Opera for Charm City
Baltimore these days has become a veritable case study in opera-company development. You wouldn’t have thought so this time last year, when the Baltimore Opera Company was emitting its last gasps before closing for good this spring. That demise left a gaping hole in the landscape – but that hole is now being flooded with so many other opera companies that you truly can’t tell the players without a scorecard. I’ve mentioned this before, but it seems like new opera is being added every day.
How, without a scorecard, are you going to know that BaltimoreOpera.com offers a listing of the schedules of the smaller opera groups in the city, while BaltimoreOpera.org is the website of the fledgling Baltimore Opera Theater, which (as previously reported) is presenting two operas in the Hippodrome this season: Barber of Seville (November 22) and Rigoletto (March 11)? (And are there regulators for the domain name "BaltimoreOpera"? Can BaltimoreOpera.net be far behind?)
(read more after the jump)
Meanwhile, the Lyric Opera House, where the Baltimore Opera Company used to perform, has marshaled its energies to produce its own diminutive opera season, consisting of three events and two very big names. Renée Fleming is appearing in concert on December 17. On February 14, we get a single fully-staged performance of a “Carmen” that originated with Opera New Jersey, with Denyce Graves in the title role. There’s also a British revue called The Opera Show, which mingles the music of opera with the aesthetic of the Cirque du Soleil, on January 21.
Then there are the smaller ensembles listed on BaltimoreOpera.com: Opera Vivente, whose Cinderella continues through this weekend; Baltimore Concert Opera (offering Don Pasquale on November 21); American Opera Theater (which will
revive premiere its production of Songspiel, with music by Kurt Weill, on November 6); and, not far away, the Annapolis Opera, offering a Verdi concert on October 17.
Yet another group, Opera Baltimore, has created a website but has yet to reveal specific performance plans.
One-off performances and shoestring productions may not replace what a permanent opera company has to offer. On the other hand, all of the energy and devotion to the art form represented by all of these varied attempts is itself a force to be reckoned with. One wonders if so many people would have realized they cared so much had the Baltimore Opera Company managed to stay above water.
If all else fails, there's the silver screen. The Charles Theater is the only movie theater in proximity to Washington that regularly screens the Emerging Pictures series of opera and ballet productions from European houses. Next up: "Das Rheingold" and "Die Walküre" as conceived for Valencia by the Fura dels Baus, conducted by Zubin Mehta (October 11, 13, 25, 27). It's a great alternative to the Met in HD.
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