* Notes *
American Bach Soloists gave the North American premiere of Marais' Sémélé last night in San Francisco. The music is exquisite and Jeffrey Thomas conducted a precise performance. The chorus was strong and the soloists were evenly matched.
Ever consistent, Maestro Thomas led a clean sounding orchestra. Even the trumpet was more or less in tune, quite a feat given the lack of valves. The percussionists seemed like they were having fun playing much of the dance music.
It was remarkable that soprano Rebecca Myers Hoke (pictured above) was able to characterize Sémélé's disquieting dilemma with her voice alone in this concert version of the opera. Mezzo-soprano Sara LeMesh was also particularly vivid in her portrayal of Juno. One did not have to understand the exact words she was singing to know how she felt, the jealously and indignation was palpable.
The rest of the singing was all at a high level. Soprano Chelsea Morris (Dorine) has fine breath control and tenors Matthew Hill (Apollon) and Steven Brennfleck (Adraste) both were bright-toned.
* Tattling *
There were quite a few problems with the titles, which would disappear and show the desktop of the computer being used to project them. The applause at intermission was enthusiastic, but many people did not return for the second half.
The person behind me seemed concerned about leaving right when the music ended, and pulled at my seat during the last minute of the opera, moving my whole body back with him. I was much engaged with the piece, so it did not bother me, but did strike me as odd.