Saturday, July 23, 2011

Schwabacher Summer Concert 2011

San Francisco Opera's summer training program for "emerging artists" gave its first public concert on Friday evening in Herbst Theatre, and this year features a particularly strong crop of young singers, including tenor Scott Quinn (left) and baritone Guodong Feng (right) above, who sang the Great Bromance Love Duet between Don Carlos and Rodrigo in Verdi's "Don Carlo."

This was followed by another same-sex love duet between Elizabeth Zharoff as Giulietta (left) and Laura Frumm (right) as Romeo above in a long excerpt from Bellini's retold version of Romeo and Juliet called "I Capuleti e I Montecchi" that features two sopranos as the teenage lovers. Zharoff has one of the loudest, most powerful voices I've ever heard with not a lot of modulation in volume, but it's a beautiful, rich instrument which is full of promise. It was all wrong for this music, and her voice seemed more mezzo than high soprano, but who cares? Mezzo Laura Krumm, meanwhile, had a silvery voice that sounded more soprano than mezzo.

Joshua Kosman at SFGate just wrote an interesting article about the Merola program singers trying to puzzle out exactly what their voice types might actually be (click here) since many operatic singers' instruments don't mature until their late 20s or early 30s. Bass-baritone Joo Won Kang (left) and tenor Cooper Nolan (right) above seemed comfortable with their respective voice types as they sang the Bromance Hate Duet from Donizetti's "Lucia di Lamermoor"

Deborah Nansteel (above center) had the most exciting voice of the evening. She was part of a trio from "Don Carlo" as the mezzo Princess Eboli who is out for some serious revenge after being spurned in love. Nansteel's voice is a budding Leontyne Price/Shirley Verrett wonder, and who knows whether she should be singing mezzo or high soprano? Whatever her voice type is, it's exquisite.

Nansteel is reason enough to go to Yerba Buena Gardens tomorrow afternoon (Sunday) at 2 PM when the same concert is going to be given free outdoors. I just hope they are not overamplified in the outdoor gardens because these singers can definitely project their voices without it.

Plus, you can hear Joo Won Kang (above right) twist himself up in knots as "Rigoletto." He possesses a great bass-baritone that was used repeatedly throughout the concert in small roles, and invariably it was almost always the most distinctive male voice.

For good, detailed accounts of the concert, check out Not For Fun Only and The Opera Tattler. The two correspondents have hardly poked their heads out into the musical world since their recent Wagner "Ring" immersion at the San Francisco Opera, and it was good to see them again.


Axel Feldheim said...

True, it has been difficult for me to focus on listening to music lately, but it was nice to see so many of the usual suspects, including yourself, last night. I too enjoyed Mr. Kang & especially Ms. Nansteel. Glad you caught her traveling coat & hat getup! I feel like I need to hear the rest of the Merolini in the up-coming Barbiere.

Walter Tully said...

Busy people should spend time watching rare concerts like these! This could help them relax a li'l bit more. Well, it's kind of difficult to act and sing at the same time, especially for the amateurs. But yeah, they're all pros! No wonder a lot of people applauded this.

Walter Tully