La Cenerentola: San Francisco Opera Merola Program

Composer: Gioacchino Rossini

Stage Director: Chuck Hudson
Conductor: Mark Morash

Cenerentola served up with laughs and poignancy
For a combination of poignant emotion and flat-out comedic brilliance, you can’t do much better than “La Cenerentola”… Thursday’s performance of the opera at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music — made such a vivid impression… it came through in the comic stylings of the rest of the cast, which served as a reminder that in Rossini’s world, laughter and teardrops can be closely, in fact inextricably, intermingled. The Merola production, directed by Chuck Hudson and conducted by Mark Morash, caught that duality with dexterous precision… and ensured that the villainy of Cenerentola’s family never got too extreme. Even in the depths of her despair, it was clear that the resolution of Cenerentola’s plight was never more than one magical intervention away. -Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

Merolini Have a Ball With La Cenerentola
Spilling out over three levels of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music main stage, the Merola Opera Program’s vigorous and brightly detailed production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola made its happy debut …San Francisco Opera’s stellar summer training program pulled out all the stops in three visually colorful, coloratura-crammed hours…Director Chuck Hudson exploited the broad contours of the Conservatory house to good advantage… The multiple entrances and some offstage shenanigans enlarged the action…A strobe-lit storm scene was a choreographic gem of wind-tossed figures all but carried away by their umbrellas… Merola’s rising stars aimed high, and to a gratifying degree, they hit the mark. -Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice

NO SEXAGENARIAN EVER LOOKED or sounded more youthful than the Merola Opera Program did when it produced Rossini’s La Cenerentola… [which] revealed the sixty-year-old program adhering to musical and theatrical standards that should be the envy of opera training regimens everywhere…A long stairway and a balcony festooned by cutout trees offered playing areas imaginatively used by director Chuck Hudson…with fleet assurance, as choristers romped on multiple levels and principals took on the task of changing the sets… The siblings’ destruction of Ramiro’s banquet suggested a scene out of a Luis Buñuel movie… —Allan Ulrich, Opera News

a midnight girl in a nine o’clock town
Most importantly, the singing and acting were terrific… Ensembles were staged with imagination and a light touch, and the chorus contributed to the humor with zany ensemble moves as well as a beautifully executed umbrellas-in-the-wind bit during the second act storm music. The following sextet of confusion, “Questo è un nodo avviluppato,” used colorful twirling parasols that opened and closed in perfect time with the musical themes and entrances. It was delightful. -Judith Malafronte, Par Terre Box

Rossini’s LA CENERENTOLA Shines in Merola Production… a musically cohesive, delightfully staged production …Director Chuck Hudson moved his singers continuously about the stage so there was hardly a dull moment… The famous storm scene in Act II was cleverly staged with characters carrying colorful umbrellas that threatened to carry off their holders with the sudden gusts of wind. Lighting Director Eric Watkins supplied dramatic lighting effects for this storm scene, which was a visual as well as orchestral highlight of this production. — James Roy MacBean, The Berkeley Daily Planet

What makes Merola performances fun is that there is no divide between the principals and the supporting cast… Andrew Hiers as Don Magnifico hams it up to the max with an awe-inspiring fearlessness. As the power couple of the story, tenor Anthony Ciaramitaro (Romiro) and mezzo Samantha Hankey (Cindy) had a lovely chemistry, partially staged as awkward goofiness. –Cedric, SFist

Rossini Helps Merola Celebrate 60 Years: The Merola Opera Program is celebrating its 60th anniversary season of helping to launch the careers of young performers, and tomorrow night and Saturday afternoon they’ll present Rossini’s Cenerentola at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Merola Artistic Director Sheri Greenawald says the production (directed by Chuck Hudson) is “full of jokes, one after the other.” –Jeffrey Freymann, KDFC Radio

San Francisco Opera steals the show: One of the most prestigious and selective opera training programs in the United States, Merola is currently staging its 2017 Summer Season…[La Cenerentola] is directed by Chuck Hudson. –Gilly Lloyd, ArtsPreview

Led by soprano Sheri Greenawald since 2002, the Merola Program has an impressive faculty, including local and visiting artists, such as Vinson Cole, Jane Eaglen, Warren Jones, Martin Katz, Peter Grunberg, Chuck Hudson, Bruce Lamott, Patricia Kristof Moy, Kevin Murphy, Barbara Scott, César Ulloa, and Christopher Verdosci. -Janos Gereben in “Merola’s Proving Ground for Opera Future”, Culturevulture.net 2015


Part One of my chat with maestro Mark Morash


Part Two of my chat with maestro Mark Morash

Merola 60