Thomas Cooley and Voices of Music
Further Casting Changes for SF Opera's Carmen

Kendall Gladen as Carmen at SF Opera

Carmen-acti-sf-opera-kendall-gladen* Notes *
Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's beloved production of Carmen (Thiago Arancam as Don José and Kendall Gladen as Carmen in Act I pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) was revived at San Francisco Opera yesterday afternoon. Nicola Luisotti used his lush, hazy style to good effect on the orchestra. The volume was occasionally overwhelming, mostly in Acts II and III. The string soli were strong. The bassoon and harp also made fine contributions.

The children's chorus was quite adorable, but seemed to rush a little at first. The San Francisco Opera chorus was robust as usual. The principal singers all very much looked their roles. Wayne Tigges was a convincing enough Zuniga. Cybele Gouverneur did not dance confidently as Mercédès, but sang adequately. Frasquita did not seem like Susannah Biller's best role either, but she does have a lovely sweetness, and moved nicely.

Paulo Szot may have looked dashing as Escamillo, but he was all but inaudible in Act II, even from the back of the balcony, where the sound is best in the War Memorial. In contrast, Sara Gartland's Micaëla could always be heard. Gartland never sounded vulnerable or näive, perhaps because her voice is so hearty and piercing. Her facial expressions read clearly in her close-ups for OperaVision, and she seems prepared for high-definition film. Thiago Arancam also cut a fine figure as Don José, and his volume was impressive, especially in Act I. Overall, he was a bit bland, but the pain in his voice in the last scene came through. Kendall Gladen made for a languid, dangerous Carmen. Her dancing lacked fire, but her voice is attractive. There were some snags here and there in her singing, but for the most part she acquitted herself well. Her low notes are beautiful.

* Tattling * 
There were the requisite watch alarms and light talking from the audience. A woman left her child during the 5 minute pause between Acts III and IV, but did not make it back in time to take her seat. She whispered over me as the orchestra played the beginning of "À deux cuartos!" to inform the child of her location.