Two Star Curtis Sopranos take to the Stage!
The upcoming production The Abduction from the Seraglio features two stars from the Curtis Institute of Music, one past and one present, who have sung throughout the world and return to their musical home in Philadelphia to bring this delightful Mozart opera to life.
Starring as the opera’s leading lady is soprano Elizabeth Zharoff in her Opera Company of Philadelphia debut. This Washington state native is currently pursuing her Master’s degree at Curtis but is already making headlines abroad. Italy’s Revista magazine called her “a singer with a beautiful scenic presence, of unquestionable vocal interest” at the premiere of this production in Treviso. Philadelphia audiences may recognize her from the Curtis Opera Theater collaborative productions (with OCP and Kimmel Center Presents) of The Cunning Little Vixen and Antony and Cleopatra, in which sang the title roles. Other recent appearances include Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro for Opera Theater of St. Louis, Marguerite in Faust, Amina in La Sonnambula and Anne Trulove in The Rake's Progress with Curtis Opera Theater and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and Drusilla in L'incorinazione di Poppea with Oberlin Opera Theater.
When asked about Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, Zharoff says that in addition to being funny and light-hearted, it’s also some of the most difficult music the composer wrote for singers. “It is hard. And it is just incredible to sit in a theater and watch a person sing their face off. It’s amazing what Mozart has written for the singers to do and watching someone achieve that is amazing.”
As for her role in the opera, “Konstanze is so much fun to sing and to act. She is a very passionate person and occasionally she absolutely loses her temper, which I think is the most fun. She has a very famous and well-known aria called “Martern aller Arten” where she is just scolding the Pasha the whole time and it is just so much fun to let loose and just let it out.”
Starring alongside Elizabeth Zharoff is another Curtis soprano…and another Elizabeth! Soprano Elizabeth Reiter returns to OCP as Konstanze’s cohort, Blonde. While she was still a student at Curtis, Reiter made a memorable mark with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, first in her debut in 2010 as Amor in Orphée & Eurydice and then again in 2011 as Aphrodite in Phaedra. Since completing her Master’s degree she has moved to Germany to join the Oper Frankfurt Opera Studio, where her performances include Annina in La traviata, Papagena in The Magic Flute, and Walküre Ortlinde in The Ring Cycle. Other recent appearances include Flora in The Turn of the Screw with Chicago Opera Theatre, Zerlina in Don Giovanni at Tanglewood Music Center under the baron of Maestro James Levine, Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro and Despina in Cosi fan Tutte at the Chautauqua Institution.
A frequent interpreter of new music, in addition to performing in the American Premiere of Henze’s Pheadra with OCP last season, she has performed Adele in the American Premiere of Michael Berkeley’s Jane Eyre with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Young Maria Celeste in the World Premiere of Philip Glass and Mary Zimmerman’s Galileo Galilei with Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and London’s Barbican Center. With so much new and difficult music under her belt, Reiter isn’t one to shy away from one of Mozart’s more challenging operas. “The music [in Abduction] is, of course, unbelievable” she says, “but it’s also surprisingly difficult. Every character, although they each have wonderful music, also has real challenges to get through. Which makes Mozart really difficult and yet satisfying for singers. So as a young singer to be able to sing Mozart, especially this opera, is a big hurdle and it’s really exciting.”
She’s also excited to bring this production to Philadelphia audiences, both seasoned and newcomers. “This opera is really great for first time opera goers because it’s actually quite funny and it has a little bit of everything: it has the romantic couple; it has the comedic characters; it has drinking; it has sex. It has everything that is actually all over opera, but I think people don’t actually know that. And the things that Mozart has singers do in this opera are nothing short of amazing. If you’ve never sat in an opera house and heard voices, unamplified and just in the space, this is the probably the best opera to go and see for that, because it’s really exciting: how high singers sing, how low singers go, how fast they sing. I mean it has everything!”