Opera season: the old, the new

Plans: Annapolis Opera's schedule includes "La Traviata" and "Die Fledermaus," and, next month, the inaugural "Opera on the Half Shell."


August 22, 2002|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Annapolis Opera's 2002-2003 season will feature two popular favorites, Die Fledermaus, Johann Strauss' operetta celebrating 19th-century Viennese life, and Verdi's La Traviata, the incomparable love story of the ravishing Violetta Valery and romantic Alfredo Germont.

A new event next month, "Opera on the Half Shell," will open this 30th anniversary season, which also includes two fund-raisers, "Pasta, Puccini, Verdi and Friends" and the annual Opera Gala and Auction. The season also will include a holiday candlelight "Mozart, Beethoven and Others" concert, and the annual Vocal Competition in February.

Annapolis Opera fans can travel to scenic Conquest Preserve on the Chester River in Centreville for "Opera on the Half Shell," during which musical artists will be sponsored by the Department of Recreation and Parks of Queen Anne's County. The entertainment will feature the Chesapeake Youth Chorale in a performance of Gian Carlo Menotti's mini-opera Chip and His Dog, directed by Anne Turpin, and a concert of contemporary and classical music by soprano Rosa Lamoreaux, accompanied by Betty Bullock of Washington Opera.

Annapolis Opera's artistic and music director, Ronald J. Gretz, will offer Broadway show tunes and favorite arias. The performers will be soprano Lori Lind, who was Mimi in Puccini's La Boheme at the Ravello Festival in Italy, La Traviata's Violetta with Catholic University Opera and La Boheme's Musetta with Huntsville Opera; and tenor Daniel Holmes who sang Rodolfo in the Ravello Festival's La Boheme, Alfredo in Catholic University Opera's La Traviata and several roles with Washington Opera. Tickets are $35, which includes hors d'oeuvres. Maryland wines will be available for purchase.

The major fall presentation will be Die Fledermaus, at 8 p.m. Nov. 8 and 3 p.m. Nov. 10, with surprises promised in the form of local onstage celebrities.

Gretz has announced a stellar cast headed by Angela Fout, first-place winner in Annapolis Opera's 2000 vocal competition. She will sing Rosalinda, a role she recently sang at San Francisco Opera Center. Alison Trainer will sing Adele, a role she sang at San Francisco Opera Center. Terrence Murphy, who has sung with New York City Opera and Glimmerglass, will play Eisenstein, and Christopher Hutton, last season's Schaunard in Annapolis Opera's La Boheme, will play Dr. Falke. Amanda Niesenson, a member of the Metropolitan Opera Studio, will sing Orlovsky.

The spring opera presentation will be La Traviata at 8 p.m. March 21 and 3 p.m. March 23. Cast information is still to be announced.

In its 30th-anniversary newsletter, Annapolis Opera's Dennis Monk looks back on the company's modest beginnings in 1972 with Martha Wright as president and describes the company's zigzag course.

For one-third of its existence Annapolis Opera was guided by Harry Lindauer, president from 1987 through 1993, and his wife, Thea, who succeeded him and was president until 1998. Well-meaning friends cautioned him not to board a sinking ship, Harry Lindauer kept the opera company, which was heavily in debt when he came aboard, afloat by his skilled avoidance of additional debt while paying down much of the existing debt with his own money.

That practice was continued by Thea Lindauer when she became president. Through their frugality, their choice of a Puccini and Verdi repertory, and their use of historic buildings such as St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church for "Opera at the Altar" and Carroll House for "Opera under the Stars," the Lindauers kept the company solvent.

During Anna Marie Darlington-Gilmour's 1998-2001 term as president, she added social events such as the "Pasta and Puccini" dinner concert and the spring gala to foster camaraderie and attract more season subscribers. She enlisted prominent citizens for the board and attracted major contributors, leaving the company firmly in the black when she stepped down.

Jean Jackson, who recently accepted a second term as president, served first in 1983, when the company staged five productions. It went dark the next year. As president, Jackson hired Braxton Peters as stage manager and Gretz as music director.

Annapolis Opera can be reached at 410-267-8135. A single opera ticket is $48; a series subscription, which includes both operas and two concerts, is $175.

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