Adler Fellowship Program

Meet the Adlers 2012

Meet-the-adlers-2012

Last night, nine of ten Adler Fellows for 2012 were interviewed by Director of Music Administration Kip Cranna, San Francisco Opera Center Director of Musical Studies Mark Morash, and Director of Artistic Adminstration Gregory Henkel, at Cowell Theater at Fort Mason. We learnt that pianist and apprentice coach David Hanlon was off to Houston to music direct HGOco's The Bricklayer, a more than valid excuse for missing this event. The other apprentice coach, Robert Mollicone, aspires to conduct.

Marina Boudart Harris has only been singing soprano for twenty months. Nadine Sierra was somewhat ill, but earlier this year had sung Gilda in Florida Grand Opera's production of Rigoletto to great acclaim. Renée Rapier had her professional debut late last year at LA Opera's Roméo et Juliette when the person whom she was covering withdrew from the production. She is to cover Joyce DiDonato in I Capuleti e i Montecchi this fall. Laura Krumm just covered DiDonato in Jake Heggie's song cycle about Camille Claudel. Krumm also sings in Love/Hate at ODC this April. Joo Won Kang is a baseball fan. Brian Jadge was covering Don José in French, whilst singing it in English in Carmen for Families. Ryan Kuster is to singing three roles from Don Giovanni in two months at LA Phil and WolfTrap. Ao Li relates to the title character of Le Nozze di Figaro because he is "smart." Li delivered some of the English dialogue of Carmen for Families, and it was rather hilarious. 

The interviews were interspersed with selections from Così fan tutte, Les pêcheurs de perles, Mignon, and Don Carlo. Mollicone gamely accompanied all of the pieces. "È lui! desso, l'infante...Dio, che nell'alma infondere" with Jadge, Li, and Kang was perhaps most impressive.


Merola Behind the Scenes Event 2012

Merola-behind-the-scenes-2012

* Program *
Rachmaninoff's Prelude Op. 23 No. 5
Robert Mollicone, piano

Richard Rodgers' "My Funny Valentine"
David Hanlon, piano

The end of Act I Scene 2 from Dead Man Walking
Laura Krumm, mezzo-soprano and David Hanlon, piano

"Il core vi dono" from Così fan tutte
Laura Krumm, mezzo-soprano, Ao Li, baritone, and Robert Mollicone, piano

"Avant de quitter ces lieux" from Faust
Ao Li, baritone and Robert Mollicone, piano

David Hanlon's "Bang Kiss Kiss Bang"
Robert Mollicone and David Hanlon, piano

* Notes *
Mark Morash, the San Francisco Opera Center Director of Musical Studies, held an event on Thursday focusing on the collaborative pianists in the Merola Opera and Adler Fellowship programs. Current Adler Fellows David Hanlon and Robert Mollicone spoke about how they came to the collaborative arts and auditioned for Merola. Both pianists played solo pieces, Mollicone chose the more conventional Rachmaninoff, and Hanlon improvised a version of "My Funny Valentine." Hanlon coached Laura Krumm through the end of Act II, Scene 2 from Dead Man Walking with a projection of the music on a screen behind them so we could follow along. Ao Li joined Krumm for a duet from Così fan tutte. Li sang Valentin's aria "Avant de quitter ces lieux", as Mollicone played the piece transposed down a step to accommodate his voice. Both pianists played a piece for 4 hands composed by Hanlon as the finale.

* Tattling *
The event started slightly late, as traffic was rather heavy coming into San Francisco, due to President Obama being in town for a speech at the Nob Hill Masonic Center.


Medallion Society Luncheon 2012

Sylvia-Lindsey-2012

* Notes *
San Francisco Opera's Medallion Society Luncheon was held Wednesday at the Ritz-Carlton. George Hume, the president of the San Francisco Opera Association welcomed the donors before they partook of a meal of cauliflower bisque, barbeque chicken, and pear cake. David Gockley presented Sylvia Lindsey (pictured left, photograph by Drew Altizer) with an apron signed by the opera staff and this year's Spirit of the Opera Award.

San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald introduced Adler Fellows David Hanlon, Marina Boudart Harris, Brian Jadge, Laura Krumm, Ryan Kuster, Ao Li, Robert Mollicone, and Renée Rapier. Pianists Hanlon and Mollicone switched off accompanying the singers, starting with Hanlon playing for Jadge and Li in "In un coupé...O Mimì, tu più non torni" from La Bohème. Harris and Rapier sang "Prenderò quel brunettino" from Così fan tutte. Kuster sang "Le veau d'or" from Faust. All the singers joined in for the opening scene from La Cenerentola. The afternoon ended with a spirited rendition of "Happy Birthday" for Ao Li, who turned 23 today.

* Tattling * 
There were the usual mobile phone rings at lunch. Mr. Feldheim and I were seated at the Orpheus table, which was a nice change from last year.


2012 Adler Fellows

F--2011-Adler-FellowsThe incoming 2012 Adler Fellows are Marina Boudart Harris, Laura Krumm, Renée Rapier, Joo Won Kang, and Robert Mollicone. They join current Adlers (pictured left, photograph by Scott Wall) Nadine Sierra, Brian Jadge, Ao Li, Ryan Kuster, and David Hanlon. Outgoing 2011 Adler Fellows are sopranos Leah Crocetto, Susannah Biller, Sara Gartland; mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani; countertenor Ryan Belongie; tenor Daniel Montenegro; and apprentice coach Tamara Sanikidze.

Press Release | Official Site


Adler 2012 Speculation

Merola16 * Notes *
The Adler Fellows for 2012 are likely to be announced next month, so it is time to speculate on which Merolini (pictured left in the 2011 Grand Finale, photograph by Stefan Cohen) will return to San Francisco. Tamara Sanikidze will have completed her two years as an Adler this Fall, so we will get a new collaborative pianist. As for singers, the outgoing Adlers are sopranos Leah Crocetto, Susannah Biller, and Sara Gartland; mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani; countertenor Ryan Belongie; and tenor Brian Jagde.

This year there were many fine low voices. Bass-baritones Peixin Chen and Philippe Sly were perhaps the most impressive of the 20 singers. Chen does lack in diction and in English proficiency, but his low notes are incredible. All 6 baritones had lovely voices, but Suchan Kim and Johnathan Michie were exceptional. One should, however, note that only baritone called back during the General Director Auditions was Gordon Fang. As for tenors, though they could all sing pleasantly, they all had their various weak points, and none were really up to the bar of other recent Adler tenors.

The strongest soprano was probably Suzanne Rigden, she was the most consistent week over week. However, one suspects she is already in another apprentice program, as she was the only soprano not called back during the General Director Auditions. Marina Boudart Harris had the most memorable performance in the Finale. For the mezzo-sopranos, Renée Rapier has the warmest and darkest sound. Rapier is a Domingo-Thornton Young Artist, which leaves Deborah Nansteel and Laura Krumm. Both have pretty voices, with much brightness. Nansteel's voice is more dramatic, but Krumm has the advantage of being fit.

* Tattler Guesses *
Robert Mollicone
Marina Boudart Harris
Laura Krumm
Deborah Nansteel
Peixin Chen
Philippe Sly


Brian Jagde Interview

Brian-jagde Tenor Brian Jagde (pictured left as Pinkerton in Virginia Opera's production of Madama Butterfly, photograph by Anne M. Peterson) is currently an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera. He sings Vitellozzo in Lucrezia Borgia and Don José in Carmen for Families at San Francisco Opera during the 2011-2012 season, then heads to Fresno, Bozeman, Munich, Minnesota, and Santa Fe. The Opera Tattler caught up with Jagde on Wednesday.

How did you get into opera?
Last thing I'd thought I would do. I studied computer science and business for 2 years, but I sang in chorus at school at SUNY Albany. I realized that I liked playing around with computers more than programing them. I ended up auditioning for SUNY
Purchase College's Department of Opera Performance. My first performance was in The Magic Flute, and I was covering roles, singing, dealing with the sets, and even the lighting. Being on stage was incredible, especially feeling the sound of the orchestra.

Was it in college you discovered you were a tenor?
Actually, I had sung tenor up until college, and when I was there, I thought I had to produce a certain sound. So I went through college as a baritone. I have always had a high speaking voice, and, actually, being a tenor came naturally to me. It was funny, I was booked as Marcello in La Bohème at Virginia Opera, but I ended up singing Rodolfo at Syracuse. I really developed as a tenor in the Adler Program though.

How has the Adler Program been? I really liked your performance in Makropulos, but I know you have been covering a lot of roles too.
It has been really great, and I have learned so much. In Makropulos, the role of Janek is more of an acting role, playing someone so virginal and with such a problem of confidence. His father does treat him very badly, obviously. It was great working with Karita Mattila, she is just otherworldly. Covering roles has been eye-opening as well. Last Summer I was covering Brandon Jovanovich as Froh, and he is just the nicest person, so down to earth, but he has a great voice for the War Memorial, which is obviously such a huge space.

Was San Francisco Opera's Ring your first?
Yes, and I am so grateful. Of course was the singing amazing, not only with Brandon, but Mark Delavan as Wotan and Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde. But the production really was fantastic. I loved how human Francesca Zambello made the characters.

Speaking of which, how has your summer been going?
Well, I started off here covering Das Rheingold, and then headed off to sing
Bohème at Castleton. It really is in the middle of nowhere, there is hardly any cellular phone service or Internet out there. I had to get a phone card to even be able to make calls. But it was good to disconnect for a bit. I ended up rediscovering tennis while I was there, and it has been the best exercise. It is fun, and it is good to find physical activity that isn't a chore to do. After Castleton, I went to Italy for 10 days, and there is just such warmth there. I have been there before, but they just embrace opera singers. Rome is my favorite city in the world, so far.

Now you are back, covering Heart of A Soldier. How has that been?
That's right, I am covering Bill Burden (Daniel J. Hill) in Heart of A Soldier. The life of Rick Rescorla suits opera very well, his life involved a lot of singing! I think the biggest challenge of the opera is that a lot of time is covered, so it is up to the director (Francesca Zambello) to make those transitions make sense.

I understand you are also singing in the Stern Grove concert on your birthday this Sunday with Dolora Zajick. Are you excited?
Absolutely! I cannot think of a better way to celebrate my birthday! I am lucky that my voice and repertoire, with all the Puccini I am studying, because it affords me opportunity to sing the tenor/mezzo duet with her from Il Trovatore. Dolora has been very helpful too.

She is so good at that role, the first Trovatore I heard was with Dolora.
She said something really great, that there are two kinds of singers, regardless if you are famous or not. You can either sing 9 roles, and be the absolute best at those, or you can take on a wide variety, and sing 240 roles. She's obviously the former.


Orpheus Luncheon 2011

Seacliff_District_SF * Notes * 
Adler Fellows tenor Brian Jagde, baritone Ao Li, and pianist Tamara Sanikidze gave a delightful performance at San Francisco Opera's Orpheus luncheon yesterday. Jagde started with the grave "Ah, la paterna mano" from Macbeth. Li gave us some humor by singing one of Don Magnifico arias from La Cenerentola, I believe it was "Sia qualunque delle figlie," but I could be mistaken. Jagde and Li sang the Act IV duet between Marcello and Rodolfo from La Bohème. One was grateful this short recital was squeezed in after both Sanikidze and Jagde were at the final dress of Walküre until quite late the previous night.

* Tattling * 
The audience was rapt and quiet. Somehow I barely made the performance on time, and they started just as I took a seat.


NY Festival of Song Schwabacher

Blier * Notes * 
The artistic director of New York Festival of Song, Steven Blier, gave a Schwabacher Debut Recital yesterday evening. Entitled Amores Nuevos, the program consisted of Spanish art songs, zarzuela arias and duets, Latin American art songs, and Latin American popular songs. As one would expect, Blier played piano for these selections, with David Hanlon joining in when four hands were required.

Baritone Austin Kness sang "Cómo quieres que adivine" with warmth and good volume. Though funny, "La mujer de los quince a los veint"e from La tabernera del puerto came off less well. In contrast, tenor Daniel Montenegro sounded somewhat cold in "Si con mis deseos." His pleasant, reedy voice was shown to better advantage in "De este apacible rincón de Madrid." The soprano, Sara Gartland, emoted throughout her pieces with conviction. "Me llaman la primorosa" was particularly charming. Her voice is strong and piercing, and though a note or two that strayed off pitch, her presence more than made up for this.

Kness did well with "Despierta, negro," sounding grave and serious. Gartland, Montenegro, and Hanlon made up an able ensemble for the piece. Gartland and Montenegro also sounded lovely in the duet "Caballero del alto plumero" from Luisa Fernanda.

* Tattling * 
Steven Blier told us many amusing stories before he played. I had the good fortune to be a guest of the whistling voice of Woodstock at this recital. I was very sorry to leave at intermission, but I was scheduled to hear the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic an hour and a half after the Schwabacher began.


Merola Behind the Scenes Event 2011

Adler Fellows, photo by Scott Grieder * Program *
"Je suis encore toute étourdie" from Manon
Sara Gartland, soprano and David Hanlon, piano

"Quando me'n vo" from La bohème
Sara Gartland, soprano and David Hanlon, piano

"Aprite un po' quegli occhi" from Le Nozze di Figaro
Ao Li, baritone and David Hanlon, piano

"O du mein holder Abendstern" from Tannhäuser
Ao Li, baritone and David Hanlon, piano

"Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix" from Samson et Dalila
Maya Lahyani, mezzo-soprano and David Hanlon, piano

"O mio Fernando" from La Favorita
Maya Lahyani, mezzo-soprano and David Hanlon, piano

* Notes *
San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald and San Francisco Opera Center Director of Musical Studies Mark Morash held an event (pictured above, photo by Scott Grieder) about how they cast and program the Merola Opera Program's Schwabacher Summer Concert. We got to hear three mock auditions given by current Adler Fellows Sara Gartland, Ao Li, and Maya Lahyani. Gartland sang "Je suis encore toute étourdie" with a lovely vulnerability. Greenawald and Morash noted the easy top of her voice and the quality of the passaggio. Gartland is a very fine actress, and this came out in her flirty "Musetta's Waltz."

Next came Ao Li, who sang Figaro's Act IV aria with beauty. Greenawald remarked that Li has a giant head, which is good for Wagner, and praised him for his legato and the gorgeous line of his voice. Li also sang Wolfram's moving aria from Act III of Tannhäuser.

Our last performer was the fiery Maya Lahyani, who started with Dalila's famous aria. Greenawald and Morash agreed she is a real mezzo and that she would not be singing Rosina or Cenerentola. Lahyani was compared to Tatiana Troyanos and was told she is a riveting actor, so perhaps she would be good for Baroque pieces. Lahyani also sang "O mio Fernando" with great feeling.

Greenawald and Morash picked 3 phantom singers to cast with, these being David Lomelí, Alek Shrader, and Ryan Kuster. From this they constructed a 60-70 minute program of scenes from Don Giovanni, Le Comte Ory, Il Puritani, The Rake's Progress, and La Favorita.

* Tattling *
Greenawald and Morash debated on the proper spelling of "Anne Trulove." As for the audience, man were quite engaged in the lively proceedings. There were some that were slightly restless, a few cellular phones rang, and a few left early.


Adler Fellows Gala Concert 2010

Adler-Fellows-Bows-2010 * Notes *
The Adler Fellows Gala Concert at Herbst Theatre last night involved much repertoire in the French language, there were no arias from Wagner or Strauss. It was refreshing to see the orchestra on the stage as they started the concert with the overture from Ruslan and Lyudmila. Maya Lahyani was the consummate singer/actress as she performed "Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix" from Samson et Dalila. Her dark, husky tones suited the role. When she went on to sing Carmen opposite of Brian Jagde in "C'est toi! C'est moi!" in the second half, she was also incredible, the fatalism of the character was apparent. Jagde sounded bright and reedy here, as he did for "E lucevan le stele."

Austin Kness sang "È sogno? o realtà," Ford's lyric baritone aria from Falstaff, heartily. On the other hand, Sara Gartland labored to sing "Ah rendetemi la speme...Qui la voce" from Il Puritani. Her voice is distinctive, and she sounded better in her duet with Kness, "Étranger, te voilà, comme tu l'avais dit!" I am not familiar with the Massenet opera this piece is from, Thaïs, but from this excerpt it seemed rather absurd.

Ryan Belongie and Susannah Biller sang "Io t'abbraccio" from Rodelinda with great beauty. There were a few bars in which they did not sound perfectly in tune with each other, but they recovered quickly. The harpsichord, played by Allen Perriello, was lovely. After the intermission Belongie sang "Venga pur, minacci e frema" from Mitridate, Re di Ponto. He sounded pretty, but at times he was hard to hear. Susannah Biller, on the other hand, was clear and strong in Ophelia's mad scene in Thomas' Hamlet.

The most impressive singers were Leah Crocetto and David Lomelí. Crocetto sang "È strano...Ah, fors'è lui...Sempre libera" admirably and Lomelí sounded incredibly robust from off stage. Their duet from Guillaume Tell was likewise fine. Perhaps the most beautiful part of the concert was the end, when Lomelí sang "Nessun dorma," with Tamara Sanikidze playing the celeste. It was especially moving when the other Adlers came in as the chorus.

* Tattling * 
There was some talking during the music. I was seated by a person who was so large that she could not put her arms inside the armrests of the seat. Her left elbow would have easily been touching me if I were less petite. I felt quite grateful to be small, but I did have to stay still in order not to disturb the established equilibrium.


Leah Crocetto's Salon at the Rex

Crocetto * Notes *
Soprano Leah Crocetto gave a recital of her favorite songs with pianist Tamara Sanikidze for the Salons at the Rex series yesterday evening. Crocetto began with "Ain't it a pretty night?" from Carlisle Floyd's Susannah. She learnt this piece at the age of 18, and it sounded very natural for her. This was followed by 3 Rachmaninoff songs, 2 from the Opus 21 Song Cycle and the Vocalise (Op. 34, No. 14). Sanikidze milked Richard Strauss' lovely "Morgen," Crocetto sounded pure and clear. Her "O mio babbino caro" was spine-tingling. The rest of the program was in English and included "Sure on this Shining Night," "From Seamus," "The Boy Next Door," "The Man that Got Away," "When Did I Fall in Love," "Fly Me to the Moon," "All the Things You Are," "The Girl in 14-G," and "You'll Never Walk Alone." There were times when her volume was a bit much for the smallness of the room. She did sound equally comfortable singing art songs, arias, or standards.

* Tattling *
The recital was sold out, we were packed in fairly tightly, and I was between Axel Feldheim and John Marcher. The audience was well-behaved, though some expressed their enthusiasm by calling out "whoo-whoo" several times in a row during the applause. The clanking of silverware was heard during "Morgen" and Crocetto joked that this was her percussion section.


Cal Performances Fall Free for All 2010

Postcard Front - Final Cal Performances opens the 2010-2011 season with an impressive array of free performances next Sunday, September 26th. Our beloved San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows Leah Crocetto, Sara Gartland, Brian Jagde, and Tamara Sanikidze are participating. Other performers include Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, the Mark Morris Dance Group, Melody of China, the John Santos Sextet, the Pacific Mozart Ensemble, the Word for Word Theater Company, Teslim with Kaila Flexer and Gari Hegedus, the Diamano Couras West African Dance Company, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Ensemble, classical guitarist Marc Teicholz, singer/musician Melanie DeMore, and the UC Jazz Ensembles. The Opera Tattler is quite sad to miss this, but will be out of town.

Fall Free for All | Official Site


Opera in the Park 2010

Operainthepark2010 * Notes *
San Francisco Opera's 37th Opera in the Park event was Nicola Luisotti's second as music director. The performance is entertaining every year, and this was no exception. The afternoon began with the overture to Le Nozze di Figaro, and gave us a preview of how this will sound when the latest revival opens on Tuesday September 21st. In keeping with this, Michèle Losier sang Cherubino's "Non so più," followed by Luca Pisaroni in "Non più andrai," and Danielle de Niese in "Giunse alfin il momento...Deh, vieni, non tardar." Dolora Zajick sang "La luce langue" from Macbeth stridently and Brian Mulligan sang "Avant de quitter ces lieux" from Faust sweetly. Marco Vratogna sang the Act III aria "Nemico della Patria" from Andrea Chénier, which David Gockley says we will hear soon enough at the War Memorial. "Pourquoi me réveiller" from Werther was sung by Ramón Vargas, and this opera opens for the first time in perhaps 25 years at SF Opera on Wednesday. The first half closed with David Lomelí, Leah Crocetto, Heidi Stober, and Brian Mulligan singing the famous quartet from Rigoletto, "Un di se ben rammentomi...Bella figlia dell'amore."

I had to leave at intermission, but I did hear the rehearsal of this performance earlier in the day. The second half started with the overture to Il barbiere di Siviglia, followed by Lucas Meachem in the famous "Largo al factotum." One does look forward to his Count in Le Nozze di Figaro and his fellow cast members Luca Pisaroni and Danielle de Niese, who sang "Là ci darem la mano." David Lomelí performed "La donna è mobile." Then there was much Puccini with Micaela Carosi singing "Vissi d'Arte," Leah Crocetto and Brian Jadge "Bimba, dagli occhi pieni," and Marcello Giordani in "Nessun Dorma." The performance ended with the usual "Libiamo ne'lieti calici" from La Traviata. I believe the encore must have been "O Sole Mio," sung by David Lomelí, Brian Jadge, Ramón Vargas, and Marcello Giordani.

* Tattling * 
The day started off rather foggy and cold, and the Maestro wore his white sweater instead of having it draped in his normal fashion. The Maestro sang a respectable "Non più andrai," whilst rehearsing the orchestra. The sun did come out, and I was able to convince Axel Feldheim to come to the park and sing the National Anthem with me for the second time in 24 hours.

General Director David Gockley was in his usual spot on stage much of the time and introduced groups of pieces. He inadvertently skipped over the two Mozart pieces after Cherubino's aria, and Luisotti teasingly said that Gockley "didn't know the season."


2011 Adler Fellows

Ao Li, photo by Kristen Loken The incoming 2011 Adler Fellows are Nadine Sierra, Daniel Montenegro, Ao Li, Ryan Kuster, and David Hanlon. They join current Adlers Leah Crocetto, Susannah Biller, Sara Gartland, Maya Lahyani, Ryan Belongie, Brian Jadge, and Tamara Sanikidze. Outgoing 2010 Adler Fellows are tenor David Lomelí, baritone Austin Kness, and apprentice coach Allen Perriello.

Press Release [PDF] | 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.