Monday, May 28, 2007

Freezing in Dolores Park

I attended Opera in Dolores Park in San Francisco yesterday afternoon. The general director, David Gockley, appeared with his dog Foxy, who was exactly the size, color, shape and degree of shagginess of a red fox. His personality is distinctly dog-like. He [DG, not Foxy] assured us that he had gone to much difficulty to ascertain that Dolores Park would be warm and toasty even when everywhere else was freezing. This was meant as an apology, I’m sure, since it was windy and drizzling, a typical San Francisco summer day.

I told my story about doing Martha outdoors on a considerably warmer and less windy day than yesterday, and how all the cast became sick for the rest of the week. The audience can take it, but singing outdoors is always risky.

Susan Graham, who flew in from LA that morning after the end of her fantastic run in Lustige Witwe, sang “Non so piu cosa son,” apparently without rehearsal. I found this fascinating. Please don’t think I’m telling it to put anyone down. In the middle of the aria she forgot what came next, and more quickly and efficiently than you would have imagined, she and Donald Runnicles looked at one another, and he fed her the cue. All went on smoothly to the end. Runnicles did not shout out like the Met prompter—he just mouthed the words. God, I love show business.

I wimped out and didn’t last through the second half, but I was there long enough to hear Hope Briggs as Donna Anna, a woman with a gorgeous voice and beautiful phrasing.

Wayne Tigges and Claudia Mahnke sang “La ci darem la mano.” “Look at his shoes!” I whispered. He was wearing black and white wingtips. He also would sing a phrase and then hold his lips in the same position long after the phrase had ended. Perhaps he feels that Don Giovanni is a comedy, as I do. Now I am going to bitch. Imagine that this is Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky singing this seduction duet. Would they stand there never looking at one another? No. They would not. You would see the seduction happening, and when she sang “Andiam,” you would know exactly where they were going. This is not trivial. I don’t care if it is a concert, I want to see it.

They are all lovely young people.

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