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July 2009
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September 2009

Tristan und Isolde at Seattle Opera

Seattle Opera is presenting Tristan und Isolde next summer from July 31 through August 21, 2010. Asher Fisch will conduct, Peter Kazaras will stage direct, Robert Israel will design both sets and costumes, and Duane Schuler will be on lighting. Swedish soprano Annalena Persson will make her United States debut as Isolde, with tenor Clifton Forbis singing Tristan.

Press Release [PDF] | Official Site

Merola Opera Program's Così fan tutte

CaitlinMathes  * Notes * 
The Merola Opera Program's production of Così fan tutte opened at the Cowell Theater last Friday. The singing was fine, though mezzo-soprano Caitlin Mathes stood out as Despina, her voice was almost too sweet for that comic role. She was very funny when pretending to be a notary, affecting an outrageous accent. For the most part her timing was good, though she missed a beat cuing a drum roll. Lara Ciekiewicz did well as Fiordiligi, though her voice has metallic edge to it. Her Act I aria, "Come scoglio" was robust, albeit somewhat brassy. Ellie Jarrett was a perfectly silly Dorabella, with a bit of strain in her upper range, but a delicate, pretty sound. Alex Mansoori likewise labored for some of the higher notes, but has a lovely, tasteful restraint. For the most part, John Chest sounded more secure as Guglielmo. Benjamin LeClair seemed very exposed as Don Alfonso, somehow he was not quite on, especially in the beginning, though his voice is gorgeous. The trezetto "E la fede delle femmine" with LeClair, Mansoori, and Chest was poor. The singing did improve, and the ensemble at the end was delightful. The off-stage chorus was not exactly with the orchestra, but did sing with a great deal of spirit.

As for Robin Guarino's production, it was stuffed to the gills with ideas at first and seemed to peter out during Act II, which was essentially quite traditional. The trajectory here was not entirely clear. It was almost as if since Così is rather ungallant, we were to be distracted as much as possible with utter silliness. For instance, Guglielmo did a bunch of push-ups, Ferrando broke pencils, and there were a lot of women's shoes thrown around at one point. I was amused, but also confounded, particularly by the conceit that the main characters were actors in a play, with Don Alfonso as the director, and Despina as a stage manager.

Under Ari Pelto, the orchestra was often not together, and one can only conclude that the shape and placement of the "pit" is not condusive to synchronization. There were some brass problems, and the violins were ahead at times. The playing was better for this than last year's Don Giovanni, there were no solos that were embarrassing, for instance. Keun-a Lee did play the harpsichord very confidently and well.

* Tattling * 
Again, the seagulls were audible during the less noisy parts of the music. The audience was more or less quiet and attentive.

Casting for the Merola Grand Finale 2009

The casting for the Merola Grand Finale was announced today. The performance, staged by Fernando Parra Bortí, is to take place August 22, and will be conducted by Antony Walker.

Tonio: Aleksey Bogdanov

Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Belmonte: Alex Mansoori / Eleazar Rodríguez
Osmin: Benjamin LeClair

Mignon: Ellie Jarrett
Lothario: Evan Boyer

Giulio Cesare
Cornelia: Suzanne Hendrix

Zdenka: Susannah Biller
Arabella: Lori Guilbeau

Joan of Arc
Joan: Margaret Gawrysiak

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Eva: Kate Crist
Magdalena: Suzanne Hendrix
Walther: Gregory Carroll
David: Alex Mansoori
Sachs: Aleksey Bogdanov

Carmen: Maya Lahyani
Don José: Brian Jagde
Aleko: Yohan Yi

Béatrice et Bénédict
Héro: Susannah Biller
Béatrice: Maya Lahyani
Ursule: Suzanne Hendrix

Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Rosina: Caitlin Mathes
Figaro: Paul Scholten

Gilda: Sara Gartland
Giovanna: Margaret Gawrysiak
The Duke: Nathaniel Peake

Lothario: Evan Boyer

Arsamene: Ryan Belongie

Der fliegende Holländer
Senta: Kate Crist
Erik: Gregory Carroll

Die Fledermaus
Rosalinde: Lara Ciekiewicz
Eisenstein: John Chest

Macduff: Brian Jagde

La Cenerentola
Alidoro: Michael Sumuel
Cenerentola: Ellie Jarrett

Alice: Lori Guilbeau
Nannetta: Sara Gartland
Meg: Maya Lahyani
Mistress Quickly: Suzanne Hendrix
Fenton: Alex Mansoori
Bardolfo: Eleazar Rodríguez
Dr. Caius: Gregory Carroll
Falstaff: Aleksey Bogdanov
Ford: Michael Sumuel
Pistola: Evan Boyer

Star-Spangled Sing-Off 2009

San Francisco Opera and Classical 102.2 KDFC are having a competition for who is to sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the simulcast of Il Trovatore this September. Video submissions can be uploaded to KDFC's Web site from August 10-17, and listener voting will begin the week of August 24. The three finalists will be judged by David Gockley, Nicola Luisotti, and Bill Leuth.

Official Site | SF Opera