* Notes *
A second performance of San Francisco Opera's Rigoletto was held on Saturday. The cast had three different members: Marco Vratogna (Rigoletto), Albina Shagimuratova (Gilda), and Arturo Chacón-Cruz (The Duke of Mantua).
Chacón-Cruz was not consistent, he was rather hard to hear with the chorus in the first scene, but improved in the second two acts. His duet with Shagimuratova in Act I Scene 3 was vexing, it seemed that the singers were not listening to one another, and it hardly seemed they were in love. Shagimuratova's voice often did not blend nicely when singing with others, earlier in the same scene it seemed that she was having a shouting match with Vratogna. They did sound better together in Act II (pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) and in the very last part of Act III. Shagimuratova does have a twittering sparkle to her sound. Vratogna's voice is much less pretty, as is appropriate. He did well portraying scorn, anger, and desperation. He had a harder time being doting or sad.
Though fairly simple, the production did not always help these singers. Shagimuratova's heavy-footedness in bounding up the stairs for "Caro Nome" hardly projected youthful exuberance. Though most of the singers moved with ease, one felt the direction was wan, and the movements on stage did not always have a strong sense of intention.
The orchestra sounded fiery and crisper last night, Nicola Luisotti continued to drive the music forward. The chorus had an even better evening than for the opening, and seemed together and uniform. All the other principals sounded secure. Robert Pomakov gave a nuanced, imposing performance as Monterone. Andrea Silvestrelli continued to impress with his distinctive deep bass.
* Tattling *
The audience was far more attentive for this second performance. The house was not full, and standing room was particularly empty.