Giulio Cesare
Da tempeste il legno infranto (Act III, Scene 7)


Last night I attended San Francisco Opera's production of Bizet's Carmen with a certain friend. We agreed that the program's cover, which has been used on every program all season, is hideous. The work featured is Diebenkorn's Blue Surround (1982), that involves color aquatint, spit bite aquatint, etching offset, and drypoint with scraping. The dimensions are 55.8 x 48.2 cm for the image itself. Since we are philistines, we do not enjoy such works, and this was discussed even before we got to the opera because on our way we saw an advertisement for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, whose tagline was something like "come be moved."

The opera itself was nice enough. The singing was fine, the music, of course, very familiar. The soprano Maria Bayo (Micaëla) has an exceptionally pretty and strong voice. Tenor Richard Berkeley-Steele did well in his role of Don José, his voice was not disappointing. Bass Denis Sedov was better in his role of Escamillo than as Achilla in Giulio Cesare. His voice was still a little thin.

Carmen herself, the mezzo-soprano Marina Domashenko, was appropriate to the role. Her voice was a bit throaty and lacked a certain prettiness, which is just as well.

The choreography was pretty good in this production, people seemed more committed to their movements than in Giulio Cesare. At times I did wish that Domashenko would stand up straighter, sometimes she was simply all shoulders, with her arms akimbo.

They did well with the sets and costumes, everything was pretty and there were no disasters. I must say it was more pleasant to see Carmen at the opera house than at the Civic Center Auditorium, where I last saw this production during the 1996-97 season.