Stratospheric classical music on the calendar

Performances: Otherworldly offerings go to extremes this weekend in Annapolis.


Arundel Live

March 14, 2002|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Music in the Capital City will be heading straight to hell this weekend. And to the upper reaches of heaven as well.

Tomorrow evening and Sunday afternoon at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, murder will be committed, maidens seduced and corpses resurrected as vengeful statues when the Annapolis Opera presents Mozart's Don Giovanni.

In the end, the lecherous Don Giovanni - who, according to his servant Leporello has romanced some 2,065 women, including 1,003 in his native Spain - will be dragged to the gates of hell by an entire cast bent on moral vengeance.

Before things take their diabolical turn, though, Maryland Hall will be bathed in some of the most celestial Mozart melodies of them all: Leporello's cataloging of his master's conquests in the sparkling "Madamina"; the splendidly seductive "La ci darem la mano" shared by the Don and Zerlina, his conquest du jour; and poor Donna Elvira's anguished "Mi tradi" among them.

For rich drama tinged with comedy (and a few bits of supernatural terror tossed in for good measure), the opera has no equal.

Several principal singers will be making their Annapolis stage debuts in this production.

Constantinos Yiannoudes, a Cypriot baritone who has sung prime baritone roles with opera companies on both American coasts, stars as Don Giovanni.

His trusty servant, Leporello, will be sung by baritone Joshua Saxon of Gaithersburg, who was impressive in the local company's "Mozart by Candlelight" recital in December at St. John's College. Saxon will appear at the Kennedy Center in June under the baton of National Symphony Orchestra conductor Leonard Slatkin.

Donna Anna, the noblewoman whose father is killed by the Don, will be sung by soprano Chiara Settineri, who performs regularly with such ensembles as the Baltimore Opera, the Atlanta Opera, the National Grand Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Julia Anna Wolfe, a veteran of the New York City Opera and other top-flight American companies, is Donna Elvira, Don Giovanni's old flame. Baritone Kwang-Kyu Lee, winner of this year's Annapolis Opera Vocal Competition, returns to Maryland Hall as Donna Anna's father, the Commendatore.

Tickets for Don Giovanni, which will be performed at 8 p.m. tomorrow and at 3 p.m. Sunday, are $48.

Patrons are encouraged to reserve seats at the pre-performance dinners and lectures at Maryland Hall before each performance.

For information and reservations, call the company at 410-267- 8135.

As the Don tempts Satan's wrath, the Annapolis Chorale will be serving up three of the most heavenly vocal works at St. Anne's Church in Annapolis.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, conductor J. Ernest Green and his singers will perform Bach's grand motet, "Lobet den Herrn," Arvo Part's "Te Deum" and Morten Lauridsen's spellbindingly beautiful "Lux Aeterna."

Part, born in 1935, is an Estonian composer whose hypnotic, spiritually charged pieces have become staples of the choral repertoire in recent years.

Lauridsen's "Lux Aeterna" is a five-movement setting of sacred Latin texts, all of which contain references to light. It is a radiant work that has been performed widely since its premiere in 1997. Lauridsen is a professor at the University of Southern California.

"Instant classic" might be an exaggeration and an oxymoron, but "Lux Aeterna" comes close to overruling conventional wisdom on both counts.

Tickets for Saturday evening's Annapolis Chorale concert of works by Bach, Part and Lauridsen are $23 for adults and $12 for students. They can be reserved by calling 410-263-1906.

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