Review: ‘Vienna Mozart Orchestra’ at Strathmore

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Opera-lovers got a chance to travel back to the 18th Century the night of March 7, 2016, at The Music Center at Strathmore’s J. Willard and Alice Marriott Foundation Concert Stage, when the Vienna Mozart Orchestra performed some of the best works of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Founded in 1986, the Vienna Mozart Orchestra has devoted itself to performing Mozart’s work the World over.

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Monday night’s concert featured the fanciful, delightful and sometimes comic conducting of András Deák and the masterful singing of soprano Sera Gösch and baritone Sokolin Asllani. With the conductor, singers and the orchestra’s period 18th Century costumes setting the mood, Amadeus’ music certainly rocked the audience.

To start the fun, Conductor ­Deák conducted the overture from Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, K. 384 to life. Shortly thereafter, the concert reached the peak of excellence when Deák conducted Mozart’s well-known Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550 with note-by-note perfection. From the slower “Andante” movement, to the more robust “Menuetto. Allegretto,” Mozart’s No. 40 pleased the ears and spread joy throughout the venue.

After intermission, the audience and performers went back in time to 1786, the year Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492 opened, as Deák’s orchestra took the stage wearing period 18th Century suits, stockings, wigs and dresses of the colors blue, orange, green and red. Deák sported not only a white, majestic wig, but a floral-pattern, burgundy, 18th Century-style suit.

After the orchestra beautifully played the overture of Marriage of Figaro, baritone Asllani took the stage  in a matador-like costume and sang the impressive aria, “Non piu` andrai” (“You shall go no more.”) Asllani showed a commanding stage presence and a gift for storytelling through song.

Deák then wonderfully conducted from Abduction from the Seraglio, K. 384 again as Gösch, in a resplendent white dress, attacked the aria “Martern aller Arten” with intensity. (The plot involves the rescue of two women by their lovers from a Turkish harem.)

From Don Giovanni, K. 527, Asllani did well with the somber, “Deh, vieni alla finestra” (“Ah, come to the window”), accompanied by a mandolin player, and the up tempo “Finch’ han dal vino” also known as Don Giovanni’s “Champagne Aria”.

After breezing through Symphony No. 38 in D major “Prague”, K. 504, Deák, worked well with Gösch in “D’Oreste, d’Ajace” (“I have the torments of Orestes”), from Mozart’s Idomeneo, K.366. For that aria, Gösch’s dress invoked a green-and-blue peacock in its colors and design.

Asllani, in a fanciful costume that was covered in multi-colored feathers, and with a caged “bird” on his back, masterfully sang the aria “Der Vogelfanger bin ich ja” (“The Birdwatcher I am indeed”) and then the comical “Pa-pa” with Gösch. Both songs were from Mozart’s Magic Flute, K.620.

Deák delighted the audience with three encores: “Giovinette che fate all’amore” (“Let’s enjoy while the season invites us”), from Don Giovanni, the well-known “Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525” (“A Little Night Music”), and “Rondo alla Turca” (“The Turkish March”). The audience got to participate with Deák during “The Turkish March” as he conducted them to clap in time with the up tempo beat. Deák, his orchestra, Asllani, and Gösch received not one but two well-deserved, and richly earned, standing ovations.

Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with an intermission.

The Vienna Mozart Orchestra performed for one night only on March 7, 2016 at The Music Center at Strathmore – 10701 Rockville Pike, in North Bethesda, MD. For future events at The Mansion and The Music Center at Strathmore go to their calendar of events.