The Catholic University of America

Nov. 11, 2015

Big Egos, Dueling Divas in Mozart’s The Impresario


The larger-than-life antics of a busy opera company will come to life on stage this month as the Vocal Division of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music presents Mozart’s The Impresario.

Performances of The Impresario will take place in Ward Recital Hall, 3801 Harewood Road, Thursday, Nov. 19, Friday, Nov. 20, and Saturday, Nov. 20, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 22, at 2 p.m.

Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and commissioned by Emperor Joseph II, The Impresario was first performed at a private party in the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna on Feb. 7, 1786. For the University's production, director James Hampton updated the dialogue to satirize the modern struggles of a fictional opera company, the Chamber Opera of Washington (COW).

“It’s kind of a day-in-the-life of an opera impresario, who is just trying to run his company and put on good art,” said Hampton. “We wanted to make it more approachable and more relevant to the plight of a small, modern opera company.”

Included in the director’s schedule are meetings with board members and auditions with dueling divas: the wife of a dot-com billionaire and a social media-obsessed hipster. The production has modern costumes and English dialogue and jokes, with audition arias in German and Italian.

In addition to the original score’s overture and four musical numbers, students will perform selections from another of Mozart’s operas: The Magic Flute. Chamber music arrangement for the show is by Brian Rice, who earned his doctorate in composition in 2014.

The show provides an opportunity for music students to show off their voices and work on their acting skills, Hampton said. Students performing vary in age from sophomores to graduate students.

“It’s an intimate setting of a funny opera,” Hampton said. “It’s a very charming piece, with difficult requirements for the singers. Mozart wrote very difficult coloratura and when you have the voices that can pull it off, you should really highlight it. This is a way to showcase the talent we have.”

Though the music is beautiful and complex, Hampton hopes that audiences will enjoy the show as a “fun, frothy evening of classical music,” and a “very good introduction to the medium” of opera.

“You want to find ways to let people know about the art form,” he said. “This is a piece that opera fans will enjoy and that the musical theatre fans will like as well.”

Tickets are $20 for general admission; $10 for seniors and CUA alumni, faculty, and staff; and $5 for students and children under 8. For more information or to buy tickets, call 202-319-5416 or visit




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