Simon Boccanegra Opening at San Francisco Opera
Opera in the Park 2008

Gheorghiu Recital at Zellerbach

Gheorghiu * Notes *
Soprano Angela Gheorghiu gave a recital yesterday evening with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Marco Armiliato. The orchestra sounded fine, the overture to Le Nozze was spirited, and the overture to Cenerentola was absolutely adorable. However, Gheorghiu was overwhelmed by the orchestra, especially near the end. Though one could always hear her voice, the words were simply lost.

Unsurprisingly, the recital was not unlike the one at Los Angeles Opera from last year. Many of the pieces were exactly the same, and Gheorghiu is very consistent, if nothing else. She has the most perfect restraint, a beautiful control of her voice, and it is too bad she is not singing Amelia in the current production of Simon Boccanegra at San Francisco Opera. She started the concert with Giordani's Caro mio ben, which she sang with ease and delicacy. Next came two big Puccini arias, the one from Rondine that we all heard from her last season and "Un bel di." The former she sang in pretty much exactly the same way as she did on stage last year, evidently one of her trademark gestures is to extend an arm above her head at the end of a piece. The Butterfly aria was less convincing, Gheorghiu sang it cleanly and well, but without passion. The first half ended, however, on a high note, with a piercing rendition of "Pace, pace, mio Dio" from La Forza.

The second half consisted of songs rather than arias, some of these were sung nicely, and others were simply not appropriate for Gheorghiu's voice. For example, she sang Les Filles de Cadiz well, but sounded foolish singing "I Could Have Danced All Night." Gheorghiu must really like the latter piece, for she attempted it in Los Angeles as well. Unfortunately, it does not show off her talents and one could not make out the lyrics over the orchestra. Despite this, the audience clapped enthusiastically, and Gheorghiu gave three encores. She sang "O mio babbino caro" and two art songs (as far as style, one sounded Cuban, the other Spanish).

* Tattling * 
The audience loved Gheorghiu, and was much more excited than the opening night crowd at the opera. There was whispering and at least three watch alarms, but no cellular phones rang. Gheorghiu had three costume changes, and she certainly is easy on the eyes. Her first dress, a white sleeveless flowing number with silver sequins at the top, would have looked better if it had been fitted at the waist. The second dress was either black or navy and had a fishtail skirt, an open back, and cap sleeves. The red satin gown at the end was most flattering, though the transparent back with silver sequined details probably should not have been hidden under Gheorghiu's loose hair. One was a bit concerned that Ms. Gheorghiu did not have enough support in any of these gowns.