Merritt will perform at opera gala

October 26, 1990|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff

CHRIS MERRITT, Rossini tenor extraordinaire, will try to help the financially troubled Baltimore Opera Company cut its deficit problems by singing at its big $200-a-ticket fund-raiser, the Opera Ball, Saturday, Nov. 3, at Stouffer's Harborplace Hotel.

Baltimorean Merritt will sing the acrobatic aria, "Pour mon ami" ("For my soul"), from Donizetti's "The Daughter of the Regiment," said Michael Harrison, the opera's general director. The aria has nine high "C's" and is considered one of the toughest to master, something like a trapeze artist's triple flip and then some. Critics have themselves flipped.

Considered by many the Rossini tenor today, Merritt will also sing "Yours is my Heart Alone" from Franz Lehar's operetta, "The Land of Smiles."

The jovial and large lyric tenor who grew up in Oklahoma specializes in the bel canto melodies of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini. He is married to mezzo-soprano Joan Coplan Merritt, a native Baltimorean who sings at St. David's Church, 4700 Roland Ave.

The 23rd Baltimore Opera Ball's theme this year is the Vienna Opera Ball. Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Mangione are chairmen. Cocktails are at 7 p.m. and dinner and dancing at 9 p.m. Maryland Ballet dancers will perform a waltz exhibition choreographed by Phillip Carman. The opera number for information and tickets is (301) 727-0592.

There are two other key Merritt dates soon for local opera lovers.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York finally shows off Merritt's rich and sweet voice Friday, Nov. 30, in Rossini's "Semiramide," after he has sung in many other opera houses in Europe and the United States. He appeared with Baltimore Opera in Rossini's "La Cenerentola" in 1984 and at La Scala, Paris, Covent Garden, Chicago and San Francisco, among others.

Merritt makes his Met debut with Marilyn Horne, Lella Cuberli, June Anderson and Samuel Ramey in the Met's first "Semiramide" in almost 100 years. Bellini's "I Puritani" follows there in the spring.

Nine days after the Met debut, Merritt will offer a solo recital at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, in the annual Cantor's Concert at Beth El Congregation, 8100 block Park Heights Avenue. His accompanist will be Beth El's pianist, Aileen Hammerman, wife of Cantor Saul Z. Hammerman.

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