Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Putting Their Best Foot Forward
The San Francisco Opera has a young professionals training course called the Merola Opera Program, named after their first General Director Gaetano Merola. About 25 years ago, the company added what amounts to a graduate school for a dozen singers every year called the Adler Fellowship Program, where a wealthy patron basically supports a young singer for a couple of years.
Last night at the Opera House, there was a concert called "The Future is Now: Adler Fellows Gala Concert" where the students strutted their stuff in a selection of complete opera scenes that were bizarrely eclectic, ranging from a long chunk of Handel's "Alcina" to the murder scene in "Billy Budd." (But did we need Gordon Getty's "Plump Jack" AGAIN? I know he hands out a lot of money and everything, but really...)
They were accompanied by one of the great pit bands in the world, The San Francisco Opera Orchestra which was being conducted by its outgoing music director, Donald Runnicles. Stars of the evening in my completely biased, subjective opinion were Elza van den Heever in "Alcina" and Sean Panikkar in "La Boheme." Congratulations to everyone, though, and good luck in your hard, competitive artistic life.