Music Column

The Baltimore Sun

The opera season, relatively quiet since December, is slipping back into high gear. Productions by Opera Vivente and Annapolis Opera started the action in the past few days, and the scene gets even busier this week.

Peabody Opera Theatre presents one of Mozart's most popular works, The Magic Flute, in a staging that features sets designed by students of the Maryland Institute College of Art. Roger Brunyate directs this tale of love, duty, deception and self-discovery. Hajime Teri Murai conducts. Performances, with alternating casts, will be given at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow through Saturday at the Peabody Conservatory, 17 E. Mount Vernon Place. Tickets are $10 to $25. Call 410-659-8100, ext. 2.

Washington National Opera's spring season opens Saturday with Wagner's first great piece for the stage, The Flying Dutchman. Alan Held stars in the title role of the ever-wandering sea captain seeking redemption through the love of a good woman. Company music director Heinz Fricke conducts. The director is Stephen Lawless.

In addition to 7 p.m. Saturday, the Dutchman will sail seven more times through April 10 at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues, Northwest. Tickets are $45 to $300. Call 202-295-2400 or 800-876-7372, or go to dc-opera.org.

By month's end, Baltimore Opera Company will join the action with a production of Gounod's Romeo et Juliette and Washington National Opera will add Verdi's Rigoletto to the mix.

Meanwhile, for something at least tangentially operatic, consider The Ten Tenors. Formed in Australia 13 years ago, the ensemble gradually moved into the international limelight with popular concerts and best-selling recordings.

Like Il Divo, the Simon Cowell-generated vocal quartet that bowed a few years ago, this act relies on young, trained singers who can belt out a little opera and a whole lot of pop (a la Andrea Bocelli). Looks are part of the package - several of these men could probably have had modeling careers.

The deca-tenor show comes to Baltimore for performances at 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Hippodrome, 12 N. Eutaw St. Tickets are $25 to $60. Call 410-547-7328 or go to broadwayacrossamerica.com.

BSO at UB

The BSO Chamber Music Series at the University of Baltimore has provided a dynamic outlet for several Baltimore Symphony Orchestra players at the intimate Performing Arts Theater since it opened last season. Piano trios by Beethoven and Charles Ives, balanced by the Piano Quartet No. 2 by Dvorak, will be performed at the next concert - 8 p.m. tomorrow at the UB Student Center, at 21 W. Mount Royal Ave. Tickets are $5 to $15. Call 410-837-4053 or got to ubalt.edu.

There's one more event in the series, May 21, and that's it. From what I hear, UB won't be bringing the series back next season.

More chamber music from BSO members can be heard this weekend in an off-beat program that includes a piece for three bassoons by Julius Weissenborn, a string quartet by Arnold Schoenberg and a sextet for winds and piano by Ludwig Thuille.

This Chamber Music by Candlelight presentation is at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Second Presbyterian Church, 4200 St. Paul St. Admission is free. Call 410-744-4034 or go to communityconcertsatsecond.org.

Concert Artists

Concert Artists of Baltimore, the choral/orchestral organization directed by Edward Polochick, focused solely on instrumental music Saturday night at the Gordon Center in Owings Mills.

Concertmaster Jose Miguel Cueto stepped front and center to tackle Brahms' Violin Concerto. Although his spirit was certainly willing, his pitch was often weak. But at his best, Cueto got to the heart of the concerto with impassioned phrasing, and he enjoyed mostly stylish support from the orchestra (the winds sang out very warmly in the second movement).

Polochick, who provided equal parts propulsion and breathing room in the Brahms, also led the ensemble in Richard Strauss' Suite from Le bourgeois gentilhomme, witty, sparkling music, originally written for a production of the Moliere play of that name. (The first idea was intended to use the play as a lead-in to the composer's opera Ariadne aux Naxos, requiring an untenable six-hour performance.)

The orchestra wasn't entirely smooth, but played with great character. Polochick brought his usual dynamic flair to the conducting and also recited dialogue from the Moliere text in between some movements, complete with a variety of animated accents - there's a little ham in all of us.

tim.smith@baltsun.com

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