Merola's Home for the Holidays
December 18, 2021
* Notes *
San Francisco Opera's training program, Merola, held another virtual recital for the holidays via Vimeo with pianist James Harp, soprano Amber R. Monroe, tenor Edward Graves, and bass Kevin Thompson. I watched right when it was released last Sunday with my small children and it proved to be the perfect bit of Christmas cheer.
The recital was held at National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., and it was nice that this year the performers, at least, were together. The evening began with Graves singing "Comfort Ye / Ev'ry Valley" from Händel's Messiah. His voice is clear and warm, and has a certain lovely yearning to it. Graves is a new Adler for next year, and it will be exciting to hear him more soon. Later in the performance he sang "Una furtiva lagrima" from L'Elisir d'Amore, and this seemed to be exactly in his wheelhouse, as was the plaintive "Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herz" from Das Land des Lächelns by Lehár.
Monroe sang "Quando me’n vo" from La bohème and it is obvious that she'd be a charming Musetta with her soaring, icy notes. She also sang a dramatic "Meine Lippen sie küssen so heiß" from Giuditta by Lehár.
My children liked Thompson most, I think they are overly fond of Kern's Showboat, and were pleased to hear him sing "Ol' Man River." My 4-year-old daughter also thought his rendition of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" was very funny. Personally I preferred "Ecco il mondo" from Boito's Mefistofele, it showed off the range of his voice.
The performance ended with a very pretty version of "O Holy Night" that featured all the singers accompanied by the pianist.
Virtual recitals have come far in the last year, and there was little to tattle about.