Bright outlook for opera season


Arundel Live

September 23, 2005|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,Special to the Sun

Fully recovered from the financial crisis that allowed for only one fully staged production last season, the leaders of Annapolis Opera anticipate a much brighter 2005-2006.

"We're starting this season with no long-term debt and with money in the bank," opera President Dennis Monk said recently.

From 2000 until 2003, Annapolis Opera staged two operas each season.

But in the 2003-2004 season, the opera was able to put on only Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. The production was critically acclaimed and well attended.

And last season, budgetary constraints limited Annapolis Opera to the March 2005 production of Madama Butterfly, with a stellar cast headed by Yali Marie Williams in the title role.

"Last year we were fortunate to have our attendance up for the whole season," said Annapolis Opera Vice President David Mauriello. "Not facing a constant crisis mentality, we were able to afford extra rehearsals for Butterfly, where I saw how [artistic director] Ron [Gretz] pulled things together for a triumphant dress rehearsal. Butterfly didn't quite sell out" but kept the deficit down.

Board credited

Monk credited the opera's "hard-working" board of trustees for the turn-around.

The board helped "determine what works for us and what we can afford," Monk said. "Fundraising is a never-ending process."

Monk also praised board member Nancy Kennedy for coming up with the idea for the new "world of opera" event.

"We learn most about a culture through its music, food and wine, and this October we will learn about Germany," Monk said. "We will be educated in Hungarian, German and Austrian wines supplied by Bay Ridge Wine, and we'll learn about the region's food through Palate Pleasers putting together a menu of cheeses, sausages and desserts, including strudel."

The event, called "Opera auf Deutsch," will be held Oct. 22 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Annapolis.

Gretz has chosen a program that includes music from Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and Ariadne auf Naxos and from Richard Wagner's Die Walkure and Tannhauser. Lighter opera and operetta selections will also be featured. The cast will include Annapolis Opera favorite Lori Hultgren. Also, soprano Danielle Talamantes, mezzo Yvette Smith and tenor Michael Gallant, all making their Annapolis Opera debuts. Gallant will also be heard later as Tamino in Magic Flute.

Next on the schedule will be the Annapolis Opera holiday tradition "Mozart by Candlelight" on Dec. 4 at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Annapolis. Later in December Annapolis Opera will again participate in First Night Annapolis, which is becoming another company tradition.

On Feb. 5, 2006, the 18th annual vocal competition will be held at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. This competition, for which there is no admission charge, draws many fine young singers from the Mid-Atlantic region.

Eight finalists will be heard, each in at least two operatic selections, and winners will receive cash awards and often are invited to appear in future Annapolis Opera programs.

Tribute to Mozart

In tribute to Mozart's 250th birthday, this season's opera will be The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflote), Mozart's last opera - a story filled with glorious music to be presented at Maryland Hall on March 17 and March 19.

Also paying tribute to Mozart, the annual Children's Opera this year will be Papageno, based on The Magic Flute. It will be presented April 29 at Maryland Hall.

The season will end with the popular fundraiser "Pasta, Puccini Bravissimo" on May 12 and 14 at Loews Hotel in Annapolis.

Season subscriptions are available and offer significant savings over individual ticket prices. Subscriptions and information: 410-267-8135 or visit

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