The schedule for the 2018 Summer Festival of the Merola Opera Program is now in place. The offerings will follow the usual format: the Schwabacher Summer Concert showcase of the “Merolini” in this summer’s training program, two full-length operas, and a Grand Finale at the War Memorial Opera House. All performances other than the Grand Finale will take place in the Concert Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). The basic summary of these events is as follows:
Thursday, July 5, 7:30 p.m., Schwabacher Summer Concert: Full details have not yet been announced, but the program will consist of staged scenes from four operas: Vanessa (Samuel Barber), “Il tabarro,” (Giacomo Puccini), Don Giovanni (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), and Les pêcheurs de perles (Georges Bizet). Staging will be by Merola alumna (summer of ’16) Aria Umezawa. Instrumental accompaniment will be provided by a full orchestra conducted by Merola alumna (summer of ’91 and ’92) Kathleen Kelly. All scenes will be sung in the original language of the libretto.
Thursday, July 19, 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, July 21, 2 p.m.: The first full-length opera will be Mozart’s K. 208, Il re pastore (the shepherd king), written when the composer was nineteen years old. The work is given relatively little attention, although it contains many seeds that would subsequently flower with greater development in Mozart’s later and better-known operas. The production will be staged by Merola alumna (summer of ’06) Tara Faircloth. The orchestra will be conducted by Stephen Stubbs.
Thursday, August 2, 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, August 4, 2 p.m.: The second-full length opera will be Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Based on what might be called a “graphic short story” by eighteen-century artist William Hogarth, the opera has an elegantly literate libretto written jointly by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman. (For the record, Auden and Kallman also collaborated on translating the librettos of Mozart operas into English; and the keen listener will detect more than a few hints of Mozart in Stravinsky’s score.) This production will be staged by Robin Guarino. The conductor will be Merola alumnus (summer of ’87) Mark Morash.
Saturday, August 18, 7:30 p.m.: Details for the Grand Finale are not announced until later in the summer. As is always the case, the production will be staged by the current Merola Apprentice Stage Director, Marcus Shields. The conductor will be Dean Williamson. Also as always, the performance will be followed by a reception for which separate tickets will be required. The price of those tickets will be $75, and they will be sold by the San Francisco Opera (SFO) Box Office.
SFCM is located at 50 Oak Street, halfway between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street and a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station. The War Memorial Opera House is at 301 Van Ness Avenue, on the northwest corner of Grove Street. Each of the above hyperlinks connects to a Web page with ticket price information and options for online purchase. All ticket sales are being handled through the SFO Box Office. For those not purchasing tickets online, the Box Office may be reached by telephoning 415-864-3330. The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.