Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Warren Jones Master Class

At this open master class for Merola Opera participants, Warren Jones was introduced as a triple threat: pianist, coach & conductor. His knowledge of the repertoire is extremely thorough. He is a very animated coach & continually went back & forth between the auditorium & the stage. Soprano Suzanne Rigden sang "Der Hölle Rache," & her fierce coloratura made her Queen of the Night truly terrifying. Mr. Jones may not have improved her triplets, but he did make pianist Timothy Cheung's accompaniment more thunderously dramatic. Baritone Gordon Feng sang an aria from I Puritani with a big, smooth voice, & Mr. Jones tried to make it even more legato & clean. He also worked to get pianist Clinton Smith to play with a less hard touch.

Soprano Marina Boudart-Harris gave her scene from Peter Grimes a clear dramatic arc. Her voice is large & has a lot of body. Mr. Jones asked, "Have you ever sung in a bar?" as a way of encouraging her to be looser & more bluesy. Following his directions, pianist Ana María Otamendi made her introduction more scary & dangerous. Baritone Joo Won Kang held nothing back & received an extended ovation for his "Vision fugitive" from Hérodiade. His sound is large, full & open, & his rendition was full of yearning. Mr. Jones was so impressed that he gave Mr. Kang a rest while he instead coached pianist Robert Mollicone to play at a slower pace & with a more fluid touch.

Though exacting, Mr. Jones is quite humorous. He called the Queen of the Night a "raving bitch" & related the time he fell asleep in the pit of the SF Opera during a performance of Peter Grimes. Someone's high-pitched watch alarm beeped gratingly for the entire 25 minutes of the last coaching, the owner too deaf to hear it.

The Merolini's last public event is the Merola Grand Finale this Saturday, August 20, 7:30 PM at the War Memorial Opera House.

§ Master Class with Warren Jones
Merola Opera Program 2011

"Der Hölle Rache" from Die Zauberflöte by W.A. Mozart
Suzanne Rigden, soprano
Timothy Cheung, piano

"Ah! per sempre" from I Puritani by Vincenzo Bellini
Gordon Feng, baritone
Clinton Smith, piano

"Embroidery Aria" from Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten
Marina Boudart-Harris, soprano
Ana María Otamendi, piano

"Vision fugitive" from Hérodiade by Jules Massenet
Joo Won Kang, baritone
Robert Mollicone, piano

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 | 7:00 - 9:00pm | Herbst Theatre

§ Photo credit: Lisa Kohler

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