Local opera lovers need not travel to New York, London or Rome to hear the next generation of international singers. Their names may not be familiar, but San Francisco Conservatory of Music students are up and coming under a nationally acclaimed new leader, Jose Maria Condemi.
“I am thrilled to be making my directorial debut for the SFCM as a preliminary engagement to my new position as director of opera for the organization, starting next July,” says Condemi, a product of San Francisco Opera training programs who has staged productions in The City as well as at Lyric Opera Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Canadian Opera, Seattle, Cincinnati, Portland and Atlanta operas.
Condemi, who is presenting Donizetti's funny and melodious “The Elixir of Love” this week in the school's modestly-sized Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall, is setting the piece in 1950s, rural middle-America.
The director’s “terrific group of young singers” includes Evan Kardon in the lead role, Adina; Sabrina Romero as Adina’s friend Giannetta; Mario Rojas as Nemorino, who courts Adina; Daniel Cameron as Sgt. Belcore, and Sergey Khalikulov as the elixir-dispensing doctor. A large chorus portrays villagers and soldiers.
New scenery (an unusually large, ambitious set) and costumes are by Condemi’s longtime collaborators Steven Kemp and Kristi Johnson (who also recently designed “A Streetcar Named Desire” for the Merola Opera Program).
Notably, the production also has an aerial component.
“I became intrigued with the appeal that flying doctors acquired in the late 1950s,” Condemi says. “In the opera, Doctor Dulcamara makes quite a showy arrival at Adina's farm and he quickly dazzles everybody with his medical novelties. So our Dulcamara will be a fly in/fly out doctor, the progressive Adina and her girlfriends will be fashioned after pin-up girls and Nemorino will be the simple milk-seller who works for her.”
The design also includes a “passarelle,” a space in front and around the orchestra pit that allows for intimate moments of action to be played closer to the audience. Scott Sandmeier conducts the Conservatory Orchestra for the production, which is going on the road in three outreach performances in Bay Area schools.
On April 19, the show will be at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in Washington D.C., in a presentation sponsored by the Conservatory Project, a series featuring the best young artists from the country's top performing arts conservatories, colleges and universities.
IF YOU GO
The Elixir of Love/p>
Presented by San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Where: Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall, 50 Oak St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. April 2 and April 4
Tickets: $15 to $20
Contact: (415) 503-6275, www.sfcm.edu
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