One of the greatest singers' farm teams anywhere — San Francisco Opera's Merola Program and Adler Fellowship — produced an extraordinary number of accomplishments last week.
Melody Moore (Merola 2005; Adler 2006-2007) made her debut in the title role of Tosca in San Francisco, stepping in for the indisposed Angela Gheorghiu (more about that below).
Leah Crocetto (2008; 2009-2011) received nine curtain calls in Venice's fabled La Fenice, in her debut as Desdemona, in Verdi's Otello.
The three leading roles in San Francisco Opera's second cast of Tosca are all program alumni: Patricia Racette (1988; 1989-1990) as Tosca, Brian Jagde (2009; 2011-2012) as Cavaradossi, and Mark Delavan (1985; 1986-1987) as Scarpia. The stage director is Jose Maria Condemi (1999-2000; 2001).
Elza van den Heever (2003-2004; 2005-2007), a member of the Frankfurt Opera, sings leading roles there in Verdi's Sicilian Vespers, Mozart's Idomeneo, and Donizetti's Maria Stuarda.
In the Donizetti opera in Frankfurt, van den Heever sang Elizabeth, with David Lomelí (2008; 2009-2010) as George Talbot. Karen Ames, publicist for both singers, attended the Nov. 14 premiere, and says: "The performances were magnificent. Things bode very well for Elza's Met debut on Dec. 31 in the role."
Much has been written about Moore's dramatic Tosca debut on Thursday, a career-making event for a singer already well on her way to fame, but what was it like to her? She wrote to friends and fans:
I am blogging today and will post that blog after I gather together what remaining brain cells I have left. I had NEVER rehearsed with orchestra, I had run through staging ONCE and got about 10 minutes warning. Here's to adrenaline and preparation and to a mind that deals very well with splitting apart and still functioning. Thank you to every single person who has indicated or flatly told me that I cannot do this ... and thank you to doubt. You have all taught me how to fly.
She wrote on the following day:
I have sat here steeped in adrenaline for hours and hours and also steeped in gratitude. I want to throw out a few names and thoughts as they come. I think a night like last night demands gratitude at an almost meditative level. I could not be here without two very vocally gifted parents. I could not be here without every single high school, college, and grad school professor who saw more in me than I saw in myself and who pushed me.
I could not have done this last night without the direct support of the S.F. Merola/Adler Young Artist Program and without the unwavering belief of Sheri Greenawald and Mark Morash. I could not be here if David Gockley, our general director, had not asked to "hear me again" during an audition. I would not be here if Gregory Henkel, our artistic administrative director did not believe in me ... I thank the wig and make-up department, especially Gerd M Mairandres, for teaming together to get me ready in record time. I thank musical staff John Churchwell and assistant conductor Giuseppe Finzi for walking through cues and tempi with me.