* Notes *
Charles Dutoit (pictured left) conducted San Francisco Symphony in its first performance of Ravel's L'Heure espagnole last night. The orchestra sounded elegant and the cast had a wonderful sense of comic timing in this concert version of the piece.
Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard (Concepcion) has a vivid, smoky voice. She was able to convey hysteria in the edges of her voice that is suited to the role. Baritone Jean-Luc Ballestra sounded healthy and strong as Ramiro. One got the sense he enjoyed singing with the other principals and with the orchestra. Tenor Jean-Paul Fouchécourt was a bright-toned Torquemada, while tenor John Mark Ainsley's Gonzalve was light and funny. Likewise, baritone David Wilson-Johnson was a diverting, pompous Don Iñigo Gomez. The dry wit of this opera came through.
The first half of the program began with Ravel's Alborado del gracioso. The short piece sparkled and shimmered. The bassoon sounded particularly beautiful. Pianist Javier Perianes was the soloist in Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Falla that followed. He often carefully watched Dutoit and did not play in an overly flamboyant manner. The piece often demands a strong percussive quality of the soloist and Perianes played these passages well.
* Tattling *
There was much giggling during L'Heure espagnole and even a few loud guffaws.