Saturday, February 18, 2012

Merola "Behind-the-Scenes"

An audience of opera aficionados filled the orchestra level of Herbst Theatre on Thursday night for this educational event sponsored by Merola Opera. The nearly 2 hour presentation explained the role of the apprentice coaches, who prepare singers for their performances. Pianists Robert Mollicone  (left) & David Hanlon (below), current Adler Fellows, each talked about their backgrounds. Mr. Mollicone told us how he 1st got involved in opera by singing in the chorus for Carmen at age 15. Mr. Hanlon was inspired to pursue opera coaching by seeing a master class by Martin Katz. Each pianist also performed a short solo. Mr. Mollicone played the Rachmaninoff Prelude in g minor, Op. 23, No. 5, & Mr. Hanlon did a jazz improvisation on "My Funny Valentine."

To demonstrate a coaching session, Mr. Hanlon worked on a scene from Dead Man Walking with mezzo Laura Krumm. He improved her rhythmic precision when he asked her to conduct the piano while she sang. Mark Morash, Merola's Director of Musical Studies, projected images to show us the difference between a full orchestral score ("open score") & a piano reduction ("closed score"). Mr. Mollicone demonstrated how a rehearsal pianist prepares singers for when they sing with the full orchestra. He accompanied Ms. Krumm & baritone Ao Li in a "Il cor vi dono" from Così fan tutte & then accompanied Mr. Li in "Avant de quitter ces lieux" from Faust, while Mr. Morash described musical cues the accompanist can provide. Mr. Morash also pointed out blatant omissions as well as an erroneous extra bar in the piano part of Faust, attesting to the need for the rehearsal pianist to know the full score. To end the program, the 2 pianists played a rowdy piano four hands piece written by Mr. Hanlon called Bang Kiss Kiss Bang.

§ Merola "Behind-the-Scenes" Member Event
Mark Morash, San Francisco Opera Center Director of Musical Studies
David Hanlon, pianist
Robert Mollicone, pianist
Ao Li, baritone
Laura Krumm, mezzo-soprano

Thursday, February 16, 6:30 PM
Herbst Theatre


sfmike said...

Was Bang Kiss Kiss Bang an homage to Pauline Kael or just a weird coincidence in titling?

Axel Feldheim said...

Hanlon mentioned Kael as well as film noir in his introductory remarks to the piece, so it is definitely an homage.