“Maria Ferrante broke my heart Sunday night. Or, through her, Puccini's Madama Butterfly did,” wrote Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe in January, 2003. Her “combination of delicacy and intensity. . . brought tears to my eyes. . . In her honesty, imagination, and investment, she was infinitely superior to the last Butterfly I saw at the Met.” The petite soprano’s operatic roles range from the great stage heroines (Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, Pamina in Mozart’s Magic Flute, Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello, Liù in Puccini’s Turandot, Rosalinda in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, and Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème) to serving girls (Despina in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, Barbarina in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Serpina in Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona, and in Englebert Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel: Gretel, who not only serves, but is served.) “A true singing actress,” Dyer enthused, “her eyes and hands and body know how to sing, and with her voice she can act.” Performing in the trousers role of Oscar in Verdi’s A Masked Ball for Berks Grand Opera, she was acclaimed as “perfect, I doubt if any company anywhere could find one better suited to sing this crucial role.”
Equally at home on the concert stage, Maria has sung Brahms’ Ein Deutsces Requiem, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Poulenc’s Gloria, Faure’s Requiem, Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass, Handel’s Acis and Galatea, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Verdi’s Requiem. She has appeared in concert with such world reknowned artists as: Lincoln Mayorga and Gilbert Kalish. Critic Alice Parker wrote that she “handled the wide tessitura, comple lines and German diction [of Berg’s ‘Seven Early Songs’’] with ease, matched by Mr Kalish’s accomplished pianism.” The world’s two most eminent solo clarinetists, Julian Milkis (a Sony recording artist) and Richard Stolzman (who has recorded on all the major labels) have performed with her. Internationally touring solo violinists Ayako Yoshida and Colin Jacobsen, cellist Dorothy Larson (a Deutsche Gramaphon recording artist), and pianists Abba Bogin, Alys Terrien-Queen, and John McGinn have all accompanied Ms Ferrante. Czech prodigy, Miroslav Sekera, the 2002 winner of the Johannes Brahms International Piano Competition in Austria (and 1st prize winner of many other international competitions) has recorded with Maria in Prague, and performed with her in the United States, and the Virgin Islands. American composers Seymour Barab and Sheldon Harnick (who wrote Fiddler on the Roof) have collaborated in performance with her, as has the late Arnold Black, founder of the Mohawk Trail Music Series. All New Englanders will remember Robert J. Lurtsema as the voice of WGBH radio, and some will have had the pleasure of hearing him in concert with Maria. Xavier de Maistre, solo harpist with the Vienna Philharmonic, has accompanied the soprano in concert in New York and this year (2003) will accompany her in concerts in the United States and abroad, followed by a recording to be released in 2004.
Besides her accomplishments singing the familiar, she is also that rare creature, an artist capable of creating brand new roles fresh from the composer’s pen. Drafted by composer Joseph Summer as principal soprano for The Shakespeare Concerts, Maria has introduced Juliet in Gallop Apace, Ophelia in They Bore Him Barefaced, Miranda in If By Your Art My Dearest Father as well as several sonnets and scena in performances and recordings in the United States, Europe, and the Virgin Islands in 2002 and 2003. Commenting on her Virgin Islands premiere of They Bore Him Barefaced, critic Roger Lakins described Maria Ferrante as “a soprano whose love for singing is surpassed only by her love of communicating. She managed to bring the audience into her mood as Ophelia in just a few notes. From then on, they were her fans. A young woman sitting with me confided that she found the Ophelia work haunting, but had to work hard to believe that someone capable of making such beautiful sounds would drown herself. Had the need arisen, there were a few hundred people present who would have rescued her in a heartbeat.” Ferrante’s efforts in the arduous task of premiering new works were applauded by Lakins who wrote of Maria, tenor Alan Schneider, and award winning Czech pianist Miroslav Sekera: “The performers gathered for the evening by the composer are all superb musicians. They approached his works with seriousness and conviction. Throughout the rest of the program, they would make it clear just how fortunate he is to have artists of their caliber as vehicles for his work.” For this season’s The Shakespeare Concerts, she will premiere (and record) here and abroad several new works by Summer, including two more Ophelia songs. Besides her role in The Shakespeare Concerts, Maria has premiered Daniel Pelzig’s Bachiana with the Boston Ballet and the United States première of both the Requiem and Tota Pulchra Es Maria of Jose Nuñes Garcia.
Recent performances have included her appearance in New York with the Ensemble for the Romantic Century in a program of Spanish compositions accompanied by the guitar virtuoso Benjamin Verdery; Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5 at New York’s Symphony Space (“sung with sweetness and oxygenated clarity by Maria Ferrante”); as well as performances with the Charleston and Delaware Symphony Orchestras, as featured soloist for BankBoston Showcase Series, The Newton Symphony (MA), The Newtown Chamber Orchestra (CT), Harvard’s Landmark Concerts, the Harvard Musical Association, Orpheus Choir of Hexam (England), The National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, DC), Kosciusko Foundation(NYC), the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, the Bay Chamber Ensemble, the Boston Chamber Ensemble, and the Great Music Series (Provincetown). An acclaimed regular soloist with the Mohawk Concert Series, she will be appearing for them with the great violinist Arnold Steinhardt in New York City in May, 2003.
Ms. Ferrante’s most recently released CD, Sea Tides and Time received a rave review from the Boston Herald,”[Ms. Ferrante] known for her lilting soprano voice and probing mind… brings a supple and colorful approach to a broad variety of repertoire.” The Boston Globe said: “Superb.”