Curtain rises on renovated Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts

Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, already a known Annapolis arts destination, solidified that role last Sunday with a celebration unveiling the results of its $1.6 million renovation — a project that includes 543 new seats, an orchestra pit, stage extension and improved acoustics.

Brief performances were offered by Maryland Hall's four resident companies: Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Annapolis Opera, Annapolis Chorale and Ballet Theatre of Maryland.

The 170 voices of the Annapolis Chorale, together with the chamber orchestra, opened the concert auspiciously with "O fortuna" from "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff.

Ballet Theatre of Maryland principal dancers Meagan Helman and Alexander Collen danced the duet from "Collage," choreographed by artistic director Dianna Cuatto. Annapolis Opera presented baritone Jorge Espino in a selection from Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte" and soprano Jennifer Holbrook in "The Jewel Song" from Gounod's "Faust" accompanied by artistic director Ronald Gretz at piano.

Annapolis Symphony Orchestra presented a quartet of principal string musicians performing the Finale of Dvorak's String Quartet No. 12 in F Major. The program ended with "Make Our Garden Grow" from Leonard Bernstein's "Candide."

That last selection made musical history of sorts for the theater, marking the first time Annapolis Opera soloists, with Gretz, joined Annapolis Symphony Orchestra musicians and the full Annapolis Chorale under music director J. Ernest Green. It was a performance underscoring the value of musicians interpreting a masterwork in Anne Arundel home concert venue.

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