* Notes *
Verdi's Macbeth opens tonight at San Francisco Opera, with Thomas Hampson in the title role. I was fortunate enough to attend the final dress rehearsal last Sunday, and was at least impressed with Hampson. David Pountney's production, directed by Nicola Raab, is the consummate Regieoper that San Francisco seems to dislike so. I overheard it called "alienating" and "weird." It reminded me a bit of that misquote of Tolstoy in Nabokov's Ada, except substitute "opera production" for "family." I felt I had seen many of the same devices before, and I'll try to keep just how rather general so it won't be spoilt for you, gentle reader. The camouflage fatigues, unexplained props, odd projections, sets that look worse for wear, meandering child supernumeraries, noisy choreography, fake breasts, paper, and drunken staggering all gave me a sense of déjà vu. I was just waiting for my friend Chattering Teeth Head and a few couches suspended from the ceiling to show up. It is not surprising at all that the production is from Oper Zürich.
* Tattling *
There were a gaggle of high school students at the dress rehearsal, but they were well-behaved. I sat next to a pair of rather loud women speaking Russian, but I did not silence them as it seemed futile, given that the production team obviously spoke during the performance. Somehow I managed to dress in a manner not unlike the witches and overheard someone comment on that as I left the opera house.