Saturday, July 23, 2011

Schwabacher Summer Concert

Schwabacher Summer ConcertLast night I got to hear 10 of this summer's Merola Opera artists, in a concert performance of extended operatic scenes with full orchestra. The 1st excerpt from Don Carlo started with baritone Joo Won Kang making a big, hall-filling sound even though his back was turned to us in the incidental role of a monk. Tenor Scott Quinn as Don Carlo had a pleasingly legato voice that was unstrained & Verdian. Baritone Guodong Feng sounded commanding but looked a bit straight-laced as Rodrigo. It was fun to hear the belting Merolini males as the off-stage chorus of monks. The audience had to clap for a long time before the performers came back out to take a bow.

In a long excerpt from Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, soprano Elizabeth Zharoff, as Giulietta, began with an astonishingly long, loud 1st note. Her voice is frighteningly large & is low, round & liquid. She sounds like a mezzo. In contrast, her Romeo, mezzo Laura Krumm, had a high, bright voice & gave a very feminine performance.

In the Wolf's Crag scene from Lucia, tenor Cooper Nolan & Mr. Kang did a good job acting out their characters' mutual contempt for one another. Mr. Nolan began fervently & has a high, ringing voice, though his high notes seem disconnected from his lower notes. Mr. Kang's singing was taut & had a hint of a sneer. In the 2nd excerpt from Don Carlo, mezzo Deborah Nansteel came on as if she already owned the role of Eboli. Her generous voice reminds me of opera recordings of the 1950s. This trio was the one number in which the singers modulated their voices a bit.

In a big chunk of Act I from Rigoletto, Mr. Kang had a booming voice & clearly emoted the anxious concern of the fatherly Rigoletto. Soprano Xi Wang was a forceful Gilda & punched out high notes with muscle. After all this Italian opera, it was a bit of shock to hear Russian in the final selection from Eugene Onegin. Soprano Marina Boudart Harris gave us a strong, matronly Tatiana. Baritone Suchan Kim sang Onegin with a focused intensity. He spent much of the final scene on his knees, even sliding on them.

The set consisted of 6 large cubes that the singers themselves regrouped for each scene like parts of a puzzle. The concert lasted 2 and a half hours, so the orchestra had a lot of music to play & may have been under-rehearsed. It sounded like a flute played the wrong line for several bars in the introduction to "Caro nome."

The Merolini really sang out the whole evening, & my ears were ringing afterward. There will be a free repeat of this concert on Sunday, July 24 at 2:00pm in Yerba Buena Gardens.

§ Schwabacher Summer Concert
Merola Opera Program
Conductor, Robert Wood
Director, Peter Kazaras

L'Italiana in Algeri - Overture
Gioachino Rossini

Don Carlo - From Act II, part one
Giuseppe Verdi
Don Carlo, Scott Quinn
Rodrigo, Guodong Feng
A Monk, Joo Won Kang

I Capuleti e i Montecchi - From Act I
Vincenzo Bellini
Giulietta, Elizabeth Zharoff
Romeo, Laura Krumm
Lorenzo, Suchan Kim

Lucia di Lammermoor - From Act III, part one (Wolf's Crag)
Gaetano Donizetti
Edgardo, Cooper Nolan
Enrico, Joo Won Kang

Don Carlo - Act III, opening
Giuseppe Verdi
Princess Eboli, Deborah Nansteel
Don Carlo, Scott Quinn
Rodrigo, Guodong Feng

Rigoletto - From Act I, scene 2
Giuseppe Verdi
Gilda, Xi Wang
Duke of Mantua, Cooper Nolan
Rigoletto, Joo Wan Kang
Giovanna, Laura Krumm

Eugene Onegin - From Act III
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Tatiana, Marina Boudart Harris
Eugene Onegin, Suchan Kim
Prince Gremin, Joo Won Kang

Friday, July 22, 7:30 PM, Herbst Theater
Sunday, July 24, 2:00 PM, Yerba Buena Gardens

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