* Notes *
The Merola Opera Program's Auditions for the General Director were yesterday evening, and this was a first opportunity to hear all the 2008 Merolini in a single go. Before the auditions began I found my opera mentors, the Ryans, and B. Ryan told us we should put ourselves in David Gockley's shoes and that we must have an eye (or ear, really) to casting Die Walküre. T. Ryan said she found the idea of putting herself in Gockley's shoes rather difficult. In any case the auditions were educational, it made me realize I really should study up on Massenet and Berlioz. There was a lot of fine singing, actually, everyone was clearly talented. The most hilarious performance was from Carlos Monzón, who acted out the Catalogue aria in a somewhat lewd manner as he sang. Tyler Nelson also impressed me with "Konstanze, Konstanze...O wie ängstlich."
At intermission I was, for fun of course, required to pick which singers I would like to hear again. I chose Joélle Harvey, Amanda Majeski, Nicole Birkland, James Benjamin Rodgers, and Benjamin LeClair. Joélle sang "Du gai soleil" from Werther and her bright voice has such effortlessness. Amanda's rendition of "Song of the Moon" from Rusalka was passionate without being too harsh. Nicole chose "The Empty Handed Traveler" from The Consul, which I'd never heard before. James sang Lensky's aria from Eugene Onegin with an appealing brightness and good volume. Benjamin had clear diction in "Tutto è disposto...Aprite un po'quegli occhi" and his warm round tones reminded me of John Relyea.
I believe Gockley called back my five picks, in addition to Ellen Wieser, Leah Crocetto, Renée Tatum, Nathaniel Peake, and David W. Pershall. David sang Papageno's "Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja" well, and I very much enjoyed Eileen Downey's accompaniment here. My favorite performance of the evening came from Joélle Harvey, who sang "Piangerò la sorte mia" from Giulio Cesare with Dennis Doubin playing the piano.
* Tattling *
We looked for David Gockley, as one must keep up, one year his predecessor did not appear at this event. He was in the orchestra section and he either thanked or complimented each person by name after they sang. The audience was extremely well behaved, they did not clap between pieces, just as they were asked. There were a few whispers, especially from Box C. The person in question was threatened but we were told we were too small to actually manage to throw him over the railing.
Oren Gradus and Zheng Cao were both spotted at intermission. I was introduced to the former, and I mentioned he must have made a big impression on me as Leporello last season, as I still thought of him during the Berlin performances of Don Giovanni that I recently attended. We also spoke about the Lucia di Lammermoor he is in at the moment, and it is clear that he has an immense respect for Natalie Dessay.
I may be wrong about some of the notes above, if you happen to have a correction for me, please speak up, I am grateful for any help.