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Subject: Melton!! Young! Shrader!
From: janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 6 Dec 2008 23:39:20 -0800

text/plain (71 lines)

Beyond loud there is powerful, and beyond that there is Heidi Melton. 
Tonight, her Isolde was astonishing, a sensation, Christine-Brewer 
class, but with even more force, focus, brightness, a sense of 
overwhelming the house, the music - and yet not "overdoing."

The occasion: San Francisco Opera's Adler Fellows in a program called 
"The Future Is Now." No kidding: it's no longer about potential and 
promise. Melton, at 27, is a great Isolde in the here and now.

I've been writing about Melton through her Merola and Adler years 
(, but was quite unprepared for what happened 
in the War Memorial tonight. In the "Weh, ach wehe, dies zu dulden" duet 
(with Davada Karanas' impressive Brangane), the soprano blew us all away 
with a great big voice, beautifully projected into this big barn of a 
house, self-assured, faultless intonation, good-to-excellent German... 
and that certain something that's difficult to describe, but easy to 
know when it lifts you out of your seat. Of course, this was a 15-minute 
scene, and in "real life," there would be miles to go, but Melton 
appears to be a marathon singer of endurance.

At the end of the evening - which consisted mostly of extended scenes 
rather than the usual busy mix of arias and duets - Melton returned as 
the Marschallin in the "Rosenkavalier" Trio, switching gears, "singing 
Strauss," not Wagner. Rather than taking another star turn, she was 
supporting Katherine Tier's Octavian and Ji Young Yang's affecting Sophie.

Charming and excellent as Yang was in the Trio, she really shone as 
Semele in Scenes 4 and 5 of the Handel opera, with Alek Shrader as 
Jupiter. The coloratura and the lyric (but strong) tenor did beautifully 
in the scene, the Opera Orchestra, conducted by Patrick Summers, at its 
best as well. (As usual - and unnecessary - at these concerts, the 
evening opened with an overture, this time Verdi's "Les Vepres 
Siciliennes," Summers clattering through the apparently unrehearsed piece.)

Tamara Wapinsky and Andrew Bidlack sang well in the mistakenly selected 
"Capriccio" scene ("Verraten hab ich meine Gefuhle!"), so much less 
interesting than other parts of that partially glorious score. A planned 
"Norma" scene yielded to Dalila's aria with Tier, and an underpowered 
"D'Oreste, d'Ajace" from "Idomeneo" with Wapinsky.  

Kenneth Kellogg, who showed up in almost every scene but in small roles, 
had a chance to sing big in the "Ma pauvre enfant" duet from Massenet's 
"Cendrillon," Daniela Mack taking an impressive turn in the title role. 
Kellogg and Bidlack also appeared in a short scene from Gordon Getty's  
"Usher House."

After the "Rosenkavalier" Trio, a happy audience left with many a 
rhetorical "can you believe that?!" questions about Melton. As for me, I 
thought of the exclamation in Miller's "The Price" - "When will I 
believe what I see?" For this Heidi, I wouldn't mind the interruption of 
the Raiders-Jets game in the last minute. Especially with today's Raiders...

Janos Gereben 
[log in to unmask]

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