Wilmington is blessed with musical riches, and wherever you are in the region, you can easily attend the first-class offerings of these two stalwart Delaware musical institutions as they round out their seasons in style.
DELAWARE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (DSO)
Maestro David Amado – recently named the first-ever Music Director Laureate in the orchestra’s 117-year history – has shaped the ensemble into one of the region’s cultural treasures. “The orchestra's artistic level has soared under his leadership, and the success of his tenure and his contributions to our community are remarkable," says J.C. Barker, DSO Executive Director. This season that celebrates his 20-year tenure has been filled so far with great music, but there’s more to come from the city’s favorite maestro.
Chamber Series Concerts
The DSO boasts premier regional musicians in two types of concerts. The Chamber Series brings players face-to-face with a delighted audience in intimate venues. The season’s last one is on March 7 at the elegant DuPont Country Club. Igor Stravinsky’s masterpiece, The Soldier’s Tale, tells of love, temptation, greed, and ultimate redemption. Written for an unusual combination of instruments (violin, bass, clarinet, bassoon, cornet, trombone, and percussion), the work nods to tango, ragtime, waltzes, old-time church chorales, and marches. DSO musicians will be joined by dancer Ashley SK Davis and actors from Delaware Shakespeare in a unique evening.
Classics Series Concerts
The orchestra’s Classics Series is played in the gorgeous Grand Opera House in Wilmington and Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes., and two of these concerts round out the season. On March 24 (Wilmington) and 26 (Lewes), the DSO explores “Masters of Film,” with movie scores presented as exciting symphonic masterpieces. Amado is “absolutely thrilled to be playing Hollywood classics of the silver screen by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (who created the ‘Hollywood sound’),” along with music from Dr. Zhivago, The Magnificent Seven, Casablanca, Out of Africa, Harry Potter, and more.
Then on April 28, the DSO caps off the year with a major orchestral classic. Amado and the orchestra will offer Beethoven’s powerful 9th Symphony – “The Choral” – joined by the University of Delaware Symphonic Choir. The work has been lauded since its very first performance, when the audience gave Beethoven a riotous standing ovation. The deaf composer, who was conducting, was turned around by a soloist so he could see the exuberant crowd, and the piece still evokes that same response.
It’s a gorgeous season-ender and a fitting way to celebrate Amado’s tenure as Music Director. The Maestro sums it up best: “Two decades – hard to believe. Traditional 20th anniversary gift: China. Mine: Beethoven 9. I can’t think of a better one. No gift receipt needed.”
OPERADELAWARE – Both Familiar and New
Under General Director Brendan Cooke, this stellar regional ensemble – the 11th oldest opera company in America – has become known over his decade-plus tenure for its adventurous programming. During the pandemic, they presented opera in their parking lot and on their fire escapes. Since then, they’ve launched a welcoming mobile stage that brings singers into neighborhoods everywhere, and they also offer intimate “up close” opera afternoons in their unique Riverfront studio space. But each season’s jewels are the company’s inventive, fully staged productions.
"There's truly nothing like a full-scale opera production in Wilmington's Grand Opera House," said Cooke. "Time stops for a few hours, as the audience gathers to see the culmination of thousands of hours of collective effort in bringing incredible stories to life. Each performance is truly unique, and the transfer of energy back and forth between the performers and the audience is electric - we just can't wait!"
For their large-scale performances, OperaDelaware also performs at The Grand, that beautiful Market Street venue that’s just perfect in size and ambiance for these works. On March 31 and April 2, they’ll offer Verdi’s classic tale of love and desire, La Traviata, fully staged and with the OperaDelaware orchestra and chorus. It’s an exquisite masterpiece that tells the tale of a bold courtesan who longs for freedom until she encounters a young romantic. But darkness looms over their future in this timeless tale of love and sacrifice that inspired Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge. OperaDelaware’s production will vibrantly illustrate just how and why this classic is still tugging at everyone’s hearts.
This fearless company can step easily from the past right into the present, and they’ll round out their season with something brand new – a “workshop presentation” of an opera-in-creation titled Fearless. Coming on April 16 in the company’s intimate Riverfront venue, it tells the tale of Hazel Ying Lee, trailblazing aviator of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. The work is being written right now – both music and libretto – by Derek Wang, a young composer whose acclaimed Scalia/Ginsberg took the opera world by storm. Fearless is an important new American work celebrating women in aviation, unsung heroes, and positive social change. And it’s also a chance to be on the forefront of 21st century opera and see how a future classic comes together.
See any – or all – of these performances and experience why these two great regional companies continue to win accolades and audiences!
To learn more about Wilmington, Delaware and the surrounding Brandywine Valley go to VisitWilmingtonDE.com.