Closing of La Rondine
Opening of Madama Butterfly

Penultimate Performance of Macbeth

Act IV, Photo by Terrence McCarthy* Notes *
I wasn't going to bore you with yet another review of Macbeth, but I had some thoughts about OperaVision and also wanted to pose a question. Thank goodness for OperaVision, or else one would never be able to see the large hole in the ceiling! Generally, I did not look at the screens too much, and they were only distracting during Lady Macbeth's Act IV mad scene, as the stage is dark except for the box. For certain parts of that scene, the cameras were focused on the bright white of the box, so it was slightly blinding and difficult to avoid. I noticed that the close-ups brought to light certain stage mishaps that would ordinarily only be seen by a fraction of the audience. For example, Duncan's crown fell off at the end of Act I, when he was being passed around by Banquo, Malcolm, and Macbeth. Elza van den Heever discreetly put it back on his head, and it was not really a problem. More absurdly, during Lady Macbeth's mad scene, Georgina Lukács did not manage to extinguish the candle precisely when the lights in the box went out.

In the last season, I have been hearing a lot of high-pitched squeaks. These noises are not the doors, which also squeak, at least in the back of the balcony, for I am able to localize exactly where the door squeaks are coming from. I am pretty sure they are not hearing aids, because the squeals seem too loud for that. I have heard squeaking in every performance I have been to at SF Opera in the last week, except for The Rake's Progress on Wednesday. I know I'm not entirely alone, for my friend noticed squeals during Tannhäuser. I appeal to you, gentle reader, have you noticed these high-pitched sounds? I've been trying my best not to notice them, but it is quite an exercise.

* Tattling *
The house was not totally full, anyone in standing room who wanted to sit could have. I had the misfortune of being behind a pair of women who moved into the center at the last moment, almost directly in front of me but not quite. They wanted to sit behind some empty chairs, which makes perfect sense given that in balcony rear, if the person in front of you leans forward, it blocks your view. Too bad these women were somewhat noisy, they whispered when there was no singing, so during the overture and such. I first sighed, then coughed, and then I hushed them and they were quiet for most of the first half.

I considered moving for the second half, but since they were silenced, I figured they would be quiet for the second half, especially as it has proved most soporific, despite its great beauty. In fact, one of the women was asleep for most of the last two acts. She only woke up during the applause, when she would make demands of her companion, as she was rather cold. She spoke during Macduff's aria, a shame considering that Alfredo Portilla was sounding the best he has.

By the end of the opera I was sniffling a great deal, and it occurred to me that I was allergic to the vast quantities of perfume the two women were wearing. At least I didn't have a coughing fit. I am happy to report that the sleeping woman clapped excessively, and screamed at the top of her lungs. Interestingly, after hearing others bravo, she switched to that instead.

Actually, it was not as bad as I've made it out to be, they were quiet for Thomas Hampson, so I shouldn't complain. The most amusing thing was they were both quite cold, kept putting on layers and layers of clothing during the performance, and had to snuggle up to one another. On the other hand, I was overheated, and had to bundle up my hair and roll up the sleeves of my fake Bavarian outfit:

Opera Tattler Fake Bavarian