Daniel Montenegro Interview
Norma at the Athens Festival

Warren Jones Master Class 2010

WJones1-LisaKohler * Program *
"Come dal ciel precipita" from Macbeth
Kevin Thompson, bass and Michael Spassov, piano

"Je suis encore toute étourdie" from Manon
Valentina Fleer, soprano and David Hanlon, piano

"O du mein holder Abendstern" from Tannhäuser
Ao Li, baritone and Jenna Douglas, piano

"Una furtiva lagrima" from L'elisir d'amore
Eleazar Rodríguez, tenor and Jenna Douglas, piano

* Notes *
Collaborative pianist Warren Jones gave a master class as a fund-raiser for the Merola Opera Program last night. There was a strong focus on the apprentice coaches and their piano playing. Jones may have spent as much time working on the playing for Banquo's Act II aria as on the singing. At one point the threatened to cut off the feet of the pianist in question with an axe because there was too much pedal. Kevin Thompson has a beautiful voice that just seems bottomless, there was some strain at the top, but he improved as Jones coached him. Again, with "Je suis encore toute étourdie," Jones quipped that the playing of the B flat and F natural stabbed him in the heart, and he could not imagine how bad it must be for the soprano, Valentina Fleer. Fleer sounded slightly tentative at first, but lovely. Jones had her work on singing the A flat loudly and contrasting this with a quiet B flat. The director of the San Francisco Opera Center interrupted Jones, reminding him that a breath here would probably help.

The lovable Ao Li sang Wolfram's gorgeous aria from Act III in a jolly manner. His voice is warm and full, but he did not give a sense of the sadness in this piece. His German diction needs work. Jones got Li to keep the bottom of his voice, to not sing sharp, and to get a more glistening sound. For the pianist, Jones explained that in the orchestra, the harp is a deafening instrument, one has to play it with an almost neurotic care. Eleazar Rodríguez sang "Una furtiva lagrima" prettily. Jones asked Rodríguez if he would translate the first words of the aria as "A furtive tear" or "One furtive tear," and also asked this of Daniel Montenegro and Alexander Lewis, since they both recently sang the piece.

* Tattling *
Miss LCU arrived late, and took a seat in front of me, demanding to see the program. She was far too scantily clad for the San Franciscan weather, and was quite cold as we walked over to the Wattis Room in Davies for the reception. She and Ao Li spoke a great deal in Mandarin, as I tried to translate for Daniel Montenegro and Kevin Ray, with my one semester's knowledge of that language. By the end of the event they were teaching Thomas Florio invectives and profanity, and I must admit, I was completely at sea.