Saturday, October 31, 2020

Lucia di Lammermoor in San Francisco


ConductorJean-Yves Ossonce†
Production designer-Paul Brown

Normanno-Matthew O'Neill
Enrico Ashton-Gabriele Viviani †
Raimondo Bidebent-Oren Gradus
Lucia-Natalie Dessay
Alisa-Cybele-Teresa Gouverneur
Edgardo Ravenswood-Giuseppe Filianoti
Arturo-Andrew Bidlack

This is Natalie Dessay in San Francisco in 2008 singing Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.   I attended and reviewed at that time.  This is Donizetti's most popular serious opera, but perhaps I only like the comedies. 

I've seen 6 different productions of this opera by now, and my favorite by a wide margin is the Zimmerman version with the fountain and the ghost.  The ghost is my favorite.  I understand they are retiring it, which seems very sad to me.  This one from San Francisco is rather dull.

I am enjoying Filianoti more this time.  The singing is fine. I have only seen 6, so from the ones I've seen, I prefer the one with Lisette and Javier I saw in 2018.  I apologize for all this comparing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Santa Fe Opera Announcement

 


The Santa Fe Opera has announced its season for 2021.  There was much conversation about resisting COVID19, which I will not repeat.  So here is the list.

  • Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.  The production is by Laurent Pelly.  Harry Bicket will conduct. 
  • The world premier of Corigliano's The Lord of Cries with a libretto by Mark Adamo.  James Darrah will provide the production.  Johannes Debus will conduct.  This will star Anthony Roth Costanzo and Susanna Phillips.  It seems to be a joining of Euripides and Bram Stoker.  It sounds like fun.
  • Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin has Alessandro Talevi as the producer.  Nicholas Carter will conduct.  Nicole Car will portray Tatiana and her husband Etienne Dupuis will sing Onegin. 
  • Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream done in a fantasy production by Netia Jones.  She has imagined it in the specific surroundings of the Crosby Theater in New Mexico.  It sounds exciting.  Harry Bicket will conduct.  Erin Morley will sing Tytania.
  • Angel Blue in concert.  John Fiore will conduct the orchestra.

Harry Bicket is the music director of the Santa Fe Opera.  This film played with the announcement.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

News

Donald Runnicles, formerly the musical director of the San Francisco Opera, is now officially Sir Donald Runnicles.  Congratulations.


Attila

 

Conductor - Nicola Luisotti
Director - Gabriele Lavia

Attila, King of the Huns - Ferruccio Furlanetto
Uldino, Attila's Breton Slave - Nathaniel Peake*
Odabella, daughter of the Lord of Aquileia - Lucrecia Garcia
Ezio, a Roman general - Quinn Kelsey*
Foresto, a knight of Aquileia - Diego Torre*
Leone (Pope Leo I) - Samuel Ramey

The San Francisco Opera reran last weekend Verdi's Attila from 2012.  It is a fabulous baritone feast with Furlanetto, Kelsey and Ramey.  I'm sorry if you missed it. 

The sets all relate to interiors of theaters.  You may feel free to make up a reason for this.  This version seems to be shortened.  A film played in one of the theaters, and this has been omitted.  In house one sees everything in full screen, while in a film a full screen is unusual.  This diminishes the effect of the theater interiors and increases the importance of the singers.  It's much better this way.

Here's my review when I saw it live.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Die Entführung aus dem Serail from Vienna


Musical Direction - Antonello Manacorda
Production - Hans Neuenfels

Bassa Selim - Christian Nickel (spoken)
Konstanze - Lisette Oropesa (soprano)
Konstanze - Actress - Emanuela von Frankenberg
Blonde - Regula Mühlemann (soprano)
Blonde - Actress - Stella Roberts
Osmin - Goran Jurić (bass)
Osmin - Actor - Andreas Grötzinger
Belmonte - Daniel Behle (tenor)
Belmonte - Actor - Christian Natter
Pedrillo - Michael Laurenz (tenor)
Pedrillo - Actor - Ludwig Blochberger 

Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail  (The Abduction from the Seraglio), 2020, comes to us from the Wiener Staatsoper.  It is directed by Hans Neuenfels, one of the more scandalous regie producers.  One of his characteristics is to dress the chorus all in the same outfits.  Here in spite of the fact that they are a mixed chorus, they are all dressed as men in black.

This is a Singspiel, which means it comes with spoken dialog in German.  In the original version of the opera there is a character, Bassa Selim, who does not sing.  Everyone else both sings and speaks.  So Neuenfels has seized on this and doubled all the rest of the cast.  So in addition to the singers, he has cast a whole other cast who play the rest of the roles and only speak.  He has also added more words.  This is hard to follow.  Two people in the same outfits are the same person.  You get a lot of easy to understand German from the actors and beautiful singing from the singers.  The actress Blonde occasionally speaks English.  "Me too."

Lisette is singing a very serious aria, and a young man in his underwear is holding a giant snake.  Huh?  What you would want to keep from this is Lisette and her arias.  "Martern alle Arten" is especially great.  She changes the opera completely.  Suddenly it is enormous.

I can think of only one semi-legitimate reason for this double casting.  Singers have careers that take them all over the world.  This is why the performing of operas originally in other languages but sung in the local language of the opera house is a practice that has pretty much died out.  We perform Hansel and Gretel and Magic Flute in English, but that is pretty much it.  The singer learns the role with the original text and then sings it everywhere with only some brief rehearsal.

So Neuenfels wanted to add a lot of new German dialog, and in order to have extended rehearsals, he assigns these new words to local people he can rehearse for a long time.  This is the only thing I can think of.  We don't care about this added dialog.  Maybe Neuenfels doesn't really like opera.

They love only Lisette.  As do I.  Serious booing for Neuenfels.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Tosca

 

 

Conductor - Riccardo Frizza
Director - Jose Maria Condemi

Mario Cavaradossi - Brian Jagde
Floria Tosca - Lianna Haroutounian
Baron Scarpia - Mark Delavan

When this performance of Tosca first played in San Francisco in 2014, I must have missed it.  It is being streamed today from the San Francisco Opera.  I saw Brian sing Cavaradossi in Santa Fe in 2012, and may have felt it was to soon to see him again.

There are some fun things in this production.  From the evidence, Tosca seems to be the most conservatively dressed female in all of Rome.  In the Te Deum we have men in uniforms of the Swiss guards.  In Act II we see that the walls are painted with figures, as they would be in the Palazzo Farnese,  but the lighting is too dim to allow us to see them.  In general they have done a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere of Rome.  A little more light would have been nice.

Mark Delavan is fine but not really snarly enough for Scarpia who needs to project evil in the sound of his voice.  But then I've seen Thomas Hampson in the role, and he isn't snarly at all.

Brian is lovely, handsome and romantic.  Better than at Santa Fe. And Lianna Haroutounian plays the Diva with charm and intense jealousy.  She's trying to make the best of a bad situation, and ultimately fails.  She presents the varied emotions of the character vividly.  I like her very much.  She is why you would want to see this.  She crosses herself before jumping.  Of course.


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Cecilia again.

Here is a film I haven't seen before. It's from Rossini's Semiramide.

I've often wished Cecilia would sing this role.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Erin Wall (4 November 1975 – October 8, 2020)









 

 

 

This is what I wrote about Erin when I first saw her at the Santa Fe Opera in 2007.

"Since she was by far the best singer at Santa Fe, (Daphne in Daphne) I thought it would be nice to know more about Erin Wall. She's from Alberta, Canada, and has competed in the Singer of the World in Cardiff."  The full review is here.

I've seen her in some wonderful things over the years.  My favorite was her Arabella at Santa Fe.  Most recently she sang Donna Anna in San Francisco in 2017.

I enjoyed everything I saw and wish I had seen more.  She has died of cancer.  I feel it is a loss.