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NY Festival of Song Schwabacher 2014

Schwabacher-festival-song-2014* Notes * 
The artistic director of New York Festival of Song, Steven Blier, presided over a Schwabacher Debut Recital entitled In the Memory Palace yesterday evening. The program included diverse selections from song cycles and vocal quartets with an underlying theme of courtship. Blier accompanied four Adler Fellows on piano.

The structure of the evening was divided in fourths, starting with a quartet, then featuring each singer in turn. We began with Heitor Villa-Lobos, first "Canção da folha morta" followed by soprano Maria Valdes singing three songs from Floresta do Amazonas. All four singers have powerful voices, but they were able to blend their sounds nicely. Valdes has an airy lightness but has a tawny warmth as well. She showed her versatility in these cinematic songs. Next we traveled to Northern Europe with the ensemble singing a Danish text set by Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar, Jens Peter's poem "I seraillets have." Then mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde sang four Grieg songs with German texts. Her voice is incredibly rich and gorgeous, with a brilliant clarity.

After intermission we heard exclusively songs in English, starting with "Come live with me" by William Sterndale Bennett. Tenor AJ Gluekert did a fine job bringing his voice out for particular phrases, and then blending back in with the ensemble. Gluekert went on to sing four rather distinct songs by Frank Bridge, showing a range of emotions and styles. The fourth part of the program commenced with Sondheim's dizzying Two Fairy Tales. The singers were clearly listening to one another and working together. The last series of songs were by Gabriel Kahane, from the cycle The Memory Palace. Baritone Hadleigh Adams seemed at ease with both music and text. The last piece on the program was Smokey Robinson's "You've Really Got a Hold On Me," and it was slightly awkward, as Glueckert and Adams seemed perfectly comfortable singing this, but Valdes and Švēde simply sounded like opera singers. The encore, from Bernstein's Candide, was much more convincing. One would love to hear the Adlers sing the entire opera.

* Tattling * 
Blier was characteristically amusing despite the many electronic interruptions from the audience while he went through the pieces with us.

SF Opera Costume Sale Preview

IMG_9156San Francisco Opera's Costume Shop Sale Preview was held as a donor event yesterday, complete with valet parking and cocktails. The array of clothing and accoutrements is stunning. I contemplated getting the armor Susan Graham wore in Ariodante (2008), but had to concede that it probably took up too much space and certainly is too large for me to wear. I did purchase a mask worn in rehearsal of this opera. The sale proper will be held today from 10:30 am to 5 pm and tomorrow from 10:30 am to 4 pm at 800 Indiana Street in San Francisco. One imagines the lines will be long, so bring friends to talk to or a book to read.

Press Release

SF Opera Annual Meeting 2014

Floyd* Notes *
San Francisco Opera's Annual Meeting for 2014 was held Thursday afternoon at Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall in San Francisco. Chairman of the Board John A. Gunn, Board of Directors President Keith B. Geeslin, CFO Michael Simpson, and General Director David Gockley all spoke. Both Geeslin and Gockley expressed concern over San Diego Opera's closing, since it has been well-run and has presented world-class talent. San Francisco Opera ran a deficit again, subscriptions continue to drop off, but the endowment is at an all-time high. The new Opera Center in the Veterans Building will start being built in January of next year. Once it opens, the plan is to program a Baroque opera each February, a family opera in March, and a contemporary opera in April. We also learnt that the DVD of San Francisco Opera's Porgy and Bess will be released next Tuesday.

Composer Carlisle Floyd joined us for the meeting, and was interviewed by David Gockley. Floyd's Susannah will be performed next season, and we were told about the composer's career. His next opera premieres in Houston. Three Adlers and one Adler alumna performed four pieces from Susannah: pianist Noah Lindquist; tenor A.J.Glueckert; baritone Hadleigh Adams; and soprano Rhoslyn Jones. Jones sang "Ain't it a Pretty Night" with particular poignancy.

* Tattling *
During the reception after the meeting David Gockley asked me where I had been and I assured him I would make myself less scarce given that a Baroque opera is programmed this fall.

Merola's 57th Season Participants

Julie Adams, Burbank, California
Adelaide Boedecker, Sarasota, Florida
Maria Fasciano, Niagara Falls, New York
Karen Chia-Ling Ho, Taipei, Taiwan
Yujin Kim, Deajeon, South Korea
Talya Lieberman, Forest Hills, New York
Amanda Woodbury, Dallas, Texas

Eliza Bonet, Atlanta, Georgia
Shirin Eskandani, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Nian Wang, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

Casey Candebat, New Orleans, Louisiana
Mingjie Lei, Hengyang, Hunan, China
Chong Wang, Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China
Benjamin Werley, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Gideon Dabi, Highland Park, New Jersey
Alexander Elliott, Florence, South Carolina
Thomas Gunther, Muscatine, Iowa
Edward Nelson, Santa Clarita, California

John Arnold, Cumming, Georgia
Matthew Stump, Goshen, Indiana
Rhys Lloyd Talbot, Cedar Falls, Iowa
Szymon Wach, Lublin, Poland

Anthony Reed, Alexandria, Minnesota
Scott Russell, Roanoke, Virginia

Apprentice Coaches
Edoardo Barsotti, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
Ronny Michael Greenberg, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Kirill Kuzmin, Moscow, Russia
Sahar Nouri, Tehran, Iran
Blair Salter, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Apprentice Stage Director
Omer Ben Seadia, Tel-Aviv, Israel

Official Site | Press Releases

5th SF Opera Costume Shop Sale

Costume-sale-sfopera-2014San Francisco Opera is having a costume shop sale on March 23-24, from 10:30 am to 5 pm on Saturday and 10:30 am to 4 pm on Sunday at 800 Indiana Street in San Francisco. This is only the fifth time in the company's history that such a sale is taking place. Costumes from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, The Flying Dutchman, Carmen, and Pelleas et Melisande will be available for purchase.

Press Release