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June 2009

Runnicles conducts Verdi's Requiem

SFORunniclesRequiem_KLokenAnstey * Notes * 
Last night Donald Runnicles conducted a performance of Verdi's Requiem at San Francisco Opera. Both the orchestra and the chorus were in fine form. The woodwinds sounded particularly lovely, and the brass was quite clear. There were only a few poor moments in the "Agnes Dei" and the "Libera me."

The soloists all had a lot of power. Andrea Silverstrelli's voice seemed bottomless, perfectly beautiful and even throughout his range. Stefano Secco was slightly constrained at the top of his voice, but never got lost, despite the immenseness of the voices around him. Stephanie Blythe had an auspicious debut at San Francisco Opera, she did begin with a lot of vibrato, but has a gorgeous, rich voice. Heidi Melton was an excellent substitution for the indisposed Patricia Racette.

* Tattling * 
The audience was respectful and was, for the most part, entirely silent. There were at least 5 children in the boxes, and none of them made any fuss at all. A young couple in Box S whispered just a tiny bit whilst the orchestra was playing, at some point in the middle of the performance.

Maestro Runnicles was presented with the San Francisco Opera Medal after David Gockley, George H. Hume, and John A. Gunn all spoke. Gunn had a bit of trouble finding the medal, but managed after fumbling through his pockets. Maestro also spoke, mentioning the adventuresomeness of the San Francisco Opera audience.

Michelle DeYoung and MTT at SFS

Michelle-DeYoung_Christian-Steiner * Notes *
San Francisco Symphony's Schubert/Berg Festival, entitled Dawn to Twilight, began yesterday evening with a performance of the Schubert's Rosamunde Overture. The playing was sloppy, and the entrance of the winds was rather poor. The brass sounded brash, as usual. Things picked up with Berg's Sieben frühe Lieder, as the soloist, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, has a gorgeous voice. Her silvery, smooth sound has a good heft and is not overly ethereal. She also displayed fine control of her upper range and clear German enunciation.

The second Schubert piece, Symphony in B minor, D. 759, Unvollendete, was somewhat rough but at least more engaging. The winds sounded much better, the oboe and clarinet were particularly good. The horns and trombones lacked clarity. Michael Tilson Thomas gave an extensive explanation of Drei Orchesterstücke from Berg before these were played. He spoke about the "profound belief in notes" both Schubert and Berg had. The pieces seemed a bit disheveled, though they certainly got the demented clownish music of the "Reigen" down well. The "Marsch" made my insides hurt acutely.

* Tattling * 
Attendence was a bit sparse, and thus one was not particularly bothered by other audience members. There were at least 5 watch alarms that sounded 8pm during the first movement in Unfinished. Someone in Row Z of the orchestra level had a glowing ball, which he waved around during the last ovation.

La Scala's 2009-2010 Season

December 7-23 2009: Carmen
January 15- February 5 2010: Rigoletto
January 30- February 14 2010: Don Giovanni
February 28- March 16 2010: From the House of the Dead
March 17- April 2 2010: Tannhäuser
April 6-30 2010: Lulu
April 16- May 7 2010: Simon Boccanegra
May 13-29 2010: Das Rheingold
June 18- July 5 2010: Faust
July 9-24 2010: Il barbiere di Siviglia
September 18- October 7 2010: L'occasione fa il ladro
October 2-27 2010: L'elisir d'amore
October 29- November 18 2010: Carmen

Barenboim and Dudamel conduct Carmen, the former also conducts Simon Boccanegra and Das Rheingold. James Conlon conducts Rigoletto, Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts From the House of the Dead.

Official Site | 2009-2010 Season

MTT Withdraws from Iolanthe

Michael Tilson Thomas is no longer conducting SF Symphony's performances of Iolanthe. George Manahan shall conduct instead, with Joyce Castle replacing Felicity Palmer as Queen of the Fairies. Sasha Cooke sings the title role, former Merolina Joélle Harvey sings Leila, and former Adler Fellow Lucas Meachem sings Strephon.

Event Details | Press Release [PDF]

Unter den Linden's 2009-2010 Season

August 29 2009- April 5 2010: Tristan und Isolde
September 6- October 10 2009: La Traviata

September 5- November 14 2009: Il Barbiere di Siviglia
September 7-22 2009: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
September 15-17 2009: Così fan Tutte
September 23- October 25 2009 : Der Rosenkavalier
October 1- April 23 2010: Salome
October 24 2009- March 30 2010: Simon Boccanegra 
November 1-15 2009: Lohengrin
November 19 2009- February 20 2010: La Bohème
November 21- December 6 2009: Die Fledermaus
December 7-22 2009: Il Turco in Italia
December 9 2009- January 9 2010: Die Zauberflöte
January 8-16 2010: Madama Butterfly
January 17-23 2010: Die Ferne Klang
February 4-14 2009: Agrippina
February 11- May 7 2010: Le Nozze di Figaro
February 21- March 7 2010: Faust
March 10- May 15 2010: Carmen
March 26- June 5 2010: Eugene Onegin 
April 9-25 2010: Tosca
May 16-30 2010: L'etoile
May 18-28 2010: L'elisir d'amore

René Pape sings Gremin in Eugene Onegin and Méphistophélès in Faust. Domingo sings the title role in Boccanegra. Magdalena Kožená is Lazuli in L'etoile, conducted by Simon Rattle.

Official Site | 2009-2010 Season [PDF]

Labadie Conducts Händel at SFS

Handel * Notes * 
In his second week of performances with San Francisco Symphony, Bernard Labadie conducts an all-Händel program. The Thursday performance in San Francisco started quite impressively with Zadok the Priest. The piece ranged from beautifully stately to entertainingly bombastic. The trumpets were very fastidious, and the chorus perfectly lucid. My heart is inditing lacked the immediacy of the preceding work, though the woodwinds sounded particularly fine. Richard Paré, the soloist in the Organ Concerto No. 1 had a few uncomfortable hesitations in the 2nd movement. The first half ended with a pure-toned, but somewhat dull rendition of The King Shall Rejoice.

After the intermission, things picked up with Dettingen Te Deum. Countertenor Matthew White was on the edge of being overwhelmed, but his voice is quite sweet and pretty. The tenor, Frédéric Antoun, had all of two lines, but seemed strong and warm. Baritone Joshua Hopkins did not stand out, though his voice blended nicely with the other singers, and he was always audible. Again, the chorus sounded quite brilliant, and was always together. The brass had very few missteps, and overall the orchestra sounded smooth and clean.

* Tattling * 
Attendance was somewhat sparse again, and everyone was exceedingly well-behaved during the music, at least on the Orchestra level. Nary a whisper was heard.