Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Meet the Merolini

The green roomLast night the Merola Opera Program kicked off its 2009 season with a Meet the Merolini event. No singing was involved. Instead, each of the 29 young artists was briefly interviewed by Sheri Greenawald (SF Opera Center Director), Patrick Wilken (President) & Jayne Davis (Chairman) before an invited audience of about 150 supporters & sponsors, plus a few of our favorite bloggers. It took nearly 2 hours to get through everyone, but Ms. Greenawald made every effort to keep the tone light & funny. She often elicited random non-musical aspects of the artists, such as baritone Paul Scholten's previous life as a junior tennis champ or soprano Lori Guilbeau's lizard phobia.

I was surprised at how many of the singers had changed voice types. Tenor Brian Jagde was singing baritone roles up until last October, & tenor Nathaniel Peake has sung baritone & countertenor! I did not know that such a thing was possible, but apparently this is not uncommon for young singers. As for how they actually sing, we'll have to wait for the summer performances, which start in July & include a Schwabacher Summer Concert, staged productions of L'Amico Fritz & Così fan tutte at Fort Mason, & a performance at the Opera House.

Clearly all the artists are extremely excited and ready to go to work. At the reception, soprano Lara Ciekiewicz was nice enough to explain to me what "passaggio" is. I also enjoyed meeting Merola's Vittoria d'Aste-Surcouf & then Karen Ames, formerly of the SF Opera, who shockingly identified me as Axel Feldhiem, even though I was attempting to hide behind the far more recognizable Opera Tattler.

P.S. (06.19.2009)
Since SFMike rightly questions my photographic skills, here's a fine official photo of the event, featuring bass Evan Boyer:


Sheri Greenawald (Director of the Opera Center) Patrick Wilken (President of the Board of Directors) and Jayne Davis (Chairman of the Board of Directors) question Evan Boyer (bass)

Photography courtesy of Kristen Loken Anstey

2009 Merola Opera Program Artist Listing

Sopranos
SUSANNAH BILLER, Georgetown, Tennessee
LARA CIEKIEWICZ, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
KATE CRIST, Agency, Iowa
SARA GARTLAND, St. Paul, Minnesota
LORI GUILBEAU, Golden Meadow, Louisiana

Mezzo-sopranos
MARGARET GAWRYSIAK, Geneseo, Illinois
CAITLIN MATHES, Dayville, Connecticut
ELLIE JARRETT, Dallas, Texas
MAYA LAHYANI, Hod-HaSharon, Israel

Contralto
SUZANNE HENDRIX, Charles City, Iowa

Countertenor
RYAN BELONGIE, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin

Tenors
ELEAZAR RODRÍGUEZ, Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico
GREGORY CARROLL, Des Moines, Washington
BRIAN JAGDE, Piermont, New York
ALEX MANSOORI, Seattle, Washington
NATHANIEL PEAKE, Humble, Texas

Baritones
ALEKSEY BOGDANOV, Odessa, Ukraine
JOHN CHEST, Greenville, South Carolina
PAUL SCHOLTEN, Muskegon, Michigan
MICHAEL SUMUEL, Odessa, Texas

Bass-baritone
YOHAN YI, Pohang, The Republic of Korea

Basses
EVAN BOYER, Louisville, Kentucky
BENJAMIN LeCLAIR, Royal, Iowa

Apprentice Coaches
KEUN-A LEE, Seoul, The Republic of Korea
STEPHANIE RHODES, Alpine, Utah
TAMARA SANIKIDZE, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia
SUZY SMITH, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
MIAOMIAO WANG, Lanzhou, Gansu, China

Apprentice Stage Director
FERNANDO PARRA BORTÍ, Chihuahua, Mexico

6 comments:

sfmike said...

That photo looks like you were on LSD.

Patty said...

I'm jealous! I would have loved to have attended that. I guess I'm just not a big enough blogger name. Now I'll have to feel sorry for myself for a while. How typical of an oboist. :-(

I'll be playing Cosi, so I do look forward to that!

L. Strether said...

That's pretty funny- how did she recognize you?

Axel Feldheim said...

sfmike: the camera on my cell phone is a seldom-used feature, so that is what came out. perhaps my cell phone was on lsd.

patty: please don't feel bad; you are certainly a well-known blogger around here! if there had been singing, then you could well feel jealous. but then, you will have an even better chance to hear them close-up during Cosi. i'd like to check that one out myself.

strether: i have no idea how Ms. Ames became so clever. i thought i was doing a good job of constantly hiding behind other bloggers.

jumping clapping man said...

I can't wait to hear this new batch in action at the General Director Auds in just over a week! Thanks for the early report.

Axel Feldheim said...

I'm looking forward to hearing them sing this summer as well.