* Notes *
The third and final Ring cycle of the season at San Francisco Opera started with Das Rheingold (Brandon Jovanovich, Elizabeth Bishop, Melissa Citro, and Gerd Grochoski in Scene 4 pictured left, photo by Cory Weaver) last Tuesday. Maestro Runnicles had the orchestra sounding noticeably cleaner this time around, especially the brass. The playing was gorgeous. The low strings and the harp were absolutely lovely. The balances were better, only the baritones were overwhelmed briefly when the orchestration was heavy. There were strong contributions all around, especially from Mark Delavan (Wotan), Elizabeth Bishop (Fricka), Andrea Silvestrelli (Fasolt), and Ronnita Miller (Erda). Štefan Margita's Loge was most impressive.
It was illuminating to sit so close to the stage this time around. One suspects that Francesca Zambello's directorial style is rather detail-oriented and very specific. The expressions and gestures used do create a sense of intimacy, but perhaps do not read that well from the back of the house.
* Tattling *
One could hear the squeaks of pulleys during the set changes. There was talking during these times as well. Electronic noise was at a minimum, but a watch alarm sounded at the beginning of the piece.