The incoming 2015 Adler Fellows are mezzo-soprano Nian Wang, tenor Chong Wang, baritone Edward Nelson, bass-baritone Matthew Stump, bass Anthony Reed, and coach and accompanist Ronny Michael Greenberg. They join current Adlers Julie Adams, Maria Valdes, Zanda Švēde, Efraín Solís, and Noah Lindquist. Soprano Julie Adams joined the 2014 class of Adler Fellows in Fall 2014 and will continue as a first-year Adler Fellow in 2015. The outgoing 2014 Adler Fellows are Erin Johnson, Jacqueline Piccolino, A.J. Glueckert, Chuanyue Wang, Hadleigh Adams, and Philippe Sly.
* Notes *
The fifth performance of San Francisco Opera's new production of Norma was held yesterday. This was the third go with tenor Russell Thomas replacing Marco Berti. I also heard that as of the Friday, September 19th performance, Sondra Radvanovsky (pictured as Norma with the chorus in Act I, photograph by Cory Weaver) and Jamie Barton (Adalgisa) were singing in the original, higher key. Again, the orchestra sounded wonderful under the direction of Maestro Nicola Luisotti. The woodwinds played well, and the horns were particularly good at the end of Act II, Scene 9. The chorus also was lovely and sounded unified.
As Pollione, Russell Thomas has a bright, pretty sound. He certainly is a better vocal match for the talented female leads and sings with much more ease than his predecessor. His voice contrasts well with tenor A.J. Glueckert's brassy Flavio. Thomas sounds more reed-like, Glueckert more metallic.
Jamie Barton sang a potent Adalgisa, the higher notes did not seem to be an issue for her at all. Sondra Radvanovsky sounded brilliant in the title role, her approach is nuanced and simply gorgeous. Her "Casta Diva" was lustrous and the Act I finale was sublime.
* Tattling *
The railings in standing room on the balcony level were all taken. A family of four was late, and one of the daughters spoke at full-volume, garnishing her a hushing from a standee.
Note that I was reading the score for this performance, so only heard the music. Looking forward to seeing it again, as there are two more shows.
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 Thomas replaces Italian tenor Marco Berti, who has withdrawn from the production for personal reasons.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.
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.
Soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, who was scheduled to appear at San Francisco Opera as Amelia in six performances of Un Ballo in Maschera this fall, has withdrawn from the production because of health reasons. She is to be replaced by Julianna Di Giacomo (pictured left), who was to sing Amelia on October 22.