La Belle et la Bête
Sundry Performance Notes

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The alternate in the title role for San Francisco opera's production of L'Italiana in Algeri is excellent. I was not impressed by mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux in Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, but I think her voice is better suited to something airy and light like L'Italiana. Her voice was incredible in the role of Isabella, her ornamentation was good and her bird-like voice is prettier than Borodina's. Genaux does seem more awkward than Borodina, almost boyish, she doesn't have that swagger and sass. Also to be noted, the other alternate, bass Dean Peterson, was pretty good as Mustafà, but still not perfect.

I was glad to see that some of the choreography was changed to suit Genaux and Peterson, it makes more sense than forcing them to do movement that worked perfectly on Borodina and Abdrazakov. For example, at the end of Act I when Isabella is first presented to Mustafà, Borodina slyly steals Mustafà's turban and pushes him off his velvet throne. On the other hand, tiny Genaux could not carry this off, so instead she climbs on the throne and and steals the turban from there. Genaux does not quite have the same confidence in movement as Borodina, but she did rather well, considering she is an opera singer, and Borodina certainly is an exception.

The performance solidified my admiration for tenor William Burden, his voice is certainly worth hearing again.