* Notes *
The second performance of Die Tote Stadt at San Francisco Opera only served to solidify my opinion on this work, which surely deserves to be part of the standard repertoire. Willy Decker's production, directed by Meisje Hummel in this revival, has its own complete conception and is consistent throughout. Instead of trying to recapture a fossilized past, the staging is fairly bizarre, to be sure. This does not detract from the music, particularly because most of the action takes place within a nightmare.
Certainly, the set was not perfect. Hardly anything can be seen from the back of the house, I was impressed, actually, how much I had missed during the first performance. I suppose this is an argument for OperaVision, but personally I think it might be nicer to have productions that work for our opera house. The set was also pretty noisy during Act II, again, and someone's voice was heard from back stage. John Singer Sargent's Portrait of Miss Elsie Palmer is a poor choice for the purposes of the production, it just looks a cartoon blown up, as the painting is somewhat loose. From closer up, the images looked a little tawdry, though they read well from afar.
The sound is better in the back of the balcony, Torsten Kerl was especially dampened when listening from orchestra standing room. The staging does not help in this regard, much of the singing happens upstage. This physical distance from the audience makes the singers lack immediacy, though one can see how it would work better in a smaller house.
The choreography was strong among the Adler Fellows, for instance, Ji Young Yang and Daniela Mack had their cute dancing kicks perfectly together.
* Tattling *
There were a few empty seats in the orchestra, and I stood behind someone I happen to know. Needless to say, she was well-behaved. Bloggers were out, Cedric of SFist stopped by to say hello, and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Not for Fun Only at intermission.
Emily Magee did not lose her wig this time, at least, not when she was not supposed to.