Annapolis Opera will celebrate Mozart's birthday `by candlelight'


Arundel Live


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 250th birthday isn't until Jan. 27, but by following a long-standing tradition, fans of the Annapolis Opera will get a head start Sunday on saluting the composer's milestone at the group's "Mozart by Candlelight" concert.

This concert, always held on the first Sunday in December, has a history of getting too big for its venues, according to Annapolis Opera treasurer Nancy Lindley.

"`Mozart by Candlelight' was first presented at Carroll House and outgrew that location," she said. "After some searching, the concert was moved to St. John's College [Great Hall] where it grew from one to two afternoon performances the same day to accommodate everyone who wanted to come. Recently the program has been offered at the historic First Presbyterian Church."

In addition to its spaciousness and the fact that it will be decorated for the Christmas season, First Presbyterian, at Duke of Gloucester and Conduit streets in downtown Annapolis, offers excellent acoustics to provide an ideal setting for the concert.

Annapolis Opera music director Ronald J. Gretz will accompany the four singers he has chosen - baritone Christopher Austin, soprano Colleen Daly, tenor Tanner Knight and soprano Laura Strickling - in a program of arias and ensembles that he arranged.

Austin, of Baltimore, is a New England Conservatory of Music graduate who has performed locally with Anne Arundel Community College Opera and with Opera Vivente in Baltimore. He has sung leading opera roles and appeared in concert in Delaware, Philadelphia, Boston and at Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York.

Chicago native Strickling has sung leading soprano roles with Peabody Opera and Bay Area Summer Opera Theatre and will make her Annapolis Opera debut at Sunday's concert.

Daly is a recent graduate of the Maryland Opera Studio, where she performed a variety of leading roles. A recipient of several awards, Daly will be featured in Annapolis Opera's upcoming fully staged production of Die Zauberflote (Magic Flute).

Knight has sung such roles as Tamino in The Magic Flute and Cochenille in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman, specializing in the bel canto repertoire. The tenor also is at home singing Mozart.

The "Mozart by Candlelight" program will include selections from Nozze di Figaro (Marriage of Figaro), Don Giovanni, Die Zauberflote and lesser known works.

Favorites to be offered include the "Porgi amor" aria from Nozze di Figaro, to be sung by Strickling; Austin in "Hai gia vinta la causa," and Figaro's blockbuster aria, "Non piu andrai," also to be sung by Austin.

Daly will be heard in "Die Holler rache," the Queen of the Night's passionate and enormously difficult-to-sing aria - a feat she will repeat when she sings the role for Annapolis Opera in March.

Daly will perform the aria "Fuggi, crudele, fuggi" from Don Giovanni.

Some single tickets are available at $40 for the program. Miniseries subscriptions may be purchased for three performances, including this program, The Magic Flute in March and "Pasta and Puccini" in May at prices ranging from $141 to $160. A Mozart duo of Candlelight and Magic Flute can be purchased at prices from $77 to $96. Information and orders: 410-267-8135.

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