* Notes *
The Merola held a recital entitled Metamorphosis: Recovery, Renewal, and Rebirth last night at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Curated by Carrie-Ann Matheson and Nicholas Phan (pictured, photograph from Kristen Loken), this evening of art song featured a variety of composers, pianists, and of course, very strong singing from the new batch of Merola participants.
The recital began with tenor Demetrious Sampson, Jr. (pictured, photograph by Kristen Loken) singing "Ah Love but a day" by Amy Beach. Sampson has a very powerful, rich voice and exceedingly clear diction. Later in the first half he sang Schumann's "Frühlings Ankunft," which was very pretty and Florence Price's "The Poet and his Song," which he sang with irrepressible joy that made the audience burst into applause although we were asked to only applaud for each section of the themed songs. Sampson showed a lot of charisma in Hugo Wolf's "Storchenbotschaft," he told the story clearly and conveyed the text well.
We heard bass-baritone Finn Sagal sing Samuel Barber's "Invocation to youth," which was robust. He has a good stage presence, my companion for the performance indicated that Sagal seemed like he would be great in musical theater, and in fact he ended the performance with Sondheim's "I know things now," Little Red Riding Hood's song from Into the Woods. He did particularly well though with Errolyn Wallen's "What shall I sing?" and it was adorable to see how much the other two singers sitting on stage with him were into Sagal's rendition.
It was wonderful to hear soprano Juliette Chauvet (pictured, photograph by Kristen Loken) sing Messaien's "Resurrection," her crystalline sound seemed perfect for this song. It was obvious that she is a native French speaker, even to my non-Francophone ears. I also liked hearing her duet with mezzo-soprano Joanne Evans, Chausson's "Le réveil."
Mezzo-soprano Simona Genga has an interesting, dramatic voice, very different than Evans. She seemed equally comfortable singing Jocelyn Morelock's "Somewhere Along the Line" and Schubert's "Die junge Nonne." The resonances of her sound were particularly pronounced in Alma Mahler's "Die Stille Stadt."
The baritones Cameron Rolling and Samuel Kidd were also distinct. Rolling has a pleasant, round tone, I especially liked his "Frühlingsglaube" and Kidd is lighter, with a brassy bright sound.
There was a lot of program rustling, even though everything was on a single page for each half. I also heard a watch alarm for 9pm, right after Alma Mahler's "Erntelied."