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SF Opera Casting Changes

PITTAS-Dimitri-2015Tenor Dimitri Pittas (pictured left) will replace Stephen Costello as Michele in La Ciociara at San Francisco Opera. Costello has withdrawn for personal reasons.

Baritone Vitaliy Bilyy will make his San Francisco Opera debut in the role of Miller in Luisa Miller. Bilyy replaces Thomas Hampson, who has decided not to add this particular Verdi role to his repertoire.

Soprano Elizabeth Futral will join the cast of Sweeney Todd in the role of the Beggar Woman.

La Ciociara | Luisa Miller | Sweeney Todd | San Francisco Opera Press Release

Opera Parallèle's Dead Man Walking

Opera-parallele-dead-man-walking-2015* Notes *
Opera Parallèle opened the 2015 season with a chamber version of Dead Man Walking at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco last night. Opera Parallèle again makes a compelling case for contemporary works, and the appeal of Jake Heggie's first opera is obvious. Artistic Director Nicole Paiement conducted a lush and robust sounding small orchestra. Director Brian Staufenbiel's production is elegant and effective. The main props are a dozen floating rectangular screens, each segmented into smaller shapes made up of metal bars. The use of video projection in the background is tasteful, as is having two supernumeraries representing the murdered teenagers on stage for most of the opera.

The cast is impeccable. Catherine Cook did an amazing job singing Mrs. De Rocher, the mother of the title character. Her appearance at the pardon board in Act I Scene 7 was one of the strongest moments of the performance. The following scene with the parents of the victims was also ravishing. Robert Orth (Owen Hart), Kristin Clayton (Kitty Hart), Joseph Meyers (Howard Boucher), and Michelle Rice (Jade Boucher) are convincing. Talise Trevigne is an outstanding Sister Rose, her voice is beautifully lucid. Michael Mayes has a pretty voice, but his physicality works well for Joseph De Rocher. Jennifer Rivera sounded pure and lovely as Sister Helen.

* Tattling * 
Everyone around me in the Center Orchestra section was absolutely quiet and attentive.

The Met's 2015-2016 Season

Metropolitan_Opera_House_At_Lincoln_Center_2September 21 2015- May 6 2016: Otello
September 23 2015- January 30 2016: Turandot
September 25 2015- February 13 2016: Il Trovatore
September 26 2015- January 9 2016: Anna Bolena
October 8-31 2015: Tannhäuser
October 16- December 1 2015: Tosca
October 20- December 17 2015: Rigoletto
November 5- December 3 2015: Lulu
November 23 2015- May 5 2016: La Boheme
December 4 2015- January 7 2016: Die Fledermaus
December 16 2015- January 2 2016: The Barber of Seville for Families
December 31 2015- February 4 2016: Les pêcheurs de perles
January 21-February 26 2016: Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci
January 29-February 20 2016: Maria Stuarda
February 12- March 11 2016: Manon Lescaut
February 19- April 12 2016: Madama Butterfly
February 25- March 26 2016: Le Nozze di Figaro
March 10- April 7 2016: L'Elisir d'Amore
March 24- April 19 2016: Roberto Devereux
April 1-16 2016: Simon Boccanegra
April 14- May 7 2016: Elektra
April 22- May 7 2016: Die Entführung aus dem Serail

The Met announced the 2015-2016 season today. There will be 227 performances of 25 operas, including six new productions. The new productions are Otello, Lulu, Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Manon Lescaut, Roberto Devereux, and Elektra.

Online 2015-2016 Brochure | Official Site

Der fliegende Holländer at Hawai'i Opera Theatre

Hot-dutchman-2015 * Notes *
Der fliegende Holländer opened at Hawai'i Opera Theatre last night. Francesca Zambello's production, directed here by Sara Widzer, involves a lot of ropes. The set is simple and remains essentially the same the entire time, despite the intermission placed in the middle of Act II. Scenes are changed using light and a few props, including the aforementioned ropes and some furniture. The choreography is elaborate, singers dance and climb up metal scaffolding or rope netting. Though the stage direction seems somewhat fussy, the main plot points are well-motivated and the end is definitely effective.

The youthful cast is strong. Melody Moore is radiant as Senta, and has a lovely vulnerability. Ryan McKinny is powerful in the title role, and conveys a certain dangerousness in his growling, bold voice. Jay Hunter Morris sounds bright and plaintive as Erik. Paul Whelan (Daland) is cheerful and Nathan Munson (Steuermann) sweet. It was difficult, at least at yesterday's performance, to hear Maya Hoover as Mary, but her physicality is spot on for the role.

The orchestra, conducted by John Keenan, played the overture with spirit. There were times when the musicians could have sounded more cohesive, and this was also the case with the chorus. However, this does not detract much from the sturdiness of the piece itself or the fine soloists.

* Tattling *
It was helpful to sit in the first row for this performance, as it made it easy to ignore the scattered talking from my neighbors (Row A Seats 25 and 27) on the left. They were engaged by the experience but perhaps a bit noisy in their enthusiasm. The couple on my right (Seats 21 and 19) was completely rapt and silent.

Merola's 58th Season Participants

Kathryn Bowden, Glastonbury, Connecticut
Cree Carrico, Detroit, Michigan
Amina Edris, Christchurch, New Zealand
Madison Leonard, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Meredith Mecum, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Toni Marie Palmertree, Fleetwood, Pennsylvania

Raehann Bryce-Davis, Keene, Texas
Tara Curtis, Kansas City, Missouri
Ashley Dixon, Peachtree City, Georgia
Nicole Woodward, Quincy, Florida

Christopher Bozeka, Akron, Ohio
Alasdair Kent, Perth, Australia
Soonchan Kwon, Daejeon, South Korea
Michael Papincak, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Alex DeSocio, Wichita, Kansas
Sol Jin, Seoul, South Korea
Kihun Yoon, Seoul, South Korea

Zachary Elmassian, East Lansing, Michigan
James Ioelu, Auckland, New Zealand
Austin Siebert, Shelbyville, Indiana
Brad Walker, Lake Zurich, Illinois

Scott Russell, Roanoke, Virginia
Ming Zhao, Kaifeng, China

Apprentice Coaches
Edoardo Barsotti, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
Robert Bosworth, Fort Worth, Texas
Aaron Breid, Del Mar, California
Samuel Emanuel, New Rochelle, New York
Kirill Kuzmin, Moscow, Russia

Apprentice Stage Director
Mo Zhou, Nanjing, China

The Schwabacher Summer Concert, directed by Roy Rallo and conducted by Valéry Ryvkin, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is on Thursday, July 9. The free outdoor afternoon Schwabacher will be held at Yerba Buena Gardens on Saturday, July 11. The Merola artists perform a double bill of Menotti's The Medium and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, on Thursday, July 23 and Saturday, July 25 in the newly-renovated Cowell Theater at Fort Mason. Mark Morash conducts and Peter Kazaras directs.

Donizetti's Don Pasquale, led by director Nic Muni and conducted by Warren Jones, will be presented on Thursday, August 6 and Saturday, August 8 at the Cowell Theater. The season ends with the participants singing in the annual Merola Grand Finale, led by conductor Antony Walker and directed by Merola Opera Program apprentice stage director Mo Zhou on Saturday, August 22 at the War Memorial Opera House.

Official Site | Press Releases