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Grand opera returns to Baltimore

(Charles T. Downey, The Washington Post) The long-awaited rebirth of grand opera in Baltimore, after the bankruptcy and liquidation of the venerable Baltimore Opera Company in 2009, was proclaimed on Friday night. Lyric Opera Baltimore, a new company also based in the Lyric Opera House, opened a promising new season with a production of Verdi’s “La Traviata.” The grand old house has been renovated through the generosity of patrons Arthur Modell and his wife, Patricia, whose recent passing was noted with a heartfelt moment of silence.

Contrary to popular belief, a critic is glad to be proven wrong about an artist’s shortcomings. Having written off Elizabeth Futral’s chances with Violetta after her turn in the role with Washington National Opera in 2008, it was a pleasure to hear her singing in such good form in the title role. The intricate fioriture were just as accurately defined and the high notes just as thrilling, but the more lyrical parts of the role sounded much stronger, too. Part of this may be due to the smaller size of the theater, which Futral filled with beautiful sound down to a rounded chest voice. The American soprano, who enjoyed some early career successes in Baltimore, marked the moment by reverencing the Lyric stage at the curtain call.

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