Thursday, September 1, 2011

The final installment...

My musical sojourn in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was brought to a most satisfying conclusion by the annual Apprentice Scene Program, at which the apprentices at the Santa Fe Opera get to strut their stuff. The program was begun by John Crosby to give young singers and technicians opportunities for advanced training and professional experience. The vocal apprentices appear in small roles and in the chorus of the five summer operas. But on this night they get to star. Tickets are inexpensive and the house is always packed, everyone looking for the next star.

All the apprentices performed well in their chosen scenes from Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen”, Hoiby’s “Summer and Smoke”, Corigliano’s “The Ghost of Versailles” and Handel’s “Semele”. But it was not until the second half of the program that I heard some young singers who not only entertained the ear but also the eye with convincing performances. Will Liverman, a recipient of a grant from New York’s own Opera Index put in a totally committed and believable performance as Porgy in Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess”. (Yes, Virginia, it is music-driven and it is an opera, in spite of whatever cockamamie interpretation is coming to NY this season). Stephanie Washington sang Bess with real feeling, although she hadn’t swept me off my feet in Part I. Michael Dailey made a splendidly seductive Sportin’ Life.

Alissa Anderson was notable as Carmen, with the roles of Frasquita and Mercedes being sung respectively by Rebecca Nathanson and Emma Char. Maria Lindsey made a winsome Semele with Randall Bills impressive as Jupiter trying to distract her from her plans for immortality.

The Apprentice Program is a great addition to the SFO scene and well worth your while if you enjoy discovering new talent.

© meche kroop for The Opera Insider

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