Thursday, July 11, 2013

Neil Shicoff Master Class at Merola

Neil Shicoff Master Class at Merola Opera photo IMG_20130710_210216_zpsf6c7fbaf.jpgWednesday night Merola Opera presented a master class by American tenor Neil Shicoff. Mr. Shicoff spent at least half an hour each with 4 Merolini, & he talked to the audience as much as to the singers. At the start he explained that he has a very particular sound he wants to get, which he likened to a long, vertical tube. His approach was the same for everyone. He reiterated his ideal voice placement & stopped singers whenever they deviated, often at the very first note. He told students to "think down" on high notes & pressed on their belts as they sang. Mr. Shicoff was picky & exasperated the performers at times, though he got incremental changes in everyone. He referred to all the Merolini as "kids."

Mr. Shicoff weirdly asked tenor Matthew Newlin to start with a few bars of the portrait aria from the Magic Flute then immediately switch to the coloratura section of "Ecco, ridente" from the Barber of Seville. The goal was to get Mr. Newlin to use the same voice for each. Baritone Alex DeSocio has a roomy, open voice, & Mr. Shicoff worked to get it more grounded & focused. He praised bass-baritone John Arnold for adjusting quickly & made his performance more lively by directing him to "sex it up!" Mr. Shicoff declared, "I love you!" to tenor Pene Pati & exhorted him to "use your fear." Because Mr. Pati's high notes are already so beautiful, Mr. Shicoff worked on getting the notes in his passaggio to sound as good. Mr. Pati is already a Merola audience favorite.

The event was a benefit for the Merola Opera & included a reception afterward. The audience was attentive throughout an intermissionless 2 hours.

§ Neil Shicoff Benefit Master Class
Merola Opera Program 2013
Wednesday, July 10, 7:00 PM
Nourse Theatre

"Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön" from Die Zauberflöte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
"Ecco, ridente in cielo" from Il barbiere di Siviglia by Gioachino Rossini
Matthew Newlin, tenor
Michael Shannon, piano

"Felice ancor io son - Per me giunto" from Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi
Alex DeSocio, baritone
Sahar Nouri, piano

"Se vuol ballare" from Le nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
John Arnold, bass-baritone
Michael Shannon, piano

"Ella mi fu rapita" from Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi
Pene Pati, tenor
Timothy Cheung, piano


Michael Strickland said...

I saw Neil Shicoff singing Don Carlos at the SF Opera back in the day, and he had the weirdest voice production imaginable. It sort of worked with that neurotic part, but it wasn't something you really wanted passed on to younger performers, unlike say, Bergonzi or Kraus or Domingo who all sang into their 70s with beautiful voices. Shicoff, like a lot of overworked tenors, didn't last very long.

Axel Feldheim said...

Interesting comments. Mr. Shicoff actually mentioned himself that he was best in neurotic roles, such as Hoffman. He also referred to the dive in career, though apparently he still performs.