2 Powerful Operas: ‘Maria di Rohan’ and ‘Don Carlo’

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Eric Owens in "Don Carlo." Courtesy WNO.

Washington is said to be a city of power. Prepare yourself for the power of opera at the highest level.

On Sunday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m., Washington Concert Opera, which specializes in rarely performed works, will present the intensely romantic and passionate bel canto opera “Maria di Rohan,” a grand confusion of intentions, needs, desires and who loves whom — by the master of the genre, Gaetano Donizetti — at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. Artistic Director Antony Walker will conduct. At 5 p.m., there will be a pre-performance lecture by WCO cofounder Peter Russell.

But wait — there’s more in store in the upper rings of power. Opening Saturday, March 3, and running through Saturday, March 17, in the Kennedy Center Opera House is Washington National Opera’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s sumptuous, deep-as-the-ocean “Don Carlo,” about a powerful man who has to struggle with his own passions and ambitions (not to mention betrayal) in the world of the Spanish Empire.

The core of “Maria di Rohan” is the breaking of the heart over hard choices. In this opera, based on a French play, a woman is torn between the man she loves and the man to whom she is secretly married, leading to a duel and a tragic twist. There is also an added twist: two of the three Jackson sisters will appear, soprano Marina Costa-Jackson in the title role and mezzo-soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson as Gondi.

“Don Carlo” is equally impassioned. As the promo puts it: “A Father’s Power. A Son’s Passion. A Royal Family Destined For War.” It has a three-hour-plus running time to push the epic across the finish line.

It’s a rare reappearance for the opera. It’s been 20 years since Don Carlo was produced by WNO. The stars include Leah Crocetto and Melody Moore as Elisabeth of Valois, Jamie Freedman and Daryl Freedman as Princess Eboli, Russell Thomas and Rafael Davila as Don Carlo, Quinn Kelsey and Troy Cook as Rodrigo, and Eric Owens and Peter Volpe as Philip II, with Andrea Silvestrelli as the Grand Inquisitor.

Tim Albery directs and there is a welcome return by conductor Philippe Auguin.

And there is of course the power: The power of Verdi.

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