* Notes *
Mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich is singing Carmen in the alternate cast at San Francisco Opera, replacing Hadar Halévy, who in turn is replacing Marina Domashenko in the regular cast. Aldrich debuted at San Francisco Opera last Saturday, her voice was strong at first, and she sang the Habanera beautifully. She also managed to flash her underpants several times during Act I. She lacked stamina, by Act III the her initial energy was noticeably dampened. Her castanet playing was better than Halévy's, though she did start off a bit too fast and lost some crispness toward the end. Perhaps we should not expect our singers to also be percussionists or dancers.
It is said that the singers of the alternate cast are often better than the regular cast, just less famous. This is not the case here, at least if one does not include the title role. Tenor Stuart Skelton had good volume but strained his high notes, and he lacked passion. He did look more convincing as Don José than Marco Berti. Adrienne Danrich was a contained Micaëla, her voice, though not quiet, seemed rather far away. Kristopher Irmiter was a muted and reedy Escamillo.
* Tattling *
There were many children at the Saturday noon performance, perhaps because both the Girl's and Boy's Choruses sing in this opera. One girl sat in a woman's lap in seat ZZ 108 for Act II, they whispered a great deal and the girl also crawled on the floor. I suspect she was in the Girl's Chorus, despite this undignified behavior.
There were a few mishaps with Act IV, both involved chorus members, all of whom are supposed to be frozen in place at the beginning of the act. A man in the middle of this Tableau Vivant somehow lost his balance and was moving, which was unintentionally funny. Later, a boy came in early and had a small solo before the children were supposed to start.