American tenor Russell Thomas (pictured left, photograph by Dario Acosta) will sing the role of Pollione for the remaining five performances of San Francisco Opera's Norma on September 14, 19, 23, 27 and 30, 2014. Thomas replaces Italian tenor Marco Berti, who has withdrawn from the production for personal reasons. Additionally, Jamie Barton will sing the role of Adalgisa on September 19 and 23. She was previously scheduled to sing five of the seven performances.
Yesterday the San Francisco Opera Association and members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 6 announced they have negotiated a new four-year agreement for the San Francisco Opera Orchestra effective August 1, 2014. Following almost four months of bargaining, the new agreement creates a stable working framework now through July 31, 2018.
Opera Parallèle presents Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts from February 20 to 22, 2015. The cast features Jennifer Rivera (Sister Helen Prejean), Michael Mayes (Joe DeRocher), Catherine Cook (Mrs. DeRocher), Talise Trevigne (Sister Rose), and Robert Orth (Owen Hart). Other singers in the production include Kristin Clayton, Michelle Rice, Joseph Mayers, Mark Hernandez, Jonathan Smucker, and members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus.
Additionally, Tarik O'Regan's Heart of Darkness has a U.S. premiere at Z Space in San Francisco from May 1 to 3, 2015. The cast will include Isaiah Bell (Marlow), Matthew Stump (Kurtz), Jonathan Blalock (Manager/Secretary), Thomas Glenn (Accountant/Helmsman), Daniel Cilli (Thames Captain), Crystal Kim (Fiancée), Shawnette Sulker (River Woman), Jonathan Boyd (Harlequin) and John Bischoff (Doctor/Bowlermaker).
Music critics loved Patricia Racette in the title role of San Francisco Opera's Susannah (Act I pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver).
Reviewers are impressed by Sondra Radvanovsky (pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) in the title role of San Francisco Opera's Norma.
* Notes *
Carlisle Floyd's Susannah (Patricia Racette as Susannah Polk and Brandon Jovanovich as Sam Polk in Act II pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) had a San Francisco Opera debut yesterday evening. The score is sweepingly lyrical, and Maestra Karen Kamenseki conducted a powerful orchestra. The chorus sounded quite fine.
Much of the singing was beautiful. A.J. Glueckert was easy to pick out as Elder Gleaton, as was Suzanne Hendrix as Mrs. Ott. James Kryshak did well as Little Bat McLean and Catherine Cook was sang Mrs. McLean with the suitable vileness.
Raymond Aceto gave a committed performance as the flawed Rev. Olin Blitch. Aceto's voice did have a tendency to blend in with the orchestra. Brandon Jovanovich sang Sam Polk with verve. His voice is lovely. Patricia Racette is an engaging Susannah. Her voice sounded frayed at the top, her loudest high notes have a wide vibrato. Her "Ain't it a pretty night?" was haunting, however.
The production, directed by Michael Cavanagh, is straightforward. Erhard Rom's set design is clean, the scene changes are simple and elegant. The lighting, from Gary Marder, is likewise. The use of projections on a scrim facilitated the proceedings without being overwhelming or cliched.
* Tattling *
The audience in the balcony was sparse. Even so, there was chatter and cellular phone noise, despite the short run time of this opera.
* Notes *
The 92nd season of San Francisco Opera opened last night with a musically luminous Norma. Maestro Nicola Luisotti conducted with vigor, and the orchestra never overwhelmed the singers, only briefly getting ahead of them once or twice. The woodwinds were particularly beautiful. The chorus sang well, the chorus members sounded unified and together.
Jacqueline Piccolino was a fine Clotilda and Christian Van Horn sang Oroveso with power. Though lacking perfect control, Marco Berti was always audible and made for a respectable Pollione.
Jamie Barton's debut at San Francisco Opera was nothing less than impressive. Her voice simply glows. Her performance as Adalgisa was radiant, and she seemed at ease vocally. Sondra Radvanovsky did an admirable job with the difficult title role and was dramatically convincing. She had some harsh notes but sparkled as Norma nonetheless.
The co-production with Canadian Opera Company, Gran Teatre del Liceu and Lyric Opera of Chicago is inert and bloodless, despite being attractive enough. The set (pictured as a model above) is not dynamic but in the end it does feature real fire.
* Tattling *
The audience was rather tame. There was only a little bit of noise from a latecomer who wanted to sit in ZZ 1 of the orchestra level.
Mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas, who was scheduled to appear at San Francisco Opera as Adalgisa in Norma this fall, has withdrawn from the production for personal reasons. She is to be replaced by Jamie Barton (pictured left) for five of the opera's seven performances. A casting update for the September 19 and 23 performances will be announced at a later date.
The Met has secured a new labor agreement with IATSE Local One, the union representing the company's stagehands. Final negotiations are to take place with eight smaller unions representing behind-the-scenes Met personnel. All are expected to reach agreements, preventing a potential labor crisis at the nation's largest performing arts organization.
According to a press release from this morning, the Met has reached agreements with two of its largest unions, AGMA and Local 802. The contract deadline has been extended through midnight on Tuesday, August 19 to allow Local One and the other remaining unions with unsettled contracts more time to secure new deals with the institution.
* Notes *
The Merola Opera Program concluded 2014 with the Merola Grand Finale last night. The standouts were certainly sopranos. Amanda Woodbury's Ophélie was translucent in "Hélas! votre âme" and her duet ("Doute de la lumière") with Edward Nelson as Hamlet. Karen Chia-Ling Ho made for an impressively deranged Margherita in "L'altra notte in fondo al mare" from Boito's Mefistofele. Adelaide Boedecker was a sweet Gilda in "Ah padre mio!" Julie Adams sounded resonant in "Suzel, buon di...Tutto tace" from L'amico Fritz. This duet with Casey Candebat was quite lovely. Candabat sounded clear and warm.
Mezzo-sopranos Shirin Eskandani and Eliza Bonet also gave memorable performances. Eskandani sang "Sie Hält Ihn für den Todesgott...Ein Augenblick Ist Wenig" with Talya Lieberman as Zerbinetta. Bonet has a lot of personality and was hilarious as the Duchesse in "Vous aimez le danger...Ah! que j'aime les militaires!"
Bass-baritone Matthew Stump showed much charm as Nick Shadow in "Come master" from The Rake's Progress and as Falstaff in "Un coro e terminiam la scena....Tutto nel mondo è burla" (pictured above, photograph by Kristen Loken).
Stage director Omer Ben Seadia used the set for Susannah and seemed to favor the use of many props.
* Tattling *
There was some talking from an aggressive couple next to me in Row F Seats 6 and 8. They did not have tickets for these seats, but managed to find even nicer ones on the center aisle after intermission. They were rather concerned about the brass being out of tune and the unexplained omission of "Nel veneto corteggio lo ravvisasti?...Vieni la mia vendetta" in the first half of the program.