Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Merola Grand Finale 2012

Merola Grand Finale 2012, 08.18.2012 Set for Merola Grand Finale 2012 at the War Memorial Opera House.Saturday night I was at the Opera House for a program of opera scenes featuring all this summer's Merola Opera participants. Nicholas McGegan led the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in the pit. The 19 excerpts were semi-staged, & all the Merolini gave clean, accomplished performances, with an emphasis on committed acting. Bass-baritone Matthew Scollin was a coolly callous Charon, blowing cigarette smoke into the face of a miserable ghost in a scene from Lully's Alceste. Bass Andrew Kroes displayed a powerful, rounded sound & was commanding in "Piff, paff" from Les Huguenots. Tenor Casey Candebat received the 1st big ovation of the evening with his nicely full sound in "Pourquoi me réveiller?" from Werther.

Soprano Jennifer Cherest barreled into her scene from Die lustige Witwe with an urgent, full-throated sound. She was equally strong & sustained in her scene from Handel's Alcina. Visually pleasing bass-baritone Seth Mease Carico seemed too debonair as Don Giovanni but was adorably funny & self-satisfied as Mustafa in the "Paptacci" trio from L'Italiana in Algieri. I liked tenor AJ Glueckert & soprano Melinda Whittington in a dark scene from Barber's Vanessa, in which they almost seemed to be talking instead of singing. Mr. Glueckert has a clarion voice, & his singing was nicely connected.

A woman in the row in front of me hummed along when tenor Yi Li sang the familiar aria from Flotow's Marta. In an excerpt from Handel's Semele, bass-baritone Hadleigh Adams portrayed a disturbingly seedy Somnus, groggily popping prescription pills & mindlessly groping Iris. Tenor Chuanyue Wang's "Cercherò lontana terra" from Don Pasquale received a warm ovation, & someone even applauded the trumpet soloist midway through. The audience gave soprano Elizabeth Baldwin a huge ovation for her excerpt from Verdi's Il corsaro, during which she clutched a very long piece of cloth. Baritone Joseph Lattanzi bounded onto the stage from the wings, & he & soprano Rose Sawvel were terrifically bright, charismatic & risqué in the fly duet from Orphée aux Enfers. The program ended with the quartet from act 2 of La Rondine, which put all the Merolini on stage making a huge sound.

Maestro McGegan definitely brought his sprightly touch to the orchestra, which sounded tidy & buoyant. His accompaniment to Werther was especially lilting & pleasant, though I found his Strauss a bit disjointed. I enjoyed concertmaster Kay Stern's shimmering violin solo for Die lustige Witwe. The nearly 3 hour show was performed on the stark set of San Francisco Opera's up-coming Moby Dick. The staging involved up-turned furniture, much smoking & drinking, & rough treatment of flowers. A floor lamp with a bright naked bulb was center stage, & I kept hoping someone would take it away. Poor stage lighting often obscured the singers' faces.

Saturday, August 18th • War Memorial Opera House
Conductor - Nicholas McGegan • Stage Director - Jennifer Williams
San Francisco Opera Orchestra

Béatrice et Bénédict by Hector Berlioz

"Nein, das ist wirklich doch zu keck" from Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor by Otto Nicolai
Frau Fluth - Jacqueline Piccolino
Frau Reich - Carolyn Sproule

"II faut passer" from Alceste by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Charon - Matthew Scollin
Ombre rebutée - Suzanne Rigden
Harpsichord - Artem Grishaev

"Their spinning wheel unwinds Dreams" from The Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten
Female Chorus - Erin Johnson
Lucia - Rose Sawvel
Bianca - Sarah Mesko
Lucretia - Carolyn Sproule

"Volontiers, un vieil air Huguenot...Piff, paff" from Les Huguenots by Giacomo Meyerbeer
Marcel - Andrew Kroes

"Ah! Mon courage m'abandonne... Pourquoi me réveiller?... N'achevez pas" from Werther by Jules Massenet
Charlotte - Sarah Mesko
Werther - Casey Candebat

"Mein Freund, Vernunft!...Wie eine Rosenknospe" from Die lustige Witwe by Franz Lehár
Valencienne - Jennifer Cherest
Camille - Andrew Stenson

''Ah, taci ingiusto core" from Don Giovanni by W.A. Mozart
Donna Elvira - Aviva Fortunata
Don Giovanni - Seth Mease Carico
Leporello - Gordon Bintner

"O blonde Cérès" from Les Troyens by Hector Berlioz
Iopas - Theo Lebow

"Come Paride vezzoso" from L'elisir d'amore by Gaetano Donizetti
Belcore - Gordon Bintner
Adina - Jennifer Cherest
Giannetta - Rose Sawvel

"At last I've found you" from Vanessa by Samuel Barber
Vanessa - Melinda Whittington
Anatol - AJ Glueckert


"Ich danke Fräulein...Aber der Richtige" from Arabella by Richard Strauss
Zdenka - Suzanne Rigden
Arabella - Aviva Fortunata

"M'appar'ì" from Marta by Friedrich von Flotow
Lionel - Yi Li

"Voglio amar e disamar...Credete al mio dolore" from Alcina by G.F. Handel
Morgana - Jennifer Cherest
Oronte - Theo Lebow
Harpsichord - Elena Lacheva

"Orsù la tua nipote...Pappataci! Che mai sento!" from L'Italiana in Aigeri by Gioachino Rossini
Lindoro - Joshua Baum
Mustafa - Seth Mease Carico
Taddeo - Gordon Bintner
Harpsichord - Francesco Fraboni

"Somnus awake!...Leave me loathsome light...More sweet is that name" from Semele by G.F. Handel
Somnus - Hadleigh Adams
Iris - Suzanne Rigden
Juno - Erin Johnson
Harpsichord - Kevin Miller

"Povero Ernesto!...Cercherò lontana terra" from Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti
Ernesto - Chuanyue Wang

"Egli non riede ancora!...Non so le tetre immagine" from Il corsaro by Giuseppe Verdi
Medora - Elizabeth Baldwin

"Il m'a semblé sur mon épaule sentir un doux frémissement" from Orphée aux Enfers by Jacques Offenbach
Eurydice - Rose Sawvel
Jupiter - Joseph Lattanzi

"Gia che il caso unisce...Bevo al tuo fresco sorriso" from La Rondine by Giacomo Puccini
Magda - Elizabeth Baldwin
Lisette - Jennifer Cherest
Ruggero - Casey Candebat
Prunier - Joshua Baum
Chorus - Tutti Merolini
Celesta - Sun Ha Yoon

Francesco Fraboni, Artem Grishaev, Elena Lacheva, Kevin Miller, Sun Ha Yoon 

§ Photo Credit: Merola Opera Program
“Orsù: la tua nipote…Pappataci! Che mai sento!”
from L’Italiana in Algeri by Gioachino Rossini
Lindoro – Joshua Baum
Mustafà – Seth Mease Carico
Taddeo – Gordon Bintner"

§ Photo Credit: Merola Opera Program
“Egli non riede ancora!...Non so le tetre immagine” from Il corsaro by Giuseppe Verdi
Medora – Elizabeth Baldwin"

§ Photo Credit: Merola Opera Program
“Il m’a semblé sur mon épaule sentir un doux frémissement”
from Orphée aux Enfers by Jacques Offenbach
Eurydice – Rose Sawvel
Jupiter – Joseph Lattanzi

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