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February 2012
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April 2012

Merola's 55th Season Participants

Elizabeth Baldwin, Sylvania, Ohio
Jennifer Cherest, La Plata, Maryland
Aviva Fortunata, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Jacqueline Piccolino, Palatine, Illinois
Suzanne Rigden, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
Rose Sawvel, Denver, Colorado
Melinda Wittington, Wilson, North Carolina

Erin Johnson, Washington, New Jersey
Sarah Mesko, Hot Springs, Arkansas
Carolyn Sproule, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Joshua Baum, Kansas City, Missouri
Casey Candebat, New Orleans, Louisiana
AJ Glueckert, Portland, Oregon
Theo Lebow, Sierra Madre, California
Yi Li, Shandong, China
Andrew Stenson, Rochester, Minnesota
Chuanyue Wang, Hei Long Jiang, China

Joseph Lattanzi, Mableton, Georgia

Hadleigh Adams, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Gordon Bintner, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Seth Mease Carico, Signal Mountain, Tennessee
Matthew Scollin, Walled Lake, Michigan

Andrew Kroes, Onalaska, Wisconsin

Apprentice Coaches
Francesco Fraboni, Senigallia, Italy
Artem Grishaev, Moscow, Russia
Elena Lacheva, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Kevin Miller, Bronx, New York
Sun Ha Yoon, Seoul, South Korea

Apprentice Stage Director
Jennifer Williams, McLean, Virginia

Official Site | Press Releases

Albert Herring at LA Opera


* Notes *
The fourth performance of Los Angeles Opera's Albert Herring (Act II Scene 1 pictured left, photograph by Robert Millard) on Sunday boasted a balanced ensemble cast and fine musicianship all around. Conducted by Maestro James Conlon, the playing in the pit sounded taut and clear. The horn only made one slight error, but otherwise sounded quite agreeable. The singers all seemed perfect for their roles, and distinct enough from one another in sound. The diction was clear.

Liam Bonner (Sid) and Daniela Mack (Nancy) made for a nice, youthful pair. The various pillars of society sang humorously together, or against one another, as need be. As Superintendent Budd, Richard Bernstein was warm in contrast to Robert McPherson's rather bright Mr. Upfold. Jonathan Michie sang nimbly as Mr. Gedge. Though Stacey Tappan's voice is pretty and bird-like, her Miss Wordsworth still managed to be convincing. Ronnita Miller's acting as Florence Pike was confident, and her singing hearty. Janis Kelly played Lady Billows with the right amount of self-importance and hysteria. Her cold, brilliant voice is piercing. As for Albert Herring himself, Alek Shrader seemed ideal, it is hard to imagine a more suitable tenor for this role. Shrader's voice is lovely.

The production, directed by Paul Curran, was first seen at Santa Fe Opera last summer. The set and costumes, designed by Kevin Knight, are charming and sweet. The use of supernumeraries to change the scenes in various cunning ways made for good laughs.

* Tattling * 
The performance was not particularly full. There was light talking in the Founders Circle, especially in the first half of the opera.

Don Pasquale at San Diego Opera


* Notes * 
At first glance, the revival of Don Pasquale (Act II, Scene 2 pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) at San Diego Opera simply looks like someone took a set and costumes for Fanciulla del West and used it for Donizetti's work. Thankfully, there is much more to director David Gately's elaborate production, which is quite funny. This Wild West version of Don Pasquale works because the essentials are still true to this opera buffa. The characters are all believable, and this rendering has a lot of charm. The gags just keep on coming, and perhaps at times this felt somewhat overwrought. The sets, from Tony Fanning, descriptive and painstakingly detailed, as are the costumes from Helen E. Rodgers.

Conductor Marco Guidarini made his San Diego debut with yesterday's performance. The orchestra played with the necessary fleetness, and were often rather loud. The trumpet made a brave effort at the beginning of Act II despite a few raw moments. The chorus moved well, and though not precisely together, sang nicely. The principal singers were cast evenly. Jeff Mattsey was an entertaining Dr. Malatesta, and his singing was fine aside from some of the patter in the duet "Cheti, cheti, immantinente." Charles Castronovo (Ernesto) had a pretty lightness and the right mournfulness for the role. His voice sounds slightly metallic when he pushes it too hard. Danielle de Niese's Norina was completely convincing, her gestures and expressions were faultless. Though her breathing is noticeable, her voice is deft and bright. John Del Carlo was hilarious in the title role. His sound is warm and his enunciation was excellent throughout, especially in the aforementioned Act III duet with Mattsey.

* Tattling * 
There was light talking throughout the opera, and a watch or phone alarm rang during Act III Scene 2.

Sonoma State University 2012-2013 Season

September 29 2012: Lang Lang, piano
September 30 2012: Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas
October 13 2012: Karina Gauvin, soprano with Michael McMahon, piano
October 27 2012: "An All American Celebration" with John Adams & the International Contemporary Ensemble featuring Jeffrey Kahane, piano
October 28 2012: Modigliani Quartet with Joyce Yang, piano
November 10 2012: Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano with Craig Terry, piano
November 11 2012: Chucho Valdés and the Afro-Cuban Messengers
November 15 2012: Buika
November 20 2012: Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano with Alan Curtis, conductor & Il Compleso Barocco
December 8 2012: Tallis Scholars | Love is Better Than Wine
December 9 2012: Philharmonia Baroque performs Handel's Messiah
January 26 2013: Yo-Yo Ma, cello, and Kathryn Stott, piano
February 16 2013: Barbara Cook, soprano
November 2 2011: Lang Lang, piano
March 2 2013: Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin with Lambert Orkis, piano
March 21 2013: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
April 7 2013: Vadim Repin, violin with Itamar Golan, piano
April 9 2013: Elīna Garanča, mezzo-soprano
April 18 2013: Lila Downs
April 21 2013: Tara Erraught, mezzo-soprano with Marcelo Amaral, piano
April 27 2013: Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Kahane, conductor & piano

Robert Cole announced the inaugural season for Weill Hall at Sonoma State University's Green Music Center today. The hall is modeled after Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, and features a rather warm, expansive acoustic. The air conditioning system is impressively high tech and silent.

Official Site | 2012-2013 Season

Quatuor Ebène at SF Performances


* Notes *
Tonight Quatuor Ebène (pictured left, photograph by Julien Mignot) had a San Francisco debut at Herbst Theatre. The evening started with Mozart's String Quartet in D minor, K. 421, which was played with much personality, and what seemed to be an entirely historically uninformed manner. Somehow the confidence and rapport of the players made the latter irrelevant. Borodin's String Quartet No. 2 in D Major may have been better suited to the style of the ensemble, the playing was lush without being cloying. The third movement Noctturno: Andante was especially delightful.

The second half of the program consisted of Ravel's String Quartet in F Major. It was clear the quartet took the tempo markings to heart. The rhythms in the second movement were quite exhilarating and the changing meters in the last movement came off well. The encore was introduced rather coyly by cellist Raphaël Merlin as a piece by a quartet from Liverpool. The following instrumental version of Lennon and McCartney's "Come Together" was therefore all the more charming.

* Tattling *
The audience was silent and attentive until the encore.

Rinaldo at Lyric Opera of Chicago


* Notes *
A new production of Rinaldo (Act II, Scene 3 pictured left, photograph by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago) concludes Lyric Opera of Chicago's 2011-2012 season. The Sunday matinée performance was nothing if not entertaining. Director Francisco Negrin created his own little circus within Handel's music, an internally consistent world whose elements all work together. The set, by Louis Désiré, involves a monolithic word scramble reading "Gerusalemme," glass panels that can be lit white or red, and an enormous piano-shaped box. Désiré's costumes are likewise striking and odd. Ana Yepes's choreography is amusing and was performed cleanly.

Harry Bicket conducted a rather dry performance from the orchestra. The keyboard solo from Jory Vinikour at the end of Act II was strong. Musically, one of the most interesting parts of the afternoon was during "Or la tromba," when the trumpet almost flubbed a note, but recovered magnificently.

Much of the singing was good, though not always historically informed. Iestyn Davies sounded bright as Eustazio, his fast notes lack deftness, but his timbre is pretty. Sonia Prina's vibrato was distracting at times, she tends to overdo the machismo for trouser roles, and her Goffredo was not an exception. She did rein in the bluster for "Sorge nel petto," which she sang nicely. The pleasant lightness of Luca Pisaroni's voice may not have been perfect for the wicked Argante, but his acting and movements were effective.

Elza van den Heever was a compelling Armida. Her voice is gorgeous and powerful, perhaps a tad heavy for Baroque repertoire. She had the meatiest role as far as direction was concerned, and certainly made the most of this. Julia Kleiter made for a cute, sweet Almirena, she started off sounding a bit breathy but improved as the performance progressed. In the title role, David Daniels also had a shaky start, especially at the beginning of "Cara sposa."

* Tattling *
The audience seemed engaged with the performance. There was some light talking in the dress circle, but not a lot of electronic noise.

Washington National Opera's 2012-2013 Season

September 15- October 6 2012: Anna Bolena
September 20- October 15 2012: Don Giovanni
September 23 2012: Nathan Gunn Concert
December 21-23 2012: Hansel and Gretel
March 2-23 2013: Manon Lescaut
March 9-24 2013: Norma
April 8 2013: Diana Damrau Concert
May 4-26 2013: Show Boat

The 2012-2013 season at WNO was announced today. Sondra Radvanovsky sings the title role of Anna Bolena. Angela Meade sings the title role of Norma.

2012-2013 Season | Official Site

San Francisco Symphony's 2012-2013 Season

September 5-8 2012: Bychkov conducts Wagner, Bruch, Tchaikovsky; Pinchas Zuckerman, violin
September 12-15 2012: Bychkov conducts Shostakovich's 7th
September 19 2012: Opening Gala: MTT conducts Berlioz, Chausson, Saint-Saëns, Ravel; Joshua Bell, violin
September 20-23 2012: MTT conducts Berlioz, Chausson, Saint-Saëns, Ravel; Alina Pogostkina, violin
September 27-30 2012: MTT conducts Samuel Carl Adams, Mahler
October 4-6 2012: Vasily Petrenko conducts Pärt, Bartók, Respighi
October 7 2012: Schiff plays Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I
October 11-13 2012: Schiff conducts Mendelssohn, Bach
October 18-20 2012: Jurowski conducts Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev
October 21 2012: Schiff plays Well-Tempered Clavier, Book Book II
October 24-28 2012: van Zweden conducts Wagner, Mozart, Brahms
October 27 2012: John D. Goldman Tribute Concert
October 30 2012: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
October 31 2012: MTT conducts Volkert, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff; Yuja Wang, piano
November 1-2 2012: MTT conducts Volkert, Bartók, Rachmaninoff; Lang Lang, piano
November 3 2012: Día de los Muertos Concert
November 4 2012: SF Symphony Youth Orchestra
November 11-12 2012: Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
December 5-8 2012: MTT conducts Widmann, Berlioz
December 9 2012: Cabrera conducts Peter and the Wolf
December 13-16 2012: Messiah
December 31 2012: New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball
January 10-13 2013: MTT conducts Debussy, Duparc; Renee Fleming, soprano
January 16 2013: Renee Fleming, soprano and Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano
January 17-19 2013: MTT conducts Grieg
January 23-26 2013: Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart
January 25-29 2012: Zukerman conducts Mozart, Hindemith
February 2-14 2012: Blomstedt conducts Mozart, Tchaikovsky
January 26 2013: Cabrera conducts Music for Families
January 30- February 1 2013: Dutoit conducts Ravel, Lalo, Elgar
February 2 2013: Chinese New Year Concert
February 6-10 2013: Dutoit conducts Poulenc, Berlioz
February 8 2013: Gil Shaham, violin & Akira Eguchi, piano
February 12-13 2013: Russian National Orchestra
February 14-17 2013: Heras-Casado conducts Lindberg, Liszt, Prokofiev
February 17 2013: Itzak Perlman, violin & Rohan De Silva, piano
February 21-23 2013: Tortelier conducts Debussy, R. Strauss, Mendelssohn
February 23 2013: Cabrera conducts Music for Families
February 28- March 2 2013: MTT conducts Mozart, Bruckner
March 6-9 2013: MTT conducts Berio, Beethoven, Brahms
March 10 2013: Cameron Carpenter, organ
March 14-17 2013: MTT conducts Mahler's 9th
March 24 2013: Cabrera conducts SFS Youth Orchestra
April 5-6 2013: Labadie conducts Mozart & Handel
April 6 2013: Cabrera conducts Music for Families
April 14 2013: Schiff plays French Suites
April 17-20 2013: Blomstedt conducts Beethoven & Nielsen
April 15 2013: Schiff plays English Suites
April 25-27 2013: Eschenbach conducts Schoenberg, Brahms, Dvorak
April 28 2013: Paul Jacobs, organ
April 28 2013: Matthias Goerne, baritone & Eschenbach, piano
May 2-3 2013: MTT conducts Beethoven
May 4-9 2013: MTT; Michael Fabiano, tenor; & St. Laurence String Quartet
May 10-11 2013: MTT conducts Missa Solemnis
May 15-18 2013: Janowski conducts Schumann, Brahms
May 19 2013: Cabrera conducts SFS Youth Orchestra
May 22-25 2013: Robertson conducts Carter, Ravel, Gershwin
May 29- June 2 2013: Valcuha conducts Dvořák, Kodaly, Bartok
June 6-9 2013: Karabits conducts Honegger, Britten, Sibelius
June 13-15 2013: Abbado conducts Schumann, Fedele, & Schubert
June 19-20 2013: MTT conducts Stravinsky; Gil Shaham, violin
June 21-22 2013: MTT conducts Stravinsky; The Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble
June 27- July 2 2013: MTT conducts West Side Story

Nott conducts CSO


* Notes * 
Last weekend Jonathan Nott (pictured left, photograph by Thomas Müller) conducted Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program of Schoenberg's Piano Concerto and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. The concert started with the former, the soloist being Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who played with clarity. The orchestra sounded neat and together. Schoenberg's music tends to put pressure on my sinuses, perhaps it is simply tension, and after the piano concerto was over, I sneezed three times in quick succession. Das Lied von der Erde was more engaging, even if we happened to be sitting on the wrong side of the singers. It felt a bit as if we were part of the brass section. Stuart Skelton's voice was not quite expansive enough to be heard that distinctly from the Center Terrace, but his sound is pretty and his diction comprehensible. Michelle DeYoung was perfectly audible, her voice has an interesting metallic quality, and she sang the last part rather well.

* Tattling * 
The audience completely quiet for the Schoenberg, but some talking was heard during the Mahler. A few people on the Orchestra Level were clearly asleep, but one young man near the front was rapt by DeYoung's performance.

Show Boat at Lyric Opera of Chicago


* Notes *
A new production of Show Boat (Act I, Scene 1 pictured left, photograph by Robert Kusel/Lyric Opera of Chicago) opened at Lyric Opera of Chicago last month. The Friday matinée performance was an utter delight from top to bottom. Director Francesca Zambello is at her best in this co-production with Lyric, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. The humanity of the characters is clear and compelling. Peter J. Davison's set is not overly ornate, move cleanly, and work well with Mark McCullough's characteristically elegant lighting. The costumes, by Paul Tazewell, often make use of a pleasing contrast of red, white, and turquoise. The dancing, choreographed by Michele Lynch, is charming.

The straightforward music sounded effortless as far as the orchestra was concerned, conducted here by John DeMain. The chorus was robust, as were the principals. Cindy Gold and Ross Lehman were entertaining as Parthy and Captain Andy. Alyson Cambridge made for a striking Julie, with her incisive, but never shrill voice. Angela Renée Simpson sang Queenie with beauty and feeling. Morris Robinson was most impressive as Joe, his music is perhaps the most famous in this particular work, and he sang "Ol' Man River" with warmth and beauty. Ashley Brown was an adorable Magnolia, she chirped sweetly. Nathan Gunn turned out a believable Ravenal, the lightness of his voice having an appeal in this role.

* Tattling *
The house was full of seniors and children, which meant there were watch alarms at the hours and a lot of fidgeting. The family in Upper Balcony Row Q Seats 10-16 could not stay still, one of the sons kept running across the aisle and the other would occasionally stand up as he was unable to see the stage from his seat.

Meet the Adlers 2012


Last night, nine of ten Adler Fellows for 2012 were interviewed by Director of Music Administration Kip Cranna, San Francisco Opera Center Director of Musical Studies Mark Morash, and Director of Artistic Adminstration Gregory Henkel, at Cowell Theater at Fort Mason. We learnt that pianist and apprentice coach David Hanlon was off to Houston to music direct HGOco's The Bricklayer, a more than valid excuse for missing this event. The other apprentice coach, Robert Mollicone, aspires to conduct.

Marina Boudart Harris has only been singing soprano for twenty months. Nadine Sierra was somewhat ill, but earlier this year had sung Gilda in Florida Grand Opera's production of Rigoletto to great acclaim. Renée Rapier had her professional debut late last year at LA Opera's Roméo et Juliette when the person whom she was covering withdrew from the production. She is to cover Joyce DiDonato in I Capuleti e i Montecchi this fall. Laura Krumm just covered DiDonato in Jake Heggie's song cycle about Camille Claudel. Krumm also sings in Love/Hate at ODC this April. Joo Won Kang is a baseball fan. Brian Jadge was covering Don José in French, whilst singing it in English in Carmen for Families. Ryan Kuster is to singing three roles from Don Giovanni in two months at LA Phil and WolfTrap. Ao Li relates to the title character of Le Nozze di Figaro because he is "smart." Li delivered some of the English dialogue of Carmen for Families, and it was rather hilarious. 

The interviews were interspersed with selections from Così fan tutte, Les pêcheurs de perles, Mignon, and Don Carlo. Mollicone gamely accompanied all of the pieces. "È lui! desso, l'infante...Dio, che nell'alma infondere" with Jadge, Li, and Kang was perhaps most impressive.