Schwabacher Recital

Daveda Karanas' Schwabacher Debut Recital

MathildeWesendonck-1850 * Notes * 
Mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas gave her Schwabacher Debut Recital, accompanied by pianist Allen Periello, yesterday evening. The program was designed around Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder, which ended the performance. To begin we heard songs from Liszt, all on themes related to the source texts of Der Ring des Nibelungen. Likewise, Peter Heise's Gurdruns Sorg is a Danish translation from The Poetic Edda. Karanas has a high, powerful voice with fine technique and lucid diction. There is a pleasantly metallic quality to her singing that never comes off as harsh. She is, however, not a natural actor, and there seemed to be a disconnect between the meaning of the words and how they came through her body. In contrast, Periello was expressive, but kept a subtle balance between piano and singer. "Wanderers Nachtlied" was especially stately, and Wagner's "Träume" was cloud-like and floating. Karanas seemed to light up from inside for the encore, "Lorelei" from Gershwin's Pardon my English.

* Tattling * 
I was recognized as the Opera Tattler for the second time in as many days.

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.

Leah Crocetto's Schwabacher Debut Recital

Headshot_Crocetto-bw* Notes * 
Soprano Leah Crocetto gave her Schwabacher Debut Recital, accompanied by pianist Mark Morash, last Sunday evening. The eclectic program included works from Bellini, Rachmaninoff, Barber, Obradors, Liszt, Gregory Peeples, Gershwin, and Cole Porter. Crocetto sings with an impressive effortlessness. Bellini's Sei Ariette were very beautiful, and Crocetto's phrasing was lovely and fluid. She did sound the slightest bit compressed in the very highest note of Rachmaninoff's "Zdes' khorosho," but given how high it was, this is reasonable. The selections from the Canciones Clásicas Españolas of Obradors were very cute, especially "Chiquitita la novia." Crocetto is flexible, she sounds convincing singing jazz, and she explained she used to sing Gershwin and Cole Porter as much as she could in New York, supplementing her income by working at The Olive Garden. Morash and Crocetto did not seem as together in this repertoire, though otherwise the playing and singing were both strong. The encores were wonderful, the first being a song in Spanish, and the second an aria from La Rondine.

* Tattling * 
There was some minor whispering, but the audience was well-behaved. During the last part of the program, Crocetto tipped Morash, saying he only agreed to do a jazz set under such conditions. Afterward, someone rushed to the stage with a couple of bills in hand as tips.

Most of the other Adler Fellows could not attend this event, as they were performing with the Alonzo King Lines Ballet at Yerba Buena.

Allen Perriello's Schwabacher Debut Recital

Allen-perriello * Notes * 
Pianist Allen Perriello gave his Schwabacher Debut Recital last Sunday evening. The rather daunting program consisted of all 44 songs from Hugo Wolf's Spanisches Liederbuch. The lieder were performed in five groups by soprano Susannah Biller and baritone Austin Kness, who, for the most part, switched off each song one after another. Perriello was quite personable, introducing each of the sections, and explaining that since the songs were not part of a cycle, they were grouped by theme and their order had been determined by the performers rather than Wolf, Geibel, or Hense. Perriello's playing was supportive and he never overwhelmed the singers. The constrasts of mood and volume in the different pieces came through clearly. Biller started off slightly cold but sounded more expressive in "Weint nicht, ihr Äugelein," the sixth song of the evening. The third group of songs may have suited her voice best. She had a few slightly harsh and fragile moments, but certainly shows promise. Austin Kness sounded warm and lovely, he only pushed his voice too much a few times.

* Tattling * 
The audience whispered, but was fairly attentive. Biller lost her hair ornament between the first and second group of songs.

Alek Shrader's Schwabacher Debut Recital

* Notes *
The 2009 Schwabacher Debut Recital Series opened with Alek Shrader, accompanied by the inimitable John Parr, last Sunday. Shrader's voice is clear and pretty, but his upper register is considerably more strained than his lower register. However, he is remarkably consistent. His rendition of various Benjamin Britten songs came off well, but he did not sing Schumann's Dichterliebe with much verve. Perhaps I was comparing him unfavorably with the baritone Eugene Brancoveanu, who sang this work last March.

The Henri Duparc songs and the Liszt's Drei Lieder aus Schillers Wilhelm Tell were again sung nicely, but not with much fire. It was very clear that Shrader is much more at ease in the lower part of his voice in "Der Alpenjäger." He came alive when singing bel canto, at the end of the recital. There was some distracting issues of breathing through teeth, but Rossini's "La danza" was absolutely lovely.

Shrader played guitar with his first encore, "Ecco ridente in cielo," and this was rather charming. At one point he did make a rather obvious mistake in playing, but simply played it off by scolding an invisible Figaro.

* Tattling * 
Audience members spoke aloud during the music, there was one watch alarm that went off twice, and some very audible snoring was heard during the Schumann and Liszt.

Lucas Meachem's Schwabacher Debut Recital

Lucasmeachem_2* Notes *
The Schwabacher Debut Recital Series continued yesterday with baritone Lucas Meachem singing selections from Dvořák's Zigeunermelodien, Poulenc's Chansons Gaillardes, Schumann's Zwölf Lieder, and Copland's Old American Songs. Meachem certainly is amiable, talking to the audience before each set of songs. His singing is vigorous enough to fill a small hall like the Martin Meyer quite well. The recital showed Meachem's dramatic range, he sang each composer's music distinctly, and did not sound like an opera singer when he sang a piece from Disney's Beauty and the Beast as an encore. For the most part his diction was good, though there were a few small missteps. His voice is strong, but perhaps lacks beauty, except in his rendition of Copland's "Long Time Ago," which was lovely.

* Tattling *
This time the Schwabacher Recital was competing against the Academy Awards, and the turn out was still good, even General Director David Gockley deigned to attend. Somehow I was recruited to usher in the balcony, where I sat a total of three people, but the main floor looked full. The audience in the balcony certainly was well-behaved. There is definitely something humming in that hall, it is either the lights or the climate control system.

Lucas Meachem was rather more formally dressed than Philippe Castagner was for the last recital. Meachem wore a black suit with vest and tie, but alarmingly, seemed to keep shedding layers as the evening wore on. Meachem is also an amusing raconteur, the best story was an account of how he met Susan Graham. Paul Groves introduced Meachem to Graham in Paris, and they went out to karaoke. Later when Simon Keenleyside withdrew from Lyric's production of Iphigénie en Tauride, Graham convinced William Mason to hire Meachem, saying she had heard him sing "American contemporary."

Philippe Castagner's Schwabacher Debut Recital

Castagner_2 * Notes *
This year the Schwabacher Debut Recital Series commenced with yesterday's performance of Die schöne Müllerin. Tenor Philippe Castagner sang Schubert's song cycle with a lovely tenderness and expression. He had fine control over his vibrato and good diction. He did move a great deal during the course of the 20 songs, drumming out the beat against his legs or pointing, but somehow this came off as charming instead of obnoxious. Ken Noda accompanied Castagner beautifully, though at times it seemed that Noda was holding the reigns, setting the rather quick pace.

* Tattling *
The performance at
Temple Emanu-El was well attended, despite it being held on Superbowl Sunday. I was offered someone's extra ticket, which I accepted gratefully. The audience was well-behaved, though there was one watch alarm at 6pm.

There seemed to be some continuous high pitched noises coming from above, perhaps from the lighting. They occasionally became louder, and at one point a young girl in the first row looked up at the sound as well.

2008 Adler Fellows

Adlers-2008 The seven new Adler Fellows for 2008 are Tamara Wapinsky, Daveda Karanas, Daniela Mack, Andrew Bidlack, Alek Shrader, Kenneth Kellogg, and Lara Bolton. They join current fellows Heidi Melton, Ji Young Yang, Katharine Tier, and Matthew Piatt.

Daniela Mack will be singing at a Schwabacher Debut Recital on Sunday, April 6, 2008, as will Heidi Melton on Sunday, April 27, 2008. The Adlers will all perform in The Future Is Now: Adler Fellows Gala Concert scheduled for December 6, 2008.

The Adler Fellowship Program is named after Kurt Herbert Adler, the second general director of San Francisco Opera. This residency program gives young singers a chance to perform on the main stage in small roles.

Press Release [PDF] | SF Opera Adler Fellow Web Site