Sunday, August 22, 2010

Merola Grand Finale

Merola Opera Program
Conductor – Dean Williamson
Stage Director – Ted Huffman
San Francisco Opera Orchestra

“The woods are green...Here I stand”
The Rake’s Progress by Igor Stravinsky
Ann Trulove – Janai Brugger-Orman
Tom Rakewell – Alexander Lewis
Father Trulove – Kevin Thompson
[Harpsichord – David Hanlon]

“Or dove fuggo io mai?...Ah! per sempre io ti perdei”
I Puritani by Vincenzo Bellini
Riccardo – Ao Li

“Quoi! Vous m’aimez?”
La Fille du Régiment by Gaetano Donizetti
Marie – Abigail Santos Villalobos
Tonio – Eleazar Rodríguez

“O loss of sight...Total Eclipse”
Samson by George Handel
Samson – Kevin Ray
[Harpsichord – Michael Spassov]

“Connais-tu le pays?”
Mignon by Ambroise Thomas
Mignon – Robin Flynn

“I see their knavery...”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Benjamin Britten
Tytania – Hye Jung Lee
Bottom – Thomas Florio
Peaseblossom – Valentina Fleer
Cobweb – Nadine Sierra
Moth – Robin Flynn
Mustardseed – Abigail Santos Villalobos
[Harpsichord – Natalia Katyukova]

“Ah, je suis seule...Dis-moi que je suis belle”
Thaïs by Jules Massenet
Thaïs – Rebecca Davis

“Appressati, Lucia...Il pallor, funesto, orrendo”
Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti
Lucia – Valentina Fleer
Enrico – Sidney Outlaw

“Wie schön ist die Musik”
Die schweigsame Frau by Richard Strauss
Sir Morosus – Kevin Thompson
[Organ – Michael Spassov]

“Monseigneur! Ophélie!...Doute de la lumière”
Hamlet by Thomas
Ophélie – Abigail Santos Villalobos
Hamlet – Dan Kempson

“Sgombra è la sacra selva...Deh! Proteggimi, o Dio”
Norma by Bellini
Adalgisa – Renée Rapier

“Sie hält ihn für den Todesgott”
Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss
Zerbinetta – Hye Jung Lee
Composer – Colleen Brooks
[Piano – Jenna Douglas; Harmonium – Natalia Katyukova]

“E il dottor non si vede! Pronta io son”
Don Pasquale by Donizetti
Norina – Janai Brugger-Orman
Malatesta – Benjamin Covey

“Wie Todesahnung...O du mein holder Abendstern”
Tannhäuser by Richard Wagner
Wolfram – Ryan Kuster

“Va! Je t’ai pardonée...Nuit d’Hymenée”
Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod
Juliette – Nadine Sierra
Roméo – Daniel Montenegro

“Pian, pianin le andrò più presso”
Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart
La Contessa di Almaviva – Rebecca Davis
Susanna – Valentina Fleer
Cherubino – Robin Flynn
Barbarina – Hye Jung Lee
Marcellina – Renée Rapier
Basilio – Eleazar Rodríguez
Don Curzio – Kevin Ray
Il Conte di Almaviva – Sidney Outlaw
Figaro – Ryan Kuster
Bartolo – Thomas Florio
Antonio – Kevin Thompson
Servitori – tutti Merolini

Saturday, August 21, 7:30pm
War Memorial Opera House

This concert at the Opera House is a sort of graduation recital for the Merolini, & since everyone needs to have a turn in the spotlight, the event ran to a longish 3 hours. The stage was bare but for 4 skinny cypress trees. The singers wore formal evening dress & acted out their scenes with minimal props & lighting changes, though the stage was often dimly lit. Everyone was obviously well-prepared, & the succession of excerpts flowed flawlessly.

I liked Ao Li's beautiful, resonant baritone & the warmth of his stage presence. There was a great flute solo at the beginning of the Mignon excerpt, & I continued to listen for this flute sound for the rest of the evening. Rebecca Davis, with her big sound & slightly metallic edge, sounded magnificent as Thaïs. In the scene from Lucia, baritone Sidney Outlaw was such a convincing actor that I was almost on Enrico's side. The excerpt from Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream came the closest to feeling like a complete dramatic scene, & Britten's twinkling orchestration stood out. I liked baritone Thomas Florio's big, relaxed sound & his ease when moving on stage. His braying & yawning were wonderfully musical. I am totally unfamiliar with Strauss's Die schweigsame Frau, but I was delighted by the pleasingly languorous music & by the huge bass of Kevin Thompson, who held an impossibly low note for an impossibly long time at the close.

There were a lot of French numbers whose music I found unmemorable, but the scene from Roméo et Juliette with soprano Nadine Sierra & tenor Daniel Montenegro was a clear audience favorite. The music was even held up at one point because of applause. Besides sounding lovely together, both singers make an uncommonly good-looking romantic couple. The evening ended with the finale of Le nozze di Figaro. The audience was startled by the loud & realistic sound when the Countess slapped Cherubino. During the final bars, all the Merolini came forward to form an impressive chorus line stretching across the edge of the stage. The Opera Tattler, surely the Merolini's biggest fan, was spotted going downstairs into the paid reception afterward. She arrived laden with flowers & cards for the performers.

photo: Daniel Montenegro & Nadine Sierra
credit: Kristen Loken

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