We asked San Francisco Opera Center Musical Director Mark Morash to break down the process of creating the upcoming Schwabacher Debut Recital, About Love
. Want to see first hand? Be sure to mark your calendars for this Sunday, February 23 at Temple Emanu-El
in San Francisco.
Putting together a recital is a lot like putting together a meal. You look at your ingredients and try to figure out how to turn them into a delicious experience.
In the Opera Center, every singer and pianist begins with a summer in the Merola
program. During Merola, the singers and pianists audition for us (Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald and me) with art song repertoire to be considered for a recital opportunity in the Schwabacher Debut Recital
series. The song auditions are always an amazing experience, as so many of the Merola artists give such special auditions in this very intimate and personal repertoire.
This past summer was no different with a lot of the artists showing a keen interest in art song and quite a depth of experience in its performance. Since we have so few recital opportunities, I proposed engaging four singers to feature the SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) quartets of Brahms’ Liebeslieder
. Now the Liebeslieder
are like dessert...they are fun, charming, frothy, tasty and satiating! They would have to be the second half. And since they are all about love, a theme was born - “About Love”.
The first half of the program remained to be figured out. For a tasty “entrée,” I knew A.J. Gluekert (our tenor) would be perfect for Beethoven’s beloved love ode to his Adelaide. It’s a six-minute song and a perfect way to start out the concert. I knew of a set of three charming love songs by Strauss that are relatively understated as Strauss’ palate goes, but would be perfect for soprano Jacqueline Piccolino (she agrees!) and would not be too “starchy” early on for the audience’s appetite. After two German sets and a German second half coming up, we needed some other languages to spice things up. So I found a beautiful French “course” of Fauré songs that are much more harmonically savory and are a longer set in the course of the program. These harmonic colors would be fantastic for the richness of our Adler mezzo Zanda Švēde, and she brings them off like they were written for her.
Our bass-baritone Rhys Lloyd Talbot had auditioned back in the summer with a set of Verlaine songs by Stravinsky which I found quite musically involved yet very satisfying - another perfect segue. Finally, to finish out the first half, I had an SATB quartet in English by Rorem. I wanted to close the first half with one quartet to whet the audience’s appetite for the quartets that were to come in the second half. Rorem sets such wonderful poetry, most of it by contemporary voices and this more urbane, modern viewpoint was missing so far in the concert. So I included four solo songs (one for each singer) by Rorem to make the final group for the first half.
And voilà! A program is born, just about ready to be consumed! Bon appétit!!
to purchase tickets to About Love Schwabacher Debut Recital or visit sfopera.com
for more information.