Latin American/Spanish Composers Featured at Merola’s Schwabacher Summer Concert
Lush, lyrical and romantic works by Latin American and Spanish composers are featured in Schwabacher’s Summer Concert, when young artists from the 2022 Merola Opera Program perform vibrant operatic scenes by distinguished composers Daniel Catán, Manuel de Falla, Osvaldo Golijov and Amadeo Vives.
Check out the photos below!
Featuring a full orchestra, the Schwabacher Summer Concert explores the invaluable contributions these composers have made to the world of classical music. Jorge Parodi, general and artistic director of Opera Hispánica, conducts while frequent San Francisco Opera director Jose Maria Condemi (Merola ’99/’00) conducts. The Schwabacher Summer Concert will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14 and 3:00 p.m. Saturday, July 16 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak St., San Francisco. For more information or to purchase tickets ($55/$80), the public can visit www.merola.org/calendar.
The program includes selections from Manuel de Falla’s La vida breve, an opera brimming with passion, portrayed through the brilliant colors of de Falla’s vibrant Spanish lens. Featuring a libretto by Carlos Fernández-Shaw, this powerful work follows the life of a beautiful woman who has been seduced by fashionable high society youth. Although it won first prize in a Spanish opera competition in 1905, La vida breve initially received no public performance in Spain. Falla decided to seek better prospects in France, where the first performance of his opera was given (in a French translation by Paul Millet) in Nice on April 1, 1913. While in France, he also befriended several great composers of the time. – from Albéniz to Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky. At the start of the First World War, Falla returned to Spain and quickly confirmed to critics and audiences his status as the leading contemporary Spanish composer. While Falla’s complete opera is rarely performed today, many sections of La vida breve are often performed.
Also featured will be scenes from Act II of Daniel Catán’s magical Florencia en el Amazonas, the first opera in Spanish commissioned by a major American opera company. Written by Marcela Fuentes-Berain, one of Catán’s students, the libretto for Florencia en el Amazonas was based on characters from Gabriel García Márquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera. Since the opera’s 1996 premiere at Houston Grand Opera, Florencia en el Amazonas has also been performed at Seattle Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Colorado, Utah Opera, Washington National Opera, Nashville Opera, Arizona Opera, New York City Opera, University of Illinois School of Music, and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. The Wall Street Journal applauded Catán’s score, calling it “a lush and colorful cross between Puccini and Ravel”. For this performance, the public will be invited to join the legendary diva “Florencia Grimaldi” and her traveling companions as they embark on a boat ride on the Amazon.
With its colorful score and comedic story of multiple love triangles during Madrid’s carnival season, Amadeo Vives’ Doña Francisquita is considered a classic of the zarzuela genre. The masterpiece, based on the play La discreta enamorada by Lope de Vega, features a libretto by Federico Romero and Guillermo Fernández-Shaw. Despite her popularity in Spain and Latin America, Doña Francisquita has rarely been seen performing elsewhere. It was, however, performed in French translation in Monte Carlo, Brussels and Vichy in 1934 and received a major production at the Washington National Opera in 1998.
Rounding out the program are excerpts from Ainadamar (Fountain of Tears), the first opera by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov, to a libretto by American playwright David Henry Hwang. Featuring both opera and passion elements, Ainadamar tells the story of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca and his lover and muse, Catalan actress Margarita Xirgu. Mainly composed for female voices, this beautiful score very influenced by Spain is full of flamenco and rumba rhythms. Ainadamar’s debut recording was released by Deutsche Grammophon in May 2006 and immediately reached the top of the Billboard classical music charts. The recording went on to win two Grammy Awards: Best Opera Recording of 2006 and Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Like much of Golijov’s work, Ainadamar heavily incorporates Arabic and Jewish musical idioms, as well as Spanish flamenco sounds.
Photo credit: Kristen Loken
Nikola Adele Printz, Andres Cascante and Jonghyun Park
Arianna Rodriguez and Moises Salazar
Nikola Adele Printz and Jonghyun Park
Daniel Luis Espinal and Amanda Batista
Cody Bowers (back), Olivia Smith (left) and Nikola Adele Printz (right)
Olivia Smith and Nikola Adele Printz
Moises Salazar and Maggie Renee
Nikola Adele Printz and Amanda Batista
Celeste Morales and Daniel Luis Espinal