* 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.