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August 2013

Schwabacher Summer Concert 2013

7.18.13_Merola-2600* Notes * 
Last night's Schwabacher Summer Concert began with a sparkling overture from Der Schauspieldirektor. The orchestra, conducted by Kevin Murphy, was on the stage and there were subsequent synchronization problems with the singers starting with Act I, Scene 5 of Don Giovanni. Aviva Fortunata made for a dramatic Donna Elvira, while Rhys Lloyd Talbot struggled to stay with the orchestra in "Madamina, il catalogo è questo." The excerpt of Don Carlo from Act IV, Part 2 went better, and Alex Desocio sounded solid as Rodrigo.

The most delightful part of the evening was certainly from Act I, Scene 3 through 5 of L'Italiana in Algeri. Matthew Newlin was humorous as Lindoro, his light voice sounded somewhat constricted at the top, but is quite pretty. Zanda Švēde made for a wonderfully sassy Isabella, and her scenes with Pene Pati and Issachah Savage (pictured above, photograph by Kristen Loken) were charming. The direction was somewhat overwrought, but this was easy to ignore.

Pene Pati (Edgardo) impressed in Act II, Part 2 of Lucia di Lammermoor. His voice is pleasantly metallic and generally appealing. The singers of the chorus did not sound cohesive because of how slowly they walked to the foot of the stage, and how spread out they were. Pati was also strong in the excerpt of L'Amico Fritz, singing the title role of the opera. Zanda Švēde sang Beppe quite beautifully as well.

The performance ended with the end of Otello. Aviva Fortunata sounded nearly ideal as Desdemona, but having her simply stand completely still for much of her singing was rather dull to watch. Issachah Savage was arresting as Otello with his full, lovely voice.

* Tattling * 
Latecomers were loud and obnoxious, stamping down the aisles and aggressively swinging down seats. Watch alarms sounded a every hour and a cellular phone rang after the words "Oh! Gloria! Otello fu."

Merola's The Rape of Lucretia

7.9.13_Lucretia-4747* Notes * 
Britten's The Rape of Lucretia was performed last night by the Merola Opera Program at Everett Middle School in San Francisco. The production (pictured left with Katie Hannigan as Bianca, Alisa Jordheim as Lucia, Kate Allen as Lucretia and Chris Carr as Tarquinius; photograph by Kristen Loken) directed by Peter Kazaras, is elegant and contemporary. Donald Eastman's scenic design is essentially just platforms, furniture, and blinds, but comes to life beautifully with Chris Maravich's lighting. The production complements the music, and the dramatic moments of this opera held together nicely. The proceedings seemed altogether fresh and vibrant.

Mark Morash conducted the small ensemble to fine effect. Though there is no pit in the theater of Everett, the situation seems better than at Cowell, as the musicians sounded robust, vivid, and synchronized. The harp playing was especially lovely, as was the oboe and English horn.

The singing was impressive all around. Alisa Jordheim (Lucia) sounded perfectly sweet and bird-like. Katie Hannigan made for a protective Bianca. David Weigel's pain as Collantinus was palpable. Efraín Solís was quite disturbing as Junius, particularly when goading Tarquinius at the end of Act I Scene 1.

Linda Barnett sang the Female Chorus with a certain calm, while Robert Watson was more rousing as the Male Chorus. Chris Carr's Tarquinius was expressive and disquieting. Kate Allen was a magnificent Lucretia, with gorgeous low notes.

* Tattling * 
There was very little talking, except when a super-title error occurred during Act I. The J Church light rail street cars were clearly audible from inside the auditorium.

Plácido Domingo Concert in Berkeley

7-placido-8849Plácido Domingo is performing at UC Berkeley's Greek Theatre on Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 8pm. He will be joined by guest sopranos Angel Joy Blue and Micäela Oeste and guest conductor Eugene Kohn. Presale tickets are available Tuesday, July 9, at 10am until Saturday, July 13, at 11:59 pm online only through Another Planet Entertainment and Ticketmaster. The presale password is "GREEK."

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