Last Sunday's performance of La Traviata concluded the 2008-2009 season at San Francisco Opera. Elizabeth Futral was at her best, her high E-flat was strong, though she was still somewhat shrill. Charles Castronovo sounded absolutely lovely, he did not seem quiet compared to Futral. Edwin Outwater had the orchestra under control, never overwhelming the singers. The inappropriate laughter in Act III happened again.
Looking back, the first cast had a very loud but lovely Anna Netrebko paired poorly with a rather quiet Charles Castronovo, a more balanced pairing with Elizabeth Futral and David Lomelí in the second cast, and the fine performance from Ailyn Pérez and Charles Castronovo on July 1st.
The Summer part of the season was quite popular, at least one of the Tosca performances, five of the Traviata ones with Netrebko, and all six shows of Porgy and Bess sold out. The staging of Tosca was dull, and the principals lacked chemistry, but there was some beautiful singing. Porgy and Bess had a strong cast and the production really came together.
The house was quieter as far as backstage noise is concerned, though there were still some moments when the microphones did make high-pitched sounds, though not as constantly as before. The Tosca simulcast did very well, about 27,000 people attended at AT&T Park. The SF Opera podcast continues not to be updated, and SF Opera does not have a Twitter account, though the Merola Program does.
The audience was fairly good this year. People were able to keep their mobile phones off, but not their watch alarms. There was quite a lot of talking during Porgy and Bess, but everyone was rather quiet for Netrebko.
Again, not a lot of absurdity this Summer, though perhaps the silliness of the Fall makes up for it. My own opera attendance was, in fact, rather significantly down from last year. The Opera Tattler attended 11 of 23 performances, which is the least I've attended the SF Opera over the last five summers. However, I was surprised how much I liked Porgy and Bess, and earlier in the season, Die Tote Stadt.