Friday, July 01, 2011

Master Class with Matthew Epstein

Thursday evening I got to hear 4 Merolini in a master class presented to an audience of Merola Opera supporters. The event was led by Matthew Epstein, who modestly claimed he is not a "master," even though his lengthy resume includes being director of Columbia Artists Vocal, artistic director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, general director of Welsh National Opera, & manager to many famous singers.

Each singer sang two arias, the 2nd being chosen by their fellow Merolini, who were seated in the middle of the auditorium & played the part of an audition committee. Mr. Epstein moderated the discussion of each singer's performance. Every comment began with praise, but nothing was off limits. Baritone Jonathan Michie has a suave, confident stage presence & rounded low notes but was taken to task about the color of his tie. Mezzo Deborah Nansteel has a wonderfully dark, luscious sound, but her colleagues noticed unintentional movements that gave away her nervousness.

Merola Opera ProgramBass-baritone Philippe Sly was indisposed but bravely sang his bravura Handel aria with a sharp energy. Someone complained about the choice of material, saying of Handel arias, "If I've heard the first 8 bars, I've heard the whole thing." However, everyone had difficulty finding fault with his version of the Count's aria from The Marriage of Figaro. It was bright, original, & bursting with might. I instantly wanted to hear him sing the whole role. Soprano Elizabeth Zharoff got similarly involved in her aria from Iolanta. Her full-throated singing pulled everyone into its mood of sadness. If I had been one of the singers, I do not know what I would have made of all the comments & differing points of view. Mr. Epstein ended the session by telling the singers, "Your entire career is spent listening to advice." After the class, the audience was invited to join the Merolini in a dessert & sparkling wine reception.

§ Master Class with Matthew Epstein
Merola Opera Program 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011 | 7:00 - 9:00 PM | Herbst Theatre

"Bella siccome un angelo" from Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti
"Mab, la reine des mensonges" from Roméo et Juliette by Charles-François Gounod
Jonathan Michie, baritone
Robert Mollicone, piano

"Va! Laisse couler mes larmes" from Werther by Jules Massenet
"Sein wir wieder gut" Composer's Aria from Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss
Deborah Nansteel, mezzo-soprano
Timothy Cheung, piano

"Sibilar gli angui d'Aletto" from Rinaldo by G. F. Handel
"Hai già vinta la causa" from Le Nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Philippe Sly, bass-baritone
Ana María Otamendi, piano

"No word from Tom" from The Rake's Progress by Igor Stravinsky
Iolanta's Arioso from Iolanta by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Elizabeth Zharoff, soprano
Clinton Smith, piano

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