Peabody tackles `Midsummer'

Classical Music

March 06, 2001|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

Opera, opera everywhere. Washington Opera, which already has Puccini's "Turandot" on the boards, adds Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" this weekend and Verdi's "Don Carlo" the week after. Baltimore Opera unveils a new production of Gounod's "Faust" next week. Also next week, Peabody Opera Theatre tackles one of Benjamin Britten's most beguiling and imaginative operas, "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Given the generally conservative tastes of the public, the Britten production might get overshadowed by all the standard, blockbuster fare in the region. That would be a crime. The opportunity to savor Britten's unique sound world and theatrical imagination in this vivid transformation of the enchanting Shakespeare classic does not come around often.

There are so many subtleties, so many layers of music and meaning in this opera that it's well worth attending more than one performance. (Note how the world of the fairies is conveyed by the otherworldly sounds of a counter-tenor Oberon and the use of harp and celesta.)

Roger Brunyate directs the production; Robert Sirota will conduct. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. March 14-17 at Peabody's Friedberg Hall, 1 E. Mount Vernon Place. Tickets cost $22, $11 seniors, $8 students. Call 410-659-8124. There will be a free lecture on the opera at 6:30 p.m. March 14 in Peabody's Griswold Hall.

Rare German songs

Speaking of unusual vocal fare, mezzo-soprano Leneida Crawford will sing a rarely performed song cycle by German romantic composer Carl Loewe, "Frauenliebe und Leben" ("A Woman's Life and Loves"). If that title sounds familiar, you're right - Schumann wrote a superb song cycle to the same text.

The program will also offer other now-obscure settings of the texts, which portray the stages of a woman's courtship, marriage, motherhood and widowhood.

Pianist Eva Mengelkoch will accompany Crawford in the recital at 8:15 p.m. Friday at Towson University's Center for the Arts, Osler and Cross Campus drives. Tickets cost $10, $5 students and seniors. Call 410-830-2787.

Pro Musica Rara wraps

Pro Musica Rara wraps up its season this weekend with Mozart's popular "Eine kleine Nachtmusik," a string trio by Haydn and a string sonata by Rossini. Cellist Vivian Barton, a specialist in early music performance practice, will join Baltimore Symphony members Greg Mulligan and Ivan Stefanovic on violin, Sharon Pineo Meyer on viola and Robert Barney on bass.

The concert is at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive. Tickets cost $20, $18 seniors, $10 students under 21, free ages 8-16. Call 410-728-2820.

Shriver series announced

Baltimore's premier presenter of visiting talent, the Shriver Hall Concert Series, has announced its 2001-2002 season. It opens in October with a performance by the Ying Quartet and pianist Menahem Pressler, a founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio. Recitalists include violinist Pamela Frank and cellist Laurence Lesser. Ensembles on tap include the Jacques Thibaud String Trio and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Up-and-coming pianist Jonathan Biss will be heard in recital; so will Garrick Ohlsson, the exceptional pianist who was to have opened the 2000-2001 Shriver Hall series with violinist Hilary Hahn.

Baritone Sergei Leiferkus, who brought down the house at the Baltimore Symphony's recent performance of Tchaikovsky's "Iolanta," will round out the season.

Call 410-516-7164.

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