ithaca College, and a Professional Studies Certificate in opera from The Manhattan School of Music.  She is  a volunteer artist for Sing for Hope, a proud sister of Sigma Alpha Iota and one of the owners of the Sparkle Twins.

In addition to singing, Ms. Williams is a professional commercial and print model, and a former preschool teacher. She has starred in the national Verizon Holiday commercial along with her identical twin sister, which received over 2 million views worldwide. 

Adia Evans-Ledon – Jan. 20, 2024

The Puccini Society of Dallas
Invites you to attend our 1st program of the New Year


Adia Evans-Ledon, soprano

1st Place Winner of the
2023 Dallas Opera Guild Lone Star Biennial Vocal Competition

Saturday, January 20, 2024, at 3:00 pm

Members  $30            Guests  $40

Valet Parking provided

Please RSVP by 1/15/2024 to [email protected]

Mail checks to:

Puccini Society of Dallas
P.O. Box 1782
Colleyville, TX  76034-1782

Call Jana at (817) 999-5509 for credit card payments.

Opera Arlington – Nov 18, 2023

The Puccini Society of Dallas Presents

An Afternoon of Music with Opera Arlington

Presented by Bree Nichols

Founder and Director of Opera Arlingto

Bree Nichols, soprano – Jason Nichols, tenor
Chivonne Perkins, soprano – Megan Koch, soprano

Saturday, November 18, 2023, at 3:00 pm

Park Towers on Turtle Creek
3310 Fairmount,
Dallas  75201

Members  $30   Guests  $40

Valet Parking provided

Kindy RSVP by November 13 to
[email protected]

Mail checks to:

Puccini Society of Dallas
P.O. Box 1782
Colleyville, TX  76034-1782

call Jana at (817) 999-5509 BEFORE Nov 6 for credit card payments.

Matthew Dexter – Oct. 28, 2023

The Puccini Society of Dallas presents
our October program


Matthew Dexter, baritone
accompanied by Stephen Dubberly

 Saturday, October 28, 2023

3:00 pm

Members  $30        Guests  $40

Valet Parking provided

Kindy RSVP by Oct 25 to [email protected]

Mail checks to:

Puccini Society of Dallas
P.O. Box 1782
Colleyville, TX  76034-1782

Puccini Friends – We are excited to gather on Saturday, October 28 to hear from a talented young UNT student, Matthew Dexter. Please see Matthew’s bio information below. Also, refer to the invitation for the October program attached. Thank you to all who have already responded.  Please RSVP no later than Oct 25 if you ploan to attend.

Marilyn Halla

Photo Gallery

Photos by Ed Flaspoehler

Artist Bio

MATTHEW DEXTER, bass-baritone from McKinney, Texas, is a senior majoring in vocal performance at the University of North Texas.  He is a member of UNT’s A Cappella Choir and the Vox Aquilae Baroque choir.  During his time with UNT Opera, he has performed the roles of Mícha in The Bartered Bride, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, and Zúñiga in Carmen. He will premiere the role of the Conductor in That Hellbound Train in spring 2024.  He also performed the role of The Herald in the concert version of Verdi’s Otello with the UNT Symphony Orchestra.  For the past two years, as a vocal fellow at Spoleto Festival USA, Matthew appeared in the world premiere of Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels’ Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Omar in 2022 and covered the role of the Old Doctor in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa.  He was a winner of Youngarts 2020 and performed at the winners’ concert in Miami.

Stephen Dubberly, a faculty member in the UNT College of Music, has written of Matthew, “There is no question in my mind that he is by far the most outstanding undergraduate with whom I have worked in my 40 years of university teaching.”

Additionally, Matthew was named as the Presser Undergraduate Scholar recipient for 2022-2023. See below about this prestigious award:

The Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award is presented annually to a student entering their senior year who has shown extraordinary musical and academic accomplishments. The Presser award is considered the most prestigious undergraduate honor in music at the University of North Texas and is provided by the Presser Foundation that awards annual scholarships, grants and funds for the furthering of music education and music in America.

In perpetuity, the recipients are referred to as Presser Scholars. The winner is nominated by the College of Music faculty and selected by the College of Music Council of Division Chairs. The scholarship has been awarded annually for more than six decades.

Sabatina Mauro – Sept. 30, 2023

The Puccini Society of Dallas presents

“Suits, Sisters and Sidekicks, an Operatic Afternoon”

Sabatina Mauro – Mezzo Soprano
Jiyoun Oh – Pianist

in loving memory of Robert Maris

September 30, 2023 at 3:00 PM

Members $30 / Guests $40
(Valet parking provided)
Kindly RSVP by September 25th
[email protected]

Mail checks to:
Puccini Society of Dallas
P. O. Box 1782
Colleyville, TX. 76034-1782

Credit card payments: Contact Jana @ (817) 999-5509

The Puccini Society’s first program of the fall season is planned for Sept. 30.  Sabatina Mauro will present our program.  She is a young artist with the Dallas Opera and is a very fine mezzo.  I know you’ll enjoy her program.  

Please mark you calendar for our first event on September 30.
Please R.S.V.P by September 25.

Marilyn Halla,
Puccini Society of Dallas

Bethany Jelinek – May 27, 2023

The Puccini Society of Dallas presents “From the Heart” with

  Bethany Jelinek, soprano

winner of the Jonathan Pell People’s Choice Award at the
2023 Dallas Opera Guild Biennial Lone Star Vocal Competition

accompanied by 
Victor Diaz Hurtado, pianist

 Saturday, May 27, 2023
3:00 pm

to [email protected]

Puccini Society of Dallas
P.O. Box 1782
Colleyville, TX  76034-178

Puccini Friends: After what seems like a long intermission, we were finally able to finish our season.

Our final Puccini program for this season was on May 27.  Bethany Jelinek, winner of the People’s Choice Award  at our recent  Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition presented our program. It was stunning!

Thanks to so many who were able to be present for our final program of the year.  We ended the season on a high note indeed!  Bethany Jelinek presented a wonderful program of arias and songs by Handel, Wagner, Strauss, and Massenet, which were beautifully performed with the collaboration of Victor Hurtado, pianist. Bravi Tutti!

Robert Maris graciously hosted us in his lovely home.  The program and reception were inside and many guests enjoyed his lovely outdoor patio following the program.  Thank you Robert for your gracious hospitality.

Our usual fine team coordinated the event:  Jana took care of invitations, reservations, and check-in.  Mac coordinated and provided a delightful spring reception with the help of Patsy.  Bob as always took care of providing and serving beverages.  I feel sure everyone appreciates their ongoing efforts to make sure each of our events is an enjoyable experience for members. Ed has some nice pictures which will be available our web site soon.  It is always nice to look back on the history of our programs.

I look forward to next season when we plan to present several winners from the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition as well as other exciting young artists.  Until then, I hope your summer is pleasant and filled with beautiful music and nice experiences.

Marilyn Halla
Puccini Society of Dallas

Photo Gallery

Puccini News – May 2023

Bethany Jelinek

Puccini Friends;  

After what seems like a long intermission, we’re ready to finish the season with two nice events.  

Our final Puccini program for this season will be on May 27.  Bethany Jelinek, winner of the People’s Choice Award  at our recent  Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition will present our program. 

Our invitation and details will be coming soon.

The Lafayette Musicians

Matthieu Peyregne du Mortier, who presented an early French music program for us last season has created a new organization called Lafayette Musicians.  Their first concert is on May 21 at 4:00 p.m.  See the information which follows.

Under the direction of Matthieu  Peyregne du Motier,  a French conductor specializing in baroque music, the Lafayette Musicians, a new professional orchestra and choir plans to perform 4 great Sacred classical music concerts every year.

Their inaugural concert will be held on Sunday, May 21st at Christ the King Catholic Church in Dallas, Texas at 4pm.

The concert will feature:

Handel and Lully on David’s psalms : Dixit Dominus, Miserere, De Profondis,…

This incredible music will be performed on historical instruments. In addition, the audience will receive booklets with translations and theological explanations to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of the concert.

Marilyn Halla
Puccini Society of Dallas

Puccini Society 2022/2023 Season

Portrait of Giacomo Puccini by Anne Cushing Ganz

Dear Puccini Friends;  

As we approach another fall season I am excited to announce our upcoming Puccini Society programs.  Our first event of the new season will celebrate our Founder, Bettie Francis on the occasion of her 90th Birthday!  In Dec, 1995, Judson and Bettie Francis, Pat Blankenship, and Earl Carter created the Puccini Society of Dallas in order to share their love of Puccini’s music with others.  Pat planned the programs, recruited members, and did whatever was necessary to keep the society going. Betty spent many successive years as Society Secretary, printing and mailing invitations and taking reservations, hosting events, as well as taking care of society correspondence.   Our first program was held in March, 1996 at the home of Inge and Sam Vastole.

At Pat’s request, Dallas artist and teacher Ann Cushing Gantz painted a portrait of Giacomo Puccini for Judson Francis.  Several members of the Puccini Society surprised Judson with the portrait at a small cocktail party in June,1996, shortly before his death.  The portrait became the logo for the Puccini Society, and our society awarded the late Mrs. Gantz an honorary lifetime membership.

We are dedicated to acknowledging, enjoying, and promoting the music of Puccini and other great opera composers. We offer educational programs for our members and our goal is to help and encourage aspiring, young singers.  Many of our members volunteer their time and talents for which we are grateful.

Among our first members who are still active in our society are Marion Ward, Bill Herrera (a past President), Inge and Sam Vastole, and myself. Bettie is our only surviving founder.  We are delighted to honer her on the occasion of her 90th birthday!  Without her years of leadership this society could not have thrived in the way it has.

Our fall schedule is as follows:

Sept. 25; Andrew Simpson, bass (and son of our own Tina Simpson) will sing for us at the home of Wendy Kumph and  her mom, Sue Prideaux.  The address is 3806 Stratford, 75225, just east of Dallas Country Club.  We will celebrate our Founder, Bettie Francis.

Oct. 23; St. Matthew’s Cathedral Arts Series will present Mary Dibbern with Courtney Maina, soprano and Christopher Leach, tenor, in Songs of Mary Howe.  These will be taken from their newly released CD, Songs by Mary Howe, which The Puccini Society helped underwrite.  We will be at the Collora Piano Studio.

Nov.19; Stephen Dubberly will present two outstanding young singers and will also report on the Craft’s Opera in Concert program in Italy, which we help sponsor.  Location TBA.

Dec. 3; Joint program with Voce Intimae (art song organization), Christian Bester, General Director.  We will hear all of Puccini’s  songs which will be narrated by Stephen Dubberly and held at the home of Enika and Richard Schulze.

Our membership renewal letter will go out soon with our new P.O. Box number, and we encourage everyone to renew their membership promptly.  We look forward to seeing everyone soon and often at our programs.

Best wishes,

Marilyn Halla

Josefina Maldonado Dec 4, 2021

Puccini Society of Dallas presents

Josefina Maldonado, Mezzo-soprano

Josefina Maldonado
Mezzo Soprano

Saturday, December 4, 2021 at 3:00 P.M.

Members $25 Guests $35
Valet Parking Provided

RSVP by Dec 1 to
[email protected]

Pay at Door or mail check to
Puccini Society
PO Box 25105,
Dallas, TX 75225

For credit card charges, please contact
Jana at 817-999-5509

Josefina Maldonado, Mezzo-soprano

Emerging Dallas-born artist, Josefina Maldonado has been critically acclaimed by The Texas Classical Review and Theater Jones as ‘vocally superb’ with a ‘remarkably rich timbre’. Ms. Maldonado was a young artist with The Dallas Opera Outreach Program in the role(s) of Veronica/Dr. Miracle and Dorabella/ Così Fan Tutte, for Bremen Town Musicians.

For her European debut, Ms. Maldonado was a principle artist in two modern world premieres of serenatas by Johannes Schmelzer; Le veglie ossequiose and Die sieben Alter stimmen zusammen, for the Olomouc’s Baroque Festival held in the Czech Republic.

Ms. Maldonado holds a B.M. from the University of North Texas where she was a frequently featured soloist alongside the UNT Symphony Orchestra. Her major roles with UNT Opera included Dorabella/Così Fan Tutte, Ruggiero/Alcina, Cherubino/Le nozze di Figaro, Siébel/Faust and Mother Marie/Dialogues of the Carmelites.

Photo Gallery

Schollmaier Scholars – November 13, 2021

The Puccini Society of Dallas presents


with the Foote Foundation Schollmaier Scholars and graduate students of


Presented in memory of:
Cecile Bonte, Eleanor Krebs, Marigny Lanier, Ed Lynch, and Jody Reed

Saturday, November 13, 2021

3:00 p.m.

Members $30             Guests $35

Please RSVP to [email protected] by Nov. 10

Puccini Friends

What a big group we had yesterday to enjoy Barbara Hill-Moore’s wonderful students.  Some of these singers are young artists to watch!  Prosper is really getting some wonderful opportunities with both Dallas and Ft. Worth Operas.  Others may well be singers to watch in the future.  

Our fall Puccini event featuring the students of Barbara Hill Moore, Senior Associate Dean, SMU. Barbara sponsors these international students through the Foote Foundation. It was an amazing event. So good to be meeting in person again.
Photo by Mac Irwin

To enjoy their beautiful singing in the stunning surroundings of Bill Cornog’s home was a double pleasure; and what a gracious and accommodating host he is.  All in all the afternoon was a lovely tribute to our past members Cecile Bonte, Eleanor Krebs, Marigny Lanier, Ed Lynch and Jody Reed. They were each valued and loved members of the Puccini Society.

A proud teacher: Barbara Hill Moore.
Photos by Josephine Dewaal

To enjoy their beautiful singing in the stunning surroundings of Bill Cornog’s home was a double pleasure; and what a gracious and accommodating host he is.  All in all the afternoon was a lovely tribute to our past members Cecile Bonte, Eleanor Krebs, Marigny Lanier, Ed Lynch and Jody Reed. They were each valued and loved members of the Puccini Society.

We continue to welcome new members to our group:  Mary Lou Alford has just joined us along with a number of others who were introduced at our Sept. meeting. Mary Lou is delighted to find that she has a number of friends and acquaintances in our group. New members this fall include:  Mary Lou Alford, John Shriner, Anna Morini, Yvonne Sage, Carl Schieffer, Dona and Michael Watson, and Mary Ellen Winborn. Also Brian Hackfeld, Joey Meirtschin, and Mark Landson. Welcome to all! Guest are always welcome and we were happy to have several yesterday as well.

I hope everyone will remember that these beautiful receptions are spearheaded by Mac Irwin and Patsy Brooks.  Special thanks to Rosemary O’Neill and Josephine DeWaal for their special home baked Irish Tea Bread and Stollen.  We appreciate them all so much!  Bob Brooks makes sure we all have a wine of choice and graciously serves as bartender.  Our whole Board is a great team as each member reliably does their job.  Thanks to Jana Irwin for keeping our reservations and checking everyone in.  The Tobys sent membership renewals and many have responded.  You can still renew and now Jana can take your payment via credit card (817-999-5509) or a check to P.O. Box 25105, Dallas, 75225. Laurie Pan took very nice pictures which will be posted on our web site. Many thanks to all.

Yesterday’s guest Robin Green will host our Dec. 4 program in her lovely home.  Josefina Maldonado, soprano will present our program.  We had Josefina scheduled to sing for us just as we were asked to curtail our in-person meetings, and I’m really delighted to reschedule her now.  She is a very accomplished young singer whom we will be thrilled to finally hear. Invitations will be sent out soon with meeting details.
Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving,

Marilyn Halla

Event Photos by Laurie Pan