Friday, December 04, 2009

Breaking the Verdi Curse

We the audience of the San Francisco Opera are very pleased with our new Italian conductor, Nicola Luisotti. This season he has done Otello, Il Trovatore and Salome, the last the only German language opera I see in his credits. He knows his Italian repertoire and occasionally can be seen smooching with the female members of the orchestra. Everyone is very pleased. Is it too soon to declare the end of the Verdi curse?

Otello is an opera about a successful man honored above his expectations and married to the girl of his dreams, who cannot quite believe his luck. In his deepest heart he knows Desdemona is too good for him.

Johan Botha as Otello and Zvetelina Vassileva as Desdemona were very believable in this pairing. She is small, ethereal and devoted; he is large, dark and imposing. In short a mismatch. His enormous size emphasizes this dissonance.

Marco Vratogna as Iago was suitably diabolical and deceptive. For my taste his voice is not quite large enough for Verdi villains, but he successfully compensates with acting, phrasing and the other aspects of his performance.

Note to the San Francisco Opera: could you add a bit of information about nationality and training to the bios, please? It would be nice to have an idea of them as people and not just as roles and companies.

And now I am going to annoy everyone by discussing Johan Botha whom I have now seen in 2 Verdi roles in a one month period.

His big voice is beautiful and his legato is well developed. For me the beauty of his singing--the reason you are seeing him in opera at all--would be enhanced with better physical conditioning. Control of the phrase and control of the body are one.

I liked the one set production.

[See Kinderkuchen History 1870-90]

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