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Anything for Love and Honor Recital

Issachah-savage-2021* Notes *
The San Francisco Opera training program Merola successfully held a virtual recital last Sunday using Vimeo. Featuring tenor Issachah Savage (pictured), a Merola alum from 2013, the beautiful singing was entirely in German.

The recital was entitled "Anything for Love and Honor" and included arias and songs by Richard Strauss, Hugo Wolf, and Richard Wagner. Savage and his piano accompanist Laurie Rogers started off strong with "Allmächt'ger Vater" from Wagner's Rienzi. Savage has a bright, focused tone and clear diction. Rogers gets a lot of colors out of the piano, and is an impressive stand-in for a whole orchestra.

Savage went on to sing three pieces by Strauss and three selections from Wolf's Italienisches Liederbuch. His voice is powerful and open. I particularly liked the bouncy and dance-like "Ein Ständchen Euch zu bringen." The two most memorable offerings were certainly at the end, both showstoppers from Wagner operas. His renditions of "Winterstürme" from Die Walküre and "Nur eine Waffe taugt" from Parsifal piqued my curiosity about hearing Savage sing a whole opera by Wagner. He's scheduled for LA Opera's Tannhäuser in October, and hopefully the Covid pandemic will be contained enough for us to be back at indoor performances by then.

Tattling * 
There were a few crackles and pops in the Vimeo live transmission of this performance, but it was nothing like the first attempt with this virtual venue back in February with Karen Slack's recital.

Savage wore some dapper blue shoes for his recital, and Rogers matched with a sparkly blue cardigan.


Of Thee I Sing! Songs of Love and Justice Recital

Karen-slack-2021-scott-grieder* Notes *
The Merola Opera Program of San Francisco Opera tried to hold a virtual recital back at the beginning of February using Vimeo. Featuring soprano Karen Slack (pictured, photograph by Scott Grieder) with pianist Mary Pinto, the weather in Philadelphia interrupted the performance several times and ultimately they had to rerecord the recital for on demand viewing.

Entitled "Of Thee I Sing! Songs of Love and Justice" the recital was entirely made up of songs in English, many either composed by African Americans, such as H. Leslie Adams and Adolphus Hailstork or with texts by or about African Americans. Langston Hughes' "Kids Who Die" set to music by Scott Gendel is viscerally disturbing and made me squirm in my seat.

Slack's voice is crystalline, every note perfectly clean and strong. Her rendition of Undine Smith Moore's "Love Let The Wind Cry… How I Adore Thee" was utterly lovely, her soaring high notes showed no strain. I also found H.T. Burleigh's "Lovely, Dark, and Lonely One" particularly beautiful. Pinto's accompaniment was restrained and supportive but sufficiently lush as well.

Tattling * 
Since this was not a live event, the recording is quite smooth and without technical glitches.

Pinto wore two different black dress shoes, a stiletto on her left foot and a more blocky heel on her right.