* Notes *
San Francisco Opera's 89th season opened last night with a revival of Turandot (Iréne Theorin, Marco Berti, and Joseph Frank in Act III pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver). David Hockney's production is as garish as ever, but quite functional, as the sets only move minimally for the scene changes. This keeps the backstage noise negligible, and lighting made for smooth transitions. The choreography was not synchronized, and oddly, the dancers as acrobats made the most glaring errors of this type.
Musically, this performance of Turandot was rather robust, especially in volume. Even still, the orchestra, conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti, only occasionally overwhelmed the singers. The playing was florid, but shimmered when necessary. The chorus sounded strong and even.
Our Ping, Pang, and Pong (Hyung Yun, Greg Fedderly, and Daniel Montenegro) were winsome. Yun's baritone is warm, and for the most part, Fedderly and Montenegro have sufficient brightness to be heard over the orchestration. Raymond Aceto seemed an ideal Timur. Though the staging for his exit with Liù's corpse in Act III was awkward, Aceto sang with beauty and feeling.
Leah Crocetto (Liù) gave perhaps the finest performance of the evening. Her pianissmi were breathtaking in "Signore, ascolta!" and she sang "Tu che di gel sei cinta" exquisitely. Marco Berti sang Calaf loudly, yet without strain. He sang "Nessun dorma" cleanly, but did not sustain his last note for its full value. In the title role, Iréne Theorin was not particularly sympathetic. Her powerful voice is unsettling, which is appropriate for portraying the cruel princess.
* Tattling *
Opening night's audience is invariably ill-behaved. The family in front of me in the last row of the balcony, Seats 112-118 passed a pair of binoculars back and forth the entire opera. At least they seemed engaged in the experience. The apparent mother of this family unwrapped a candy for nearly all of Crocetto's first aria, and spoke during "Nessun dorma" because she was so excited about recognizing the music. Afterward, she said she loved the "theme song" of the opera.