Among the early highlights of the young company was the appearance of the famed Greek soprano Maria Callas, who opened the first season with an inaugural recital, and who would return the following year to perform starring roles in Verdi’s La traviata and Cherubini’s Medea. Callas’s appearances with the Dallas Civic Opera, at a time when there weren’t many regional opera companies in the U.S., put Dallas on the operatic map and established its reputation as a major U.S. opera center.
"Dame Joan Sutherland (Anna), internationally acknowledged as one of the finest singers of this century, has appeared at The Dallas Opera in concert as Lucia, Donna Anna, and Alcina (American stage debut, 1960). Beginning with her triumph as Lucia at Covent Garden in 1959, the Australian soprano has conquered the audiences of every major company in the world. Many of these companies, including La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera, have staged operas especially for Dame Joan. She has introduced many previously unknown works to the public--ranging from Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda to Massenet's Esclarmonde--and has documented her career extensively on recordings and television." Program notes from The Merry Widow (1989).
On October 30, 2015, the Dallas Opera performed the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s Great Scott, featuring American mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato, in the title role of Arden Scott. The star-studded cast also included soprano Ailyn Pérez, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, baritone Nathan Gunn, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, bass Kevin Burdette, tenor Rodell Rosel and baritone Michael Mayes.