Merola 2012 kicks off

Chuanyue Wang
The Merola Opera Program's 2012 season kicked off last night with the annual Schwabacher Summer Concert- the first in a series of performances designed to showcase this year's participants; 29 young artists selected from over 900 applicants, of which 23 are singers. There are a number of behind-the-scene events for donors and followers, including master classes and receptions, but the performances are what really matter. Reputations are launched, careers start to take shape, and for those in the audience the pleasures are two-fold: getting to hear some excellent talent right now, and the satisfaction of knowing many of these singers are going to have prominent careers, thus giving the audience future bragging rights to say "I saw [insert famous name here] back in the day when they were in Merola." It's also fun to sit back and try to figure out who onstage is going to turn out to be a future star.

Hadleigh Adams

Last night there were nine singers onstage (the different performances feature different participants, giving each a prominent showcase), and though everyone onstage had talent and ability, and I think it a bit of a mug's game to play Cassandra with this stuff, three of them were pretty sensational: Chuanyue Wang- a tenor from China; Hadleigh Adams, a bass-baritone from New Zealand (who elicited a declarative "He's hot" from Thaïs); and Seth Mease Carico, another bass-baritone from Tennessee. Remember those names.

Seth Mease Carico

The Merola season continues with a free concert in Yerba Buena Gardens tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 PM, followed performances of Dominick Argento's Postcards From Morocco on July 19 &21, Mozart's La Finta Giardiniera on August 2 & 4 (all at Fort Mason's Cowell Theatre), and concludes with the Grand Finale concert on August 18th at the War Memorial Opera House.  Tickets can be purchased at the San Francisco Opera box office Monday- Friday from 10:00 - 6:00 (5:00 on Mondays), or by calling 415 864 3330.