Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Schwabacher Summer Concert

Merola Opera Program
Schwabacher Summer Concert
Yerba Buena Gardens
Sunday, July 12, 2009, 2 pm

L'Italiana in Algeri, Gioachino Rossini: Overture
Der Fliegende Holländer, Richard Wagner: Act II, Scene 2
Orfeo ed Euridice, Christoph Willibald Gluck: Act III, Scene 1
The Medium, Gian Carlo Menotti: From Act II
L'Italiana in Algeri, Gioachino Rossini: From Act II, Scene 7
La Bohème, Giacomo Puccini: Act IV

Mark Morash, conductor

We had gloriously sunny weather for Merola's outdoor program at Yerba Buena Gardens. The singers acted out each scene, but without the benefit of costumes or sets. Instead, most everyone was in basic black, & a row of chairs was spread across the stage. Sheri Greenawald read plot synopses before each scene, though trying to summarize opera plots is always a tricky a business.

Everyone one was amplified, of course, but I was really excited by Gregory Carroll as Erik in the scene from Holländer. He seems to be a real heldentenor already, his voice hefty yet bright. Kate Crist was powerful in voice & demeanor as Senta, & the 2 of them whipped up an intense encounter. They got me so worked up for the entrance of the Dutchman that I was disappointed when the scene ended.

Counter-tenor Ryan Belongie, in the Orfeo excerpt, had none of the hooty or strained sound that I normally associate with his voice type. Susannah Biller was his steady-voiced Euridice. Ms. Biller ended up with a part in every scene, & she was a reliable presence throughout. Suzanne Hendrix, as Baba in The Medium, really took control of the stage. With her substantial sound & confident acting, she created a truly scary scene of desperation & murder.

Everyone got a chance to ham it up a bit in the scene for L'Italiana. The final act of Bohème was surprisingly moving even in the outdoor setting. Brian Jagde's Rodolfo & Lori Guibeau's Mimì were appealing & sweet-sounding. Mimì's death was a rather sad way to end the afternoon, though.

During the intermission, Karen Ames presented a mayor's proclamation to Merola President Patrick Wilken. Ms. Ames also knows the correct way to pack a picnic for these events. The Opera Tattler was spotted sitting demurely in the fenced-off holding pen designated for VIPs. John Marcher was discovered seated on the grass like the rest of us.

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