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The book, the book, the book, the book, the book.” Believe it or not, someone was singing about “the book” at the Central Library. That someone was Jennifer Wu, and it was awesome.
The Central Library has a great theater and on Sunday, August 24, Nic Reveles hosted and accompanied a young singer/San Diego Opera season preview. It was a thoughtful way to introduce music from the upcoming season and to strengthen the new relationships that SDO is forging with local university music programs.
There was music from La Boheme, Don Giovanni, and Nixon in China, all of which are on the program for 2015 at SDO. Of course, there was music from other operas as well, including The Barber of Seville, Romeo and Juliet, The Marriage of Figaro, and La Rondine.
How about the singers? There were three at the concert. A fourth singer caught the flu and had to sit out. Never, ever, sing while you’re sick. The singer feels bad, the audience feels bad for the singer, it’s just a no-win situation.
So, the three singers were Kiana Bell, who has a growing mezzo-quality to her singing, Bernardo Bermudez, and Jennifer Wu.
Bermudez, a baritone/hunk, sang an aria from a Spanish Zarzuela and I loved it. Zarzuela is the Spanish tradition of opera, which hasn’t caught on the same way as Russian, French, Italian, German, and even English opera.
I don’t know why not. Placido Domingo has put some effort into promoting the Zarzuela style but it only crops up now and then.
The aria that Bernardo sang was beautiful and passionate. How Spanish is that? I loved it.
Perhaps this is a niche that San Diego Opera can fill as a counterpart to the mariachi operas that have been produced here.
The final piece on the program was the conclusion of Act II from John Adams’ Nixon in China. Having just finished grinding a section of the chorus into my brain, I was a little concerned.
Jennifer Wu blew away me and the rest of the audience. John Adams helped. The music is for the entrance of Madame Mao. For the record, don’t “f” with Madame Mao, she is not playing.
Adams’ music had a driving forcefulness to it that got me wanting to see Nixon in China tomorrow. It was great music. Imagine Wagner or Mahler with Big Band swing and rhythm.
After hearing this concert, I would have to say Nixon in China has moved to the top spot for me for the coming opera season.
Go to it.