Friday, July 06, 2012

Schwabacher Summer Concert

This year's Schwabacher Summer Concert presents 9 Merolini in semi-staged scenes from 4 operas, accompanied by full orchestra. Soprano Melinda Whittington & mezzo Erin Johnson went full-throttle in a confrontation scene from Anna Bolena between 2 wives of Henry VIII. Both sang with loud, powerful voices & were intensely serious actresses. They wore matching rectangular dresses, one white & one black, that made the wearers resemble playing cards.

Tenor Chuanyue Wang was Faust in 2 scenes from Boito's Mefistofele, & his striking voice, with its solid core, communicates strength & ardor. Bass Andrew Kroes was a flinty Mefistofele & had an open yet sepulchral sound. He made a peculiar entrance from beneath a cape lying on the ground. He later draped the cape over the seated Faust in lieu of making him fly. Soprano Elizabeth Baldwin was a defiant Margherita, & her voice was big & wooly.

I'm totally unfamiliar with La Jolie Fille de Perth & could not make sense of the act 2 excerpt, in which characters in masks & party hats mostly sat around in a stupor. Tenor Yi Li, as Smith, sang with a pleasingly fluid & lyrical voice. Bass-baritone Hadleigh Adams displayed a ringing tone, & his drunken Ralph was angry, despairing & a bit unsettling. The stage was littered with upholstered chairs, & a character's dress accidentally toppled one of them. Fortunately, all the chairs needed to be turned upside-down anyway for the graveyard scene from The Rake's Progress that followed. I liked the way tenor Joshua Baum, as Tom, modulated his voice & sang with a variety of timbres. Bass-baritone Seth Mease Carico was a suave Nick Shadow, with an open, easy-sounding voice & great facial hair. Anne's voice of redemption rang out from the balcony. The house lights came up for the opera's Epilogue, & the singers entered down the aisles & pointed at the audience on the word "you." Apprentice coach Kevin Miller provided lively accompaniment on a harpsichord that was placed in front of the orchestra

The orchestra sounded taut under conductor Giuseppe Finzi, & I liked the clear, clean playing of the clarinet. The Herbst Theatre performance had supertitles & lighting effects, though the spotlights pointed across the stage threw shadows on the side walls that drew attention away from the singers. The engaged audience applauded everyone vigorously & seemed especially enthused about Mr. Wang & Mr. Adams. The program will be repeated in a free public concert in Yerba Buena Gardens on Saturday, July 7 at 2:00 pm.

§ Schwabacher Summer Concert
Conductor Giuseppe Finzi
Director Roy Rallo

Sinfonia from Roberto Devereux -- Gaetano Donizetti

Anna Bolena -- Gaetano Donizetti (in Italian)
From Act II
Giovanna Seymour - Erin Johnson
Anna Bolena - Melinda Whittington

Mefistofele -- Arrigo Bolto (in Italian)
From Act I, Easter Sunday
Act III, The Death of Margherita
Faust - Chuanyue Wang
Mefistofele - Andrew Kroes
Margherita - Elizabeth Baldwin

La Jolie Fille de Perth -- Georges Bizet (in French)
Act II
Le Due de Rothsay - Joshua Baum
Mab - Erin Johnson
Henri Smith - Yi Li
Un ouvrier - Seth Mease Carico
Ralph - Hadleigh Adams
Le Majordome - Andrew Kroes
Cathérine Glover - Melinda Whittington

The Rake's Progress -- Igor Stravinsky (in English)
Act III, Scene 2
Tom Rakewell- Joshua Baum
Nick Shadow - Seth Mease Carico
Anne Trulove - Elizabeth Baldwin

Thursday, July 5, 7:30 PM, Herbst Theatre

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