La Bohème

Dallas Opera's 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 Seasons

November 14-22 2008: Le Nozze Di Figaro
December 5-13 2008: Die Fledermaus
January 23-21 2009: Roberto Devereux
February 13-21 2009: La Bohème
March 6-14 2009: L'Italiana in Algeri

James Valenti is having his Dallas Opera debut as Rodolfo. William Burden is singing Lindoro in L'Italiana in Algeri, in the production San Francisco Opera audiences saw in 2005, directed by Chris Alexander. The Fledermaus production from Seattle Opera, last performed there in 2006, was also produced by Alexander.

The 2009-2010 season was announced today:

October 2009: Otello
February 2010: Così fan tutte
February/March 2010: Don Pasquale
Late April 2010: Moby-Dick
May 2010: Madama Butterfly

The new Winspear Opera House will be open by then. Most interesting in this inaugural season is the world premiere of Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick, conducted by Patrick Summers and starring Ben Heppner. The work is a co-commission and co-production with San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, and Calgary Opera.

Press Release [PDF]

Speculation on SF Opera's 2008-2009 Season

I've noticed a fair amount of people coming to this blog in search of San Francisco Opera's next season, which will be announced this week. Certainly we have some insight into the programming, Stewart Wallace's The Bonesetter's Daughter will have its world premiere, Qian Yi will be in the lead role with her San Francisco Opera debut. We also know that music director designate Nicola Luisotti is returning to San Francisco Opera this Fall to conduct La Bohème. David Gockley himself said that Angela Gheorghiu is to sing here next in Bohème, perhaps the Met simulcast in April, which has both Luisotti and Gheorghiu, will be a good preview. I wouldn't be surprised if Gheorghiu also gave a concert at some point, when she is over on this coast, as she has in Los Angeles. Inva Mula's official site says she is engaged to sing Adina in L'Elisir d'Amore. The Ring cycle will conclude the 2008-2009 season, conducted by Donald Runnicles. Janos Gereben also reported last month in SFCV that Dmitri Hvorostovsky will sing Simon Boccanegra on opening night and Korngold's Die Tote Stadt has its SF Opera premiere some time between August 26 and October 12, 2008. Torsten Kerl sings Paul and Emily Magee sings Marietta.

Welsh National Opera's 2008-2009 Season

September 19- October 11 2008: Otello
September 26- October 9 2008: Il Barbiere di Siviglia
February 7-28 2008: Le Nozze di Figaro
October 8-10 2008: Jenůfa
February 12-27 2009: L'Elisir d'Amore
February 24-26 2009: Salomé
May 13- June 4 2009: The Queen of Spades
May 18- June 6 2009: La Bohème
June 2 2009: Mitridate, Re Di Ponte

Rebecca Evans is has her role debut as the Countess in Le Nozze, and is also singing Mimi in Bohème. Nuccia Focile sings the title role of Jenůfa and Dimitri Pittas sings Nemorino in L'Elisir.

Press Release | Official Site

La Bohème at Seattle Opera

Laboheme* Notes *
La Bohème is in the middle of a twelve performance run at Seattle Opera, with two casts. The production is from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the whole thing looks just as one would expect. Pier Luigi Pizzi's sets are perfectly traditional, as are Martin Pakledinaz's costumes. The choreography was sometimes over the top, especially Musetta's flirting in Act II, it was just exaggerated and silly. However, there were times when this worked well, as in Act IV when our bohemians parody a ball. Ashraf Sewailam (Colline) was excellent when he mimicked a ballet dancer, his pliés and tondues were hilarious. The acting in general was good, across the board, and no one looked out of place.

The alternate cast's singing was not great. Gun-Brit Barkmin didn't look bad as Mimi, but her voice was quite harsh and out of tune for most of the first act. It was especially terrible when she sang with Scott Piper (Rodolfo), because it was clear how badly off she was. She did sing well in Act III, perhaps because she did not need to sing as loud, she wasn't having to compete as much with the orchestra. Scott Piper strained a lot in "Che gelida manina!" but was at least his voice was sweet. Margarita De Arellano had her American debut with this production as Musetta. She was somewhat quiet, but her intonation was good and her voice pretty.

* Tattling *
The performance I attended was sold-out and even though the curtain time was early, late seating was done during the pause between the first two acts. There was a lot of chatter, however. On the orchestra level, the couple in BB 7 and 8 spoke aloud, though they did become quieter as the night progressed. A man hummed the first note of "Che gelida manina!" but did stop there. At least he was in tune. Someone's watch alarm went off at the end of that same aria. People also applauded for the beginning of Act II, the set was not impressive but perhaps it was because of the stiltwalker and juggler.

Before Act III, a man in BB 2 took the standing place adjacent to his date's seat, oblivious to the standee whose spot it was. Seattle Opera has assigned standing places, so I had a word with that man when the lights went down and he was very gracious about taking his own seat. I did not see if the lady whose spot it was troubled by what a busybody I am, but I was dressed in a manner that inspired respect, as you, gentle reader, will note below.


Lorito il becco aprì, un pocco di prezzemolo da Socrate morì!

Mark Lamos' 1996 production of La Bohème is quite beautiful. Michael Yeargan's set is nearly perfect, the garrett opens up nicely into the Latin Quarter so that Act I transitions seamlessly into Act II. If only they could have done the same with Acts III and IV, the gorgeous Act III set for the Barrière d'Enfer is too clunky to be disassembled without an intermission. Walter Mahoney's costumes are appropriate, Musetta's costume at Café Momus is particularly grand, black velvet with white fur trim. The choreography was lilting almost until the very end.

As far as the January cast went Vinson Cole (Rodolfo) had a lovely voice, though his acting wasn't passionate. Neither of the female leads, Olga Guryakova (Mimi) and Dina Kuznetsova (Musetta), impressed me, but they weren't bad either. Mariusz Kwiecien was strong as Marcello, his singing and acting were solid. Ayk Martirossian sang Colline's last aria "Vecchia zimarra, senti" admirably, though that aria always strikes me as terribly absurd. Troy Cook made a dashing Schaunard, even if his voice is a little weak.

The star of the summer cast was undoubtedly Anna Netrebko, whose pure icy voice shone as Musetta. "Quando me n'vò" was one of the more thrilling moments in the opera. Elena Prokina's Mimi seemed lackluster and strained in comparison. Frank Lopardo was somewhat weak and belabored as Rodolfo. Scott Hendricks was adequate as Marcello. As for the two who played Schaunard, Johannes Martin Kränzle's voice was stronger than Brad Alexander's, but Troy Cook from January may have been the best actor of the three. Freidemann Röhlig's voice doesn't seem fully formed to me, he lacks the gravity that Ayk Martirossian possesses. But he was better as Colline than Osmin (Die Entführung aus dem Serail).

Budapest and Vienna

We went to the Hungarian State Opera twice to see La Bohème and Manon Lescaut. They were having a Puccini Festival, so now I've seen more Puccini than anything else as far as opera goes. The opera house is so gorgeous, inside and out, though I've only been on the inside of five opera houses. The Markgräfliches Opernhaus in Bayreuth is the most fancy I've seen and the Wiener Volksoper the least.

In Vienna we went to see Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio at the Volksoper, and the difference between Puccini and Mozart was marked. Mozart is just incredible, even difference between his stereotype of "oriental" music and Saint-Saëns's shows this. The romantics just don't compare, not even to me, a person who really doesn't have much musical sense one way or other. I'm visual to a fault. The set and costumes were not to my taste, the set consisted of a modern glass palace that spun around, and the costumes were retro 40's. However, the singing was marvelous and so was the acting.