Conrad Susa at WSNC
Stéphane Lissner News

Opening of La Bohème

La-boheme-gheorghiu   * Notes *
La Bohème opened yesterday afternoon at San Francisco Opera with incoming music director Nicola Luisotti conducting. His tempi were quite elastic, though even when he drew out parts, they did not sound sluggish in the least. The singing was all fine, even wobbly Norah Ansellem (Musetta) managed to be convincing, though her high notes were not pretty. Oren Gradus sang Colline's "Vecchia zimarra" beautifully. Quinn Kelsey did well as Marcello, his warm tones were lovely, though his voice was noticeably louder than the others. Piotr Beczala's Rodolfo sounded vulnerable, particularly in "Che gelida manina." I found the big star of the performance, Angela Gheorghiu, a bit difficult to hear over the orchestra at times. When audible, her voice can be sublime, and she does sound better in this than in La Rondine last season.

I did not actually watch this first performance, so I have little to say about the production. The set and costumes are standard fare for Bohème, everything looks as one would expect.

* Tattling * 
It has been a long time since an opera performance was ruined for me, and given that I go so often, it was bound to happen. Everything was going well in balcony standing room for the first 2 hours and 40 minutes, no latecomers tried to speak to me, no one's cellular phones or watch alarms could be heard, and so forth. Then in the last five minutes, two middle aged men started talking aloud right next to me. One had complained of feeling faint, and so, like me, was sitting in the back. His friend apparently had grown tired of standing room as well, and they could not be quiet, they even giggled as Mimi died. Usually when the last notes of the piece ring out, I feel like I have been kicked in the stomach, and some part of my brain is highly annoyed at Puccini for being so manipulative. This time though, these couple of cretins managed to destroy that effect. Even the sing-along woman at SF Lyric was not able to do that!