* Notes *
The season opener, Simon Boccanegra, closed at San Francisco Opera last night. The first half still remained somewhat unfocused, but the second half did come together nicely. The chorus and the orchestra were synchronized. Vitalij Kowaljow (Jacopo Fiesco) and Patrick Carfizzi (Paolo Albiani) were consistently strong. Marcus Haddock was less stiff as Gabriele, and he sang "Sento avvampar nell'anima" beautifully. Barbara Frittoli did better with "Come in quest'ora bruna" but her wide vibrato compromised her pitch a few times. Her voice is quite pretty and in the end I preferred her to Ana María Martínez. Dmitri Hvorostovsky's breaths were not as noisy this time around, I only really noticed his loud breathing during "Plebe! Patrizi! Popolo!"
The staging seemed gutted to me, perhaps just knowing that there had been elements that were taken out and not replaced was a factor in this. However, much of the movement on stage was not well motivated, some of the entrances and exits simply seemed random. I was particularly bothered by near end of the prologue, some supers walk across the stage perfectly with the music but for no real dramatic effect. Fiesco also leaves the scene at one point for no particular reason.
* Tattling *
Often I forget we live in such permissive and self-indulgent times, my friends! I really need to remember not to go to the closing performances, although more than 99% of the audience is able to behave properly, there is that pesky less than 1% that can ruin an evening. I was very happy to not be in the boxes, as a middle-aged woman in Box B kept standing up right in the middle of the box. One of the problems with a box is if one is not in the first row, it can be difficult to see the whole stage. If one were to stand in one's box, perhaps it would be more socially acceptable to stand at the back of the box. Maybe it would be nice if one were to remain standing the entire time, rather than getting up and down again and again. I would imagine it would be distracting to have someone hovering over you, but the person in question seemed to have no qualms about this.
Despite my love of tattling, there are times that even I become exhausted enforcing other people's behavior. There was much whispering during the opera, and the Italian couple next to me in standing room were even talking during much of the singing. I did not hush them, though I should have, and simply tried to ignore their speech. Finally during Act II I turned to the man who was speaking and merely raised my left eyebrow at him. The pair were silent for the rest of the performance.