Saturday, July 17, 2010

Schwabacher Summer Concert

Merola Opera Program 2010
Schwabacher Summer Concert
Friday, July 16, 7:30 PM
Herbst Theater

Conductor: Mark Morash
Director: Roy Rallo

The Merry Wives of Windsor, Overture
Otto Nicolai

Rodelinda, Act II, Scene 3 & 4
George Handel
Rodelinda - Rebecca Davis
Unulfo - Robin Flynn
Grimaldo - Kevin Ray
Garibaldo - Ryan Kuster

Werther, Act III, Opening
Jules Massenet
Charlotte - Renée Rapier
Sophie - Janai Brugger-Orman

Il Barbiere di Sivilgia, Act II
Gioachino Rossini
Rosina - Colleen Brooks
Almaviva - Eleazar Rodríguez
Figaro - Dan Kempson
Bartolo - Ryan Kuster
Basilio - Kevin Thompson

The Bartered Bride, from Act I, Scene 2
Bedrich Smetana
Marenka - Rebecca Davis
Jeník - Kevin Ray

The Merry Wives of Windsor, from Act I
Otto Nicolai
Falstaff - Kevin Thompson
Fluth - Dan Kempson
Slender - Kevin Ray
Dr. Caius - Ryan Kuster
Fenton - Eleazar Rodríguez
Anne - Janai Brugger-Orman

The Merolini have obviously been working hard, & there was never a doubtful moment in this program. The singers were in evening dress & acted extended scenes in front of a row of mismatched chairs. The orchestra was on the stage, though for some reason it sounded much farther away, which actually created a good balance with the singers. (Oboeinsight was somewhere in the band.)

In the scene from Rodelinda, soprano Rebecca Davis impressed immediately with the size, strength & steely timbre of her voice. Rodelinda's son was played by a baby doll which was passed among the characters. Robin Flynn sang her tender aria with the doll pressed to her face, making it seem that the aria was about the baby instead of Rodelinda.

In the introduction to the scene from Werther, the cello section was sonorous in a deep solo passage. Renée Rapier then drew me in completely with her dramatic focus & full, mature sound. The singers went all out with the slapstick comedy in the scene from Il Barbieri. They gesticulated so much that it looked like they were performing the scene in sign language. Ryan Kuster got a big laugh for both his falsetto voice & the curvaceous way he stood when delivering it. He also did an excellent standing half-split. These singers have big voices, but the ensemble got 3 times louder the moment bass Kevin Thompson began singing in his astonishingly low, resonant voice.

We gladly got to hear more of Rebecca Davis in a sweet love scene from The Bartered Bride, & Kevin Thompson was equally welcome back in a drunk scene from an operetta version of The Merry Wives of Windsor. I was really happy that his song repeats the part with a really low note. Eleazar Rodríguez charmed the audience when he sang his serenade from the right balcony. He had a great love interest in Janai Brugger-Orman, whose voice is liquidity & smooth & definitely got that buoyancy that Jane Eaglen frequently requested in her master class. Kevin Ray contributed a very funny yodel to the scene as well.

This program will be repeated for free next Sunday, July 25, 2:00 PM at Yerba Buena Gardens. Weather permitting, it should be grand.


Immanuel Gilen said...

I love that aria from The Bartered Bride. SFO should give that opera a full staging - don't mind my wishful thinking...

Axel Feldheim said...

I don't know this opera, but The Bartered Bride excerpt was very cute to say the least. & Ms. David sounded like she is ready to sing the role today. Wishful thinking is most welcome, even from someone with a wish for SFO who does not even live in San Francisco!

Civic Center said...

I too would love to see "The Bartered Bride" staged someday. I got to know and love the opera from an ancient Supraphon recording, but I don't have a clue to as to the actual plot.

Speaking of not having a clue, the "Rodelinda" synopsis in the program was so confusing it was fairly hilarious, and the extended scena had to include the worst example of a bad baby prop I've ever seen onstage. When the wicked bass, the only one who doesn't hold and fondle the phony infant, pulled out his knife I whispered to my friend, "Yes, stab the Prop Baby!"

Axel Feldheim said...

Another vote for Smetana, wow! I agree that the Prop Baby was annoying, but I would never wish someone to stab it! Perhaps part of the Merola training is to accustom the singers to doing ridiculous things on stage. In the Barber scene, Eleazar spent a lot of time playing an invisible piano & an invisible harp.

Walter Tully said...

My mom has been planning to watch summer concerts in Denver, however she often misses her favorite singers. I hope this coming year they will have a tour and include parks in Denver, CO. If that happens, my mom will be so delighted.