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Lisa Marie Rogali

Love & Romance!

February 14 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

$5 – $50

Happy Valentine’s Day! “The course of true love never did run smoothly” might well be the theme of the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra’s Valentine’s Day concert. Hector Berlioz’ opera Béatrice et Bénédicte is based on Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing, the story of a young man who claims to despise marriage and a young woman who enjoys poking fun at him, until they both realize they are very much in love. Gustav Mahler was going through a painful breakup when he composed the text and the music of one of his earliest masterworks, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer). The four songs, orchestrated with Mahler’s customary flair, paint a vivid portrait of the disappointed lover’s fantasies ranging from rage and grief, to irony, humor, and–ultimately–acceptance. No composer has created star-crossed lovers so memorable as Leonard Bernstein in West Side Story, his updated version of Romeo and Juliet. Maria and Tony’s poignant love songs and the jazz and Latin rhythms of the Jets and the Sharks will thrill your date more than flowers and chocolates–guaranteed!

Guest vocalist Lisa Marie Rogali

Award-winning mezzo-soprano Lisa Marie Rogali has been praised for her “nuanced voice” and “spontaneity” on the stage. Ms. Rogali is quickly establishing herself as a versatile performer of opera, musical theatre, contemporary, and concert music. For the 2022-23 season, Ms. Rogali debuts the roles of Princess/Lucy/Fancy Doll #1 in the World Premiere of Edward Tulane with Minnesota Opera. On the concert stage, she will be
featured as the alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Naples Philharmonic, in addition to performing Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Williamsport Symphony Orchestra. In the spring, Ms. Rogali will make her role debut as Hansel in Opera Birmingham’s production of Hansel and Gretel. She will return to the Glimmerglass Festival this summer to sing Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette and Paquette in Candide. Ms.  Rogali has been featured in roles on the stages of companies including Minnesota Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Opera Saratoga. A frequent in the competition circuit, Lisa has earned top accolades from the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, Jensen Foundation, Giulio Gari Foundation, American Traditions Vocal Collection, Lotte Lenya Competition, and many more. Ms. Rogali received her M.M. in Vocal Performance from The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and her B.M.E. in Music Education from The Pennsylvania State University.

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February 14
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
$5 – $50
Event Category:


Community Arts Center
220 West Fourth Street
Williamsport, PA 17701 United States
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Williamsport Symphony Orchestra


  • Béatrice et Bénédicte Overture by H. Berlioz
  • Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a wayfarer) by G. Mahler
  • Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story”by L. Bernstein

Program Notes by Dr. Gary Boerckel, Professor emeritus, Lycoming College

Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict [1862]                                                                Hector Berlioz

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Hector Berlioz [1803-1869]–and he was one of the most remarkable characters in the long history of music–is that he ever became a musician, let alone one of the greatest composers of his time. The son of a country doctor and raised in a tiny village in southeast France, Berlioz learned classic literature and not much else under the supervision of his father. His musical experience was limited to little more than some lessons on the flute and the guitar, and a few simple compositions. In 1821, at his father’s insistence, Berlioz enrolled in the School of Medicine of the University of Paris and discovered that human dissection appalled him. He began to frequent the opera and decided to become a composer. Somehow he convinced the well-known composer Le Sueur to take him on as a private pupil in 1823 and, with Le Sueur’s assistance, he was admitted to the prestigious Paris Conservatory in 1826. The following year he saw Paris productions of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet and he was overwhelmed. “Shakespeare, coming upon me unawares, struck me like a thunderbolt. The lightning-flash of that discovery revealed to me at a stroke the whole heaven of art, illuminating it to its remotest corners. I recognized the meaning of grandeur, beauty, [and] dramatic truth.” Just three years after that revelation, Berlioz won the Prix de Rome, the Conservatory’s highest prize, and wrote the magnificent Symphonie fantastique, the work that made his reputation. That Berlioz–or anyone–could develop from a musical novice to a great master in seven years is astounding. Over the course of his forty-year career, Berlioz often turned to Shakespeare for inspiration: fantasy overtures on The Tempest [1830] and King Lear [1831, a choral symphony entitled Roméo et Juliette [1839], and two movement for orchestra based on Hamlet [1840s]. The plot of Béatrice et Bénédict–the last of Berlioz’s operas–was taken from Much Ado About Nothing. Two charming young peopleBeatrice and Benedict–delight in proclaiming their aversion for each other until their friends take matters in hand and trick them into admitting their love for each other. The overture to Béatrice et Bénédict, based on themes from the opera, has long been heard on orchestral programs. The opera, like Berlioz’s operatic masterpiece Les Troyens, has seen a notable uptick in performances over the last few years.


Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen [1884-5, revised 1896]                                      Gustav Mahler

Almost all of Gustav Mahler’s [1860-1911] relatively few compositions are songs or symphonies and the two genres intersect in his hands. The songs have orchestral as well as piano accompaniments, and they are usually performed at orchestral concerts. Most of the symphonies contain vocal and choral movements or are based on songs composed earlier by Mahler. It is hardly surprising that Mahler’s overall output is limited. For most of his creative years he was a part-time composer, devoting his summer holidays to writing music. The rest of the year he was one of the most esteemed–and busiest–conductors of his era. As the musical director of the Vienna Opera, he was at the pinnacle of his profession, and he was equally successful conducting symphony orchestras. In addition, Mahler’s symphonies are all large-scale works, lasting an hour or more. He reportedly told Sibelius that “a symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.” Mahler’s first published works are songs, many of them using texts from Des Knaben Wunderhorn [The Boy’s Magic Horn]–a collection of folk poems and songs published in the early 1800s. When Mahler set about composing the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen [Songs of a Wayfarer], he wrote the texts himself, much in the style of Des Knaben Wunderhorn. The storyline of the four songs is disappointed love, just as in well-known earlier song cycles by Schubert and Schumann. At the time, Mahler was conducting operas in the central German city of Kassel where he had an ultimately unhappy affair with the soprano, Johanna Richter, who inspired the songs of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. Later orchestrated, these songs reveal the mature Mahlerian style: colorful orchestration, moments of pure innocence and bitter despair, references to nature-bird calls-and folk song and dance. Mahler began his first symphony at the same time he was working on Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and themes from the songs appear in the symphony, most notably the main theme of the symphony’s first movement which was taken from the melody of the second song. The premiere performance of  Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen was in 1896, with the Dutch baritone Anton Sistermans as soloist and Mahler conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. Today, the song cycle is among the most frequently performed and recorded of Mahler’s creations.


Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14 [1915]                                                                     Sergei Rachmaninov

Until the early 1900s, a vocalise was a vocal exercise without words set to a piano accompaniment, generally composed or arranged by voice teachers for their pupils. In 1907, Fauré published a Vocalise-etude and Ravel his Vocalise en forme de habanera, both of which still appear on voice recitals. But Rachmaninoff’s [1873-1943] Vocalise is, by far, the best-known of all wordless songs. It was dedicated to Antonina Nezhdanova, one of the leading sopranos of the Bolshoi opera who sang under Rachmaninov’s direction when he was the Bolshoi’s conductor [1904-06]. After a very successful first performance, Nezhdanova suggested that the composer arrange the piano part for orchestra. Rachmaninov complied and also arranged the work for orchestra without soloist. Since then, this much-loved work has been transcribed for almost every imaginable instrumental combination.



Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story” [1960]                                         Leonard Bernstein

West Side Story is so widely admired today that reading about the struggles its creators endured in getting it on the stage is almost as surprising as its ambivalent early reviews. At first it was to be called East Side Story, with a Jewish boy and a Catholic girl as a contemporary Romeo and Juliet. Choreographer Jerome Robbins had the original idea and enlisted Arthur Laurents (dialogue) and Leonard Bernstein [1918-1990] (music). The busy collaborators shelved the idea for six years, after which it became the West Side Story of rival white and Puerto Rican gangs. Stephen Sondheim was engaged to write the song lyrics. Then the problems emerged. Where to find brilliant actors who were also brilliant singers and dancers (the triple threat was then quite rare)? Jerome Robbins threatened to quit unless the normal rehearsal period of six weeks were not increased to eight. The producer pulled out because of the extra production costs. The 1957 opening night was all the creators had hoped for–a dance spectacle that somehow achieved unprecedented realism with magnificent music and memorable lyrics. The critics didn’t know what to make of it. They thought it too dark, too stylistically varied, with too much dancing. But they could not deny its power. Walter Kerr’s review in the New York Herald tribune began with “The radioactive fallout from West Side Story must still be falling over Broadway this morning.”

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