* Notes *
SFCM Opera Theatre presented Poulenc's Dialogue of the Carmelites, in English translation, last weekend. Michael Morgan held the orchestra together, and for the most part, the orchestra and singers were on beat. There was some raggedness in the brass and woodwinds, and the music certainly did not sound easy. Whatever was used for the scored guillotine noises at the end was not convincing, and were inappropriate to the grave proceedings.
However, the Saturday performance was ambitious, and even moving. Much of the singing was strong, and everyone was clearly working hard. The direction, from Richard Harrell, had nearly every moment filled with some sort of movement. Peter Crompton's sets moved easily to switch out the scenes, and Kate Boyd's lighting also helped out with this. The costumes from Maggie Whitaker fit the narrative.
* Tattling *
There was some whispering, but the worst offenders left at one of the two intermissions. At the first intermission, a rather loud man started off a conversation with "I am not a racist but" and then went on to say he could not accept person in one of the contralto roles because of her race, it did not make sense to him how she could be cast. He went on to say he could not imagine San Francisco Opera making such a casting "error," but was corrected by his companion, who gently said that casting does have to do with vocal type. One wonders what this person would have thought of Jessye Norman as the New Prioress, which she has sung to no small acclaim.