Vivica Genaux at PBO
Thomas Cooley and Voices of Music

Serse at San Francisco Opera

Xerxes-graham-oropesa* Notes *
Händel's Serse (Act III pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) had an impressive second performance last night at San Francisco Opera. The English National Opera production at hand premiered in 1985, yet is still as fresh and comedic as ever. This was helped by the deft, transparent playing from the orchestra. The brass was particularly lucid. Maestro Patrick Summers kept the music moving fluidly, sometimes just a bit faster than the singers. The statue chorus was also charming.

The singing was lovely all around. Michael Sumuel was exceedingly amusing as Elviro, and his warm voice was a welcome contrast with all the high voices in this opera. Wayne Tigges was a pompous, silly Ariodate, but never unsympathetic. Heidi Stober was delightful as the unloved, conniving Atalante. Her voice is bright and rich. Sonia Prina too has pretty resonances in her voice, but could have perhaps sung more smoothly. She did play Amastre with the right amount of bluster. Lisette Oropesa was a restrained and elegant Romilda, her voice is cold and pretty, and she only pushed it too hard during the last note of one aria in Act II. David Daniels (Arsamenes) cut a fine figure, and sang well, with good volume. Susan Graham was most impressive in the title role, sounding clear toned and moving with a beautiful ease.

* Tattling * 
For the most part the audience was silent. There was some talking amidst latecomers and ushers at the beginnings of Acts I and II. At least one watch alarm sounded at 8pm. Someone stood behind me during "Più che penso alle fiamme del core" and jingled the change in his pocket with the music.