Just the ticket
Who: Tenor Michael Fabiano in recital with pianist John Churchwell
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, May 23
Where: Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis
Tickets: $35-$58 general, $17.50-$29 students; www.mondaviarts.org, 530-754-2787
Tenor Michael Fabiano — fresh off a pair of much-praised appearances with the San Francisco Symphony earlier this month, and still feeling the glow from his critically acclaimed debut with the San Francisco Opera in September 2011 — will sing at the Mondavi Center at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 23, joined by pianist John Churchwell.
Fabiano got the Mondavi date a few weeks ago when tenor David Lomelí, previously scheduled, had to drop out for health reasons.
Fabiano sang the Beethoven song cycle “An die ferne Geliebte” with the San Francisco Symphony on May 4, 5 and 9 — his debut with the orchestra. Critic Georgia Rowe of San Francisco Classical Voice mentioned the tenor’s “ardent, aristocratic tone … he evoked a world of sensuality in the spring breezes, verdant forests and soft twilights” described in the text by Alois Isidor Jeitteles, set to music by Beethoven.
Fabiano also appeared as tenor soloist in the San Francisco Symphony’s performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis on May 10 and 11, and Rowe said his singing “pulsed with drama.”
The tenor also got high marks for his appearance in Verdi’s “Lombardi Alla Prima Crociata” with the Opera Orchestra of New York in April, with Steve Smith of the New York Times praising Fabiano for “conveying bliss and dread through countenance and bearing as much as he did with his soaring, thrilling singing. Repeatedly, his superlative performance elicited unbridled responses from the audience” and suggesting that the evening “might have been summarized in a Twitter post: ‘Michael Fabiano OMG.’ ”
Last October, Fabiano sang the role of Casio in Verdi’s “Otello,” and the New York Post described him as a “gleaming tenor” and “a handsome star in the making … a magnetic presence that draws the eye.”
And many who saw his San Francisco Opera performance in a production of “Lucrezia Borgia” in September 2011 felt Fabiano nearly stole the show as Gennaro. Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco commented on Fabiano “breathing vivid life into the role’s improbable conflicts and singing with both graceful lyricism and full-throated ardor.”
Fabiano told The Enterprise that “one of the big moments of my career has been singing ‘Lucrezia Borgia.’ … San Francisco has been a wonderful staple for me, I have am very grateful to them.”
For his Mondavi recital, Fabiano has scheduled arias from Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and “Il Corsaro,” from Massenet’s “Hèriodiade” and from Puccini’s “Le Villi.”
“I wanted to do some arias that are a little bit off the beaten path, but by well-known composers,” he said.
He’ll also be singing settings of four sonnets in French by Franz Liszt, as well as two songs in French by Paolo Tosti, a late 19th century/early 20th century composer known for his salon songs; he never completed an opera. Also planned are songs by Henri Duparc, another composer of the late Romantic period, best remembered for his art songs.
“The majority of the songs will be in French,” Fabiano said, adding that he likes to pick “music that speaks to me as a human being. … But the songs all communicate to different ends that can be shown on stage. I like to have a mix, I like to show a whole palette of options to the public. Which is why I present a few arias in addition to some meaty song repertory.”
Fabiano also recently told a San Francisco interviewer that “In the last year, I’ve developed more of a taste for recital literature than I had before. It’s exciting for me to be able to be presented in recital now, because it’s a totally different type of performance (as compared to opera). There’s nothing to support me but the piano, and it’s exciting!”
Accompanying Fabiano will be pianist John Churchwell, who has been head of music staff at the San Francisco Opera for the past two years. Churchwell previously served as assistant conductor for the Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Opera, and has performed as a recital accompanist with a number of notable artists through over the years.
“John Churchwell played for me in auditions at The Met when I was 22,” said Fabiano, who is now 29. “He is a friend.”
Fabiano has more major opera engagements coming up after Davis: He will sing Alfredo in “La Traviata” at Santa Fe Opera in July and August, then go on to sing Edgardo in “Lucia de Lammermor” at the Opèra National de Paris in September and October.
Tickets for Thursday’s performance are $35-$58 general, $17.50-$29 for students, available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.