Opera group meets challenge

September 25, 1997|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Performing Arts Association of Linthicum began its 16th season by bringing the Annapolis Opera to northern Anne Arundel County on Sunday to launch its 25th anniversary celebration.

The opera company happily achieved two of its goals, extending its outreach program by breaking out of Annapolis and giving young Maryland artists a chance to perform with a cast of singers in their late 20s and early 30s.

But how to reach a challenging audience with perhaps more fans of "opry" than opera?

Pack the program with well-known arias, attractive singersand a guide who could translate with humor. It worked beautifully.

David Lindauer, serving as guide and narrator, acknowledged the implausibility of plots in opera as he introduced a series of arias extolling the virtues of love.

Soprano Laura Vicari and tenor George Aud crossed paths, did doubletakes and fell into passionate embrace to Wagnerian strains to demonstrate the overblown passions.

Vicari, a Maryland winner of the Young Artists Auditions of the National Federation of Music Clubs, sang a magnificent Jewel Song from Gounod's "Romeo and Juliet," pulling items from her shopping bags to display to the audience.

She sang "O Mio Bambino Caro," from Puccini's "Gianni Schicci," with a lovely, clear voice.

Aud, a graduate of St. Mary's College in Leonardtown, appeared wooden, apparently afraid he wouldn't hit the notes as he sang "O Soave Fanciulla" from "La Boheme." In some cases, he didn't.

Mezzo-soprano Marcia Plait Treece, who received her master's degree from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, used a beautifully sung "Habanera" from "Carmen" to advise Vicari on the fleeting nature of love.

Baritone Steven Goodman, who performs frequently in Baltimore- and Washington-area operas, managed a bravura performance in the "Largo ai Factotum" aria from the "Barber of Seville" while dashing about the stage as the beleaguered barber.

Other arias included "Seguidilla" from "Carmen," the Champagne Aria from Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and "La Donna e Mobile" from Verdi's "Rigoletto."

The ever-popular Giacomo Puccini, late of movie and wine-commercial fame, was well represented with "Che Gelida Manina" and "Mi Chiamano Mimi." The performance ended with the four singers joining in Johann Strauss' second-act "Toast to Champagne" from "Die Fledermaus."

The only sour note was in the program, where English equivalents were substituted for the aria titles, to little effect, and the names of the singers were not listed.

How, for example, is "Love is a roving rapture" better than "Habanera"? What does "city's facetum" have to do with Figaro? And wouldn't you like to know who sang it?

The opera group also offers a preview of Bizet's "Carmen" Oct. 19; the full production of "Carmen" Nov. 7 and 9 at Maryland Hall in Annapolis; performances of "Hansel and Gretel" for the opera's county schools program Nov. 21 and 22; and the 10th annual Vocal Competition Feb. 1 at Maryland Hall.

Information: 410-267-8135.

Pub Date: 9/25/97

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