Chorale announces new season

Mixture of favorites, works that group hasn't presented before is planned for 2006-2007


The Annapolis Chorale's 2006-2007 season will feature works not previously presented along with familiar favorites, Music Director J. Ernest Green has announced.

With more than 300 members, the Annapolis Chorale consists of a 180-voice chorus, the in-house Annapolis Chamber Orchestra, the Youth Chorus and a group of fine soloists.

Subscriptions are available for the chorale's 34th season, which opens Oct. 7 with a Cole Porter program that will display the singers' ability to capture every nuance of the composer's lyrics and melodies.

A month later an exciting first comes with the concert version of Verdi's La Traviata. The complete opera will be creatively staged.

The season will also feature the usual Christmas concerts, including Handel's Messiah, in December, followed in February with Jerome Kern's Showboat as the Broadway in Concert selection.

The season will continue in March with the "Best of Bach" and a season finale in April will be determined by subscribers' votes.

"I've conducted operas all over the world. The only place I don't do opera is in Annapolis," Green said in an interview this week. "Two seasons back I did Don Giovanni at the Hippodrome in Baltimore, and that was as close as I got to Annapolis."

The chorale has, however, done concert versions of operas in the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, beginning about 15 years ago with Dido and Aeneas, and followed in 1998 with Cavalleria Rusticana followed by Amahl and the Night Visitor and Die Fledermaus, and in 2005 Boito's prologue to Mefistofele. Last season featured The Impressario.

"It was the audience response to Boito asking for more that brought about my choice of La Traviata for the new season," Green said.

He said his program selections reflect his respect for his audience.

"When I start to think about programs and repertoire, I start with what really excites me." If a work doesn't excite him, he said, he doesn't "want it because it won't grab the audience."

Green has little difficulty finding material he wants to do, admitting, "I have at least five years of programs in my head. I look for hard-hitting, bolt-of-lightning works depicting a raw, tempestuous, charged relationship that crackles."

And if Green has conducted the work numerous times, as is the case with La Traviata, he still manages to bring fresh insights to it.

Green recently spent time with the libretto, he said, "working out how to set the scenes and create a casual atmosphere" to tell the story of young, intelligent Violetta, who was once cavalier about love, then protects herself before giving everything to it.

Green mentioned that Verdi's work was "contemporary - an earthy subject about real people who lived during the composer's time."

Green is now in the process of selecting the cast, saying he's looking for performers who "make me catch my breath. Singers who give me goosebumps are the same singers that excite the audience."

The Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein 1927 pioneering classic Showboat was selected because it remains a timeless, dramatic story dealing with multidimensional characters such as Captain Andy, his daughter Magnolia, her gambler husband, Gaylord Ravenal and the tragic chanteuse, Julie. The score includes "Can't Help Loving that Man," "Ole Man River," "Make Believe" and "You Are Love," among others.

At Maryland Hall, Showboat will be given the classic treatment it deserves by the full chorus, orchestra and soloists.

Subscribers will be given an opportunity to cast their vote for one of five selections, including Carmina Burana and Lux Aeterna, for the season's final concert.

Subscriptions to all seven concerts are available at $170 for A seats or $158 for B seats, or subscribers can create their own season by picking a package of four concerts for $137 or $129. Information: 410-263-1906.

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