In the City By The Bay: Singing Through Summer

Categories: ASC, Blog
Melinda Whittington is a Charlotte-based opera singer. She has performed locally with Opera Carolina, UNC-Charlotte and CPCC; in addition she tutors young singers. She will be writing for ASC this summer while in California as part of the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Young Artist program. Read part one here.

WOW!  Where to begin!  So many things have happened since my last post … but I’ll try to cram it all in.  First and foremost, the Schwabacher Summer Concert earlier this month was a success!

We performed a handful of wonderful scenes in two different venues – the smaller theater adjacent to the War Memorial Opera House, the Herbst Theater, and an outdoor park, Yerba Buena Gardens.  Luckily it turned out to be one of those rare warm summer days in San Francisco for the outdoor concert!  (Folks tried to tell me that quote attributed to Mark Twain … “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco…” I didn’t believe it, but it’s true!!).

My work as Anna Bolena has inspired me, much to the advice of various coaches here, to look at more bel canto repertoire.  Now that the concert is over, I’ve been playing with all sorts of things in the practice room!  For fellow opera nerds out there, as of now the new audition aria is looking like Tu puniscimi, O Signore from Verdi’s Luisa Miller…

We also had our auditions for David Gockley, the general director of San Francisco Opera.  I mentioned in my previous post how overwhelming it is to step out on that giant stage – I was thankful we were given a practice round before this very important audition!  I felt very good about my performance – I sang the aria Das war sehr gut from Arabella by Strauss.  Unfortunately there aren’t any pictures of us on the main stage – I’ll have to save that for my last post!  Speaking of, I received my repertoire assignment for the Merola Grand Finale concert, on the War Memorial stage with the SFO orchestra.  I am thrilled to be performing Vanessa’s Act 2 duet with Anatol, At Last I Found You, from Samuel Barber’s opera Vanessa!  It’s pretty stunning (and jazzy!) music, and will be the big bang closer for Act 1 of the program. It’s also incredibly difficult, so I’ve got my hands full!

The other BIG highlight of the past few weeks was singing for a masterclass with Carol Vaness.  I had the privilege of singing Come scoglio (one of Fiordiligi’s arias from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte) for a woman who has sung Fiordiligi all over America and Europe, and is probably my personal favorite.  It would be like singing Nessun dorma for Pavarotti … Or … At Last for Etta James… nerve-wracking of course, but an amazing opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the role from someone who has stood in those shoes amongst the greatest. In the three days following the class, I have had the pleasure of seeing her for a daily lesson! She has sung all of the roles I am working on, so this has been an invaluable learning experience.

I am also covering the title role in Merola’s production of Mozart’s La finta giardiniera, so I’ve been attending many of those rehearsals.  Learning how to be a cover is an important skill for a young singer; many get started by covering for the big names, and make connections that way, or even get their “big break” by going on for a show or two.

In between all the singing, there has been some time for enjoying the bay area as well!  I’ve included pictures of two highlights – seeing the July 4th fireworks over the foggy bay, and seeing the Redwoods at Muir Woods Forest.

Well friends, I’m off to bed before another full day of sponging!  Thanks for reading!

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