Thursday, December 07, 2023

The Adlers Concert 2023

The annual Adlers Concert took place last Saturday in Herbst Theater with nine apprentice singers from the San Francisco Opera, singing arias and operatic scenes together, backed by the full SF Opera orchestra. (For an interesting history of the evolution of the company's young artist training programs, click here for a post by Janos Gereben at SFCV.) In the Adler program, less than a dozen young singers who are embarking on operatic careers are given training in stagecraft, languages, and musicianship for two years, while being given smaller roles onstage and covering for principals during the SF Opera season. I tend to find these concerts sort of heartbreaking because the odds of making a full-time living as an opera singer are small, and becoming an international star even rarer. But it does happen. (All photos, except one, by Kristen Loken.)
So this is not a review so much as a listing of a few of my favorite things, starting with soprano Mikayla Sager as Leonora in Il Trovatore, singing the difficult aria Tace la notte placida in splendid fashion, with mezzo-soprano Nikola Printz supporting her as Inez.
Appearing throughout the evening in many of the scenas, Jongwon Han displayed a deep, luscious baritone that easily stretched into bass territory during his solo turn in Massenet's operatic version of Don Quixote, singing the aria Riez, allez as Sancho Panza defending his crazy master.
Tenor Edward Graves was a highlight during all his appearances including as the Duke in a quartet from Verdi's Rigoletto with mezzo-soprano Nikola Printz nearly stealing the show as the duplicitous Magdalena.
Printz also sang a riveting aria, I was a woman, from david lang's prisoner of the state, a contemporary, streamlined riff on Beethoven's Fidelio. Printz has been onstage frequently in the Bay Area in everything from cabaret to opera to singing while performing as an aerial trapeze artist. The non-binary performer knows how to command a stage, and it showed.
I became a fan of tenor Moisés Salazar this summer when he performed in West Edge Opera's production of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, which was preceded by a mariachi concert hosted by Salazar himself. He has a huge, bright tenor that sounds ready for the big time, as he demonstrated with a rendition of Nessun dorma from Puccini's Turandot. Salazar is leaving the Adler program after one year, presumably to continue his professional career, and I wish him all the luck in the world.
Finally, one of the delights of the evening was the Spanish conductor Ramón Tebar, who is conducting the current production of Donizetti's The Elixir of Love at the SF Opera. The orchestra, which is usually hidden in the pit, were a joy to watch and hear onstage, and Tebar's sensitivity to his young singers was palpable. (The above photo is by Michael Strickland.)

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