Previous month:
October 2013
Next month:
December 2013

SF Opera's Barbiere (Shrader, Muraro, Iversen, Mack)

Sf-opera-barbiere-act2-balloons-2013* Notes * 
San Francisco Opera gave a second performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia (Finale of Act II pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) this season with four different principal singers yesterday night. Emilio Sagi's direction is funny but has som much going on at all times. There is an incredible amount of choreography and the corps de ballet is kept quite occupied.

While much of the staging for the different singers remained the same, the difference between the singing was significant. Maurizio Muraro (Doctor Bartolo) has a lot of volume. Audun Iversen is a brash, amusing Figaro. Daniela Mack is a sassy Rosina. Her "Una voce poco fa" had much verve, but there were times when she was slightly harsh. Alek Shrader is elegant as Almaviva. His voice does sound pinched at the top, but his coloratura is deft. They all sang very nicely together and the trio "Ah! qual colpo inaspettato!" was especially charming.

* Tattling * 
Standing room attendance was even more sparse than the first night, I purchased my ticket at 6:30pm and had Standing Room Ticket 9. The attendance in the Balcony Level, as far as seating, included quite a few people, many were apparently opera novices. The four people in Row L 108-114 talked a great deal.

There were many late-comers. An elderly couple had a loud discussion on such important topics such as finding their glasses and using the lavatory during much of Act I.

SF Opera's Barbiere (Camarena, Corbelli, Meachem, Leonard)

Sf-opera-barbiere-act2-2013* Notes * 
Last night a co-production of Il barbiere di Siviglia (Act II pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) with Lithuanian National Opera opened at San Francisco Opera. Llorenc Corbella's set includes few walls on a raised platform meant to look like either the outside of Bartolo's house, or an interior courtyard, or the inside of the house, depending on the scene. The direction, from Emilio Sagi, has charm but is rather busy.

The orchestra sounded clear and fleet under Giuseppe Finzi. There were a few moments that were a little too loud, but not many. The oboe and clarinet were particularly fine. The chorus also sounded strong and together.

It is nice to hear Ao Li on the main stage, even if only in the small role of Fiorello. A.J. Glueckert is funny as Ambrogio and works well with Catherine Cook's hearty Berta. Likewise Andrea Silvestrelli is a rich-toned Don Basilio.

Alessandro Corbelli is a more than competent Doctor Bartolo, his patter is impressive. Lucas Meachem has perfect comic timing and a robust voice. Isabel Leonard makes for an attractive Rosina, her voice is dusky but has a lightness. Her "Una voce poco fa" was a bit too stately, but the audience liked her very much. Javier Camarena is a sweet-voiced Almaviva. His legato is lovely, and his sound as a certain open quality that is appealing.

* Tattling * 
Standing room attendance was sparse, I purchased my ticket at 6:20pm and had Standing Room Ticket 16.

There were only a few late-comers on the Balcony Level, and only one of them had a mobile phone that chimed once, during some Act I recitative.

Wispelwey Plays Bach Cello Suites

Sfp-wispelwey* Notes * 
Pieter Wispelwey performed Bach's Complete Suites for Unaccompanied Cello last Saturday at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco. His playing is focused, rapid, and crisp. The phrasing and inflection of the notes was idiosyncratic, and one could never mistake Wispelwey's playing with someone else's. Though one would be hard pressed to call his sound beautiful, his interpretations were far from boring and the audience, especially for the afternoon performance of the first three suites, seemed captivated. Wispelwey played the Praeludium from Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 as the encore for the evening performance.

* Tattling * 
Though two couples I sat in front of for the second performance in Row K Seats 14-20 were annoyingly loud during the music, I was glad to speak to the man next to me in Row J Seat 20, who absolutely loves the pieces and had recommendations for various recordings of them. He suggested the performers János Starker, Anner Bylsma, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Pablo Casals, at least, to start.

Philippe Sly's Salon at the Rex

Sly2* Notes *
Bass-baritone Philippe Sly (pictured left, photograph by Adam Scotti) gave a recital with guitarist John Charles Britton for the Salons at the Rex series Wednesday evening. The evening's music consisted of fifteen Schubert Lieder, including ones from Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise. Instead of providing the text in the program, Sly read translations of each before singing. The guitar arrangements were done by Britton himself, some worked better than others, since the instrument is so different from piano. The quietness of guitar is quite lovely in a salon setting. Sly's voice is youthfully exuberant, but he has control of his volume and is able to scale it down for a small room. "Du bist die Ruh" was particularly lovely. The encore was Chanson romanesque from Ravel's Don Quichotte à Dulcinée, which Sly sang with much vim and perhaps sounded best with Britton's guitar.

* Tattling *
Nearly every seat was taken, and I felt quite lucky to have gotten a ticket for the performance. A mobile phone rang while Sly was reading one of the translations, but otherwise there were few disturbances to the music.