How do you sing your goodbyes? So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, of course. Not the artists in the Merola program, they'll stick to what they know best: arias by Mozart, Strauss, Donizetti. They'll shut down this year's opera-star-in-training boot camp Saturday at 7:30pm with a Grand Finale at the Opera House, with the SF Opera orchestra in the pit conducted by Dean Williamson (program in pdf here).

Those fireworks will be the last chance to see them this year, but never fear, those talented singers will be back: many are on their way to great operatic careers; some will be receiving Adler fellowships, which come with supporting roles in the opera production over the next couple years. And some will plain become major stars, like their predecessors Anna Netrebko, Patricia Racette or Thomas Hampson.

We saw a batch of them Merola singers in a first recital program; the rest of the crew was busy staging Donizetti's l'Elisir d'Amore. When an elixir is as pleasant as the first one we enjoyed, you want to have another helping; so we caught two shows, with two different casts. We assume it's a sign of the economic times that there was only one production over a four day run, as opposed to the two different staged shows of the past Merola editions. There used to be a familiar chestnut and a more rare, more modern piece to showcase the different gifts of the artists.