Tuesday, March 03, 2015


Last night I was at the Rickshaw Stop for BarelyOpera, a pop-up musical evening featuring SF Opera Adler Fellows Zanda Švēde, Maria Valdes, Julie Adams, Edward Nelson, Efraín Solís, Chong Wang & Anthony Reed. The SF Opera, aiming beyond its traditional audience, publicized the event primarily through social media. When I arrived 5 minutes before the doors opened, the line was already down the block, & I was surrounded by a lot of people I don't think I normally see at the opera.

The program was a mix of opera & musical theater & was partly determined by audience members who spun a wheel to randomly select the next number. The venue was packed, & the atmosphere was lively & fun. My favorite part was hearing people applaud & cheer spontaneously during the arias, something I can imagine happening in 18th century opera houses before it all got so serious.

The young Adler Fellows were very appealing in this setting. Baritone Efraín Solís engaged with the audience through his convivial personality as well as his hearty singing, & he took a selfie with us. Baritone Eddie Nelson took me by surprise with his tasteful & lovely renditions of Noël Coward songs, even accompanying himself on the piano. Tenor Chong Wang literally ended the show on a high note with glorious renditions of "Nessun dorma" & "O sole mio."

Robert Mollicone was the night's excellent emcee, & he was both sincere & funny. At one point he got all the singers to yodel for Yahoo's 20th anniversary. Slides projected behind the singers provided hilariously modern translations, as well as informative factoids about the composers & the music. Costumed supers from the opera greeted guests, & there was a rack of costumes for attendees to try on themselves. There were door prizes from the SF Opera, & I received a packet of pop rocks on the way out. For those who stayed, a dance party immediately followed. All this for $10!

§ BarelyOpera
SF Opera Adler Fellows
Robert Mollicone, emcee
Noah Linquist & Ronny Greenberg, piano

Program, as much as I can remember:

Habanera from Carmen
Zanda Švēde

"Là ci darem la mano" from Don Giovanni
Maria Valdes & Edward Nelson

''Tirannia gli diede il regno'' from Rodelinda
Efraín Solís

"If Love Were All" by Noël Coward
Edward Nelson

"La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto
Chong Wang

"Ol' Man River" from Porgy & Bess
Anthony Reed

Flower Duet from Lakmé
Julie Adams & Zanda Švēde

"O Isis and Osiris" from Die Zauberflöte
Anthony Reed

"Fin ch' han dal vino" from Don Giovanni
Edward Nelson

"Make them hear you" from Ragtime
Efraín Solís

"O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi
Maria Valdez

"Mad about the Boy" by Noël Coward
Edward Nelson

"Nessun Dorma" from Turandot
Chong Wang

"O sole mio"
Chong Wang

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 8:00 PM
The Rickshaw Stop

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