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Geneva Anderson digs into art

Stars in the Making…San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellows perform “Dramatic Voices, Charming Soubrettes,” at SRJC’s Newman Auditorium this Sunday, March 9

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Lively, eloquent, and intensely determined, this year’s twelve Adler Fellows are literally the most talented young opera singers in the country and many will go on to become opera legends.  This Sunday, at 4PM, five Adlers will perform an intimate program of beloved opera arias, classical and cabaret songs at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Newman Auditorium as part of the college’s Chamber Series.  Performers are sopranos Maria Valdes and Erin Johnson; mezzo soprano Zanda Švēde, baritone Eugene Brancoveanu (former Adler 2005-6) and pianist Noah Lindquist. (Full program listed at end of article.) Normally, seeing the Adlers perform entails a lot more work—crossing the bridge and parking—but SRJC has brought these young singers right to our doorstep.

 

Former Adler, tenor Thomas Glenn (wrapped in blanket) and current Adler, soprano, Maria Valdes, prepare for their performance in Donizetti’s comedic opera, “Rita,” with the New Century Chamber Orchestra (NCCO).  Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg watches from behind the ironing board.  The Adler residency offers many performance opportunities. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Former Adler, tenor Thomas Glenn (wrapped in blanket) and current Adler, soprano, Maria Valdes, prepare for their performance in Donizetti’s comedic opera, “Rita,” with the New Century Chamber Orchestra (NCCO). Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg watches from behind the ironing board. The Adler residency offers many performance opportunities. Photo: Geneva Anderson

In February, I had the pleasure of seeing two Adlers who will perform Sunday— Maria Valdes and Eugene Brancoveanu.  They were involved in a rare performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s one act comedic opera, “Rita,” with dynamo Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and her New Century Chamber Orchestra (NCCO).  The venue was San Rafael’s intimate Oscher Marin Jewish Community Center where the audience sits at candlelit tables drinking wine and snacking while the performance unfolds just a few feet from them.  Soprano Maria Valdes was fabulous in the title role of Rita, a tyrannical and abusive wife who is tormented by two husbands.  She sang like an angel, juggling conversation, song, drama and comedy.  We had ample opportunity to experience her tremendous vocal reserve along with her ability to calibrate it to the setting, sustaining high notes without ever coming off as shrill or too forceful…a true star in the making.  The production was impressively staged and directed by former Adler, Eugene Brancoveanu, who also tweaked the script, adding spoken dialogue in English.  His modern set was minimal and included an ironing board and some clever space saving props.  Brancoveanu, born in Romania, has an unforgettable baritone and has sung at the Met, La Scala, San Francisco and Berkeley Operas as well for Opera Parallèle.  I heard him sing Sam last April in Opera Parallèle’s wonderful production of Leonard Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti, a role which tested his range and acting ability.  He was on top of every note, emotionally searing and impossible to take your eyes off…what stage presence  Oh, he’s also been mentioned several times in the blog Barihunks, enough said.  You’re in for a treat on Sunday.

It’s rewarding to see young artists perform early in their careers and to track them as they move on to the world’s leadings opera houses and concert halls.  Renowned sopranos and former Adlers, Deborah Voight (1986) Leah Crocetto (2009), are shining examples.  Both are coming soon to Green Music Center’s Weill Hall—Crocetto is in recital on March 9 and Voight on April 10 (Click here for details).

More About the Adler Fellow Program:  The Adler Fellows all go through a grueling national competition to enter the ranks of the Merola Opera Program, a prestigious summer resident artist training program in San Francisco sponsored by San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Opera Center.  A select few perform so well that they are invited to continue their training in the elite two-year Adler Fellow residency program.  Named for the late great San Francisco Opera General Director Kurt Herbert Adler, the Adler Fellowship Program is the Princeton of performance-oriented residencies, offering exceptional young artists intensive individual training, coaching, professional seminars and a wide range of performance opportunities throughout their fellowship. Adler fellows frequently appear in SFO productions.

2014 Adler Fellows are sopranos Erin Johnson, (Washington, New Jersey), Jacqueline Piccolino (Chicago, Illinois), and Maria Valdes (Atlanta, Georgia); mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde (Valmiera, Latvia); tenors A.J. Glueckert (Portland, Oregon), Pene Pati (Mangere, Auckland, New Zealand), and Chuanyue Wang (Hei Long Jiang, China); baritones Hadleigh Adams (Palmerston, New Zealand), and Efraín Solís (Santa Ana, California); bass-baritone Philippe Sly (Ottawa, Ontario). Johnson, Piccolino, Glueckert, Wang, Adams, and Sly are returning as Adler Fellows. The two pianists selected for Apprentice coach Fellowships are Noah Lindquist (Brooklyn, New York) and returning Adler, Sun Ha Yoon (Seoul, South Korea).

Other Upcoming Adler Fellow Performances:  Select Adler Fellows will perform Schwabacher Debut Recitals on March 30 at 2:30 PM and April 27 at 5:30 PM. Individual tickets are $25.  Youth tickets are $15 for students with a valid ID or youth, 16 years old or younger, who is accompanied by an adult.  Order tickets online or call the SF Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330.  The season culminates with a special year-end concert featuring the singers in an evening of opera scenes and arias with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. This year’s concert, The Future Is Now: Adler Fellows Gala Concert, showcasing the acclaimed 2014 Adler Fellows, takes place in November, 2104, at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.

SRJC Chamber Concert Series Details:  An acclaimed annual series of six concerts featuring a musicians performing in an intimate environment, exactly how chamber music is intended to be heard.  After this Sunday’s Adler Fellows performance, there is one remaining concert in the 2013-14 series, Afiara String Quartet on Friday, April 25, at 7:30 PM at Newman Auditorium, Emeritus Hall, Santa Rosa Junior College.  Tickets are $25 adult/$15 youth. Parking is included for all performances.  Individual tickets are $25.  Youth tickets are $15 for students with a valid ID or youth, 16 years old or younger, who is accompanied by an adult.  Order tickets by Phone: (415) 392-4400. City Box Office Hours—M-F: 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM or Sat: 12 noon to 4:00 PM. Order on the Web at www.cityboxoffice.com .   Parking is included in the price of the performance.

Details:  “Dramatic Voices, Charming Soubrettes” is Sunday, March 9, 4 PM, at Newman Auditorium, Emeritus Hall, Santa Rosa Junior College, 1501 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa.   Individual tickets are $25.  Youth tickets are $15 for students with a valid ID or youth, 16 years old or younger, who is accompanied by an adult.  Order tickets by Phone: (415) 392-4400. City Box Office Hours—M-F: 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM or Sat: 12 noon to 4:00 PM. Order on the Web at www.cityboxoffice.com .   Parking is included in the price of the performance.

PROGRAM: “Dramatic Voices, Charming Soubrettes” SRJC Chamber Series

Songs of Travel – Vaughan Williams

The Vagabond                                                 Mr. Brancoveanu

The Roadside Fire Youth and Love

In Dreams

The Infinite Shining Heavens

Cinq mélodies “de Venise” – Fauré

Mandoline                                                       Miss Švēde

En sourdine Green

À Clymène C’est l’extase

from Floresta do Amazonas – Villa-Lobos

Canção de amor                                             Miss Valdes

Cair da tarde Melodia sentimental

from Cabaret Songs – Bolcom

Toothbrush time                                              Miss Johnson

Can’t sleep

At the last lousy moments of love Love in the 30’s

Waitin’ Amor

INTERMISSION

The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart

Crudel, perchè finora                                      Miss Valdes, Mr. Brancoveanu

 Rodelinda – Handel

Io t’abbraccio                                                  Miss Johnson, Miss Švēde

 Manon – Massenet

Je suis encore tout étourdie                             Miss Valdes

 Falstaff – Verdi

È sogno, o realtà?                                           Mr. Brancoveanu

 Le vespri siciliani – Verdi

Mercé dilette amiche                                       Miss Johnson

 Sapho – Gounod

O ma lyre immortelle                                      Miss Švēde

 The Merry Widow – Lehár

Vilja                                                                 Miss Valdes, tutti

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March 6, 2014 Posted by | Chamber Music, Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soprano Renée Fleming is in San Francisco for the next week—there are several chances to hear her at Davies Hall—special recital with Susan Graham next Wednesday, January 16, 2013

America’s regal soprano, Renée Fleming, will perform an all French program, including a new Debussy arrangement, on January 10, 12 and13, and in duo recital with Susan Graham on January 16, 2013, both at Davies Symphony Hall.  Photo: @Decca/Andrew Eccles

America’s regal soprano, Renée Fleming, will perform an all French program, including a new Debussy arrangement, on January 10, 12 and13, and in duo recital with Susan Graham on January 16, 2013, both at Davies Symphony Hall. Photo: @Decca/Andrew Eccles

Lyric soprano Renée Fleming has long captivated audiences with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry, accessibility, and joie de vivre.  While opera is clearly her sweet spot, you can’t help but admire this Grammy-winning soprano for her sense of experimentation.  She cut her first rock album Dark Hope in 2010 at age 51 and hasn’t slacked off one bit in the classical realm.  In October, she drew tears with her tender “Ave Maria” as Desdemona in Verdi’s “Otello” at the Metropolitan Opera. She opened her Met career with this challenging role 17 years ago.  In December 2012, she was nominated for a Grammy for “Poèmes,” her visceral album of French works for soprano and orchestra.  Bay Area audiences are in for a special treat this week as Fleming returns to Davies Symphony Hall Thursday, Saturday and Sunday with an all French program of orchestral songs by Debussy and Canteloube, with Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS).  And next Wednesday, at Davies, Fleming will perform a duo recital of French works by Debussy, Fauré, and Saint-Saëns with the legendary mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and pianist Bradley Moore.  In addition to singing, there’ll be ample opportunity to meet both Fleming and Graham as they sign cd’s following Wednesday’s performance.

MTT & Renée Fleming, January 10, 12, 13, 2013:  Davies Symphony HallMichael Tilson Thomas leads SFS and soprano Renée Fleming in the world premiere of Robin Holloway’s arrangement, commissioned by the SFS, of Debussy’s C’est l’extase. Fleming also performs selections from Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne, and the Orchestra performs Debussy’s Jeux and La Mer.  Approximate length: 2 hours

C’est l’extase is Robin Holloway’s  new orchestration of Debussy’s settings of the poems of French 19th century poet Paul Verlaine; the cycle includes the six Debussy titled Ariettes oubliées.  An SFS commission, the work receives its world premiere in these performances. Previously, SFS and MTT have commissioned and premiered three works by composer Robin Holloway, including Clarissa Sequence (1998), the Fourth Concerto for Orchestra (2007), and 2004’s En blanc et noir, an orchestration of a Debussy work for two pianos that the Orchestra performed on tour in the US and Europe.  Holloway taught music at Cambridge University for 32 years, and his students included Judith Weir and Thomas Adès.

Debussy Jeux

Debussy (arr. Robin Holloway) C’est l’extase (Settings of Paul Verlaine) (SFS Commission, world premiere)

Canteloube Selections from Chants d’Auvergne: La Delaïssádo,” Malurous qu’o uno fenno,” “Baïlèro

Debussy La Mer

 Pre-Concert Talk:  Peter Grunberg will give an “Inside Music” talk from the stage one hour prior to each concert. Free to all concert ticket holders; doors open 15 minutes before.

Audio Program Notes: A free audio podcast about Debussy’s La Mer will be downloadable from sfsymphony.org/podcasts and from the iTunes store.

Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 2 p.m. 

Mezzo Soprano Susan Graham will perform a selection of French art songs in duo recital with Renée Fleming on January 16, 2013 at Davies symphony Hall.  Part of a month long tour with Fleming, this is Graham’s only Bay Area performance in the 2012-13 season.  Photo: @Dario Acosta

Mezzo Soprano Susan Graham will perform a selection of French art songs in duo recital with Renée Fleming on January 16, 2013 at Davies symphony Hall. Part of a month long tour with Fleming, this is Graham’s only Bay Area performance in the 2012-13 season. Photo: @Dario Acosta

Renée Fleming and Susan Graham, Davies Symphony Hall, Wednesday, January 16, 2012 at 7 p.m  Their pairing in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier in 2000 and 2009 at the Metropolitan Opera was kismet.  Since then, whenever Renée Fleming and Susan Graham team up, they create magic.  Davies is the first stop in their new month-long cross country tour and these celebrated all-American divas will perform a light-hearted program of 19th century French song literature.  This is Graham’s only Bay Area performance in the 2012-13 season.   Eight composers, ranging from the romantic Hector Berloiz to the fin-de-siècle Raynaldo Hahn and André Messager, will be featured.  French composers from this period were mesmerized by lure of the exotic as were their audiences and, running through these pieces, you’ll hear references to Spain and even India.  Bradley Moore will accompany on piano.  Approximate length: 2  hours

 Saint-Saëns Pastorale,Viens! Une flute invisible,” and “El desdichado” (Ms. Fleming, Ms. Graham)

FauréPiusqu’ici-bas tout âme”, Opus 10, no.1, “Pleurs d’or”, Opus 72, Pavane, Opus 50, and Tarentelle, Opus 10, no.2 (Ms. Fleming, Ms. Graham)

Debussy Claire de lune (Mr. Moore)

Debussy Mandoline” “Beau soir” (Ms. Fleming)

O. StrausJe t’aime quand meme” from Trois valses (Ms. Fleming)

Hahn Le Rossignol” “Infidélité” “Fêtes galantes” “Le Printemps” (Ms. Graham)

BerliozLa mort d’Ophélie”, Opus 18, no.2 (Ms. Fleming, Ms. Graham)

Messager Blanche-Marie et Marie-Blanche” from Les p’tites Michu (Ms. Fleming, Ms. Graham)

Offenbach Barcarolle from Les contes d’Hoffmann (Ms. Fleming, Ms. Graham)

Delibes Duo des fleurs from Lakmé (Ms. Fleming, Ms. Graham)

CD signing:  Meet Renée Fleming and Susan Graham at a CD signing in the Symphony Store following the concert.

More about Susan Graham:  Those who attend the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD performances—at Sebastopol’s Rialto Cinemas for Sonoma County—were able to experience Susan Graham in full force last week as Dido in Berlioz’s rarely performed French opera of Trojan War, Les Troyens.  Slam dunk!  Dido calls for every emotion imaginable—from the agonizing disappointment and hurt of Aeneas’ abandonment to palpable moments of shared tenderness, love and respect.  Graham poured forth, taking up the reins held by legendary Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson whose last remarkable performances at the Met in 2003 defined the role. But seeing Graham on screen in a movie theatre is one thing and interacting with her live is another.  This is Graham’s only performance in the Bay Area in 2013 and is not to be missed.  

Susan Graham as Dido in Act V of Berloiz’s Les Toyens, conducted by Fabio Luisi; produced by Francesca Zambello.  2012-13 season.  Video: Metropolitan Opera.  Graham is featured on SFS Media’s 2010 release Mahler Songs with Orchestra, singing selections from Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder.  In October 2012, Graham released her first solo album since 2008, a compilation on Onyx titled Virgins, Vixens & Viragos, featuring music by Purcell, Berlioz, and Poulenc, among others.

Getting to Davies : Davies Symphony Hall is located at 201 Van Ness Avenue at Grove Street, in San Francisco’s Civic Center, just across the street from City Hall. The main entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. Driving to San Francisco and Parking: Be sure to allow ample time when driving into San Francisco on the weekend and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge—on weekends, there can be a 15 to 30 minute back-up on Highway 101 South from Sausalito onwards due to congestion around the toll-plaza.  Arrive early at your parking garage of choice because those also fill up on weekends. Recommended Garages: Two garages are very close to Davies— the Performing Arts Garage (1/2 block)(Grove Street between Franklin and Gough Streets) and Civic Center Garage (roughly 2 blocks) (McAllister Street between Polk and Larken Streets) (both have flat $15 pay cash as you enter policy on performance nights)

Tickets and information: www.sfsymphony.org , by phone at (415) 864-6000. Half-price tickets for children 17 and under are available for certain performances.

January 10, 2013 Posted by | Symphony | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment