La Rondine

The Met's 2008-2009 Season

September 22 2008: Gala
September 23- October 16 2008: Salome
September 24- October 9 2008: La Gioconda
September 27-December 19 2008: Don Giovanni
October 3-25 2008: Lucia di Lammermoor
October 13- November 13 2008: Doctor Atomic
October 20- November 20 2008: La Traviata
October 24- November 22 2008: Madama Butterfly
November 7- December 4 2008: La Damnation de Faust
November 21- December 13 2008: The Queen of Spades
November 28- December 20 2008: Tristan und Isolde
December 8 2008- January 8 2009: Thaïs
December 15 2008- January 10 2009: La Bohème
December 22 2008- January 1 2009: Die Zauberflöte
December 31 2008- February 26 2009: La Rondine
January 9-31 2009: Orfeo ed Euridice
January 24- February 12 2009: Rigoletto
January 26- February 7 2009: Lucia di Lammermoor
January 30- February 21 2009: Eugene Onegin
February 6-28 2009: Adriana Lecouvreur
February 16- May 8 2009: Il Trovatore
February 27- March 7 2009: Madama Butterfly
March 2- April 3 2009: La Sonnambula
March 9-21 2009: Rusalka
March 19- April 10 2009: Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci
March 25- May 4 2009: Das Rheingold
March 31- April 22 2009: L'Elisir d'Amore
April 1-17 2009: Rigoletto
April 6- May 5 2009: Die Walküre
April 13-24 2009: Don Giovanni
April 18- May 7 2009: Siegfried
April 25- May 9 2009: Götterdämmerung
May 1-9 2009: La Cenerentola

The Met's 125th season includes 6 new productions and 22 revivals. Susan Graham is singing Marguerite and Don Elvira. Karita Mattila sings Tatiana and Salomé. Juha Uusitalo has his Met debut as Jokanaan in Salomé. Deborah Voigt stars in the title role of La Gioconda with Ewa Podleś as La Cieca, and Olga Borodina as Laura Badoero. Thomas Hampson is Athanaël in Thaïs, opposite of Renée Fleming, and Onegin, opposite of Mattila as aforementioned. Fleming also sings the title role in Rusalka. Anna Netrebko will sing Mimi and share the role of Lucia with Diana Damrau. Netrebko's Edgardo is, of course, Rolando Villazón. Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna (Giuseppe Filianoti in February performances) sing in La Rondine, the production is the same one that was seen in San Francisco last Fall and which will be broadcast this weekend. Gheorghiu stars in L'Elisir opposite of Rolando Villazón. Alagna also appears in Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. John Relyea is in two productions, La Damnation de Faust and La Cenerentola. René Pape sings Hunding and Fasolt in the Ring and King Marke in Tristan und Isolde. Daniel Barenboim is making his Met debut conducting Tristan.

McVicar's Il Trovatore is a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera. The Met performances feature Salvatore Licitra, along with Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky for the first performances, and then Marco Berti, Hasmik Papian, Luciana D'Intino, and Željko Lučić.

I am most likely to see Orfeo ed Euridice, the Mark Morris production was my very first opera when it was performed in Berkeley several years ago. I am disappointed to not see Ruth Ann Swenson or Andreas Scholl in this lineup for the next season.

Press Release | Official Site

SF Opera's Cinemacasts Spring 2008

March 8-11 2008: La Rondine
March 29- April 1 2008: Samson et Dalila
April 12-15 2008: Don Giovanni 
April 19-22 2008: Madama Butterfly

West Coast Locations (North to South):

1 Galaxy Way
Monroe, WA 98272

Carmike 12
1331 N. Center Parkway
Kennewick, WA 99336

Carmike 12
750 NE Circle Boulevard
Corvalis, OR 97330

Cinema West
1241 Main Street
Fortuna, CA 95540

Cinema West
6868 McKinley Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Cinema West
Fiesta Plaza Shopping Center
200 Siesta Way
Sonoma, CA 95476 

Cinema West
Petaluma Blvd. at C Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

Cinema West
1228 S. Main Street
Angels Camp, CA 95222

Cinema West
9 Broadway Boulevard
Fairfax, CA 94930

2525 Patterson Road
Riverbank, CA 95367

Cinema West
2490 First Street
Livermore, CA 94550

UltraStar Flower Hill
2630 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014

UltraStar Mission Valley
7510 Hazard Center Drive #100
San Diego, CA 92108

The 120 locations do not include Los Angeles, Portland, or Seattle.

Press Release [PDF] | SF Opera at the Movies | Schedule

Closing of La Rondine

Rondine Act I, Photo by Terrence McCarthy* Notes *
The last performance of La Rondine was sold-out, but as it is part of my subscription, I attended in my regular spot in Box X. The set looks quite nice up close as well as from afar, though I noticed that the mirror ball in Act II was audible. I suspect it created white noise that dampened the sound of the singers, perhaps that is why I had more difficulty hearing Angela Gheorghiu in Act II. After hearing the music thrice, I still unmoved, though the orchestra and singers were mostly fine.

Gheorghiu looked ravishing from my vantage point. I again noticed her breathing, and that her voice has a certain pretty fragility to it. Misha Didyk continued to sound rough as Ruggero. Anna Christy still sounded bird-like. Gerard Powers sang those high notes in Act III better, strained, but on key.

* Tattling *
Standing room looked terribly full. There was quite a chorus of watch alarms, more than half a dozen at 8pm, perhaps a few less at 9pm and 10pm. Box X had three couples in it, they had come to the opera together. I noticed a person in Box Y was standing for the performance, and that the people behind me retreated behind the curtain of Box X. When I returned after the intermission, one of the people was insisting that he and his friends be moved. He asked where David Gockley was and was very unhappy about the person in Box Y. Flatulence was mentioned. The usher spoke to the offending person, and he did sit for the second half of the opera.

4th Performance of La Rondine

Misha Didyk and Angela Gheorghiu, Photo by Terrence McCarthy* Notes *
I gave La Rondine a second chance, and listened to it in the balcony standing room area last night. The sets and costumes were beautiful from afar as well, and the disco ball in Act II was not visible, so not blinding. Even still, I could see why this opera has only been performed once, before this production, at San Francisco Opera. The plot is thin, no one dies or gets married, and the music, though pretty, is rather light.

Angela Gheorghiu did sound better from the balcony, though she had moments of being overwhelmed by the orchestra in Act II. At times I could not hear which language she was singing in, though I could discern the notes, the words were lost. Perhaps I mistook her delicacy for tentativeness, Gheorghiu certainly has control of her tone, in stark contrast with our other current leading lady and fellow Non-Slavic Eastern European, Georgina Lukács. I still was bothered by Gheorghiu's occasional gasps and her ungainly movements. She is, of course, stunningly beautiful, so even her awkward carriage has a certain charm.

The rest of the cast was consistent with the previous performance I attended. Gerard Powers still missed that one high note in his duet with Anna Christy (Lisette) in Act III, just before the butler enters. Otherwise, his acting and singing were both strong.

* Tattling *
The performance was not full, and I was a little surprised given that the reviews were good and Gheorghiu should be a big draw. I did notice more Romanians than usual. I managed to get a good standing room spot in the balcony behind L 111, which was unoccupied for the whole performance. People were well-behaved, there was hardly any talking, only two watch alarms went off at 10pm, and no mobiles rang. The sets for Acts I and III received applause, as they did for opening night.

David Gockley spoke and answered questions after the performance. We were promised that there would be no microphones used to amplify singers' voices, that SFO would go into movie theaters, and that we should be able to chose our seats online soon. Apparently subscriptions are down, and they are trying to make subscribing more desirable by discounting the tickets by 20% next season. The uncomfortableness of the seats in the War Memorial Opera House was brought up yet again, apparently it is important to the SFWMPAC Board of Trustees that the seats retain their 1930s look and feel. They must always sit in the boxes.

Opening of La Rondine

Angela Gheorghiu, Photo by Terrence McCarthy* Notes *
Puccini's La Rondine opened at San Francisco Opera yesterday. This co-production with
Le Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse and Royal Opera, Covent Garden is easy on the eye. Ezio Frigerio's set is beautiful, evoking Gustav Klimt and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Likewise, Franca Squarciapino's Roaring Twenties costumes are quite pretty. The choreography and dancing were solid, especially in Act II, set in a dance hall.

Angela Gheorghiu made her long-awaited debut at San Francisco Opera as Magda de Civry. She sounded surprisingly tentative in Act I, particularly in "Che il bel sogno." Her high notes were sung on key, but not with complete conviction. Some of her lower notes were difficult to hear, and sometimes her breathing was rather audible. Her acting was strangely timid as well, her shoulders hunched. She is gorgeous, I would never have guessed she is 42 years old, just a few years younger than Karita Mattila. I kept comparing Gheorghiu to Mattila during the evening, it was impossible for me to not think of the latter's strong performance in Manon Lescaut last season. Both La Rondine and Manon Lescaut are less popular Puccini works, both singers sang with Misha Didyk in the lead tenor role. However, Mattila was fully engaged as Manon, and one cannot say the same for Gheorghiu as Magda.

Misha Didyk had good volume as Ruggero Lastouc, though his voice can be harsh at times. Tenor Gerard Powers (Prunier) was more pleasing, but one of his high notes in Act III was strained and unpleasant. Anna Christy sounded bright and sprightly as Lisette, she was perfectly delightful.

* Tattling *
Standing room was full, as was most of the orchestra level and the boxes. I was somewhat disturbed that the house manager of the opera house was not there, this is the first time in four seasons that I have attended in standing room and have not seen him about.

The audience was reasonably well-behaved. There was a particular man jangling his keys in orchestra level standing room that was vaguely annoying. Another man in Z 113 rustled a plastic bag that he kept his cough drops and water bottle in, and I was reminded of how I cannot wait for San Francisco's plastic bag ban. The woman in ZZ 111 spoke slightly too much during the first half of the opera and stood up at one point to trade seats with her companion. During the second half she was on oxygen, and her breaths were rather loud, so I had to retreat over to another area. Obviously, she couldn't help it, but it was difficult at first for me to discern where the gasps were coming from and I spent too much time worrying that I had lost my mind.