The Baltimore Opera Company's season opener, Ponchielli's "La Gioconda," will be a tribute to one of its founders, Metropolitan Opera soprano Rosa Ponselle (1897-1981), a longtime resident of Greenspring Valley.
The company's 1996-1997 season commemorates the centennial of Ponselle's birth, Jan. 22, 1897.
"La Gioconda," which was one of Ponselle's greatest roles, will be performed Oct. 10, Oct. 12, Oct. 16, Oct. 18 and Oct. 20 at the Lyric Opera House.
The featured cast for the production includes Bulgarian soprano Ghena Dimitrova, Russian mezzo-soprano Nina Terentieva, leading tenor Ermanno Mauro, baritone Sigmund Cowan and bass Louis Lebherz. "La Gioconda" will be directed by Dejan Miladinovic, director of the National Opera in Belgrade. Conductor Anton Guadagno returns to Baltimore to lead the Baltimore Opera Orchestra.
For subscriptions and single tickets, call (410) 727-6000. Group discounts are available.
Art museum trustees
The Baltimore Museum of Art recently elected new trustees. They are Charles A. Buerger, publisher of the Jewish Times and Style Magazine; Charles J. Busta, executive vice president and general manager of Beauty Care, Revlon; Steve Geppi, president and chief executive officer of Diamond Comic Distributors and publisher of Baltimore Magazine; Cathy Hughes, president, Radio One Inc.; Elaine Synder, recently retired director, Haven Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program; Andrew Stern, senior vice president for strategic planning and corporate marketing, USF&G; Daniel Whelan, president, Bell Atlantic Maryland; and Stephen F. Wood, president and chief executive officer, BGE Energy Projects and Services Inc. Returning trustees are Janet E. Dunn, community volunteer; Richard M. Lansburgh, community volunteer; Thomas Schweizer Jr., managing director and head of Private Client Division, Alex. Brown & Sons Inc.; and Dennis J. Shaughnessy, managing director, Grotech Partner, L.P.
Officers for 1996-1997 are Constance R. Caplan, chairwoman and president; James S. Riepe, vice chairman; Marcellus Alexander, Anthony W. Deering and Katherine M. Hardiman, vice presidents; Jeffrey A. Logan, treasurer; R. Chad Dreier, comptroller; and Abraham Rosenthal, secretary.
The prestigious annual Chairman's Award has been granted to BMA trustee Harry D. Shapiro, a partner in the law firm of Weinberg & Green. Shapiro came to the BMA as museum counsel in 1984.
The Baltimore Playwrights Festival celebrated the end of its 15th consecutive summer season Sept. 9 with an awards ceremony and reception at the Vagabond Theatre.
Awards were presented in two categories: best script and best production. The first-place award for best script went to Mimi Teahan for her urban drama, "Realtime." Second-place script award went to Joe Dennison for "Chin Music." For the third-place script award, Nan Kirchoff's black comedy "Saint Sylvia" tied with John Morogiello's modern farce "Keeping It Aloft." For best production, Spotlighters won first place for "Chin Music" and third place for "Saint Sylvia," with "Realtime," by Fells Point Corner Theatre, coming in second.
Dedicated to the promotion of new plays by Maryland playwrights, Baltimore Playwrights Festival is based at Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann St.
Staged readings of new plays are scheduled throughout the year. Call (410) 276-2153
Gift for museum
Port Discovery, a planned children's museum in Baltimore, has accepted a $540,000 gift from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. The gift -- the fourth largest contribution BGE has made to a single nonprofit organization -- will be used for capital and operating needs at Port Discovery, 34 Market Place, Suite 905.
There will also be a naming opportunity for BGE in one of the exhibit areas of the museum.
The editors of Link, which calls itself a "critical journal on the arts in Baltimore and the world," will hold a free round-table discussion at Enoch Pratt Library, 400 Cathedral Street, Oct. 12, 2 p.m.-4 p.m. in the Edgar Allan Poe Room on the second floor.
Link can be bought at the Maryland Institute, College of Art Bookstore, Louie's Bookstore Cafe, Atomic Books, Normal's, Borders in Towson, Lambda Rising, Adrian's Bookstore Cafe and Minas.
Call Megan Hamilton, (410) 276-1651.
Arnoult to be honored
The Baltimore Theatre Project's board of directors will honor the project's founder and artistic director, Philip Arnoult, for "25 years of remarkable organization and vision." A celebration with dinner, performances, tributes and award presentations is planned for Saturday.
Tickets are $75 a person for the full evening and $25 a person for the show only. Doors will open at 8: 30 p.m. for the 9: 30 p.m. performance. The Theatre Project is at 45 West Preston St. Call (410) 539-3091.
New to opera company