* Notes *
The last performance of Orfeo ed Euridice (Act III pictured, photograph by Matthew Washburn) this season at San Francisco Opera had soprano Anne-Marie MacIntosh filling in as Euridice, as Meigui Zhang was indisposed. The December 1st performance was full and standing room in the balcony was rife with latecomers who were unable to be seated for this opera held without an intermission.
I was only able to watch Ms. MacIntosh's aria, "Che fiero momento," as I could tell I would be very much annoyed by the unwitting standees and chose instead to read the score in the back for the rest of the performance. Her voice was rather distinct from Ms. Zhang's and I could absolutely tell the voices apart from the first note of the recitative at the beginning of Act III. MacIntosh's sound is sweet and warm, she definitely seemed more distressed than Zhang when asking why Orfeo won't even look at her.
Though I missed most of MacIntosh's choreography, what I did see looked fine. She seemed comfortable with the movements in her aria and it wasn't noticeable that she had stepped in at the last minute. It was not obvious to me whether or not the choreography was simplified in this case, as the more complicated dancing does not happen during her biggest moment vocally.
I heard that some of the members of the chorus also took ill, but the choral parts of the opera sounded full and together anyway. Act II was impressive, I had the music of the furies and Elysium in my ears for several days afterward. I still very much enjoyed how much soprano Nicole Heaston (Amore) conveyed in her voice, even if I couldn't see her. Jakub Józef Orliński sounded as strong as ever, if anything he is even easier to hear at the back of the house. The orchestra was also clear and the horns were especially lucid.
* Tattling *
General Director Matthew Shilvock announced the substitution from the stage before the evening began. We started late, but even still there were dozens of latecomers who were not seated in the balcony, as there were very few free seats, unlike the Sunday, November 26th performance. I felt particularly bad for a person that had arrived early for standing room but had a young woman wedge herself between this person and her companion. I could tell that if he gave her the space she wanted, he would probably be unable to see the stage, as the views in the balcony are easily obstructed by audience members that lean forward.
The woman that took my spot at the railing occasionally would sit down next to me on the bench as I read the score. She had quite a time looking for something in her purse and spent nearly 5 whole minutes zipping and unzipping the various compartments of her bag. I had to (silently) laugh, thinking to myself that I had not seen "Zipper" in the score.