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MSO's final concert presents some of opera's greatest hits

April 13, 2011|By KATE COLEMAN | katec@herald-mail.com
  • Soprano Elisabeth Turchi will sing some of opera's great arias this weekend with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.
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“A Night at the Opera” will bring the Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s 29th season to its grand finale at The Maryland Theatre this weekend.

“We’ve selected ‘operatic hits’ for our program, so our avid opera fans will get to hear their favorites and those new to opera will have a chance to fall in love with this wonderful form of music,” Music Director Elizabeth Schulze wrote in an e-mail.

MSO audiences have requested something like this over the years, she added. “Finally, we’ve found both the means and the singers to make it happen.”

“A Night at the Opera” will feature soprano Elisabeth Turchi, tenor William Davenport and Choral Arts Society of Frederick (Md.).
“I had the pleasure of hearing both William Davenport and Lynn Staininger’s excellent Frederick chorus in concert in Frederick a few years ago,” Schulze wrote.

Staininger is the ensemble’s artistic director and conductor. She teaches choral ensemble, voice, piano and music theory at Frederick Community College and teaches the choral ensembles at Hood College.

Davenport, a native of Maryland, completed studies at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. His stage roles include Alfred in “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss II, Alfredo in Verdi’s “La Traviata,” Des Grieux in Massenet’s “Manon” and Flavio in Bellini’s “Norma.” He also has performed as a tenor soloist in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, Handel’s “Messiah” and Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass.  

Schulze heard Turchi sing in Hagerstown with Hagerstown Choral Arts.

In a recent phone conversation, Turchi said she was 13 years old when she attended her first opera — a performance of Bizet’s “Carmen” at The Maryland Theatre. “Ironically, it also turned out to be the first opera I ever participated in with the Pittsburgh Opera,” she added.

Turchi grew up in Chambersburg, Pa., and lives in Franklin County, Pa.

She was a student at Cumberland Valley School of Music “as soon as it opened,” went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in vocal performance from Carnegie Mellon and Shenandoah universities. An alumna of The International Institute of Vocal Arts, The Westchester Summer Vocal Institute and The International Lyric Academy of Rome, Turchi has performed roles that include Musetta in Puccini’s “La Boheme,” Queen of the Night in Mozart’s “Magic Flute,” Rosina in Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” and Anna in Lehár’s “The Merry Widow.”

She’s been teaching “on and off” since 2000. She had a few students while finishing her graduate work, she teaches at Cumberland Valley School of Music and is completing her third year on the faculty at Shepherd University.

Does teaching inform Turchi’s singing?

“Oh, my,” she said. “It certainly does.”

As you teach your students and watch them learn, you become aware of how central the fundamentals are to how we perform and how we sing, Turchi explained. “I still come back to breathing exercises, stretching, doing scales and arpeggios,” she said.

Mother of a 5-year-old son who was so excited he wouldn’t sit down at a child-friendly version of “The Magic Flute” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Turchi is busy.

Concert engagements include a European tour of Haydn’s “Creation” with two-time Grammy winner Robert Page and his Festival Singers. On April 2, she was one of the “Three Sopranos” performing a concert at Shepherd University, and last weekend she was featured in a performance of “Carmina Burana” in Providence, R.I.

“Being busy is good,” she said. “I have worked very hard to have this set of problems.”

Turchi said her husband does “double duty” when she travels, but he understands how important it is that she does these things because he loves music so much. They met at “District Chorus” during their senior year at different high schools.

“He was the short tenor in the front row. I was the tall soprano in the back row,” she said with a laugh.

This weekend Turchi will demonstrate her versatility singing two solos. She called Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro” gorgeous. And she loves that “Mein Herr Marquis” from “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss II is called the “Laughing Song.”

“It’s such a tangible piece,” she said. “People can just sit back and enjoy.”

Schulze called the MSO’s 29th season splendid. She’s happy to top it off with “A Night at the Opera.”


If you go ...
WHAT: Masterworks V, “A Night at the Opera”
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 16, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 17
WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown
COST: Tickets cost $15 to $49 for adults. There is no charge for students in grades one through 12 from throughout the Quad-State region. College student rush tickets (no reservations accepted) will be available for $5 at The Maryland Theatre box office 90 minutes before the performance. Seat selection will be at the discretion of box-office personnel.
Tickets are available by calling 301-797-4000, going to www.marylandsymphony.org or in person at the MSO office, 30 W. Washington St., downtown Hagerstown, today and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.
Tickets also may be purchased at The Maryland Theatre box office from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday.
MORE: Program notes and audio clips of the musical selections are available at www.marylandsymphony.org.
Music Director Elizabeth Schulze will talk about the program and composers one hour before Saturday and Sunday’s performances during Prelude. The half-hour presentation is free for ticket holders.

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