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January 2017

Met Opera's 2017-2018 Season

MetoperaSeptember 25- December 16 2017: Norma
September 26- October 28 2017: Les Contes d’Hoffmann
September 27- October 14 2017: Die Zauberflöte
October 2 2017- March 10 2018: La Bohème
October 12 2017- April 5 2018: Turandot
October 26- November 21 2017: The Exterminating Angel
November 2 2017- March 16 2018: Madama Butterfly
November 11- December 2 2017: Thaïs
November 24- December 2 2017: Verdi's Requiem
November 25- December 9 2017 The Magic Flute
December 6 2017- January 19 2018: Le Nozze di Figaro
December 14 2017- January 11 2018: The Merry Widow
December 18 2017- January 6 2018: Hansel and Gretel
December 31 2017- May 12 2018: Tosca
January 8- February 1 2018: Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci
January 16- February 17 2018: L'Elisir d'Amore
January 22- February 15 2018: Il Trovatore
February 5-27 2018: Parsifal
February 19- March 17 2018 Semiramide
March 1-23 2018: Elektra
March 15- April 19 2018: Così fan tutte
March 22- May 10 2018: Lucia di Lammermoor
March 29- April 21 2018: Luisa Miller
April 12- May 11 2018: Cendrillon
April 23- May 12 2018: Roméo et Juliette

The Met announced the 2017-2018 season today. There will be 220 performances of 26 works, including five new productions. The Met premieres include Thomas Adès' The Exterminating Angel and Massenet's Cendrillon.

Online 2017-2018 Brochure | Official Site


Opera San José's Silent Night

Silent-night-2017* Notes *
The Pulitzer Prize winning Silent Night by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell is a fine choice for Opera San José, which gave the West Coast premiere last night. It was a worthy challenge for the company, which has a many youthful repertory members, all of whom seemed to rise to the occasion.

Campbell's libretto is based on the screenplay for the 2005 film Joyeux Noël, which in turn is based on a World War I Christmas truce of December 1914 between Scottish, German, and French soldiers. It's a good story, the horrors of war is a serious topic, but has some great humor as well.

The tender portrayals of the various characters, and there are a lot, no less than 14 principals, were convincing. I could hardly even recognize some of the resident company members, even from the fourth row, so much did the singers embody their roles.

The quality of the singing was certainly up there. Soprano Julie Adams played opera singer Anna Sørensen to a tee, her Act II Scene 2 aria was beautiful. Likewise tenor Kirk Dougherty seemed natural in the role of opera singer/German soldier Nikolaus Sprink.

Puts' music sounds very cinematic and sweeping, it definitely is not challenging or dissonant, aside from perhaps the bagpipe featured in Act I Scene 5. Ricardo Rivera (Lt. Audebert) and Brian James Myer (Ponchel) had some of the most lovely music in the middle of Act I. It was not clear to me how well the orchestra played under Maestro Joseph Marcheso, sometimes it sounded a bit off-kilter, the strings sounded out of tune in Act I Scene 4, but this could have been written this way. The brass wasn't always perfectly clean. The woodwinds did have some gorgeous exposed moments.

The production, directed by Michael Shell and designed by Steven Kemp makes excellent use of the space. There are ten scenes and Kemp employs three moveable rectangular wooden frames as each of the camps to keep the action going and this is very effective.

* Tattling * 
The audience absolutely loved this opera. There was hardly a seat open in the whole orchestra section, and the whole run is close to being completely full. Given that Minnesota Opera sold-out the world premiere in 2012, Opera San José looks to do just as well.


Opera Parallèle's Flight

Flight2616_captioned* Notes *
Opera Parallèle has opened another near impeccable production with Jonathan Dove's Flight, which has a three performance run this weekend at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Featuring an ensemble of 10 vocalists, the cast, mostly alumni of the Merola Opera Program, is incredibly strong. The small orchestra of 29 musicians also played with precision and verve.

The piece, though based on the true story of Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri and his extended stay in the Charles de Gaulle airport, is both comedic and tragic. British playwright April de Angelis' narrative is taut and the most of characters are compellingly human, having very understandable emotions that come through the music. The Older Woman, played by San Francisco Conservatory of Music faculty member and mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook, is both very funny as she recounts her romance with a young man, yet beautifully vulnerable. As the heavily pregnant Minskwoman who refuses to board her airplane, mezzo Renée Rapier sings a gorgeous confessional aria about how much has changed and how she would like to be free again.

Dove's vocal writing is lyric and he deftly handles the ensembles, the overlapping conversations seem natural and flow together nicely. Duets between the bickering couple of Bill and Tina were especially great, as were the contrasting passionate Steward and Stewardess. Tenor Chaz'men Williams-Ali (Bill) had a wonderful warmth and soprano Amina Edris (Tina) got to show off some fiery and hilarious coloratura when she became angry with him.

More otherworldly are the top billed characters of the Controller, sung here by soprano Nikki Einfeld, and the Refugee, countertenor Tai Oney. Einfeld spends most of her time up in a room by herself observing and commenting on the action from above. Her voice is clear and biting. Oney's vocal type lends itself to a certain mysticism, as the most defenseless person of the opera, he tries to charm others into helping him, telling them what they want to hear. Oney had a few hooty notes at the beginning, but really sounded lovely for the rest of the evening.

Maestra Nicole Paiement is nothing if not consistent, and again proved herself to be truly one of the best opera conductors in the Bay Area. The orchestra played Dove's music, which is clearly influenced by minimalism, with ease. The orchestra never seemed head of the singers, but also never sounded slack.

Director Brian Staufenbiel employs a wall of 15 square screens at the back of what looks like a typical airport lounge. The video projections develop the story in a literal way by showing airplanes or rain and also try to heighten certain more mysterious passages with abstraction, such as swirling purple smoke. There is much movement both with those on stage and in the projections, driving in the fact that we are in a space for transit, except for the hapless Refugee.

* Tattling * 
The announcement to turn off cellular telephones and locate emergency exits before the performance sounded like something out of one would hear at an airport.


Merola's 2017 Season

2016GalaJune 11 2017: Merola Opera Program 60th Anniversary Gala & Concert
July 6-9 2017: Schwabacher Summer Concert
July 20-22 2017: La Serva Padrona/ Savitri/ The Bear
August 3-5 2017: La Cenerentola
August 19 2017: Merola Grand Finale

The Merola Opera Opera program announced its 60th anniversary season this afternoon at the John M. Bryan Education Studio in San Francisco.

Merola is commissioning its first work, If I Were You, by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer. The opera, based on the novel by Julien Green, is slated for the 2019 season.

Official Site


Lyric Opera Chicago's 2017-18 Season

Civicheader-lyricSeptember 23- October 15 2017: Orphee et Eurydice
October 7- November 3 2017: Rigoletto
November 1-30 2017: Die Walküre
November 19- December 10 2017: The Pearl Fishers
December 5 2017- January 27 2018: Turandot
February 4-28 2018: I Puritani
February 17- March 16 2018: Così fan tutte
March 3-21 2018: Faust
April 27- May 20 2018Jesus Christ Superstar

Nov. 1-30

The 2017-2018 season at Lyric Opera of Chicago today. Highlights include Orphee et Eurydice with the Joffrey Ballet, which goes to Los Angeles Opera next year and the continuation of the latest Ring with Die Walküre.

The other new productions are Faust and Jesus Christ Superstar.

2017-2018 Season | Official Site