* Notes *
Carlisle Floyd's Susannah (Patricia Racette as Susannah Polk and Brandon Jovanovich as Sam Polk in Act II pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) had a San Francisco Opera debut yesterday evening. The score is sweepingly lyrical, and Maestra Karen Kamenseki conducted a powerful orchestra. The chorus sounded quite fine.
Much of the singing was beautiful. A.J. Glueckert was easy to pick out as Elder Gleaton, as was Suzanne Hendrix as Mrs. Ott. James Kryshak did well as Little Bat McLean and Catherine Cook was sang Mrs. McLean with the suitable vileness.
Raymond Aceto gave a committed performance as the flawed Rev. Olin Blitch. Aceto's voice did have a tendency to blend in with the orchestra. Brandon Jovanovich sang Sam Polk with verve. His voice is lovely. Patricia Racette is an engaging Susannah. Her voice sounded frayed at the top, her loudest high notes have a wide vibrato. Her "Ain't it a pretty night?" was haunting, however.
The production, directed by Michael Cavanagh, is straightforward. Erhard Rom's set design is clean, the scene changes are simple and elegant. The lighting, from Gary Marder, is likewise. The use of projections on a scrim facilitated the proceedings without being overwhelming or cliched.
* Tattling *
The audience in the balcony was sparse. Even so, there was chatter and cellular phone noise, despite the short run time of this opera.