Reviewers acknowledge that Patricia Racette's voice has declined in San Francisco Opera's latest Madama Butterfly (Act II pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver), but find the singer's dramatic abilities intact.
* Notes *
Jun Kaneko's production of Madama Butterfly (Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio-San, Brian Jagde as Pinkerton, and Brian Mulligan as Sharpless in Act I pictured left; photograph by Cory Weaver) had a fifth performance at San Francisco Opera last night. The set and costumes have an elegant guilelessness. The staging, directed by Leslie Swackhamer, is likewise straightforward and makes charming use of four kurogo (stagehands dressed in black).
Maestro Nicola Luisotti had the orchestra sounding lush and sweeping. The chorus was robust. The casting is rather luxurious. Morris Robinson is a plush-toned Bonze. Brian Mulligan makes for a rich-sounding Sharpless. Elizabeth DeShong (Suzuki) has a startlingly lovely voice. The trio with Sharpless, Suzuki, and Pinkerton in Act II was exceedingly beautiful.
Brian Jagde is a convincing Pinkerton and he sang well. He has a lot of volume. Sadly, the opera hinges on having a great Butterfly, and Patricia Racette fell short. Her acting is certainly strong, and her voice has a lot of power and emotion. However, her wide vibrato marred the piece's best-loved arias.
* Tattling *
Many people were late and stood in the standing room area on the orchestra level. Someone was upset about not being seated and complained loudly, hurling invectives at the ushers.
According to a press release from today the Met has canceled its Live in HD transmission of The Death of Klinghoffer scheduled for this fall. The Met's General Manager, Peter Gelb says "I'm convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic but I've also become convinced that there is genuine concern in the international Jewish community that the live transmission of The Death of Klinghoffer would be inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe."
* Notes *
San Francisco Opera's 1987 production of La Traviata (Saimir Pirgu as Alfredo and Nicole Cabell as Violetta in Act I pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) was revived again last night. Originally conceived by John Copley, Laurie Feldman is the director this time. The set, designed by John Conklin, is splendid, as are David Walker's costumes. Somehow the staging does not cohere, and the high point certainly is the focused flamenco dancing in Act II Scene 2.
The orchestra sounded sumptuous, though the tempi that Maestro Nicola Luisotti kept were consistently ahead of the singers. The chorus was slightly tepid in the Brindisi. The principal cast features very pretty voices with a lot of volume, yet the effect was curiously flat. Vladimir Stoyanov has a rather strident manner as Germont. Saimir Pirgu has a pleasant, bright warmth as Alfredo, but his singing has an effortful quality. Nicole Cabell (Violetta) sounded gorgeously icy, her voice is beautiful and strong, but somehow she fell short of embodying her character.
* Tattling *
There were many latecomers in the balcony. Some mobile telephones and watch alarms were noted. The sound system made a strange squeak in the second third of the opera.
Reviewers are fairly positive about San Francisco Opera's Show Boat (Act II pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver).
* Notes *
Show Boat (Heidi Stober as Magnolia Hawks, Patricia Racette as Julie La Verne, Angela Renee Simpson as Queenie and Morris Robinson as Joe with chorus in Act I, Scene 2 pictured left; photograph by Cory Weaver) opened at San Francisco Opera today with a matinée performance. The production, directed by Francesca Zambello, is spectacular. Peter J. Davison's set must be characteristic of his style, employing many of the same devices as his Porgy and Bess as far as creating or changing scenes. The costumes are fetching and the choreography sharp. It is delightful to see the San Francisco Opera corps dancers looking so exuberant.
John DeMain does a wonderful job with the orchestra, and the music sounds fluent and natural. The chorus is mostly fine, though perhaps not precisely on the beat at the beginning of Act II. Harriet Harris is a funny Parthy. Bill Irwin is an elastic Cap'n Andy, his physical comedy is perfect for this role.
Though one may have been skeptical of Patricia Racette as Julie, as we have heard quite a lot of her this season, she is moving in this, and her vibrato is not bothersome. Angela Renée Simpson sings Queenie with verve, though she was a touch quiet in "Hey, Feller" in Act II. Morris Robinson is incredible as Joe, his dignified voice has such depth and power.
Michael Todd Simpson makes for an expressive Gaylord Ravenal. Heidi Stober's physicality is impressive, she plays the young Magnolia with sprightliness and is able to capture the maturity of an older woman as the piece progresses. Her accent may not be exact at all times, but her singing is lovely.
* Tattling *
Someone sitting on the back bench of the balcony had a noisy mobile phone.