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October 2008
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December 2008

Post L'elisir Talk (4/5)

David Gockley confirmed that Peter Grimes, which was to be part of the 2009-2010 season at San Francisco Opera, is likely to be one of the casualties of the economic downturn, just as La Cieca reported yesterday. Gockley also promised to add "no sniffling" to the list of admonitions printed in the program.

In related news, the cast for this season's Porgy and Bess has been finally announced, at least, officially. The cast includes Eric Owens (Porgy), Laquita Mitchell (Bess), Gregg Baker (Crown), Karen Slack (Serena), Chauncey Parker (Sportin' Life), Angel Blue (Clara), Eric Greene (Jake), and Alteouise deVaughn (Maria).

Final Dress Rehearsal of La Bohème

  * Notes *
The latest revival of La Bohème at San Francisco Opera may be very good indeed, if the final dress rehearsal was any indication. Though I am not crazy about La Gheorghiu, all the signs are good, she may well look and sound completely convincing as Mimi by the opening on Sunday. The rest of the cast is strong, so I actually do look forward to the upcoming performances.

* Tattling * 
The audience in the Grand Tier was quite enthused. I especially enjoyed overhearing that Gheorghiu is "like a cross between one of the muppets and Judy Garland."

Nicola Luisotti had a white sweater draped dashingly over a navy blue shirt that he removed each time he was to actually conduct. It was difficult not to giggle at this.

Blog Meme

The rules:
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog. I was tagged by Extatic of Pêcheurs de perles.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
5. If you don't have 7 blog friends, or if someone else already took dibs, then tag some unsuspecting strangers.

The 7 facts:
1. I have not yet attended an opera performance in France or Italy, though I've been to ones in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Russia, Switzerland, and the UK.
2. My first opera experience was because of figure skating. In 1988 there was the "Battle of the Carmens," and as a result my father took me to see a film version of Bizet's Carmen at a cinema in Pasadena.
3. I played the viola in my high school's orchestra and quartet. I've never played an opera but have played for a school production of Into the Woods.
4. I am trained in both Graham technique and belly dance.
5. I suspect something is weird about my head, because it has been mistaken for everything from Peruvian to Tibetan, and pretty much everything in-between.
6. My fastest mile time is 5 minutes and 50 seconds, though these days I'm lucky if I can pull off a mile in under 7 minutes.
7. I have a giddy fondness for fake meat, but am not a vegetarian.

I tag:
1. Operatic Vengeance - Astrafiammante is the first opera blogger I've met in real life, her reviews always make me laugh.
2. The Standing Room - M. C— is probably the reason any of you are reading my blog in the first place.
3. Not For Fun Only - Axel Feldheim is a both unassuming and insightful.
4. The Reverberate Hills - I often read Patrick Vaz's reviews and wish I had written them.
5. Civic Center - sfmike takes splendid photographs and often has the backstage view of what's going on at SF Opera.
6. Iron Tongue of Midnight - Lisa Hirsch is much smarter than I am. She's also much better prepared. 
7. Opéra Chanteuse - JRD has impeccable fashion sense and fine taste in literature.

Doctor Atomic Live in HD Met Simulcast

DoctorAtomic * Notes * 
Penny Woolcock's new production of Doctor Atomic was shown as a simulcast over the weekend. The set design, by Julian Crouch, was somewhat busy, and involved a wall of cubbyholes meant to be offices. Andrew Dawson's choreography was likewise overwrought at times, as when dancers held contortions within the small office spaces. Video was used as well, and as is the pitfall with such things, it was somewhat distracting from the music at times. Catherine Zuber's costumes were pretty, one especially appreciated how she put the red-haired Sasha Cooke (Kitty Oppenheimer) in pinks and fuchsias.

Alan Gilbert conducted energetically, and the cast was uniformly strong. Sasha Cooke was a bit harsh at times, but she had lovely moments as well. Cooke is also quite beautiful, even glamorously so. Meredith Arwady was wonderful as Pasqualita, as she was in Chicago. Thomas Glenn (Robert Wilson) Eric Owens (General Leslie Groves), Richard Paul Fink (Edward Teller) all gave performances consistent with their work in San Francisco and Chicago. Gerald Finley was especially good as J. Robert Oppenheimer, his aria in the finale of Act I was absolutely gorgeous. It was also unhampered by strange, mime-like choreography.

* Tattling * 
The sound and picture stopped for a few seconds during the Bhagavad Gita chorus. The audience was mostly well-behaved, though there was some talking. My companion fell asleep and snored at least on one occasion. Also, someone tripped over her feet at one point. Worst of all though was someone's watch or cellular phone alarm. It rang about 80 times during the beginning of the second act. The alarm sounded about 10 times at a time every few minutes.

Post L'elisir Talk (3/5)

David Gockley started off his talk by highlighting the various opera news stories of the week. Baltimore Opera and New York City Opera both have lost their heads, Opera Pacific has closed, and Washington National Opera is postponing their Ring. This last item is of especial importance to San Francisco Opera, as it is a co-production between the two companies. If the National Opera cancels their cycle, then San Francisco Opera would have to pay for all of Götterdämmerung. Cost cutting is happening at SF Opera as well, and it is possible the cinemacasts will not continue.

More amusingly, Gockley apparently thinks Jonas Kaufmann is the bee's knees and mentioned that he is much more handsome than Domingo was at a similar stage of his career. Hopefully Kaufmann will be wooed here soon. We also learnt that next season's opener will be a Verdi opera conducted by Luisotti, and not My Fair Lady. Two other operas were confirmed for next season, but we were made to promise not to tell anyone else what they are. The new operas in upcoming years include ones from Mark Adamo, Christopher Theofanidis, and a female composer whose name escaped being mentioned.

Post L'elisir Talk (2/5)

Before the talk began there was chatter about how a falling football damaged the principal bassoonist's bassoon during the evening's performance. Again, the economy was spoken of, and ticket sales have gone down starting with Idomeneo, though La Bohème is doing well, naturally. Nicola Luisotti is taking the helm as music director soon, and the plan is that he will conduct four operas each season, three of these will be Italian, with the remaining one being something to expand his repertoire. Gounod's Faust is to be performed next year. Nixon in China is also on the schedule, though exactly when was not made clear. Gockley denied having anything to do with Boosey & Hawkes' withdrawal of permission for the Nixon in China production that was to be at Trinity Lyric Opera this year.

Post L'elisir Talk (1/5)

Much was said about the faltering economy. Porgy and Bess has been cast, though not all the contracts have been signed. Eric Owens will be Porgy and Laquita Mitchell sings Bess. The cinemacasts continue next Spring, with The Magic Flute, Lucia, Elixir, and La Bohème. As for next season, there will be a Richard Strauss opera conducted by Luisotti, but it is not Die Schweigsame Frau or Capriccio. (Gockley declined to name which opera it was but we've heard Salomé mentioned several times on different occasions.) The next world premiere is planned for 2011-2012.