* Program *
"Pierrot's Tanzlied" from Die Tote Stadt
Eugene Chan, baritone and Alan Hamilton, piano
Ellen Wieser, soprano and Eileen Downey, piano
Schubert's "Erstarrung" from Winterreise
Darren Perry, baritone and Carl Pantle, piano
Quilter's "Now sleeps the crimson petal"
Tyler Nelson, tenor and Allen Perriello, piano
James Rodgers, tenor and Dennis Doubin, piano
* Notes *
Yesterday evening New York Festival of Song's artistic director Steven Blier gave a master class for the Merola Opera Program. He offered to paint the houses of people who joined Merola, adding that some restrictions applied. The evening included only one aria, but several art songs, and this was, unsurprisingly, by Blier's design. The one aria began the evening, Fritz's Act II aria in Die Tote Stadt, which will be sung by Merola alumnus Lucas Meachem next season at San Francisco Opera. Eugene Chan sang well, though with much effort, but by the end he had improved. The only soprano in the evening, Ellen Weiser, also gave a labored performance. She has a shrill edge, but sounded better in this than in Albert Herring. She was able to sing more smoothly under the direction of Blier, and she does have an appealing ethereal quality.
Darren Perry sang "Erstarrung" from Winterreise, and was told he sounded a bit too reasonable and that he had a distance to go to possessed psychosis. Perry's voice is light and not overly loud. Next came tenor Tyler Nelson singing "Now sleeps the crimson petal," whose text is from Tennyson's poem. He sang the piece in F Major, which Blier compared to peanut butter. Blier thought F Sharp Major would be better, and Nelson sang the piece again in that key, very beautifully, I might add. Blier picked on Nelson's voiced labial-velar approximants. The performance ended with another tenor, James Benjamin Rodgers. He sang "Youkali" with great passion, even anger. When Blier got him to loosen up a bit and sing with sadness before his rage, Rodgers gave a more nuanced and effective performance.
* Tattling *
Steven Blier was hilarious, telling us about a dream he had of Ethel Merman and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. It also turned out that the restrictions on his house painting offer were that one had to ask before 8:30pm, which long past by the time he told us.