Mozart fans can look forward to two more events at Maryland Hall next month marking his 250th birthday: the Annapolis Chorale's concerts March 3 and 4 and the Annapolis Opera's The Magic Flute, scheduled for March 17 and 19.
The Annapolis Chorale's program will cover Mozart's career, starting with his Symphony No. 1, composed at age 8; an opera, The Impressario, from his middle career; and Requiem, his final work.
"When I think about Mozart, I see someone whose entire life was steeped in music from the time he could walk and talk until his very early death," Annapolis Chorale director J. Ernest Green said this week. "He lived a musical life at an unbelievably high level when he was a child, and what he did was astounding until his death.
"What interested me was to show what Mozart was at 8 and how he got to Requiem, to show his earliest work, an opera that is fun and almost never done, although the overture is done often. This shows in miniature what Mozart was like at the same time he was writing Figaro. What we see in Mozart is the result of his working at a frantic pace, always moving from one thing to another. I love doing it, but I have great trepidation doing Mozart because there's nothing out of place. There's nowhere to hide. If it doesn't work, it's because you didn't make the connection."
From what I heard at Saturday's rehearsal of Mozart's Requiem, Green and the Annapolis Chorale were so connected that standing surrounded by their incredible sound proved a moving experience.
The breadth of Mozart's work will be illustrated first by his Symphony No. 1, written when his father's illness forced the young Mozart away from the harpsichord to occupy himself by composing his first symphony in three movements with all the instruments of the orchestra.
Mozart has fun in his short comic opera The Impresario, concentrating on the rivalry that existed between sopranos in his day. This story is about a producer's dealing with two demanding and warring divas.
Composed on his deathbed in 1791, Mozart's unfinished masterpiece valediction, Requiem, will be sung by the full 190-voice chorus with guest soloists to include Laurie Hays, Jill Woodward, Jenni Lynn Bank, Andre Bierman and Larry Beale Small.
On Saturday, J. Ronald Gretz held a chorus rehearsal at Asbury Methodist Church on West Street. The male chorus was so intent on improving every passage that the members asked to sing an entire section through a third time.
Asked during a brief lull how operas were selected, stage manager Braxton Peters said, "Ron and I have made suggestions of what we'd like to do, and our suggestions are considered by opera board members."
At the break, I asked Gretz about his choice of The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflote) for the Mozart birthday celebration, and he replied: "We'd done all the other popular ones -- Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte, and Figaro --which left Flute, an opera that has something for everybody -- adventure, an evil Queen of the Night, comedy in bird-catcher Papageno, the Tamino and Pamina love affair and the more serious enlightenment messages."
Expected the next weekend were the main singers for this production that will feature Peter Couchman as Papageno and Alison Trainer as Tamina. A first collaboration of Annapolis Opera and Annapolis Symphony for this opera should make this a truly special event. The opera will be sung in German with English subtitles, and the spoken dialogue will be in English.
The chorale's Maryland Hall performances will be at 7:30 p.m. March 3 for the Casual Friday Preview with a question- and-answer session afterward and a more formal presentation at 8 p.m. March 4. Tickets are $24 for adults and $10 for students March 3 and $28 for adults and $12 for students March 4 and can be purchased through the chorale by calling 410-263-1906, through Maryland Hall by calling 410-263-5544 or at www.tickets.marylandhall. org.
Performances of "The Magic Flute" will be at 8 p.m. March 17 and at 3 p.m. March 19. Tickets can be ordered through the Maryland Hall box office at 410-263-5544 (with a 15 percent discount available to those who also purchase tickets to the Annapolis Chorale concert) or at the Annapolis Opera at 410-267-8135 or through the Web site www.annapolisopera.org.