Previous month:
July 2010
Next month:
September 2010

The Met Opera - Live in HD 2010-2011

October 9 2010: Das Rheingold
October 23 2010: Boris Godunov
November 13 2010: Don Pasquale
December 11 2010: Don Carlo
January 8 2011: La Fanciulla del West
February 12 2011: Nixon in China
February 26 2011: Iphigénie en Tauride
March 19 2011: Lucia di Lammermoor
April 9 2011: Le Comte Ory
April 23 2011: Capriccio
April 30 2011: Il Trovatore
May 14 2011: Die Walküre

Next season the Met presents 12 simulcasts in 1,500 theaters across 46 countries.

Press Release | Official Site

David Lomelí Interview

David Lomelí Tenor David Lomelí (pictured left) is finishing up as an Adler at San Francisco Opera this Fall by covering the title role of Werther and singing the Messenger in Aida. He sings Edgardo in Pittsburgh Opera's Lucia die Lammermoor this November, Alfredo at Deutsche Oper Berlin in December, Nemorino at New York City Opera in March and April, Macduff in Lille next May, and finishes the season in Santa Fe with La Bohème. The Opera Tattler caught up with Lomelí after singing his last Werther rehearsal.

How is your class at Merola doing?
We all are working, as you know, Renée Tatum is at the Met and Leah Crocetto is here as an Adler. As far as everyone that was in Don Giovanni with me: Austin Kness is also here, Rena Harms sang at Wolftrap this Summer, Amanda Majeski is at Lyric and sings at Santa Fe next year, Carlos Monzón sang at Wolf Trap and Florida Grand Opera, Ben Wager sang at Los Angeles Opera, Adam Cioffari just finished at Houston, and Joélle Harvey was at Glimmerglass.

Tell me about covering a role and what that involves.
Covering a role is bittersweet. The sweet part is that it can be beautiful, you get to work with a professional team, the conductor gives you notes, and the music preparation here is great. You get to learn the role, be in the house, and be ready to go on. You definitely learn a lot. The bitter part is that as a performer, you want to go on. Like for Werther, I've had a month of pretty much singing it every day, because I just performed it in Tel Aviv with Maya Layhani and Austin Kness. Today was my last rehearsal before Ramón Vargas comes, so it will be hard to be back on the bench, not singing. Though I am looking forward to meeting Ramón Vargas and asking him how he preserves his voice. He is so amazing!

Do you generally read the source texts concerning a role? Have you read The Sorrows of Young Werther?
We are basically required to read the source texts for the roles we sing as Adlers. They really make us prepare.

What do think of Herr Werther?
The part is beautiful, a dream tenor role. There are 5 arias, and you get to be a drama queen. There is a huge range of emotions explored: happiness, sadness, insanity, delusion, and then you get to kill yourself and sing about it for 30 more minutes. I really hope to sing it again really soon, but don't have it scheduled in the next 4 years.

So you were the first-prize winner in Plácido Domingo's 2006 Operalia and the first singer ever to win both the opera and zarzuela divisions. Tell me about zarzuela.
Zarzuela is pretty much only championed by Plácido and some companies in Spain. For the baritone you need a big range, for the tenor a beefy middle. The sopranos need to be chirpy and the mezzos need a lot of color. It is a bit like the musical. Everything is rubato. I love singing this music, but not that many conductors have experience with it. If I even become a fourth as famous as Plácido, I would love to do zarzuela. It is the music I have known all my life.

When were you in the Los Angeles Opera's Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program? How did you get in?
I was in the first year of the program, in starting in August of 2006 until May of 2008. My voice teacher, César Ulloa, sent me and Eleazar Rodríguez to audition for Plácido in New York.

How was singing at the Verdi Requiem in LA and Berlin?
I got the LA Phil performance because Villazón canceled Hoffman at the Met, and Calleja canceled on LA Phil to replace him. I was supposed to sing Cantata Criolla as my LA Phil premiere, but instead canceled this to sing the Verdi Requiem. It was the first time I had sung an oratorio since Messiah, which was a long time ago. It was scary, but I know Gustavo Dudamel from when I did a gala concert in my hometown. I have a youtube video of myself singing "Nessun Dorma" with Dudamel conducting the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra! The LA performance prepared me for Berlin, which was a success. That orchestra is incredible. When I heard the bassoon part in rehearsal, I couldn't come in because I was weeping.

What was your first opera?
Mozart's Bastien and Bastienne, though I did sing a Verdi Requiem before that, when I was 19. It was not good.

Favorite opera?
Well, I have done 65 performances of Bohème. I do love Werther. I am pretty weird, I also love Pelléas et Mélisande and Albert Herring.

Dream role?
I hope someday to do all the big Verdi roles, I especially love Ballo en Maschera and Otello. One day I would love to sing Walther in Meistersinger, I love that opera. If I could have Bryn Terfel or James Morris as Hans Sachs, I could just die, the next day, happy.

Who do you look up to?
Plácido. He's so successful, perhaps the best tenor that has ever lived, but he is still so kind and has discovered so many great singers.

Tell me about your stage fight incident in Fanciulla.
In Act I of the final dress rehearsal there is a fight, and I was supposed to be hit on the head with a sugar bottle. Except it wasn't a sugar bottle, I was knocked out for real. I saw stars and woke up 2 bars before I was to enter. I had a huge bump on my head and Matthew Shilvock sent me to the hospital. I had the fastest MRI ever, to make sure I would be okay. Then I rushed back for Act III, because there aren't covers for small roles like Happy!

Did you really have a coaching for Werther in the middle of a performance of Fanciulla? How does that work?
Yes, it was the last time I would be able to work with Allen Perriello before my Werther in Tel Aviv, so I called him and I had a coaching with him for an hour. I owe him a lot, and everyone in the music administration is great.

Sweet or savory?
Both. I love both sweet and sour. Mole for example. Or orange chicken.

Do you have a favorite pastry?
Tres leches. The only place I can get it is actually at Espetus, the Brazilian restaurant close to Zuni Cafe. The different kinds of milk have to be in the right quantities, the cake has to be soaked and soft. I hate it when they put strawberries on tres leches, it is just not the way it is supposed to be.

What is your secret superpower?
I vocalize as a countertenor everyday and it has helped my voice to do so. I have a high G in my head voice and can sing the Queen of the Night with Susanna Biller (not as pretty of course). Obviously my voice up there isn't nearly as pretty as Ryan Belongie's either!

How are you at soccer?
I am a huge fan of soccer, but I am so bad it. I am an FC Barcelona shareholder. (Breaks out his FC Barcelona card, complete with photograph.) It doesn't make Plácido very happy though, since he's a Madrid fan. I studied in Barcelona.

Why is football commentary so much better in Spanish?
Everyone gets a nickname, more poetic phrases are used, and it is much louder.

How similar are the circus and the opera?
They are becoming more and more alike, just as far as entertainment. For example, Cirque de Soleil's O has a theme, but not a story. But Robert LePage's Ka definitely has a story. As far as opera, it is not just park and bark anymore. In this summer's Walküre, from Zambello, everyone had to move, and they did so well.

What's your favorite Beatles song?
That's so hard, I love the Beatles, every song is good. But I would have to say "Eleanor Rigby" is my favorite.

What do you miss most about everyday life back home?
My ladies. My dad travelled a lot in the first years of my life. So I basically grew up surrounded by 13 women: my mom, sister, grandma, aunts, and cousins.

Can you recommend a place to eat relatively close to the opera house?
There is a really good taco truck next to the Best Buy on Van Ness. If you want sour cream and beans, you should go to the Mission, but the best burrito is at this truck.

Sum Up of SF Opera's 2009-2010 Season

SFWMOHLobbySouth San Francisco Opera's 2010-2011 season starts in less than a fortnight, and rehearsals are in full swing for Aida, Werther, and Le Nozze di Figaro. It seems like a good time to take a look back on the previous year.

Last season started off with a glorious Il Trovatore, with Sondra Radvanovsky. Il Trittico also impressed, the production was effective, Ewa Podleś and Paolo Gavanelli made significant contributions as far as singing. On the other hand, one of my favorite operas, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, was disappointing, despite a sweet set and some pretty singing. The muddled English dialogue did not help. La fille du régiment had great singing from Diana Damrau and Juan Diego Flórez. The staging was adorable, but Donizetti did not captivate me. Salome was extremely disturbing, Nadja Michael acted the title role with conviction. The orchestra sounded particularly lush here. The Otello that ended 2009 was much better than the last run of this opera we had in 2002.

As for the Summer part of the season, the highlight was definitely Die Walküre. Such gorgeous singing all around, and beautiful playing from the orchestra. Faust was lackluster, but the end was gorgeous. La Fanciulla del West was fun, and I was glad to have a chance to hear this opera, finally.

There was not tons of backstage noise, none of the sets were very loud. The Il Trovatore simulcast did very well, and this year Aida will be shown at AT&T Park. The SF Opera podcast continues not to be updated, but SF Opera has a brand new Twitter account. The audience was not the worst, but there were a few mobile phone rings and of course, watch alarms. Talking and whispering were certainly noted.

My favorite opera performances of the season, other than Die Walküre, did not happen at the War Memorial. Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra turned out a breathtaking Dido and Aeneas, and Susan Graham was absolutely fantastic in this. Also incredible were the LA Ring, Cecilia Bartoli and Andreas Scholl in Giulio Cesare at Salle Pleyel, The Nose at the Met, and Ensemble Parallèle's Wozzeck.

Signs of Classical Music Journalism's Demise

A couple of years ago Martin Bernheimer wrote a piece entitled "Critics in a hostile world" for the Financial Times, blaming the Interwebs for killing off newspapers. Up until that point, I had not thought much about bloggers taking the place of professional music critics. Of course, anyone can start a blog. There are loads of them, most quite boring. It is difficult to even find an audience, given the amount of content, or lack thereof, that is out there. With a newspaper, whether in print or online, it is clear where to go.

This month Bernheimer covered journalist Donald Rosenberg's lawsuit against The Plain Dealer and the Cleveland Orchestra. Rosenberg lost, and this doesn't bode well for critics, obviously. Now the music critic of the Orange County Register, Tim Mangan, has been reassigned to cover celebrity nonsense. It is all rather alarming.

City Opera's 2010-2011 Season

October 27- November 21 2010: A Quiet Place
October 31- November 20 2010: Intermezzo
March 24- April 9 2011: Elixir of Love
March 25- April 8 2011: La Machine de l'être / Erwartung / Neither
April 19- May 1 2011: Séance on a Wet Afternoon
April 9 2011: Where the Wild Things Are

New York City Opera announced their 2010-2011 Season yesterday.

Official Site | Press Release

Adler 2011 Speculation

Daniel Montenegro & Nadine Sierra, photo by Kristen Loken * Notes *
One imagines the Adler Fellows for 2011 will not be announced until next month, but let us indulge in some rampant speculation about which of the Merolini are coming back to San Francisco next year. Since my opinion does not count for much, these guesses are not based on whom I personally enjoyed most, but on observation of the master classes, key audience members, overall audience reactions, and important reviews.

Allen Perriello will have completed his two years as an Adler with Madama Butterfly, so we will get a new collaborative pianist. As for singers, the outgoing Adlers are probably soprano Leah Crocetto, tenor David Lomelí, and baritone Austin Kness. Pianist Natalia Katukova and tenor Alexander Lewis both start the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program next month. Sopranos Valentina Fleer and Janai Brugger-Orman will be Domingo-Thornton Young Artists.

* Tattler Guesses *
Jenna Douglas
Nadine Sierra
Daniel Montenegro
Ryan Kuster

Merola Grand Finale 2010

Merolini 2010, photo by Kristen Loken * Notes *
This year's Merola Opera Program ended ten weeks of training with a Grand Finale last night at the War Memorial Opera House. Ted Huffman's staging for the performance was not elaborate, using four cypress trees from Act IV of the Le Nozze di Figaro set, designed by Zach Brown. The costumes were what one would expect, tuxedos and evening gowns, for the most part lots of black and turquoise. Dean Williamson kept the San Francisco Opera Orchestra at good volume, we could always hear the singers. There was some squeaking from the woodwinds, and perhaps a lack of clarity in the brass, but nothing terribly embarrassing. Synchronization between the orchestra and singers may have been the most noticeable problem, particularly at the beginning with The Rake's Progress and the chaotic end with Le Nozze di Figaro.

The one Baroque excerpt from Samson sounded surprisingly clean, albeit rather measured. Kevin Ray sang with power here, perhaps with more vibrato than is considered historically informed. Also in English was the scene from Midsummer Night's Dream. Thomas Florio hammed it up as Bottom, Hye Jung Lee sounded sweet as Tytania, and the fairies were perfectly ethereal. Valentina Fleer, Robin Flynn, Abigail Santos Villalobos, and Nadine Sierra entered with some fine tours chaînés déboulés. They also played recorder and percussion impressively.

We heard a good deal of bel canto. Ao Li sang Riccardo from Act I of Puritani with his serious face on, and with a smooth legato. Abigail Santos Villalobos and Eleazar Rodríguez were awfully precious as Marie and Tonio. Santos Villalobos was just so spunky, and Rodríguez charming. Valentina Fleer and Sidney Outlaw were wonderful in their excerpt of Lucia (as Lucia and Enrico, respectively). Renée Rapier was a stately, rich-toned Adalgisa. The only bel canto selection that left me indifferent was the duet between Ben Covey (Malatesta) and Janai Brugger-Orman (Norina). Though they were convincing and funny in this scene from Don Pasquale, I still do not care for this opera, for some reason.

Quite a lot of French repertoire was explored, and it was remarkable how compelling all was. Robin was uttlerly lovely as Mignon. Rebecca Davis sang Thaïs with strength and beauty. Abigail Santos Villalobos offered up a tender, earnest Ophélie and Dan Kempson sang Hamlet prettily. Daniel Montenegro and Nadine Sierra were striking as Roméo and Juliette, their voices blend nicely together, and are well-matched.

* Tattling *
Unfortunately I was unable to get ready in a timely fashion, and did not consider the ridiculous amount of flowers in my possession carefully enough. For the first half of the performance the smell of all the roses in my hair and the various bouquets stuffed under my seat made me feel slightly ill. I am sure the people around me had some unkind thoughts about this too, and justifiably so. I ended up in standing room, wearing stilettos, long suffering companion in tow. The duration of this performance seems uncomfortably long for some, even for those not standing. At least a few audience members started falling asleep almost as soon as the lights went down. There were the usual watch alarms at the hour, and light talking.

After the performance I caught up with many of the Adlers. Tamara Sanikidze is working on Aida and Allen Perriello, on Le Nozze di Figaro. Maya Layhani and David Lomelí have been rehearsing Werther as the covers. Sara Gartland is to sing in Figaro and Butterfly. I also had a chance to talk to David Gockley about the three performances he recently heard in Santa Fe.

Merola Reviews 2010

Merola's Official Site | Public Performances

Merola Grand Finale Reviews: The Opera Tattler | Not For Fun Only | Civic Center | SFCV | San Francisco Chronicle

Jones Master Class: The Opera Tattler

Vendice Master Class: The Opera Tattler

L'elisir d'amore: Civic Center | Oboe Insight | Not For Fun Only | A Beast in the Jungle | SFCV | San Francisco Chronicle | Wall Street Journal

L'elisir on OT: Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Schwabacher Summer Concert: Not For Fun Only | Civic Center | San Francisco Chronicle

Eaglen Master Class: The Opera Tattler | Not For Fun Only

Hudson Master Class: Not For Fun Only

Day at Merola: The Opera Tattler

Auditions for the General Director: The Opera Tattler

Meet the Merolini: The Opera Tattler | Not For Fun Only

Norma at the Athens Festival

Athens-norma2 Miss LCU had a European jaunt this Summer. Her first of three reviews concerns the Greek National Opera's June 18th performance of Norma at the Athens Festival.

* Notes *
Now, I would like to preface the review portion with this: I am a pretty harsh critic when it comes to classical music, opera in particular. In fact, I've been called many things - opera snob, Nazi, Fascist, a mean person with zero compassion. Look, I entered the Shanghai Conservatory at the age of four during the Communist regime. Enough said. But, I did adjust my expectations to account for the outdoor setting - which changes the sound quality drastically and is actually quite challenging for the singers (and the orchestra) as they get very little acoustic feedback.

Greek soprano Dimitra Theodosiou sang the title role and was vocally competent. Actually, I would even say, "Poli oreo!" She demonstrated good breath control through her smooth phrasing and she produced enough sound to fill the theater and made the delivery seem rather effortless. The tenor singing Pollione, Angelo Simos, was another story. Looking at Simos, one would expect a thunderous voice that typically accompanies someone of his size (that would be XXXL). Unfortunately this was not the case. About halfway through the first act, his voice sputtered and just about died. It was obvious that the poor guy was straining his vocal chords and trying to squeeze every bit of sound he could from his pipes, but his voice was breaking and he cracked on several notes. On several occasions the orchestra swallowed his voice and he was barely audible. Oddly enough, he made a triumphant comeback in Act II. Now I don't know if he wasn't properly warmed up earlier, or if he took shot of steroids Barry Bonds style during intermission, but his singing in the second half was decent. A lot of singers who aren't used to singing outdoors make the mistake of trying to hear themselves instead of relying on how the sound feels vibrating in the body as it pours out. If you try to adjust your volume based upon how you're used to hearing yourself in an opera house, well, good luck buddy because you'll be screaming your head off until you're hoarse and you still won't get that same sound quality. Playing the part of Adalgisa was Romanian soprano Cellia Costea who sang beautifully, her voice rich and velvety.

The acting was comme ci comme ca, but the music and setting were so beautiful that, truth be told, I paid little attention to what was happening on stage. At times I would look off into the distant, shifting my gaze from the artificial full moon in the production to the first quarter moon in the sky that lit up the city of Athens. The theater is located just below the Acropolis. I was surrounded by ruins, thousands of years old. During intermission, we were treated with a light drizzle of rain that stopped just in time for the performance to resume. Night had fallen and finally a light breeze picked up, which we all welcomed against our hot moist skin. When my body started to ache from the uncomfortable seats, I brought my legs up and sat yogi style, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to slip away to wherever the music wanted to take me - back in time, across the sacred forest, through the temple, and into the pyre.

Athens-norma1 * Tattling *
I'm pretty spoiled when it comes to opera. You'll usually spy me in a box wearing my tiara with a glass of champagne in hand. Let's just say I'm used to very comfortable seats. So when I got to the formidable outdoor Odeon of Herodes Atticus and found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place, I was tempted to bitch and moan with my 3 fabulous fags who came along for the show. But then I gave myself an attitude adjustment. I was like, "Dude, LCU, you are seeing Norma being performed in one of the oldest outdoor amphitheaters in the world (built in 161 CE). Frickin Maria Callas sang here!" And then the performance started.

Actually, I'm going to bitch just a little bit more. After all, I am writing for the Opera Tattler. Not only did I have the pleasure of sitting for 3 hours on stone seats (we had some lame cushions), but it was also a very warm night. I'm talking 85 degrees here people. No breeze and lots of bodies squished next to each other. It was a sold out show. I sat on the aisle thinking I'd have some extra leg room until some heifer planted her fat ass right on the steps next to me. Then, guess who comes parading in with his phat entourage... the President of the Hellenic Republic. Yup. Interestingly, he was pretty well-received by the crowd and even got a bit of an applause despite the entire country being bankrupt and in a general state of disarray. Then, minutes into the overture, I noticed some commotion a few rows ahead. Someone was telling someone else to shut it. And then all of a sudden, the guy doing the shushing flung water out of his water bottle at the person who was talking. He ended up getting a whole crap load of people wet and there was a lot of hissing and protest from the crowd, but thankfully no fights broke out. We were at the opera after all.

Warren Jones Master Class 2010

WJones1-LisaKohler * Program *
"Come dal ciel precipita" from Macbeth
Kevin Thompson, bass and Michael Spassov, piano

"Je suis encore toute étourdie" from Manon
Valentina Fleer, soprano and David Hanlon, piano

"O du mein holder Abendstern" from Tannhäuser
Ao Li, baritone and Jenna Douglas, piano

"Una furtiva lagrima" from L'elisir d'amore
Eleazar Rodríguez, tenor and Jenna Douglas, piano

* Notes *
Collaborative pianist Warren Jones gave a master class as a fund-raiser for the Merola Opera Program last night. There was a strong focus on the apprentice coaches and their piano playing. Jones may have spent as much time working on the playing for Banquo's Act II aria as on the singing. At one point the threatened to cut off the feet of the pianist in question with an axe because there was too much pedal. Kevin Thompson has a beautiful voice that just seems bottomless, there was some strain at the top, but he improved as Jones coached him. Again, with "Je suis encore toute étourdie," Jones quipped that the playing of the B flat and F natural stabbed him in the heart, and he could not imagine how bad it must be for the soprano, Valentina Fleer. Fleer sounded slightly tentative at first, but lovely. Jones had her work on singing the A flat loudly and contrasting this with a quiet B flat. The director of the San Francisco Opera Center interrupted Jones, reminding him that a breath here would probably help.

The lovable Ao Li sang Wolfram's gorgeous aria from Act III in a jolly manner. His voice is warm and full, but he did not give a sense of the sadness in this piece. His German diction needs work. Jones got Li to keep the bottom of his voice, to not sing sharp, and to get a more glistening sound. For the pianist, Jones explained that in the orchestra, the harp is a deafening instrument, one has to play it with an almost neurotic care. Eleazar Rodríguez sang "Una furtiva lagrima" prettily. Jones asked Rodríguez if he would translate the first words of the aria as "A furtive tear" or "One furtive tear," and also asked this of Daniel Montenegro and Alexander Lewis, since they both recently sang the piece.

* Tattling *
Miss LCU arrived late, and took a seat in front of me, demanding to see the program. She was far too scantily clad for the San Franciscan weather, and was quite cold as we walked over to the Wattis Room in Davies for the reception. She and Ao Li spoke a great deal in Mandarin, as I tried to translate for Daniel Montenegro and Kevin Ray, with my one semester's knowledge of that language. By the end of the event they were teaching Thomas Florio invectives and profanity, and I must admit, I was completely at sea.

Daniel Montenegro Interview

Daniel-montenegro-backbend Tenor Daniel Montenegro (pictured left working on his backbend) is just finishing up at the Merola Opera Program where he was Nemorino in L'elisir de amore. He will be performing excerpts from Roméo et Juliette this weekend for the Merola Grand Finale. Montenegro had his San Francisco Opera debut singing Roderigo in Otello last November. He sings next at the world premiere of Daniel Catán's Il Postino at Los Angeles Opera. The Opera Tattler listened in on a conversation between Montenegro and our mutual friend the Last Chinese Unicorn, our point of departure for this interview being À bout de souffle.

LCU: If William Faulkner were a gummy bear, which color/flavor would he be?
DM: Honestly, I am not familiar with Faulkner's work, so if I had to choose a flavor, it would be pineapple, because it is colorless.

LCU: Complete this sentence: My elixir of love is...
DM: Campari and tonic.

LCU: Does that work?
DM: [Laughs] No, girls think it tastes like cough syrup and just think I'm weird.

LCU: Which Disney movie/cartoon would make a great opera and which character would you play?
DM: Snow White. I would be one of the dwarfs, probably Bashful.

LCU: If you had to take Lady Gaga out on a date, where would you take her and what would you wear?
DM: To my mom's house, she's probably not used to that. I would wear what I normally wear, I have nothing to prove.

OT: What is your normal attire?
DM: Simple things, no labels. I tend to stick with blacks, greys, whites, and khaki.

LCU: Would you serenade her? With what?
DM: With mariachi. Malageña.

LCU: Who is more gullible - Nemorino or Otello?
DM: Nemorino. He is just innocent. Otello is more complicated, his downfall has to do with his jealousy.

LCU: Have you ever had a crush on your leading lady?
DM: Absolutely not. Unless I happen to.

LCU: What are your thoughts on armadillos?
DM: They have their place.

LCU: Do you accept random friend requests on Facebook?
DM: No, I only friend people if we have more than one friend in common.

LCU: What do you think about those people who believe that Phantom of the Opera is opera?
DM: I think they have a lot to learn.

LCU: How do you pronounce your name in Spanish?
DM: [dãn-jél].

LCU: Who do you want to work with as far as conductors and singers? Which opera house would you like to sing at?
DM: I get this sort of question a lot, but I just like singing, it doesn't matter where it is.

LCU: What is success?
DM: When saying no to things is the norm.

OT: What is your favorite pastry?
DM: Señoritas. They are the Cuban version of Napoleons (mille-feuilles).

OT: Do you have a favorite poem by Pablo Neruda?
DM: "Siempre" from Los versos del capitan: Poemas de amor (1952). I understand it as being about a man's jealousy, or lack thereof. It is something to strive for.

Festival Opera's Lucia di Lammermoor

Angela Cadelago (Lucia) and Thomas Glenn (Edgardo), Photo ©2010 by Robert Shomler * Notes *
Festival Opera's second production this season was Lucia di Lammermoor, which closed yesterday. The orchestra sounded robust under Michael Morgan, though the brass was out of tune at times.

Overall the singing was very good. "Chi mi frena in tal momento," featuring Angela Cadelago (Lucia), Thomas Glenn (Arturo), Brian Leerhuber (Enrico), Kirk Eichelberger (Raimondo), Michael Foreman (Arturo), and Patrice Houston (Alisa), was beautiful and moving. Cadelago blended nicely with the other singers here, she could be heard, but did not sound shrill. At other times she did not impress me as much, her voice is very piercing. Thomas Glenn's voice has taken on more heft, he sounded quite lovely.

The production, directed by Mark Foehringer, was inoffensive. The aesthetics of the set design did remind one of Design Toscano. The contrast of this with the costumes, which looked straight out of a Van Dyck painting, was slightly jarring. The acting throughout made sense, and everyone looked appropriate for their roles.

* Tattling *
Due to rather poor planning on my part, I was about 10 minutes late to Friday's performance. It was the second time I was unintentionally late for an opera this season (out of 65 opera performances).

There was some whispering from the audience, but nothing that could not be easily ignored.

Master Class with William Vendice 2010

Billvendice2010 002 * Program *
"Caro nome" from Rigoletto
Hye Jung Lee, soprano and Jenna Douglas, piano

"Куда, куда вы удалились, весны моей златые дни" from Eugene Onegin
Alexander Lewis, tenor and Natalia Katyukova, piano

"Ach, ich fühl's" from Die Zauberflöte
Janai Brugger-Orman, soprano and Michael Spassov, piano

"Aprite un po' quegli occhi" from Le Nozze di Figaro
Thomas Florio, bass-baritone and Jenna Douglas, piano

"Je veux vivre" from Roméo et Juliette
Nadine Sierra, soprano and Jenna Douglas, piano

* Notes *
William Vendice gave a master class for the Merola Opera Program last night at Herbst Theatre. The first of three sopranos this evening, Hye Jung Lee sang "Caro nome" with ease and precise intonation. Vendice noted that the tempo was marked either 76 or 80 in the score, and that Lee was going a bit slower than that. She sounded immediately more sprightly when she tried it again, and was able to react quickly to all of the suggestions made. Alexander Lewis sang Lensky's aria next, and Vendice had him slow it down and worked on diction. The playing was expressive here, and the aria is, of course, lovely. Janai Brugger-Orman sang Pamina's Act II Scene 4 aria, and Vendice noticed that she had trouble keeping her voice anchored down, making her pitch suffer. He hushed the audience when they clapped whilst the accompanist was still playing.

Thomas Florio sang Figaro's last aria in Le Nozze, as he did at the Auditions for the General Director, and it was clear he knew what every word meant. Vendice told him it was obvious Florio had performed the role before. There was enough time to hear the alternate, Nadine Sierra singing the Act I waltz. She started off a bit breathy, but Vendice got her to sing with more of a swinging, dancing quality.

* Tattling *
Before the performance began, I stragetically place myself near the back of the hall, but a bit to the left side to see the piano keyboard. The aisle seats filled up on either side of me rather quickly, as they always do. Just before things were to get started a young lady and a certain Merola participant climbed over the chairs to take seats adjacent to mine. Naturally, the director of the San Francisco Opera Center had all the Merolini move forward to sit together, causing a mild ruckus before we heard Vendice's introduction.

Bill Vendice's most hilarious comment was when he told Hye Jung Lee that Verdi's markings show up in odd places, but she should give them a try, they usually work. Afterward there was a small, elegant reception in the Wattis Room over in Davies that involved beautiful tartlets, as pictured above.