Friday, December 03, 2010

Adler Fellows Gala

Wednesday evening, I was among those who dashed directly from Heidi Melton's Salon at the Rex to the Adler Fellows Gala Concert at Herbst Theatre. I ought to be thankful to our ride for getting us there, but there was an awful lot of swearing in the car. For this concert of opera scenes, the SF Opera Orchestra was on the stage & the singers came on through the side doors. All of the Adlers gave consistently strong & confident performances. The over-full program was replete with scenes from French operas.

Mezzo Maya Lahyani was vocally & dramatically convincing as those great femme fatales Dalila & Carmen. She is a terrific actress. Soprano Susannah Biller & countertenor Ryan Belongie were tasteful & well-matched in a duet from Handel's Rodelinda. They sang sensitively with one another. Leah Crocetto got the audience cheering in both of her scenes with tenor David Lomelí. Almost perversely, her already substantial sound seems to get stronger, weightier & louder the higher she sings. Mr. Lomelí's voice is so meaty & distinctive that he did not sound like he was off-stage in the excerpt from Traviata. Perhaps he should have been standing on Grove Street. At the end of his Guillaume Tell scene with Ms. Crocetto, he planted such a huge kiss on her that the audience had to laugh.

I enjoyed the "E lucevan la stele" that closed the 1st half, beginning with a delicate, faraway-sounding clarinet solo from Jose Gonzalez Granero. The orchestra maintained a transparent texture, providing a pleasing support for Brian Jagde's beefy tenor. In the mad scene from Hamlet, Ms. Biller sounded young & bright, & she picked off a string of high notes with the same unnerving ease as she peeled the petals off her bouquet of blood red roses. Soprano Sara Gartland sounded completely confident with the high notes, shrieks & laughter of her climactic breakdown scene as Thaïs. The program ended with Mr. Lomelí's firmly rooted "Nessun dorma," the other Adlers singing the chorus as they walked on stage to join him.

The house was full for this event, & I sat up in the balcony surrounded by enthusiastic but chatty patrons, many of whom seemed to be local students. I spotted baritone Eric Owens in the lobby before the show & attended a wine, cheese & dessert reception in the Green Room afterward. I even received grateful hugs from Ms. Crocetto & Mr. Lomelí, though perhaps only because they did not suspect me of being a party crasher.

§ The Future is Now: Adler Fellows Gala Concert
Conductor: Mark Morash
San Francisco Opera Orchestra

Rusland and Lyudmila, Mikhail Glinka

Samson et Dalila, Camille Saint-Saëns
"Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix"
Dalila: Maya Lahyani

Falstaff, Giuseppe Verdi
"È sogno? o realtà?"
Ford: Austin Kness

I Puritani, Vincenzo Bellini
"Ah rendetmi la speme...Qu la voce"
Elvira: Sara Gartland

Rodelinda, George Frideric Handel
"Io t'abbraccio"
Rodelinda: Susannah Biller
Bertarido: Ryan Belongie
Harpsichord: Allen Perriello

Tosca, Giacomo Puccini
"E lucevan le stele"
Cavaradossi: Brian Jagde

La Traviata, Giuseppe Verdi
"E Strano...Ah, fors' è Lui...Sempre libera"
Violetta: Leah Crocetto
Alfredo: David Lomelí

Carmen: George Bizet
"C'est voi! C'est moi"
Carmen: Maya Lahyani
Don José: Brian Jagde

Mitridate, Re di Ponto, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
"Venga pur, minacci e frema"
Farnace: Ryan Belongie

Guillaume Tell, Gioachino Rossini
"Ma présence pour vous...Oui, vous l'arrachez à mon âme"
Mathilde: Leah Crocetto
Arnold: David Lomelí

Hamlet, Ambroise Thomas
"À vos jeux, mes amis"
Ophélie: Susannah Biller

Thaïs, Jules Massenet
"Étranger, te voilà comme tu l'avais dit"
Thaïs: Sara Gartland
Athanaël: Austin Kness
Nicias: Brian Jagde

Turandot, Giacomo Puccini
"Nessun dorma"
Calàf: David Lomelí
Celeste: Tamara Sanikidze

December 1, 2010
7:30 PM
Herbst Theatre


Immanuel Gilen said...

Who is Celeste in Turandot?

Axel Feldheim said...

Celeste is Calef's faithful pet grasshopper. Sorry. Celeste refers to the instrument. It's listed in the program in order to acknowledge pianist Tamara Sanikidze, who is also an Adler Fellow. She even dressed elegantly like an opera singer for the occasion!