Recent Concert

Spring 2024
Sat, Apr 27 7:30 PM Sun, Apr 28 4:00 PM
Spring 2024
Concert Program
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
“Godiam la pace”
The Chorus with Lauren Jessup, Alexandra Bass, Joseph Gárate and Jamie Sanderson
“Placido è il mar”
Ms. Chamberlin Granner and the Chorus
“Qual nuevo terrore” … “Corriamo, fuggiamo”
The Chorus
“O voto tremendo"
Manfred Anaya and the Chorus
“Torna la pace”
Mr. Granner
“Scenda Amor”
The Chorus
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“Madamina, il catalogo è questo”
Mr. Ramsey
Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)
“Percorrete le spiagge vicine”
The Men's Chorus
“Qui di sposa eterna fede” … “Verranno a te sull’ aure”
Ms. Chamberlin Granner and Mr. Granner
Sextet: “Chi mi frena in tal momento?”
Ms. Chamberlin Granner, Mr. Granner, Mr. Ramsey, Adam McCrory, Alexandra Bass, Elias Berezin and the Chorus
“D’immenso giubilo” segue to “Cessi, ah cessi quel contento"
Mr. Ramsey and the Chorus
“Spargi d’amaro pianto”
Ms. Chamberlin Granner, Mr. Ramsey, Adam McCrory and the Chorus
Charles Gounod (1818 – 1893)
Prologue: “Vérone vit jadis deux familles rivales”
The Chorus
“L’heure s’envole”
Mr. Ramsey and the Chorus
“Ah! Je veux vivre”
Ms. Chamberlin Granner
“Ah! Lèvetoi, soleil!”
Mr. Granner
“Personne! Personne!”
The Men's Chorus
"Roméo! Qu 'as tu donc?"
Ms. Chamberlin Granner and Mr. Granner
Franz Lehar (1870 - 1948)
“Down in dear Marsovia”
The Chorus
Ms. Chamberlin Granner and the Chorus
“Oh the ladies!”
Will Lyons, Elias Berezin, Joseph Gárate, Peter Goldman, Adam McCrory, Pete Torres, Egan Carroll, Kirk Garner, Mario Hong and the Men's Chorus
“Oh, come away, away” and “I love you so”
Mr. Ramsey, Mr. Granner, Ms. Chamberlin Granner and the Chorus
Spring 2024
Concert Notes

Considered by many as Mozart’s first mature work, Idomeneo re di Creta was first produced in Munich in 1781 when the composer was just twenty-five years old. Following the opera seria formulas of the elder Gluck, Mozart expanded on the existing musical and dramatic formats and through-composed great swaths of Idomeneo thereby discouraging applause trying to involve the audience directly in the story. It was also the first time that Mozart ended an opera in the same key signature as the beginning overture, a musical trademark that he would continue throughout his career. Idomeneo also utilizes the chorus as another character more often than any of his other stage works.

Our concert opens with the joyous Act One chorus, “Godiam la pace.” Prince Idamante, the young son of Idomemeo who is acting as regent in his father’s absence, has fallen in love with his enemy’s daughter, the Trojan princess Illia. To prove his feelings he sets the Trojan prisoners of war free and they sing of their thanks to his clemency and to their liberty. Notice how Mozart’s cascading and echoing harmonies for the various choral sections perfectly capture the happiness of their new freedom.

The plot hinges on a horrifying oath…because this is opera after all. Idomeneo, the beloved King of Crete, is returning home after many years away at the Trojan War. His fleet is caught in a raging tempest and he swears to Neptune the God of the Sea that he will  make a sacrifice to him of the first person he sees if he spares his ships and crew. Safely on shore, Idomeneo is shocked to first encounter his own son. Inexplicably shunned by his own father after being so briefly reunited, Idamante is heartbroken and confused.    

Idomeneo, trying desperately to avoid carrying out his oath, tasks his son with returning the rival princess Electra (yes, that Electra, daughter of Agamemnon) to her home of Argos. The chorus bids them calm seas and safe travels and Electra sings of her hopes that the ocean breezes will bring love to her and Idamante, “Placido è il mar.” 

But Neptune will not be denied and suddenly a furious storm slams the port and a sea serpent rises up, “Qual nuovo terrore!” … “Corriamo, fuggiamo,” causing death, terror, and destruction. The people wonder aloud who could have so angered the god of the sea?  

Later in Act Three, after Idamante has slain the serpent, the chorus responds in horror when Idomeneo confesses it was he who had sworn an oath to Neptune to spare his ship and crew in return for sacrificing his only son,“O voto tremendo,"  

Just as Idomeneo is about to follow through Neptune pronounces that he must relinquish his throne to his young son with Illia as his Queen. Idomeneo sings of peace finally returning to his heart, “Torna la pace al core,” and then the populace erupts in joy for the happiness for their new rulers,“Scenda Amor.”


Next we travel to Seville for a famous moment from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Leporello, the Don’s servant, is trying to dissuade Donna Elvira from pursuing Don Giovanni by recounting his exploits to her from the little black book he carries with him, “Madamina, il catalogo ѐ questo.” He plainly states that those conquests tally “640 women and girls in Italy, 231 in Germany, 100 in France, 91 in Turkey, ah, but in Spain… 1,003.” Sadly this does nothing to dissuade the wronged young woman.


Gaetano Donizetti's bel canto masterpiece Lucia diLammermoor provides us with a fitting finale to our concert’s first half. Written in 1835 it was the composer’s greatest work of his career to date and its popularity, especially among gifted and capable sopranos and their devoted fans, has never decreased. Adapted from Sir Walter Scott’s wildly popular Bride of Lammermoor it tells the story of gentle Lucia (who in today's vernacular is probably bi-polar) as she is married off by her brother to save the family fortunes. Think the Hatfields vs. the McCoys only in Scottish tartans and kilts. 

It’s 17th century Scotland and Normanno and his guards are searching for an intruder on their lands who they believe to be their sworn enemy Edgardo, “Percorrete le spiagge vicine.”This proves to be true as Lucia and Edgardo have been meeting in secret. In the novel he saved her from a charging bull in a nearby field thereby earning her devotion (you can’t make this stuff up). In one of the most romantic duets in Italian opera they promise their undying devotion to each other and exchange rings, calling on heaven to witness their vows. “Qui di sposaeterna fede” … “Ah! Verranno a te sull’aure.”

Sadly for the two lovers Lucia’s brother Enrico has promised her hand to Lord Arturo whom she has now dutifully agreed to marry. At the wedding ceremony Edgardo forces his way in, shocking everyone present. As the participants stand stunned, in true bel canto fashion, they sing of their collective astonishment and anger in the famous Sextet, “Chi mi frena in tal momento?”

The wedding guests sing of their happiness over the nuptials, “D’immenso giubilo,” until Raimondo, the family chaplain, breaks the news that Lucia has not only gone mad from being forced into marriage but murdered her bridegroom, “Cessi, ah cessi quel contento." Lucia suddenly appears at the party and sings of her unhappiness. She imagines her beloved Edgardo dead and prays to join him in heaven as the party guests look on in pity and horror, “Spargi d’amaro pianto.”



Of the nearly 20 operas based on the Romeo and Juliet story only two survive today in the standard repertory: Vincenzo Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Charles Gonoud’s eponymous version. Few realize that Shakespeare’s famous play was an adaptation of an existing story as was Bellini’s opera, and the two are barely related. Gonoud’s librettists based their work directly on Shakespeare and tried to capture his scenes along with the flavor of his dialogue in their French version. Premiering in Paris in 1867 it was the last of Gonoud’s operas to enjoy a true success. In recent years its popularity has even surpassed his own Faust due to its gratefully written roles for star soprano and tenor and its four (count ‘em four) ardently written love duets. The last of which, of course, ends badly for the tenor and soprano.

Gounod prologues his opera, and beautifully sets the scene with the chorus (literally in this case) prophetically intoning, “Vérone vit jadis deux familles rivales” which is the French equivalent of Shakespeare’s Greek Chorus, “In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…” or something pretty close.

At the top of Act One we are transported to the masked ball at the Capulets and the chorus sings of joy at their drunken revelries hoping for mysterious adventure and love,​“L’heures’envole.” Suddenly the young Juliet appears and with her famous waltz ​“Ah! Je veux vivre” she sings of the joys of youth and how she hopes to discover love.

Later Romeo has climbed the wall into the Capulet garden to try to espy Juliet again. When she appears on her balcony we get the famous “Ah!  Lèvetoi, soleil!” which is Gounod’s “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” Romeo is almost discovered by Juliet’s kinsmen who now know that he infiltrated the ball and they search for him outside the garden walls “Personne! Personne!”

We skip forward to the grand duet that opens Act Four after the young lovers have spent their first married night together. Upon waking Romeo hears the morning lark and Juliette tries to convince him it’s the nightingale “Roméo! qu'as-tu donc?....Il faut partir, hélas!” They sing a passionate farewell to each other and then Romeo departs to his banishment from Verona.

French love duets are a far different animal from Italian love duets. In the later you have two people shouting at the top of their voices something to the effect of  ”I’m going to love you to death.” The French, as you’ll see, are far more sensuous and gentle.


Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow (Die Lustige Witwe) was an almost unqualified success from its first performance in Vienna in 1905. Adapted from a French comedy of 40 years prior called The Embassy Attaché, it details the machinations of the ambassador of a poor Balkan country trying to keep the fortunes of their richest citizen, the recently widowed Hanna Glawari, in the country by finding her a suitable compatriot to marry. The Count Danilo seems the most likely prospect, and the plot ensues with many romantic turns and twists that vary greatly from production to production. 

Lehár was at the beginning of his career and was not the first choice of the producer of the Theater an der Wein. Although it was slow to catch on, The Merry Widow went on to run nearly 500 performances in the first year. Lehár even wrote a formal overture in honor of the 400th performance replacing the original prelude. Productions were mounted all over the world within a decade, and it was translated into over 25 languages making Lehár a very wealthy man. 

The Widow is the first musical event ever to have been thoroughly merchandised throughout its history with postcards, gloves, chocolates, and in honor of the 1952 film version,“Merry Widow” corsets. Even the distinctive black (naturally) broad-brimmed hat that the Widow wore became famous. The version designed by the costumier Lucile for the original London production in 1907 influenced millinery fashion in both England and America for years. 

But the best story concerns the great Gustav Mahler and his wife Alma. Seeing it early in the first run they went home and immediately began playing the tunes from memory on the piano. Not completely sure how one particular passage went, they popped into Vienna’s premiere music shop the next day. Gossipy Vienna would have lit up with the news of either of the Mahlers buying the score to a “popular” entertainment. So Mahler distracted the front desk staff with questions about the sales of his own music while Alma, a very fine musician in her own right, found the passage in question in the printed score and committed it to memory. Once outside she sang the whole waltz to him in full.

We start at the beginning of Act Two where Hannah Glawari is having a party in the gardens of her estate outside of Paris. The invited guests sing a lovely ode to their Balkan homeland, “Down in dear Marsovia.” Hannah arrives and entertains the revelers with the story of the wood-nymph “Vilia” who bewitched a hunter in the forest and then magically disappeared after he declared his love, leaving him broken-hearted.

The final act takes place at another party in Hannah’s home where the gentlemen sing of the beauty of the ladies present ‘​“Oh the ladies!” Danilo and Hannah finally recognize their affection for each other to the relief and happiness of everyone present “​Oh, come away, away” …“I love you so.”

Notes by Patrick Mack
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