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From: janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 20 Aug 2017 14:04:57 -0700

text/plain (24 lines)

don't wait for Labor Day: at 10:30 last night Pacific Time summer ended. That was with the joyful Rossini rock of "Il viaggio a Reims," the 60th annual Merola Program coming to an end in the War Memorial with a truly Grand Finale. No Merola, no summer.

The three-hour long "variety evening" of arias, duet, trios, and ensemble scenes began on the Hockney "Turandot" set, as "the women (and men) come and go NOT singing of Michelangelo." They did sing of everything else, in Merolina stage director Victoria Crutchfield's simple and clever arrangement of notes and flowers passed between exiting and entering singers - a kind of continuity, nothing forced, and allowing for applause. From the pit, excellent orchestral accompaniment under the baton of Antony Walker, with occasional mystery tempi.

In the midst of so much young talent and promise, there was also mature, accomplished artistry as Samantha Hankey became Strauss' Composer - voice and presence - in an affecting performance. With Jana McIntyre as Zerbinetta, this was a gripping "Sie halt für den Todesgott" from "Ariadne auf Naxos."

Young as she is, Alice Chung may soon be ready for Wagner, an educated guess from her performance of un-Wagnerian verismo, Musetta's aria from Leoncavallo's "La boheme."

Tenors to the fore, Xingwa Hao with Lehár's "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" and Riccardo from "Un ballo," Natalie Image as Oscar. Addison Marlor's lyric tenor impressed in a scene from Thomas' "Mignon," Edit Grossman in the title role.

Also remarkable was Thomas Glass' Ford from "Falstaff" and first-class entertainment from Ashley Dixon as Massenet's Cendrillon, barefoot, clutching one glass slipper, and royal comedy from Andres Acosta with Beppe's aria from Donizetti's "Rita." What delight it is to hear a program largely free of warhorses!

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