Naval Academy offering a `distinguished' season

New series will include ballet, BSO and opera

Arundel Live

September 19, 2002|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

One might think that a performance season consisting of a premier international ballet company, a fine American orchestra with a distinguished conductors in tow, a state-of-the-art baroque violinist, the lush melodies of Puccini's Madama Butterfly, and Brahms' spiritually rapt German Requiem would require multiple trips to the Kennedy Center, Baltimore's Lyric Theatre and points in between.

Not the case. The Naval Academy's 12th annual Distinguished Artists Series at Alumni Hall will be making these grand events accessible to local concert-goers who won't have to leave the Annapolis to experience the performing arts at their highest level.

The season begins Tuesday evening when China's Shanghai Ballet takes the Alumni Hall stage for a performance of Leo Delibes' three-act ballet, Coppelia.

The plot is a story of tremendous extremes: mystery, intrigue, devastation, and wonderfully colorful diversions, all realized with larger-than-life kinetic energy on the stage.

Delibes' music is equally colorful, with whirling waltzes, exotic gypsy dances, and sinuous Spanish boleros emanating from all corners of the score.

Illness, the untimely deaths of the choreographer and principal dancer and the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War all conspired to get Coppelia off to a rough start back in 1870. But once the early storms were weathered, the ballet would go on to become one of the great pleasures of the repertoire.

On Oct. 22, violinist Giuliano Carmignola and the Venice Baroque Orchestra visit Annapolis for an evening of concertos by Venice's favorite son, Antonio Vivaldi.

Highlighting the program will be the inevitable Le Quattro Stagioni - The Four Seasons - the immensely popular, highly pictorial set of concertos for violin, strings and harpsichord keyed to the seasons of the year.

Carmignola is of special interest because the realizations of Vivaldi's birdcalls, summer storms, autumn harvest celebrations and chilling winter winds he recorded for Sony Classical a couple of years ago add up to one of the most bracing versions of this beloved work to be found in the catalog.

On Jan. 16, the academy will host the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and guest-conductor Gunter Herbig in a celestial program of Mozart's Symphony No. 40, Schubert's 6th Symphony, and Johann Nepomuk Hummel's glittering Trumpet Concerto.

Maestro Herbig, a specialist in the Germanic repertoire who is admired for his revelatory performances of the craggy, sprawling symphonies of Anton Bruckner, will be joined by soloist Andrew Balio, the BSO's new first trumpet who occupied the principal chair in Zubin Mehta's Israel Philharmonic before coming to Baltimore.

On Feb. 3, some of opera's most soaring melodies will fill Alumni Hall when the London City Opera presents a fully staged version of Madama Butterfly.

"It is I who am right, I! You shall see," said Giaccoma Puccini of the public's rejection of Butterfly after its opening performance.

He was as right as right can be as the tear-stained story of the young geisha loved and left by an American naval officer in 19th-century Japan went on to become one of the most popular operas ever composed.

The series ends April 12 when the academy's director of musical activities, John Barry Talley, leads his Glee Club, the Wellesley College Choir, the Goucher College Choir and members of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra in Brahms' German Requiem.

A flowing, nonliturgical choral work possessed of immense tenderness and spiritual power, Requiem has provided much consolation this past year as musical organizations have paid tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks of last year.

All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: 410-293-8497 or

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