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Review: Catholic University of America’s Chamber Orchestra Performs an Evening of Music by Rossini, Bizet and de Falla by Natalie Barsoum

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By Natalie Barsoum

The neoclassical room at the Former Spanish Ambassador’s Residence was the perfect backdrop for the sold-out concert of the Catholic University of America’s Chamber Orchestra. On October 5, in collaboration with the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, they presented an evening of music by Gioachino Rossini, Georges Bizet, and Manuel de Falla. Under the direction of Maestro Simeone Tartaglione, the orchestra gave spirited performances of the Overture to Il barbieri di Siviglia, orchestral renditions of “Les dragons d’Alcala” and “Seguedille” from the opera Carmen, Falla’s Siete canciones populares españolas and El sombrero de tres picos. Antonio Espinal conducted the two movements from Carmen, highlighting the lyrical performances of the solo oboe and flute.

Maestro Simeone Tartaglione conducts Catholic University of America’s Chamber Orchestra. Photo by Berta Corredor.

As the concert began, the audience was transported to Seville with the memorable melodies of one of the opera world’s most beloved scores. Tartaglione’s energetic conducting of Rossini’s overture, combined with a particularly lively and delicate wind section, made for a delightful commencement to the evening.

The stunning performance of Siete canciones populares españolas by Spanish soprano, Amaya Arberas displayed that she is equally at home in the chamber setting as on the operatic stage. Her well-dramatized rendition of the songs enraptured those in attendance, whether through her playful interpretation of the Argonese “Jota” or her poignant depiction of the mother figure in “Nana,” an Andalusian lullaby. Each song evinced her focused tone and, even in the lower range, her notes were shimmering.

The night concluded with Falla’s El Sombrero de tres picos, Suite No. 1. Maestro Tartalione’s interpretation of the ballet music was captivating. After a frenzied introduction, the audience was roused to the whole gamut of emotions, from the intensity of the “Afternoon,” to the fanciful lyricism in parts of the “Dance of the Millers Wife,” and finally, to the exuberant freedom expressed in “The Grapes.” The ballet showcased the virtuosity of each section of the chamber orchestra, and it was an uplifting finale to the concert.

Running Time: 70 minutes with no intermission.

The Catholic University of America Chamber Orchestra played one night only on Thursday, October 5th, 2017 at the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain – 2801 16th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For information on future events at the venue, go online.

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