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February 2013

Seattle Opera's 2013-2014 Season

Seattle-opera-space-needleOctober 19- November 2 2013: La fille du régiment
January 11-25 2014: Rigoletto
February 22- March 7 2014: The Consul
May 3-17 2014: Les contes d'Hoffmann

Seattle Opera announced the 2013-2014 season today. Sarah Coburn and Terri Richter Franklin share the role of Marie in La fille du régiment, while Lawrence Brownlee and Andrew Stenson sing Tonio. William Burden sings Hoffmann, sharing the role with Russell Thomas.

Official 2013-2014 Site

La fille du régiment at San Diego Opera

Jkw_regiment012313_390* Notes * 
San Diego Opera's 2013 season opened with La fille du régiment last night. The production, directed by Emilio Sagi, is set in France during the final days of World War II, rather than in 19th century Swiss Tyrol. This made the sung or spoken text go against the super-titles at times. Otherwise, Sagi seems rather detail oriented, it seemed that all the scenes were rife with activity. The audience appreciated the sight gags and various jokes interpolated in the dialogue.

The orchestra sounded buoyant under Yves Abel, but were not always with the singers. There were rough moments for the brass. The chorus was entertaining. Carol Vaness was a funny Duchess of Krakenthorp, and even sang a little. Kevin Burdette was a charming Suplice. Ewa Podleś was a perfectly haughty Marquise de Berkenfield and her acting is convincing. Her voice is still beautiful, though not as smooth as in former days. Stephen Costello sang with a great deal of power, his high C's were a bit raw in Act I. Costello's second act aria was plaintive without being cloying. L'úbica Vargicová was cute as Marie, and was impressively awkward in Act II, persuasive embodying the role. Her sound has a slight tendency to be shrill, and is pleasantly fluttery, but has a fullness to it.

* Tattling * 
The audience laughed a lot, and kept conversations to a minimum.

Peer Gynt at SFS

SFSPeerGynt-4668* Notes * 
This week Michael Tilson Thomas conducts San Francisco Symphony in a multimedia production (actor Ben Huber as Peer Gynt and dancer Janice Lancaster Larsen as Ingrid pictured left, photograph by Kristen Loken) of Peer Gynt. The score included music by Edvard Grieg, Alfred Schnittke, and Robin Holloway. Holloway's Ocean Voyage was used in Part II Scene 3, and had a Wagnerian feel to it. It did seem disproportionally long compared to the other pieces.

The playing was slightly off-kilter at times in the first half, especially with some of the choral entrances. Nonetheless, the music gleamed eerily, and the chorus sounded particularly haunting in the second half. The violin and viola soli in Scene 2 of Part I were played beautifully.

Rose Portillo was convincing as Åse, Peer's mother. Her speaking voice is rich and dark. Soprano Joélle Harvey (Solveig) sounded sweet and pure. Ben Huber's Peer Gynt was boyish and sprightly.

The production, directed and designed by James Darrah, made use of a sculptural scrim placed above the musicians. Adam Laresen's videos were, for the most part, tasteful and the shape of the scrim rendered the images more abstract. This did not work as well for projections of the human face, which became distorted in a cartoonish fashion. The use of the limited space, given the symphony on stage and the chorus in the Center Terrace, was artful.

* Tattling * 
The microphones used were occasionally too loud, and emitted crackles and pops in the middle of Part I.

Renée Fleming at SFS

Renee-fleming-2012-decca-andrew-eccles* Notes * 
Last night Michael Tilson Thomas conducted San Francisco Symphony in a program of mostly Debussy with a smattering of Canteloube after the intermission. The evening began with Debussy's textured, fussy ballet, Jeux. This was followed by seven Debussy songs orchestrated by Robin Holloway. Soprano Renée Fleming (pictured left, photograph courtesy of Decca and Andrew Eccles) sounded shimmery and pretty over the orchestra. Occasionally she was a little difficult to hear, but for the most part, this music is well-suited to her voice.

The three Canteloube songs were all selections from his Chants d'Auvergne. "Malurous qu'o uno fenno" is funny and cute, while "Baïlèro" is more ethereal. The symphony ended with Debussy's La mer, which I find somewhat silly, but was played here with vim and spirit.

* Tattling * 
The audience members were fairly silent, at least those seated near the stage.