Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

Annapolis Opera's 40th Season

Feb 06, 2013 06:39PM ● By Anonymous

Rigoletto tells the simple story of boys behaving badly and an innocent girl caught in the middle with a tragic, outcome. “The opera has some of the most beautiful music ever written, with caro nome and la donna e mobile ranking among the most beloved arias in all of grand opera,” states AO’s description of the opera. Performing Rigoletto commands large-scale production and as such, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra will provide the musical backdrop.

Gretz offers his insight to this season and of his role as AO’s artistic director.

How would say 2013’s opera selections compare in terms of difficulty and overall appeal to those of seasons past?

I think that this season has great appeal since we had never before been able to mount a fully-staged performance of Aida. And Rigoletto is one of the most popular of Verdi’s operas. It is filled with the most familiar arias, duets, and, of course, one of the most famous quartets in all of Italian opera. In terms of difficulty… Aida is difficult to cast. The roles require more dramatic singers than we usually cast.

Is there any one performance that you’ve most looked forward to this season?

Both! Aida because I have never had the opportunity to conduct the opera before and Rigolettobecause it is one of my favorites. It was also one of the first operas that I conducted as Artistic Director with the AO (Richard Leech was the Duke!).

Which performance during your remarkable career as artistic director would you say was the most ambitious? Best?

They were all ambitious because singers were usually performing their roles for the first time. Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci were ambitious because they had a lot of chorus. Carmen and Romeo and Juliet were difficult because we performed them in French. As for the best performance…every opera that we have produced had some great moments…I hesitate to say which was the best.

Was there ever an opera selection that you regret having directed and/or that you learned valuable lessons from?

I have loved every opera that we have performed. Some went more smoothly than others; some caused us many headaches [problems with sets, sick singers, etc.] but I don’t regret having performed any of them.

What advice would you giving aspiring opera performers prior to them auditioning for AO?

Sing arias that are appropriate for your voice. Know the music… correct pitches, rhythms, words. Sing the text with meaning. As the artistic director what is a performance night like for you behind the curtain?

I am usually very calm before a performance. If the conductor is not relaxed he can cause everyone [leads, chorus, and orchestra] to be nervous. Even during the performance, when things may not be going as I would like, I remain calm.