Review: ‘An Evening Of Mozart: The Da Ponte Operas’ by Maryland Lyric Opera’s Young Artist Institute

The Maryland Lyric Opera (MDLO) presented an evening of an assortment of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s musical excerpts from three of his most esteemed operas–The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan Tutte–on Friday night and I never wanted it to end. What made the evening so unique and memorable was a combination of elements that came together to delight the senses.

Maryland Lyric Opera's Young Artist Institute performed 'An Evening Of Mozart: The Da Ponte Operas' at Bethesda United Methodist Church on March 15 and 16. Photo courtesy of Matthew Woorman, Maryland Lyric Opera.
Maryland Lyric Opera’s Young Artist Institute performed ‘An Evening Of Mozart: The Da Ponte Operas’ at Bethesda United Methodist Church on March 15 and 16. Photo courtesy of Maryland Lyric Opera.

All three librettos to the breathtaking Mozart musical pieces were written by Lorenzo Da Ponte. The full-bodied sound of the 25-piece Maryland Lyric Opera Orchestra, exciting and vivid vocal talent from the MDLO Young Artist Institute (superb vocal instruction from Head of Voice Faculty William Stone), and textured, sensitive conducting by MDLO Music Director and Conductor Louis Salemno all combined to make the evening a veritable embarrassment of riches.

Performed in the intimacy of the Bethesda United Methodist Church, the seven vocalists shone brightly within the purview of their respective styles and vocal ranges. The proceedings never faltered as the three opera excerpts were enlivened by subtle accompaniment by the MDLO Orchestra; the Orchestra never overpowered the singers but rather filled out the musical tapestry.

The concert opened with an exciting rendition of the overture from The Marriage of Figaro by the MDLO Orchestra.

Conductor Salemno delivered interesting brief narratives about the plot intricacies throughout the concert and the seven vocalists entered in front of the orchestra to perform their arias, duets, and so forth.

The Recitativo ed aria “Giunse al fin il momento” was sung by Mary Feminear in a silvery soprano and she hit the high notes beautifully.

In the Recitativo ed aria “E Susanna non vien”–“Dove sono i bei momenti,” singer Youna Jang Hartgraves sang with a passionately thrilling soprano and concurrently possessed a stunning vocal control that was both resonant and expressive. Hartgraves performed with supreme confidence and sang with piercing power and sensitivity throughout.

Joseph Michael Brent sang the aria “Dalla sua Pace” from Don Giovanni with his deep and resonant tenor voice. Brent also possessed a fine performing style.

Soprano Nanyoung Song and Bass-Baritone Adam Ciofarri sang the duet “La ci darem la mano” with a very relaxed and engaging style.

Maryland Lyric Opera's Young Artist Institute performed 'An Evening Of Mozart: The Da Ponte Operas' at Bethesda United Methodist Church on March 15 and 16. Photo courtesy of Matthew Woorman, Maryland Lyric Opera.
Maryland Lyric Opera’s Young Artist Institute performed ‘An Evening Of Mozart: The Da Ponte Operas’ at Bethesda United Methodist Church on March 15 and 16. Photo courtesy of Maryland Lyric Opera.

The Sestetto from Don Giovanni may have been my particular favorite as Youna Jang Hartgraves, Mary Feminear, Nanyoung Song, Joseph Michael Brent, Adam Ciofarri, and Baritone Jose Sacin all sang with a harmonic blending of sound.

Cosi fan Tutte rounded out the program. The Terzettino: “Soave sia il vento” had a truly soothing and refreshing tone and was beautifully performed and sung by Caroline Hewitt and Jose Sacin.

The Sestetto: “Alla bella Despinetta” was strong and enthralling ensemble singing with musical complexity.

The Finale: “Ah, che tutta in un momento” was a stunning finale to this concert.

This concert was a marvelous way for beginners to introduce themselves to the works of Mozart, and an even better way for Mozart enthusiasts to refine their appreciation for this great composer. The Maryland Lyric Opera Young Artist Institute has showcased the music of Mozart to perfection.

Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes, including a fifteen-minute intermission.

Maryland Lyric Opera Young Artist Institute presented An Evening of Mozart: The Da Ponte Operas on March 15 and 16, 2019, at the Bethesda United Methodist Church, 8300 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD. For further information on Maryland Lyric Opera and its upcoming performances, go online.

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David Friscic
David has always had a passionate interest in the arts from acting in professional dinner theatre and community theatre to reviewing film and local theatre in college to making numerous treks to New York City to indulge his interest in live theatre. An enthusiastic interest in writing has shown itself in a BA in English/Education and an MA in English Literature. Taken together, these two interests have culminated in the logical conclusion of writing for an arts blog. David moved up and down the East Coast due to his father's job at General Electric and this has helped him to perceive the world in a very open way. After his schooling, David taught in Catholic school systems for awhile and, then, spent three years in the seminary with two years at Catholic University studying Theology and one year in a practicuum working at a church in New York State. David currently works at the National Science Foundation as a Technical Information Specialist for the Office of Polar Programs and has had the great opportunity to go to Antarctica twice and Greenland once in support of the research community. He enjoys living in Bethesda and has taken courses at the Writer's Center. David enjoys swimming, traveling, reading, and working on committees at his condo. His major interest, however, is the arts and all it encompasses---from symphony, to film, to museum treks to live theatre. He counts having lunch with Lillian Gish and meeting Lily Tomlin, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, Liza Minnelli and Sandy Dennis as some of the more exciting encounters of his life.