* Notes *
Der Ring des Nibelungen at San Francisco Opera came to a spectacular conclusion with Götterdämmerung (Prologue pictured left, photo by Cory Weaver) today. The orchestra played beautifully for Maestro Donald Runnicles. There were only two or three sour moments, and even these were fleeting and did not detract from the overall brilliance of the performance. The horn and harp were striking. The music of Siegfried's funeral march was incredibly moving, as was the very end of the opera. The chorus sounded strong and the greeting of Gunther and Brünnhilde was gorgeous.
The principal singers gave performances consistent with their previous ones, only with greater focus and intensity. Stacey Tappan, Lauren McNeese, and Renée Tatum may have looked like they had seen better days as the Rhinemaidens, but they sounded great. They held it together for the wild part of the music that starts with "So weise und stark verwähnt sich der Held." Ronnita Miller, Daveda Karanas, and Heidi Melton were memorable as the Norns, each voice distinctive, but singing together. Daveda Karanas also made the Waltraute/Brünnhilde scene in Act I very human and believable. Andrea Silvestrelli was menancing as Hagen, singing with force and richness. Ian Storey was only overwhelmed a few times as Siegfried, his voice has warmth and was particularly effective in Act III. Nina Stemme was truly a wonder as Brünnhilde, going from strength to strength.
* Tattling *
Every seat was sold, and even standing room was at capacity. I heard there were altercations in the balcony over places at the rail. It was noted that the person seated in the balcony with the service dog was late today, and her dog was allowed to roam freely around the standing area.
As for the orchestra level, there was the usual talking, laughing, clapping, and electronic noise. People were all too amused by the remote control used in the first scene of Act II.