* Notes *
San Francisco Opera gave the world premiere of Two Women (La Ciociara) last night. The narrative is compelling. Marco Tutino's sweeping music has a cinematic feel and is pretty. The orchestra sounded engaged under the direction of Maestro Nicola Luisotti. The percussion was particularly gripping.
All of the singing was strong. The chorus impressed. The two leads — mother and daughter — are the most nuanced of the cast and the contrast of the two sopranos in these roles is effective. Anna Caterina Antonacci is an intense Cesira, her anguish was palpable. Sarah Shafer's Rosetta is sweet and haunting. Yet her dissoluteness in Act II, Scene 3 is convincing.
The other characters are less subtly drawn, the good are angelic, the bad are monsters. Tenor Dimitri Pittas is an idealistic, gentle Michele. He had some strain in his voice when he sang with the chorus in Act I, Scene 2, but otherwise he sang plaintively. Baritone Mark Delavan delighted in playing the evil Giovanni. Though his sound can be light, he is a persuasive villain.
In the smaller parts, the Adlers did well. Mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde was moving as Lena. Baritone Edward Nelson is completely plausible as John Buckley, the U.S. Air Force lieutenant saved by Michele.
Francesca Zambello's production (Act II, Scene 2 pictured above, photograph by Cory Weaver) is attractive. The projections could be busy and garish, but more often helped further the story without being intrusive.
* Tattling *
There was light whispering on the orchestra level at the start of most scenes. The audience was clearly moved by the piece and the standing ovation at the end was nearly immediate.