Monday, August 24, 2009

Merola Grand Finale

Merolini photo opMerola Grand Finale
War Memorial Opera House
Saturday, August 22, at 7:30 pm

Antony Walker, Conductor
San Francisco Opera Orchestra
Fernando Parra Borti, Stage Director

The 23 singers in this summer's Merola Opera Program presented a mixed program of 20 operatic numbers on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House on Saturday night. It was a user-friendly program with extracts from Handel to Rachmaninoff. All the performers seemed to be having a good night & to be enjoying the rewards of 3 months of intensive work. The setting was a stage within the stage, & good use was made of the entire space.

Clear audience favorites included seduction scenes from Rigoletto & Carmen. Nathaniel Peake as the Duke had a big, supple voice which rose comfortably to the high notes. Maya Lahyani was a sexy, confident Carmen & took complete command of the jailbreak scene. She looked & sounded ready to sing the role tomorrow & make it her own.

I liked Suzanne Hendrix's authentic contralto sound as Cornelia in Giulio Cesare. Margaret Gawrysiak put intense dramatic weight into her scene from Tchaikovsky's Joan of Arc. I was intrigued by the monologue from Aleko, sung musically & with a nice dramatic flow by Yohan Yi. The orchestra accompanied him with some wonderfully lush string playing. I did not even know that there were Rachmaninoff operas, but now I want to hear them. Caitlin Mathes & Paul Scholten gave genuinely amusing performances as Rosina & Figaro in their Act I duet from Barbieri. Kate Crist & Gregory Carroll seemed to pick up where they left off in the Schwabacher Summer Concert, performing a later scene between Senta & Erik from Holländer. This time Senta was angry enough to throw the only chair to be found on stage. The evening ended with the finale of Verdi's Falstaff, with all the singers lined up to call us fools.

And there was a bit of foolery in the air that night. A Beast may have been hot on the heels of the best-dressed woman from the moment she entered the house. SFMike kept appearing & disappearing & then was almost personally offended to discover that there does not seem to be a row Q in orchestra seating. During the performance, a woman in my row insisted on conversing, despite repeated reprovals from those around her. Perhaps she was hard of hearing & was unaware that there was singing going on & that her own voice could be heard.


The Opera Tattler said...

Gosh, I'm sorry to have missed this. Quite glad it went well though.

Axel Feldheim said...

I think it went off quite well & that all the Merolini should be proud of their efforts. No doubt you would have enjoyed it. However, I think there are plenty of us that are jealous of your presence at Bayreuth this summer instead.

John Marcher said...

Yes, include me among them!

Civic Center said...

Sorry for my sudden disappearances but I don't really care for champagne (gives me a headache) and there were a few people in the press room whose writing I find so subpar I didn't trust myself to be polite.

As for the mysterious missing Row Q, I'm going to go to the opera box office and ask the lady who's been there for decades what the story might be.

Axel Feldheim said...

sfmike: Oh dear, I would hate to hear that a fight had broken out in the press room. I hope you share with us your findings regarding the missing row Q.

Civic Center said...

Dear Axel: I went to the San Francisco Opera box office today to find the answer to our Row Q mystery, and of course all the young people working there didn't have a clue. However, they brought out the beyond fabulous Marcella Bastiani who has worked there for decades, and she explained that not only is there no Row Q but no Row I either. The reason is so that the ushers, particularly in the dark, don't have such a hard time distinguishing between an "O" and a "Q" or an "I" and an "L" on the tickets.

Mystery solved. Ah, the joys of journalism.

Axel Feldheim said...

Awesome work, gumshoe! Thanks for sharing the results of your dogged detective work. That explanation totally makes sense to me. You can now sit in row R & be untroubled that there is no row Q in front of you.