However inconsistent and star-plagued the San Francisco Opera can be, it’s a great comfort to know that it seems to have a reliable farm team that steadily produces notable young talent.
A good example is the impressive bass-baritone Jacob Will, who presented his sizable credentials Sunday afternoon at Ramo Auditorium, Caltech. A two-hour program showed his training and musicianship to be of a very high order.
“The Things Our Fathers Loved,” the quirky Ives cycle that closed the program, enabled Will to showcase the wide range of expressive devices already at his command: pianissimo high notes; a flat, almost toneless declamatory style and a warm legato, supported by admirable breath control.
Jacques Ibert’s “Chanson de Don Quichotte” received a moving performance from Will and his agile, accompanist, Scott Gilmore, though the singer’s enunciation and sense of French vocal style have a ways to go yet.
Two Mozart arias--Don Giovanni’s “Deh vieni alla finestra” and Figaro’s “Non piu andrai"--were sparklingly realized by Will, the latter especially benefitting from the singer’s dramatic delivery and vocal sheen.
“Ride On, King Jesus,” the encore spiritual, sounded hugely powerful in the intimate Ramo environs, though it--like the five Brahms lieder and the three Purcell-Britten neo-hymns earlier in the afternoon--could have been more deeply interpreted.