* Notes *
I gave La Rondine a second chance, and listened to it in the balcony standing room area last night. The sets and costumes were beautiful from afar as well, and the disco ball in Act II was not visible, so not blinding. Even still, I could see why this opera has only been performed once, before this production, at San Francisco Opera. The plot is thin, no one dies or gets married, and the music, though pretty, is rather light.
Angela Gheorghiu did sound better from the balcony, though she had moments of being overwhelmed by the orchestra in Act II. At times I could not hear which language she was singing in, though I could discern the notes, the words were lost. Perhaps I mistook her delicacy for tentativeness, Gheorghiu certainly has control of her tone, in stark contrast with our other current leading lady and fellow Non-Slavic Eastern European, Georgina Lukács. I still was bothered by Gheorghiu's occasional gasps and her ungainly movements. She is, of course, stunningly beautiful, so even her awkward carriage has a certain charm.
The rest of the cast was consistent with the previous performance I attended. Gerard Powers still missed that one high note in his duet with Anna Christy (Lisette) in Act III, just before the butler enters. Otherwise, his acting and singing were both strong.
* Tattling *
The performance was not full, and I was a little surprised given that the reviews were good and Gheorghiu should be a big draw. I did notice more Romanians than usual. I managed to get a good standing room spot in the balcony behind L 111, which was unoccupied for the whole performance. People were well-behaved, there was hardly any talking, only two watch alarms went off at 10pm, and no mobiles rang. The sets for Acts I and III received applause, as they did for opening night.
David Gockley spoke and answered questions after the performance. We were promised that there would be no microphones used to amplify singers' voices, that SFO would go into movie theaters, and that we should be able to chose our seats online soon. Apparently subscriptions are down, and they are trying to make subscribing more desirable by discounting the tickets by 20% next season. The uncomfortableness of the seats in the War Memorial Opera House was brought up yet again, apparently it is important to the SFWMPAC Board of Trustees that the seats retain their 1930s look and feel. They must always sit in the boxes.