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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | April 15, 2013
The best sign of Lyric Opera Baltimore's growth would be an expansion of the company's fully staged productions, which are down to two after an inaugural season of three. But the idea of putting a concert into the lineup as filler for the second season certainly has merit and, judging by the decent-sized, enthusiastic turnout Saturday night at the Lyric Opera House, marketability. Celebrating bel canto repertoire, mostly by Rossini, the program featured decidedly animated vocalists who bounded into the material -- literally, in the case of baritone Daniel Belcher, making his entrance through the theater to deliver a super-caffeinated "Largo al factotum" from "Il barbiere di Siviglia.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | July 1, 2014
Lyric Opera Baltimore, which scaled back from three productions to two after its 2011-2012 inaugural season, is scaling back again. Only one staged work, Puccini's "Madama Butterfly," will be presented during 2014-2015, the company's fourth season. "The board of directors definitely wants to go ahead with grand opera here, but we want to be fiscally responsible," said James Harp, artistic director of Lyric Opera Baltimore. "We want to have enough money in the bank. This will be a re-building year so we can have two productions again in '15-'16.
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ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | October 22, 2011
Three years ago, a Druid priestess and her Roman lover walked willingly and melodically into a blazing pyre as the curtain fell on a performance of Bellini's "Norma" at the Lyric Opera House . Those epic characters were not the only ones being consumed. The Baltimore Opera Company, which gave that masterpiece an effective staging, soon went up in smoke, too, the victim of debt and disillusionment. A Chapter 11 filing in December 2008 was followed in early 2009 by a decision to liquidate.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | May 10, 2014
Biblical stories do not typically make great operas, anymore than they make great movies. But Verdi's first successful work for the stage, “Nabucco,” based more or less on the tale of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian bondage of the Hebrews, comes pretty close. It's loaded with urgent situations and grand statements, fueled by vividly colored orchestration. It also boasts Verdi's most indelible and affecting choral piece, reason enough to keep this opera in the repertoire. Lyric Opera Baltimore is closing its season with a production of “Nabucco” that captures the work's passion and sweep, if not all of its musical richness.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | July 1, 2014
Lyric Opera Baltimore, which scaled back from three productions to two after its 2011-2012 inaugural season, is scaling back again. Only one staged work, Puccini's "Madama Butterfly," will be presented during 2014-2015, the company's fourth season. "The board of directors definitely wants to go ahead with grand opera here, but we want to be fiscally responsible," said James Harp, artistic director of Lyric Opera Baltimore. "We want to have enough money in the bank. This will be a re-building year so we can have two productions again in '15-'16.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | May 16, 2013
The opera world has been giving a little extra attention to a couple of giants born in 1813, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner. Locally, that bicentennial salute has included memorable concerts by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra featuring excerpts from Wagner's mountainous operas. And this week, Lyric Opera Baltimore offers a production of one of Verdi's earliest masterworks for the stage, "Rigoletto. " The "Rigoletto" staging brings tenor Bryan Hymel back to town after his Lyric debut last season, when he made a formidable impression in Gounod's "Faust.
NEWS
February 17, 2011
It's been called the world's most extravagant art, and for good reason: The combination of lavish sets, virtuoso orchestral playing and world-class vocal talent that go into a grand opera production has never come cheap. It takes money to make opera magic, and the lack of it was the main reason for the abrupt demise of the old Baltimore Opera Company in late 2009, after years of struggling to make ends meet despite a string of artistic successes. In its final season, spiraling production costs and other expenses had reached the point where the board had no choice but to declare bankruptcy and liquidate the company's assets at auction.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | May 2, 2014
When Lyric Opera of Baltimore presents a new production of Verdi's first hit, "Nabucco," this week, there will be a guaranteed encore: The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves. "It's so good, you have to hear it again," says James Harp, the company's artistic director. That's what the first audience for "Nabucco" in 1842 at Milan's La Scala thought, too. For 172 years, this choral piece has been routinely encored at many an opera house, especially in Italy, where it enjoys the status of an unofficial national anthem.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | May 10, 2013
The 2013-2014 opera season at the Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric will have a lot in common with the 2012-2013 season -- staged works by Verdi and Puccini produced by Lyric Opera Baltimore, with a concert in between. There is something substantially more adventurous in terms of repertoire for next season, courtesy of the Peabody Opera Theatre, which will present Poulenc's "Dialogues of the Carmelites. " That masterpiece was last performed at the Lyric in 1984 by the old Baltimore Opera Company.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | April 12, 2013
In theory, if not always in practice, all opera singing should sound beautiful. It's practically required when dealing with one specific genre, the early 19th century Italian repertoire known as "bel canto," because that's what it means - "beautiful singing. " The style calls for an evenly produced tone, great technical agility to handle florid passages (known as coloratura), and plenty of expressive personality. Great bel canto singing delivers one of the best thrills in opera. On Saturday night, Lyric Opera Baltimore will present a concert featuring excerpts from works by the three giants of the bel canto style, Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, performed by a group of up-and-coming vocal artists.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | May 2, 2014
When Lyric Opera of Baltimore presents a new production of Verdi's first hit, "Nabucco," this week, there will be a guaranteed encore: The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves. "It's so good, you have to hear it again," says James Harp, the company's artistic director. That's what the first audience for "Nabucco" in 1842 at Milan's La Scala thought, too. For 172 years, this choral piece has been routinely encored at many an opera house, especially in Italy, where it enjoys the status of an unofficial national anthem.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | April 23, 2014
UPDATE: Since I posted this story on Tuesday, word has come that the 'Toujours L'Amour' concert scheduled for Friday has been postponed because Stephen Costello has a 'bad flu.' Lyric Opera Baltimore artistic director James Harp says the event may be rescheduled for next season. Ticket-holders may exchange seats for a future performance or obtain refunds at point of purchase. Costello released a statement saying he was 'hugely looking forward to singing' and 'would like to extend my sincere apologies to everyone involved -- from the organisers and other performers, to those of you who have bought tickets in good faith.' When Stephen Costello made his Baltimore debut in 2008, he was an up-and-coming tenor.
NEWS
By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun | January 25, 2014
John Weber, a tenor who sang in opera productions and was the music director of a Rodgers Forge church, died of an apparent heart attack Jan. 17. The Catonsville resident was 50. His brother, Thomas Proveaux, said Mr. Weber collapsed at the wheel of his car while driving on West Forest Park Avenue. He was taken to Sinai Hospital, where his death was confirmed. Born in Baltimore, he was the son of John Borst Weber, a Baltimore County police officer, and Eileen O'Sullivan Weber, a Western Electric worker and homemaker.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | October 23, 2013
Lyric Opera Baltimore found itself in need of a new villain less than two weeks before the company's season-opening production of "Tosca. " The exceptional bass-baritone Eric Owens, who had quite a triumph recently as Alberich in the Metropolitan Opera's controversial staging of Wagner's "Ring," was to have sung the role of the despicable Scarpia in Baltimore. A case of strep throat has caused him to cancel. Replacing Owens will be another American singer, bass Raymond Aceto, who has earned fine notices for his performances as Scarpia with the Houston Opera and Santa Fe Opera.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 30, 2013
A lot has happened, operatically, in Baltimore during the past few years. The city lost its proud Baltimore Opera Company after more than five decades, then gained a sort of second cousin in the form of Lyric Opera Baltimore. Opera Vivente folded its tent after more than a dozen years. Baltimore Opera Theatre came and went in what seemed like a flash. Amid these and other changes, Baltimore Concert Opera , founded by former Baltimore Opera singers, has managed to hang on and maintain a steady course.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 25, 2013
Community Concerts at Second, which offers a remarkable range of free and substantial programs each year, drew a big house for the opening of its 27th season Sunday afternoon showcasing the Aspen String Trio, plus one. On the first half of the bill, the Aspen players delivered a finely articulated, expressively shaped account of Beethoven's String Trio in D major, Op. 9, No. 2.  The dark lyricism of the Andante, which gives a hint of where the...
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | February 14, 2011
When Ron Griffin received a solicitation for Lyric Opera Baltimore a few weeks ago, he had some questions. The organization sounded a lot like the Baltimore Opera Company, which folded midseason in 2009 because of financial problems, leaving Griffin and many others holding worthless tickets. "It was an abrupt end, and it wasn't handled well," said Griffin, a property manager. He and his partner were subscribers and patrons of the old company for more than a dozen years. "I asked what kinds of changes had been made.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | April 14, 2012
The last time Charles Gounod's "Faust" was staged at the Lyric Opera House , 11 years ago, the work's original medieval-period setting was changed to World War I. That production, devised for the late John Lehmeyer for the old Baltimore Opera Company, found the soul-selling title character and that of the accommodating Mephistopheles decked out as German fighter pilots. Silent films were projected in key scenes. This week, "Faust" returns to the same venue, the inaugural-season closing presentation by Lyric Opera Baltimore.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | June 26, 2013
If you haven't yet taken the drive into sweet Virginia countryside to sample the Castleton Festival, this sure looks like a good year to make the trip. The fifth annual festival, held on the sprawling grounds of conductor Lorin Maazel's estate in Rappahannock County, promises two big operas -- Verdi's "Otello" and Puccini's "La fanciulla del West" -- and two Mahler symphonies, just for starters. There's room, too, for a remarkable double-bill of Poulenc's riveting one-woman opera "La voix humaine" and the Cocteau play that inspired it, the first time, apparently, the two have been presented in tandem.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | May 25, 2013
One of Santa's helpers, a man who tilts at windmills, and Toto, too, will be part of the 2013-2014 season of the Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric. One of the country's most distinguished dance companies, the Joffrey Ballet, is also scheduled. Based on the hit film of the same name, "Elf" is a musical with a score by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, a book by Thomas Meehan (his credits include "Hairspray") and Bob Martin. The family show, which has been a presence at holiday time on Broadway, will play the Lyric Nov. 22 to Nov. 24. The plot follows the adventures of an orphan who winds up working with the other elves at the North Pole, figures out he's human, and heads to New York to find his father and, of course, what is invariably called the true spirit of Christmas.
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