To conclude the apprenticeship program’s 50th season, the Merola program gave its grand finale concert last Saturday at the War Memorial Opera House. The singers did not present a full fledged opera, as in the previous concerts this summer, but selected arias to display what they can do best. The staging was minimal, and the costumes were black tie attire, but felt like what a formal 50 year high-school reunion in Texas would wear: expensive, full of satin, but bland, bland, bland.

To explain what was at stake: last year, Heidi Melton and Noah Stewart gave superlative performances, and were later invited into the prestigious ranks of the Adler fellows, and voila, they were both singing in the cast of the Rosenkavalier on arguably the second best opera stage in the country a couple months back. While all singers on Saturday were amazing, many in the audience were trying to figure out who was going to “make it,” who was going to be the next Thomas Hampson or the next Patricia Racette.

Above, Jamie-Rose Guarrine and Vince Yi; below (left to right) Ani Maldjian, Cynthia Hanna, Alek Schrader, Sam Handley (w/ scroll), Alexander Boyer, Tom Corbeil, Matthew Hanscom, Kenneth Kellog, Paul Murrihy (ponytail showing), Matthew Moore, Nathaniel Hackman, Daniela Mack (blue dress), Tamara Wapinsky (black dress). Photos by Kristen Loken/SF Opera