Donizetti, Maria Stuarda, B. Sills, E. Farrell, London Philharmonic Orchestra, A. Ceccato
Donizetti, Maria Stuarda, J. Sutherland, H. Tourangeau, L. Pavarotti, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, R. Bonynge
Washington Concert Opera closed out their season, and what has been quite a run for bel canto opera around here, with a performance of this opera on Sunday night at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium. Music director Antony Walker used Donizetti's original version of the score, with dueling sopranos as the rival queens, not the revision with Mary's role transposed down for mezzo-soprano Maria Malibran. Walker, who has distinguished WCO by almost always securing some of the best singers heard in Washington, outdid himself with his two lead women, pitting a spiteful, acid-tongued Brenda Harris, who was so outstanding in WCO's Attila last season, against a sunny, high-flying, more lyrical Georgia Jarman. Harris opened with surprising sweetness in her first cavatina, saving up the snarl for the later scenes (with razor-like precision in the showpiece Quella vita a me funesta), while Jarman had some impressive pyrotechnics but most impressed with a velvety spin of tone in Mary's many slow arias.
Anne Midgette, WCO offers stunning soprano showdown: You should have been there (Washington Post, April 9)
Emily Cary, Brenda Harris: Queen for a day (Washington Examiner, April 6)
It's all Verdi all the time for Washington Concert Opera next season, with performances of I Masnadieri (September 22, 2013) and Il Corsaro (March 9, 2014).