With taste of Spain, curtain to rise on opera season


October 06, 2006|By MARY JOHNSON | MARY JOHNSON,Special to The Sun

After its most successful season to date, Annapolis Opera president Dennis Monk says, "I think the best is yet to come."

It opens this season, themed "Exploring the World of Opera - Espana" on Oct. 21 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Annapolis with A Night in Old Seville, featuring tapas, Spanish wines and a taste of The Barber of Seville. Gioacchino Rossini's popular comic opera, first performed in Rome in 1816, will be staged in the spring at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.

Monk said Annapolis Opera is bringing back several singers who were popular last year, including Carla Dirlikov, Michael Gallant and David Adam Moore "who stole the show in last season's Magic Flute, and we'll have some exciting new discoveries, as usual."

Dirlikov, who as last season's Papagena displayed charming spontaneity and zest along with a glorious mezzo soprano voice, will sing at A Night in Seville. She has been cast as Rosina in Barber.

The daughter of a Mexican mother and Bulgarian father, American-born Dirlikov grew up in Michigan speaking Spanish, Bulgarian and English, so she will be at home at the opening event when she will sing operatic selections and zarzuela, Spain's colorful opera form.

She and her husband, Gallant, will provide another captivating ingredient - romance. The tenor, who played Tamino in Magic Flute, has been cast as Rosina's love-struck suitor, Count Almaviva, in Barber. Having met in spring of 2001 as students at the University of Michigan, Dirlikov and Gallant were married on May 20.

Gallant, who works in restorative carpentry, said he has "found a balance between my two professions at Annapolis Opera, one of the few companies where I can pursue both interests at the same time."

He and Dirlikov described their association with music director Ronald J. Gretz and stage director Braxton Peters of the Annapolis Opera as their biggest blessing.

The second event on this year's Annapolis Opera calendar is the ever-popular Mozart by Candlelight on Dec. 3 at the First Presbyterian Church in Annapolis. This concert has become an Annapolis tradition as a lovely way to begin the Christmas season. The concert of Mozart arias and ensembles will be followed by a reception where the audience can meet the artists.

The free-to-the-public 19th annual vocal competition is slated for Feb. 4 at Maryland Hall where the audience can hear future opera stars drawn from the Mid-Atlantic region compete in one of the area's most prestigious opera competitions. As is the custom, listeners will select the recipient of the Audience Choice award.

The major event of the season, two performances of The Barber of Seville, is scheduled for March 9 and 11. In it, a love-struck young count tries to woo a beautiful girl from her over-protective guardian. Rosina's suitor, Count Almaviva, enlists the help of Figaro, Seville's most notorious barber, matchmaker, messenger, valet, wigmaker, surgeon, pharmacist, masseur, veterinarian and general factotum.

The usually sold-out "Pasta, Puccini Ancora!" - offering Italian cuisine and wine along with Italian arias sung by young singers - will be held at Loews Annapolis Hotel on April 27 and 29.

Subscriptions for the four-event series cost $195 or $205, depending on seating selected in Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Also available are three- and two-event subscriptions, which will include the fully staged opera in March and a choice of other events. Single tickets are also available for purchase. For further information and to order subscriptions, visit www.annapolisopera.org or call 410-267-8135 to request a season brochure.

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