James Conlon & Joshua Bell at SFS
SF Opera's Cyrano Media Round-Up

SF Opera's Cyrano de Bergerac

DomingoCake * Notes *
Sunday's matinée of San Francisco Opera's Cyrano de Bergerac opened a run of seven performances. Petrika Ionesco's production, from Théâtre du Châtelet, is attractive, but does not make for the most elegant set changes. There was much delightful spectacle, and the staging was not entirely old-fashioned either, despite looking fairly traditional.

The orchestra sounded lushly chaotic under Patrick Fournillier, it was unclear if this was because of Alfano's music or because of the playing. In fact, I had a fairly difficult time getting a grasp on the music, it seemed all over the place. Some of it sounded like Debussy, and some rather more like Puccini.

The chorus did a respectable job, and the singing overall was wonderful. Even in their small roles, Martin Rojas-Dietrich (Montfleury) and Bojan Knežević (Lignière) shone. As did the three Adler Fellows participating in this opera, Austin Kness, Maya Lahyani, and Leah Crocetto. All sang more than one role. Kness was most striking as Vicomte de Valvert, sounding strong and warm. Lahyani's acting was impressive, she was convincing the Duenna and Sister Marta. Crocetto was an alluring Lisa, the wayward wife of pastry chef Ragueneau. As Ragueneau, Brian Mulligan was wonderful as ever, his rich voice has such a lovely bloom to it. Lester Lynch (Carbon) sang well and with power.

Thiago Arancam seemed the embodiment of Christian de Neuveville, singing with forcefulness. Likewise Ainhoa Arteta was absolutely gorgeous as Roxane. Arteta pierced through the orchestra without the least bit of effort and could float notes beautifully. She had moments of harshness, but these were few and far between. In the title role, Plácido Domingo was ill, and General Director David Gockley made an announcement begging our indulgence in the second half of Act II. Domingo was somewhat gravelly, some of his lower notes were less than perfect, and he did cough a few times. However, his timbre is so pleasing and still had such an ease, our indulgence was hardly necessary. Domingo sang the last aria superbly, communicating the text with such a directness, rendering the supertitles superfluous.

* Tattling * 
On Sunday morning I awoke before dawn as I was so excited for this performance. I dragged Opernphrenologe out of bed and we made our way to the opera house 1 hour before anyone else arrived. Perhaps because of the rain, even by 10 am the standing room line was not much greater than usual. The opera was kind enough to provide us with both coffee and donuts, and by the time we were allowed in a great crowd had developed.

The throng of Domingo aficionados was intimidating. There was some light talking but not a great deal of electronic noise. I did hear a staff member's walkie talkie in orchestra standing room during Act II. At the end of the opera, someone went through his two plastic grocery bags, and someone gave him a talking to as she seemed irritated by all the noise.