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SF Opera 2008-2009 Preview

Sfopera-diana-camera-ctiee1 San Francisco Opera's 2008-09 Season Preview CD set came in the mail recently, and today I noticed that their podcast has also been updated. This the third season of David Gockley's tenure, and likewise the third time San Francisco Opera has sent out such CDs, in lieu of the yearbook of previous years. The cover of the CD set features Angela Gheorghiu as Mimi in the latest Met production of Bohème, instead of the Anna Netrebko photo used on the season brochure. Incidently, the Netrebko picture is also from the Met, the Romeo et Juliette that opened last year's simulcasts.

In his typically chatty fashion, Gockley introduces the season, discusses who will be performing, and gives the basic plot of each opera. He makes the claim that there are no Eurotrash productions this season, which is really no fun at all. How else will I be able to laugh whilst the SF audience boos?

The most attention is given to the world premiere, Stewart Wallace's The Bonesetter's Daughter, and notably the section on this opera is nearly 19 minutes long compared to the 10 or so minutes given to most of the others. Amy Tan speaks about writing the libretto, and the prologue of the opera is played, albeit with a synthesized orchestra. The most distinctive feature of the music is the use of the suona, which is a rather loud and almost annoying double reed instrument, not unlike the Middle Eastern/Central Asian sorna or zurna.

The introductions are useful, especially for the newer operas, as the aforementioned work from Wallace, Die Tote Stadt, Three Decembers, and Porgy and Bess. I was taken aback when Gockley mentioned the "Mongolian eyes and complexion" of Russian bass Vladimir Matorin, who was flown in to replace Samuel Ramey in Grand-Théâtre de Genève's Boris Godunov. This detail seemed irrelevant, not to mention odd.

In any case, I feel prepared for the season opener, Simon Boccanegra, which will be performed next week. After waffling for weeks about attending the BRAVO! CLUB Opening Night Gala, I've decided that this organization makes me feel uncomfortable at best and I do not have the necessary fortitude. Instead I will be in my beloved standing room, furiously scribbling notes, as usual.

Podcast | Official Site