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CLASSICAL  May 2006

CLASSICAL May 2006

Subject:

Asleep in Seattle

From:

Janos Gereben <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 7 May 2006 19:23:23 -0700

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His bio, probably outdated, says he sang the Fourth Jew in a Seattle
Opera "Salome," and Maintop in "Billy Budd." What I hear in the voice
is major roles in both lyric and dramatic repertoire.  He has the kind
of tenor that pours forth powerfully, effortlessly, seemingly for any
length of time.  Does that bring to mind a certain kind of opera roles
with a permanent "Help Wanted" sign posted? So, who is asleep in Seattle,
employing this potentially echt-Aryan hero as the Fourth Jew?  ("Not
that there is anything wrong with that.")

The man in question is Wesley Rogers, heard this afternoon as the
Evangelist - a darn fine one - in the American Bach Soloists' "St.
Matthew Passion." In his mid-30s, Rogers even has the physical appearance
for leading roles, probably strong enough to lift a Brunnhilde or two.
This is the second time I heard Rogers, almost forgetting his 2002
appearance as Laurie in the Cabrillo Festival "Little Women." Back then,
I wrote about his "impressive acting and singing...  although [he was]
audibly tiring toward the end." Perhaps steroids work for lung capacity
too, and Rogers did a Barry Bonds - who knows?

Other vocal performances today ranged between excellent and upsetting.
The venue for the Passion, Calvary Presbyterian Church, is a hall with
excessively bright acoustics, much more so than Disney Hall.  Jeffrey
Thomas conducted a fine performance, and when the superb alto, Judith
Malafronte, sang "Buss und Reu," the balance was perfect, but relief
short-lived.  Jennifer Ellis shattered the mood (and ears) with an
unpleasantly loud "Blute nur, du liebes Herz," Thomas not reining her
in.

The other soprano soloist, Ellen Hargis, was was superior, adjusting
her voice after the first few notes, and singing in the "Malafronte mode."
James Waver's Jesus was operatically (and Baroquely) wonderful, some of
the other soloists got through their roles - no small accomplishment for
St. Matt.

The glory of ABS is the chorus and the best period-orchestra on this
side of Philharmonia Baroque - unsurprisingly, as many of these worthies
do double duty, and show up in Nick McGegan's band regularly.  Take a
look at the roster of today's performance (with the complete list available
at http://www.americanbach.org/ArtistRoster.htm):

Violins Carla Moore, Cynthis Miller Freivogel, Katherine Kyme, Maxine
Nemerovski, David Wilson, Lisa Weiss, Cynthia Albers, Tekla Cunningham,
Andrew Fouts, Lisa Grodin; violas David Daniel Bowes, Anthony Martin,
Maria Caswell, Daria D'Andrea; viola da gamba William Skeen; flutes/recorders
Sandra Miller, Eve Friedman; flutes Mindy Rosenfeld, Byron Rakitzis;
oboes/oboes d'amore Debra Nagy, Geoffrey Burgess, Marianne Richert Pfau,
Sung Lee.

In continuo roles: Corey Jamason (organ), William Skeen, Farley Pearce
and Joanna Blendulf (violoncello), Steven Lehnin (violone), Rodney Gehrke
(harpsichord), Kate van Orden (bassoon), Christopher Deppe (contrabass).
In the race for the oldest instrument, the winner is Fouts, with a 1710
Claude Pierray violin.

How on earth did San Francisco, a young city, collect so much "period
talent," never mind the period instruments?

Janos Gereben/SF
www.sfcv.org
[log in to unmask]

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