* Notes *
The summer part of San Francisco Opera's season began last night with Tosca. The 1997 production is based on the one that inaugurated the War Memorial Opera House in 1932, and for that reason, is rather old-fashioned. It was interesting to note the differences between the current revival and the last one, for instance, the trompe-l'œil pyramid of cannonballs is gone from Act III, a welcome change.
The orchestra sounded clean and together under the direction of Marco Armiliato, and the tempi moderate. Lado Ataneli was an animated Scarpia, at times he was underpowered vocally, but for the most part, he sounded hale. On the other hand, the tenor, Carlo Ventre, was more delicate. He had a lot of vibrato, which along with his reedy, plaintive qualities, gave him a certain vulnerability. Ventre sounded weak in contrast to the other singers, but was not bad on his own, as in "E lucevan le stelle." Adrianne Pieczonka (Tosca) had a fine debut, she only had brief moments harshness, her voice is strong and rich. Her "Vissi d'arte" was brilliant.
* Tattling *
The audience spoke a bit too much for my taste, but were mostly under control. I was standing in front of someone who talked, almost at full volume, to himself. At least he spoke about the performance, commenting on how beautiful the singing was. Standing room was rather full, as were the seats on the orchestra level, but the boxes looked relatively empty.