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September 2004
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November 2004

La Traviata

The alternate cast for San Francisco Opera's La Traviata was stunningly good. The perennial favorite, soprano Ruth Ann Swenson, was replaced by Mary Dunleavy in the last two performances. Swenson is very precise, her tone is extremely sweet and bell-like. Dunleavy is perhaps more vital, her voice is very strong. Baritone Željko Lučić sang beautifully as Germont, his aria in Act II, "Di Provenza il mar," was excellent.

Otherwise, tenor Rolando Villazón was impressive as Alfredo, his voice is also quite sweet and rich. The flamenco dancers in Act III were disappointing, those ballet dancers have nothing like duende. John Conklin's set and David Walker's costumes were just as one would expect, Verdi would not be surprised, at any rate.


Oakland Opera Theater is just finishing a run of performances of Philip Glass' Akhnaten at the Oakland Metro. This was the West Coast premiere of this work which dates from 1984. Director Ellen Sebastian Chang did not have much to work with, yet she was able to pull it off somehow, setting the opera both in the contemporary and ancient. The singing was pretty good overall, but the music itself sounded like something fit for a movie score.

Akhnaten - Paul Flight, countertenor
Nefertiti - Katherine Growdon, mezzo-soprano
Queen Tye - Angela Dean-Baham, soprano
Horemhab - Martin Bell, baritone
Aye - John Minagro, bass
Amon - Alan Cochran, tenor
Amenhotep - Michael Mohammed, baritone