Adler Fellowship Program

Philippe Sly's Salon at the Rex

Sly2* Notes *
Bass-baritone Philippe Sly (pictured left, photograph by Adam Scotti) gave a recital with guitarist John Charles Britton for the Salons at the Rex series Wednesday evening. The evening's music consisted of fifteen Schubert Lieder, including ones from Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise. Instead of providing the text in the program, Sly read translations of each before singing. The guitar arrangements were done by Britton himself, some worked better than others, since the instrument is so different from piano. The quietness of guitar is quite lovely in a salon setting. Sly's voice is youthfully exuberant, but he has control of his volume and is able to scale it down for a small room. "Du bist die Ruh" was particularly lovely. The encore was Chanson romanesque from Ravel's Don Quichotte à Dulcinée, which Sly sang with much vim and perhaps sounded best with Britton's guitar.

* Tattling *
Nearly every seat was taken, and I felt quite lucky to have gotten a ticket for the performance. A mobile phone rang while Sly was reading one of the translations, but otherwise there were few disturbances to the music.

2014 Adler Fellows

2013-Adler-group-photoThe incoming 2014 Adler Fellows are Maria Valdes, Zanda Švēde, Pene Pati, Efraín Solís, and Noah Lindquist. They join current Adlers (pictured left) Erin Johnson, Jacqueline Piccolino, A.J. Glueckert, Chuanyue Wang, Hadleigh Adams, and Philippe Sly. The outgoing 2013 Adler Fellows are soprano Marina Harris, mezzo-sopranos Laura Krumm and Renée Rapier, baritone Ao Li, bass-baritone Joo Won Kang, and coach and accompanist Robert Mollicone.

Press Release | Official Site

Adler 2014 Speculation

8.16.13_Finale-3609* Notes *
The Adler Fellows for 2014 will not be announced for a few months, but Merola just ended, so one may as well speculate on which artists (pictured left in the 2013 Grand Finale, photograph by Kristen Loken) will return to San Francisco. Robert Mollicone will have completed two years as an Adler, so we will get a new collaborative pianist. As for singers, the outgoing Adlers are soprano Marina Harris; mezzo-sopranos Laura Krumm and Renée Rapier; and baritones Joo Won Kang and Ao Li.

This year there were many fine mezzos and tenors. Certainly mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde was most impressive. Tenors Pene Pati and Issachah Savage are both marvelous. For sopranos, of course Jacqueline Piccolino will be an Adler next year, as she already filled in for Jennifer Cherest this summer. As for another choice, perhaps soprano Maria Valdes or soprano Aviva Fortunata. Valdes is very light, and Fortunata might use a bit more control.

* Tattler Guesses *
Timothy Cheung
Jacqueline Piccolino
Maria Valdes
Zanda Švēde
Pene Pati
Issachah Savage

2013 Adler Fellows

2012-AdlersThe incoming 2013 Adler Fellows are Jennifer Cherest, Erin Johnson, A.J. Glueckert, Chuanyue Wang, Hadleigh Adams, and Philippe Sly. They join current Adlers (pictured left, photograph by Kristen Loken) Marina Boudart Harris, Laura Krumm, Renée Rapier, Joo Won Kang, and Robert Mollicone. The outgoing 2012 Adler Fellows are soprano Nadine Sierra, tenor Brian Jagde, bass-baritone Ryan Kuster, and coach and accompanist David Hanlon.

Press Release | Official Site

Love/Hate Premiere at ODC Theater

Adlers 1* Notes *
Love/Hate, a chamber opera by composer Jack Perla and librettist Rob Bailis, premiered to a sold-out ODC Theater on Thursday night. The collaboration between ODC Theater, American Opera Projects, and Music Without Walls features the San Francisco Opera Center's Adler Fellows singing, playing, and even conducting. The piece calls for only four musicians: a violinist, a cellist, a clarinetist, and a pianist. Likewise there are only four singers, each a different voice type. Conductor David Hanlon kept everyone together with grace.

The singing was all quite powerful. Tenor Thomas Glenn was clear and his movements smooth. Soprano Marina Boudart Harris was winsome. Ao Li (baritone, pictured above with Laura Krumm, photograph by Laura Kudritzky) was able to switch from awkward George to confident Casanova without missing a beat. Laura Krumm's mezzo-soprano voice has a lightness that does not lack for volume.

The opera itself has a wry sensibility, starting off with popular cellular phone rings, and continuing in this amusing vein for most of the evening. The words were prominent. The set, designed by Bethanie Baeyen, is effective, evoking changes in time and space with the same drollness as the libretto and music. M. Graham Smith's direction was entertaining, though the choreography from Chris Black tended toward artificial.

* Tattling *
The audience talked, especially during the beginning of the piece.

A thunderstorm during the opera was audible in the theater, but it suited the piece, since it seems our protagonists are at Muni bus stop on a rainy day.

Adlers to sing Love/Hate at ODC Theater

Adlers 4It seems to be the season for contemporary opera in San Francisco, as Erling Wold's Certitude and Joy and David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion had both opened last week. San Francisco Opera Center and ODC Theater are also presenting a world premiere of Love/Hate. This chamber opera, by composer Jack Perla and librettist Rob Bailis, will be performed three times between April 12 and 15. The performances will feature soprano Marina Harris, mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm (pictured left, photograph by Laura Kudritzky), tenor Thomas Glenn, and baritone Ao Li.

Production Site | San Francisco Opera Center

Meet the Adlers 2012


Last night, nine of ten Adler Fellows for 2012 were interviewed by Director of Music Administration Kip Cranna, San Francisco Opera Center Director of Musical Studies Mark Morash, and Director of Artistic Adminstration Gregory Henkel, at Cowell Theater at Fort Mason. We learnt that pianist and apprentice coach David Hanlon was off to Houston to music direct HGOco's The Bricklayer, a more than valid excuse for missing this event. The other apprentice coach, Robert Mollicone, aspires to conduct.

Marina Boudart Harris has only been singing soprano for twenty months. Nadine Sierra was somewhat ill, but earlier this year had sung Gilda in Florida Grand Opera's production of Rigoletto to great acclaim. Renée Rapier had her professional debut late last year at LA Opera's Roméo et Juliette when the person whom she was covering withdrew from the production. She is to cover Joyce DiDonato in I Capuleti e i Montecchi this fall. Laura Krumm just covered DiDonato in Jake Heggie's song cycle about Camille Claudel. Krumm also sings in Love/Hate at ODC this April. Joo Won Kang is a baseball fan. Brian Jadge was covering Don José in French, whilst singing it in English in Carmen for Families. Ryan Kuster is to singing three roles from Don Giovanni in two months at LA Phil and WolfTrap. Ao Li relates to the title character of Le Nozze di Figaro because he is "smart." Li delivered some of the English dialogue of Carmen for Families, and it was rather hilarious. 

The interviews were interspersed with selections from Così fan tutte, Les pêcheurs de perles, Mignon, and Don Carlo. Mollicone gamely accompanied all of the pieces. "È lui! desso, l'infante...Dio, che nell'alma infondere" with Jadge, Li, and Kang was perhaps most impressive.

Merola Behind the Scenes Event 2012


* Program *
Rachmaninoff's Prelude Op. 23 No. 5
Robert Mollicone, piano

Richard Rodgers' "My Funny Valentine"
David Hanlon, piano

The end of Act I Scene 2 from Dead Man Walking
Laura Krumm, mezzo-soprano and David Hanlon, piano

"Il core vi dono" from Così fan tutte
Laura Krumm, mezzo-soprano, Ao Li, baritone, and Robert Mollicone, piano

"Avant de quitter ces lieux" from Faust
Ao Li, baritone and Robert Mollicone, piano

David Hanlon's "Bang Kiss Kiss Bang"
Robert Mollicone and David Hanlon, piano

* Notes *
Mark Morash, the San Francisco Opera Center Director of Musical Studies, held an event on Thursday focusing on the collaborative pianists in the Merola Opera and Adler Fellowship programs. Current Adler Fellows David Hanlon and Robert Mollicone spoke about how they came to the collaborative arts and auditioned for Merola. Both pianists played solo pieces, Mollicone chose the more conventional Rachmaninoff, and Hanlon improvised a version of "My Funny Valentine." Hanlon coached Laura Krumm through the end of Act II, Scene 2 from Dead Man Walking with a projection of the music on a screen behind them so we could follow along. Ao Li joined Krumm for a duet from Così fan tutte. Li sang Valentin's aria "Avant de quitter ces lieux", as Mollicone played the piece transposed down a step to accommodate his voice. Both pianists played a piece for 4 hands composed by Hanlon as the finale.

* Tattling *
The event started slightly late, as traffic was rather heavy coming into San Francisco, due to President Obama being in town for a speech at the Nob Hill Masonic Center.

Medallion Society Luncheon 2012


* Notes *
San Francisco Opera's Medallion Society Luncheon was held Wednesday at the Ritz-Carlton. George Hume, the president of the San Francisco Opera Association welcomed the donors before they partook of a meal of cauliflower bisque, barbeque chicken, and pear cake. David Gockley presented Sylvia Lindsey (pictured left, photograph by Drew Altizer) with an apron signed by the opera staff and this year's Spirit of the Opera Award.

San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald introduced Adler Fellows David Hanlon, Marina Boudart Harris, Brian Jadge, Laura Krumm, Ryan Kuster, Ao Li, Robert Mollicone, and Renée Rapier. Pianists Hanlon and Mollicone switched off accompanying the singers, starting with Hanlon playing for Jadge and Li in "In un coupé...O Mimì, tu più non torni" from La Bohème. Harris and Rapier sang "Prenderò quel brunettino" from Così fan tutte. Kuster sang "Le veau d'or" from Faust. All the singers joined in for the opening scene from La Cenerentola. The afternoon ended with a spirited rendition of "Happy Birthday" for Ao Li, who turned 23 today.

* Tattling * 
There were the usual mobile phone rings at lunch. Mr. Feldheim and I were seated at the Orpheus table, which was a nice change from last year.

2012 Adler Fellows

F--2011-Adler-FellowsThe incoming 2012 Adler Fellows are Marina Boudart Harris, Laura Krumm, Renée Rapier, Joo Won Kang, and Robert Mollicone. They join current Adlers (pictured left, photograph by Scott Wall) Nadine Sierra, Brian Jadge, Ao Li, Ryan Kuster, and David Hanlon. Outgoing 2011 Adler Fellows are sopranos Leah Crocetto, Susannah Biller, Sara Gartland; mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani; countertenor Ryan Belongie; tenor Daniel Montenegro; and apprentice coach Tamara Sanikidze.

Press Release | Official Site

Adler 2012 Speculation

Merola16 * Notes *
The Adler Fellows for 2012 are likely to be announced next month, so it is time to speculate on which Merolini (pictured left in the 2011 Grand Finale, photograph by Stefan Cohen) will return to San Francisco. Tamara Sanikidze will have completed her two years as an Adler this Fall, so we will get a new collaborative pianist. As for singers, the outgoing Adlers are sopranos Leah Crocetto, Susannah Biller, and Sara Gartland; mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani; countertenor Ryan Belongie; and tenor Brian Jagde.

This year there were many fine low voices. Bass-baritones Peixin Chen and Philippe Sly were perhaps the most impressive of the 20 singers. Chen does lack in diction and in English proficiency, but his low notes are incredible. All 6 baritones had lovely voices, but Suchan Kim and Johnathan Michie were exceptional. One should, however, note that only baritone called back during the General Director Auditions was Gordon Fang. As for tenors, though they could all sing pleasantly, they all had their various weak points, and none were really up to the bar of other recent Adler tenors.

The strongest soprano was probably Suzanne Rigden, she was the most consistent week over week. However, one suspects she is already in another apprentice program, as she was the only soprano not called back during the General Director Auditions. Marina Boudart Harris had the most memorable performance in the Finale. For the mezzo-sopranos, Renée Rapier has the warmest and darkest sound. Rapier is a Domingo-Thornton Young Artist, which leaves Deborah Nansteel and Laura Krumm. Both have pretty voices, with much brightness. Nansteel's voice is more dramatic, but Krumm has the advantage of being fit.

* Tattler Guesses *
Robert Mollicone
Marina Boudart Harris
Laura Krumm
Deborah Nansteel
Peixin Chen
Philippe Sly

Brian Jagde Interview

Brian-jagde Tenor Brian Jagde (pictured left as Pinkerton in Virginia Opera's production of Madama Butterfly, photograph by Anne M. Peterson) is currently an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera. He sings Vitellozzo in Lucrezia Borgia and Don José in Carmen for Families at San Francisco Opera during the 2011-2012 season, then heads to Fresno, Bozeman, Munich, Minnesota, and Santa Fe. The Opera Tattler caught up with Jagde on Wednesday.

How did you get into opera?
Last thing I'd thought I would do. I studied computer science and business for 2 years, but I sang in chorus at school at SUNY Albany. I realized that I liked playing around with computers more than programing them. I ended up auditioning for SUNY
Purchase College's Department of Opera Performance. My first performance was in The Magic Flute, and I was covering roles, singing, dealing with the sets, and even the lighting. Being on stage was incredible, especially feeling the sound of the orchestra.

Was it in college you discovered you were a tenor?
Actually, I had sung tenor up until college, and when I was there, I thought I had to produce a certain sound. So I went through college as a baritone. I have always had a high speaking voice, and, actually, being a tenor came naturally to me. It was funny, I was booked as Marcello in La Bohème at Virginia Opera, but I ended up singing Rodolfo at Syracuse. I really developed as a tenor in the Adler Program though.

How has the Adler Program been? I really liked your performance in Makropulos, but I know you have been covering a lot of roles too.
It has been really great, and I have learned so much. In Makropulos, the role of Janek is more of an acting role, playing someone so virginal and with such a problem of confidence. His father does treat him very badly, obviously. It was great working with Karita Mattila, she is just otherworldly. Covering roles has been eye-opening as well. Last Summer I was covering Brandon Jovanovich as Froh, and he is just the nicest person, so down to earth, but he has a great voice for the War Memorial, which is obviously such a huge space.

Was San Francisco Opera's Ring your first?
Yes, and I am so grateful. Of course was the singing amazing, not only with Brandon, but Mark Delavan as Wotan and Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde. But the production really was fantastic. I loved how human Francesca Zambello made the characters.

Speaking of which, how has your summer been going?
Well, I started off here covering Das Rheingold, and then headed off to sing
Bohème at Castleton. It really is in the middle of nowhere, there is hardly any cellular phone service or Internet out there. I had to get a phone card to even be able to make calls. But it was good to disconnect for a bit. I ended up rediscovering tennis while I was there, and it has been the best exercise. It is fun, and it is good to find physical activity that isn't a chore to do. After Castleton, I went to Italy for 10 days, and there is just such warmth there. I have been there before, but they just embrace opera singers. Rome is my favorite city in the world, so far.

Now you are back, covering Heart of A Soldier. How has that been?
That's right, I am covering Bill Burden (Daniel J. Hill) in Heart of A Soldier. The life of Rick Rescorla suits opera very well, his life involved a lot of singing! I think the biggest challenge of the opera is that a lot of time is covered, so it is up to the director (Francesca Zambello) to make those transitions make sense.

I understand you are also singing in the Stern Grove concert on your birthday this Sunday with Dolora Zajick. Are you excited?
Absolutely! I cannot think of a better way to celebrate my birthday! I am lucky that my voice and repertoire, with all the Puccini I am studying, because it affords me opportunity to sing the tenor/mezzo duet with her from Il Trovatore. Dolora has been very helpful too.

She is so good at that role, the first Trovatore I heard was with Dolora.
She said something really great, that there are two kinds of singers, regardless if you are famous or not. You can either sing 9 roles, and be the absolute best at those, or you can take on a wide variety, and sing 240 roles. She's obviously the former.

Orpheus Luncheon 2011

Seacliff_District_SF * Notes * 
Adler Fellows tenor Brian Jagde, baritone Ao Li, and pianist Tamara Sanikidze gave a delightful performance at San Francisco Opera's Orpheus luncheon yesterday. Jagde started with the grave "Ah, la paterna mano" from Macbeth. Li gave us some humor by singing one of Don Magnifico arias from La Cenerentola, I believe it was "Sia qualunque delle figlie," but I could be mistaken. Jagde and Li sang the Act IV duet between Marcello and Rodolfo from La Bohème. One was grateful this short recital was squeezed in after both Sanikidze and Jagde were at the final dress of Walküre until quite late the previous night.

* Tattling * 
The audience was rapt and quiet. Somehow I barely made the performance on time, and they started just as I took a seat.

NY Festival of Song Schwabacher

Blier * Notes * 
The artistic director of New York Festival of Song, Steven Blier, gave a Schwabacher Debut Recital yesterday evening. Entitled Amores Nuevos, the program consisted of Spanish art songs, zarzuela arias and duets, Latin American art songs, and Latin American popular songs. As one would expect, Blier played piano for these selections, with David Hanlon joining in when four hands were required.

Baritone Austin Kness sang "Cómo quieres que adivine" with warmth and good volume. Though funny, "La mujer de los quince a los veint"e from La tabernera del puerto came off less well. In contrast, tenor Daniel Montenegro sounded somewhat cold in "Si con mis deseos." His pleasant, reedy voice was shown to better advantage in "De este apacible rincón de Madrid." The soprano, Sara Gartland, emoted throughout her pieces with conviction. "Me llaman la primorosa" was particularly charming. Her voice is strong and piercing, and though a note or two that strayed off pitch, her presence more than made up for this.

Kness did well with "Despierta, negro," sounding grave and serious. Gartland, Montenegro, and Hanlon made up an able ensemble for the piece. Gartland and Montenegro also sounded lovely in the duet "Caballero del alto plumero" from Luisa Fernanda.

* Tattling * 
Steven Blier told us many amusing stories before he played. I had the good fortune to be a guest of the whistling voice of Woodstock at this recital. I was very sorry to leave at intermission, but I was scheduled to hear the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic an hour and a half after the Schwabacher began.

Merola Behind the Scenes Event 2011

Adler Fellows, photo by Scott Grieder * Program *
"Je suis encore toute étourdie" from Manon
Sara Gartland, soprano and David Hanlon, piano

"Quando me'n vo" from La bohème
Sara Gartland, soprano and David Hanlon, piano

"Aprite un po' quegli occhi" from Le Nozze di Figaro
Ao Li, baritone and David Hanlon, piano

"O du mein holder Abendstern" from Tannhäuser
Ao Li, baritone and David Hanlon, piano

"Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix" from Samson et Dalila
Maya Lahyani, mezzo-soprano and David Hanlon, piano

"O mio Fernando" from La Favorita
Maya Lahyani, mezzo-soprano and David Hanlon, piano

* Notes *
San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald and San Francisco Opera Center Director of Musical Studies Mark Morash held an event (pictured above, photo by Scott Grieder) about how they cast and program the Merola Opera Program's Schwabacher Summer Concert. We got to hear three mock auditions given by current Adler Fellows Sara Gartland, Ao Li, and Maya Lahyani. Gartland sang "Je suis encore toute étourdie" with a lovely vulnerability. Greenawald and Morash noted the easy top of her voice and the quality of the passaggio. Gartland is a very fine actress, and this came out in her flirty "Musetta's Waltz."

Next came Ao Li, who sang Figaro's Act IV aria with beauty. Greenawald remarked that Li has a giant head, which is good for Wagner, and praised him for his legato and the gorgeous line of his voice. Li also sang Wolfram's moving aria from Act III of Tannhäuser.

Our last performer was the fiery Maya Lahyani, who started with Dalila's famous aria. Greenawald and Morash agreed she is a real mezzo and that she would not be singing Rosina or Cenerentola. Lahyani was compared to Tatiana Troyanos and was told she is a riveting actor, so perhaps she would be good for Baroque pieces. Lahyani also sang "O mio Fernando" with great feeling.

Greenawald and Morash picked 3 phantom singers to cast with, these being David Lomelí, Alek Shrader, and Ryan Kuster. From this they constructed a 60-70 minute program of scenes from Don Giovanni, Le Comte Ory, Il Puritani, The Rake's Progress, and La Favorita.

* Tattling *
Greenawald and Morash debated on the proper spelling of "Anne Trulove." As for the audience, man were quite engaged in the lively proceedings. There were some that were slightly restless, a few cellular phones rang, and a few left early.