* Tattling *
There was a ton of talking but most of it was in response to the performance, so at least it was nice that the audience members were engaged. The woman in front of me in Row O was impressed by the petite stature of one of the tenors. The man behind me in Row AA said "wow" about thirty times.
July 1- August 27 2016: La Fanciulla del West
July 2- August 26 2016: Don Giovanni
July 16- August 25 2016: Roméo et Juliette
July 23- August 19 2016: Capriccio
July 30- August 24 2016: Vanessa
Santa Fe announced a 2016 season yesterday. Patricia Racette sings Minnie in La Fanciulla del West. Daniel Okulitch sings the title role of Don Giovanni with Leah Crocetto, Isabel Leonard and Rhian Lois. Amanda Majeski and Susan Graham star in Capriccio. Erin Wall is Vanessa in Barber's opera.
Michaela Martens (pictured left) will sing Cassandra in the second and fourth performances of San Francisco Opera's Les Troyens, which runs from June 7 to July 1, 2015. She replaces Daveda Karanas, who has withdrawn from the role due to pregnancy. Anna Caterina Antonacci, who was previously announced to sing three performances of Cassandra, has agreed to add a fourth on July 1, 2015.
* Notes *
Opera Parallèle is holding the first North American performances of Tarik O'Regan's Heart of Darkness at Z Space in San Francisco this weekend. The challenge of taking a well-known text must be great. Tom Philips condensed Conrad's novella into a spare libretto. The ninety minute work is relentless, there is no intermission, but in the end it dissolves into silence. The scene about wanting rivets was amusing. The most famous lines of the book were handled gracefully.
Opera Parallèle made a compelling case for this chamber opera. Maestra Nicole Paiement conducted the fourteen musicians of the orchestra with verve.
The cast is uniformly strong. It was striking to hear soprano Shawnette Sulker sing the River Woman. She can sound sweet and bird-like, but here she showed grit and passion. Tenor Thomas Glenn was a vivid Harlequin. Baritone Aleksey Bogdanov's low notes as the Doctor and the Boilermaker were forceful yet humorous. Tenor Michael Belle sounded warm as the Chief Accountant and the Helmsman. Bass-baritone Philip Skinner seemed rumbling and ancient as Kurtz, clearly conveying illness and madness. Tenor Isaiah Bell was a youthful Marlow, his voice is bright and he sings with ease.
Director Brian Staufenbiel uses the compact space to fine effect. Audience members surrounding the stage wore light-colored ponchos and held tusks created by Jon Altemus. Illustrations by Matt Kish were projected in the background and on the floor. The ink on watercolor paper images are bold, animating them could be dizzying, though this worked nicely when the action took place on the river.
* Tattling *
One watch alarm was noted at 3pm during Saturday's matinée. One person whispered loudly during the instrumental threnody.
* Notes *
John Eliot Gardiner, the English Baroque Soloists, and the Monteverdi Choir (pictured left, photograph by Paul Burns) performed a beautiful L'Orfeo, Favola in musica at San Francisco Symphony's Davies Hall last night. The playing was elegant, even the brass instruments sounded clean. The singing was even and lovely. The vigorous choristers sounded together.
Despite being billed as a concert version of the piece, there were clearly costumes and choreography. The orchestra was split in the middle, with Maestro Gardiner stage left center, and the choir upstage on risers. This left an aisle for the singers, and much dancing occurred here. The female chorus dressed in bright, short dresses for the acts in The Fields of Thrace and in black, long gowns for the acts in The Underworld. The choir had a lively stage presence.
Most of the principal voices were exceedingly pretty. Soprano Francesca Aspromonte (Music/Messenger) has a bird-like sound with some fire, while Mariana Flores was an ethereal Euridice and warbling Hope. Francesca Boncompagni's breathing was noticeable as Proserpina, but her voice is suitably plaintive. Tenor Krystian Adam was warm and genial as the First Shepherd. Tenor Nicolas Mulroy sang a subdued Apollo.
The bass voice of Gianluca Buratto (Caronte/Plutone) is well-supported and rich with impressive low notes. Tenor Andrew Tortise seamlessly sang the title role. He could have conveyed more mournfulness in Act IV, but his voice is bright and gorgeous.
* Tattling *
The opera was performed without an intermission but those around me on the Orchestra Level were silent and attentive.
* Tattling *
There was little talking or electronic noise. A woman on the left aisle in about the fourth of fifth row tapped her feet incessantly during Act II, especially during the Queen of the Night's big aria.
September 11-12 2015: National Circus of the People's Republic of China
September 18 2015: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
September 24-25 2015: Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela
October 1-4 2015: Mariinsky Ballet & Orchestra
October 9 2015: Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club
October 11 2015: Takács Quartet
October 11 2015: Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India
October 16-18 2015: Twyla Tharp
October 23 2015: eco ensemble
October 24 2015: Bach Collegium Japan
October 29-30 2015: Circa
November 6-7 2015: Ensemble Intercontemporain
November 7 2015: Youssou N'Dour
November 8 2015: Leila Josefowicz, violin and John Novacek, piano
November 13-14 2015: Compañia Flamenca José Porcel
November 19-22 2015: Rude Mechanicals
November 22 2015: Danish String Quartet
November 27-29 2015: Mummenschanz
December 6 2015: Garrick Ohlsson, piano
December 12-13 2015: Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host
January 22-23 2016: Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan
January 24 2016: Yefim Bronfman, piano
January 24 2016: Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour
January 29-30 2016: St. Louis Symphony
February 14 2016: eighth blackbird
February 21 2016: Takács Quartet
February 26 2016: Jordi Savall, viol and Frank McGuire, bodhrán
February 27-28 2016: Chitresh Das Dance Company
February 28 2016: Danish String Quartet
March 5 2016: Renée Fleming, soprano
March 6 2016: Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder of SERIAL
March 6 2016: Yefim Bronfman, piano
March 11-13 2016: Mark Morris Dance Group and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale
March 18-19 2016: Trajal Harrell
March 19 2016: Buika
March 19 2016: L'Arpeggiata
March 20 2016: Savion Glover with the Jack DeJohnette Quartet
March 26 2016: Montreal Symphony Orchestra
March 29- April 3 2016: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
April 2 2016: Musicians from Marlboro
April 9 2016: The Tallis Scholars
April 10 2016: Brentano String Quartet
April 14 2016: Gil Shaham, violin
April 17 2016: Murray Perahia, piano
April 26 2016: Matthias Goerne, baritone and Alexander Schmalcz, piano
May 1 2016: Kronos Quartet
May 5-8 2016: Edgar Oliver
May 7 2016: David Finckel, cello and Wu Han, piano
May 12 2016: Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor and Jérôme Ducros, piano
Cal Performances announced the 2015-2016 season on April 20, 2015. The Koret Recital Series includes Renée Fleming, Matthias Goerne, and Philippe Jaroussky.
* Notes *
A number of San Francisco Opera Center's Adler Fellows (pictured left) performed with conductor Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra last night at the SFJazz Center. The evening was a delight from beginning to end. The first half of the program featured four instrumental pieces interspersed with four vocal pieces, all by Mozart. The Overture in D major, K. 106 was played with grace, while Contredanse No. 1 in D major, K. 106 sounded rather cheery. I enjoyed the emphatic playing of the repeated notes in Contredanse No. 3 in B-flat major, K. 106.
Soprano Julie Adams sang "Nehmt meinen Dank" with clarity. Her voice has much strength and not a trace of strain. Baritone Edward Nelson was terribly charming in "Con un vezzo all'italiana" from La finta giardiniera. The quartet "Dite almeno, in che mancai" with Adams, Nelson, tenor Brian Thorsett, and bass Anthony Reed was brilliant as well.
The second half of the show was devoted to Rossini's first produced opera, La cambiale di matrimonio (The Marriage Contract). The piece is concise and quite amusing. The orchestra played with verve and McGegan looked pleased throughout as he conducted. Some of the Baroque instruments seemed less well-suited to Rossini than others, but the enthusiasm of all those involved never waned.
The singing was wonderful. Mezzo-soprano Nian Wang sang Clarina's aria ("An'chio son giovine") with conviction. Bass Matthew Stump makes for a wonderful, blustering Tobia Mill. Baritone Efraín Solís is hilarious as Slook. Tenor Brian Thorsett sings Edoardo Milfort with effortlessness. Soprano Jacqueline Piccolino is a dulcet-toned Fannì. Her sings with a certain subtlety that is appealing for this role.
* Tattling *
The first five rows were removed to provide the orchestra with a pit.
* Notes *
Last week the San Francisco Conservatory Opera Program held two performances of L'elisir d'amore. The charming production marked the debut of director Jose Maria Condemi, who is incoming Director of Opera at the school. The spacious set (pictured left) features a runway downstage of the orchestra pit, and different levels upstage. The costumes looked to be from the 1940s.
Proceedings were rather lively, the young singers moved vivaciously. There was much physical humor, and Daniel Cameron was particularly amusing as Belcore. Evan Kardon (Adina) was hilarious in "Io son ricco e tu sei bella," rowing in an inappropriate but entertaining style. Sergey Khalikulov's Dulcamara was funny as well.
As for the music, most of the voices were bright and light, perfect for this opera. Mario Rojas (Nemorino) sang "Una furtiva lagrima" with beauty, and the bassoonist played nicely. Sabrina Romero's pretty voice suited Giannetta, and was a contrast to Kardon, whose sound is stronger and more piercing.
Scott Sandmeier conducted a spirited orchestra. The playing was rapid but mostly together, with only a few squeaks here and there.
* Tattling *
The Saturday performance was sold out. There was a distressing amount of talking from many audience members.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner (pictured left, photograph by Sheila Rock) is touring the United States with the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir from April 19 to May 1, 2015. They are performing a concert version of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at Davies Hall in San Francisco on April 27, 2015. This concert and others are featured in San Francisco Symphony's Spring Sale, which started yesterday and runs until April 15, 2015.
* Notes *
Composer and vocalist Meredith Monk (pictured left) and her ensemble are currently performing On Behalf of Nature at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. The opening performance on Friday was mesmerizing. The six singers all move beautifully, and it is impressive that one of them, Allison Sniffen, plays keyboards, violin, and French horn. The other two instrumentalists, Bohdan Hilash (winds) and John Hollenbeck (percussion), are also clearly accomplished players, though their choreography was understandably less elaborate.
The vibrant, visceral work is an entire world filled with pre-verbal babbling that spans a great emotional range; humming, textural instrumentals; stark, simple movements; deconstructed costumes made from the each performers old clothing; and gorgeous lighting design.
Ellen Fisher did some wonderful spins in the middle of the piece, donning a costume with panels to accentuate the movement. Katie Geissinger and Allison Sniffen had a moving duet. The blue light that bathed the stage for part of the second half was striking, as was the last costume change which had all of the cast in white. I particularly liked the sound of bells and the very loud droning that seemed to shake the whole theater.
* Tattling *
There was no intermission for this 75 minute performance, which was evidently difficult for some members of the audience.