Les Troyens

SF Opera's Les Troyens (Martens)

Sfopera-troyens-martens-2015* Notes * 
Yesterday mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens (pictured left in Act II, photograph by Cory Weaver) sang Cassandra in San Francisco Opera's Les Troyens. She sings again on June 20, 2015. Martens has a lovely resonant voice with powerful low notes and searing high ones. Compared to soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci, with whom she shares the role, Martens is less raw and does not convey the same complete devastation. It is worth the effort to hear both singers, both are gratifying in different ways.

It was a delight to hear Maestro Donald Runnicles conduct the orchestra again. The woodwinds had a gorgeous, velvety sound, the strings shimmered, and the brass was bright and fluid. The chorus was powerful and the rest of the singing was consistently impressive.

* Tattling * 
A woman in Box B whispered a lot during Act II. This might not have been noticed but her voice is high and squeaky, so I had to angle my chair in a way so I could focus on the orchestra.

SF Opera's Les Troyens Media Round-Up

Troyens-act-2-sf-operaProduction Web Site | SF Opera's Blog

So far reviewers were impressed by Donald Runnicles and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in Les Troyens (Act II pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver).

Reviews: San Francisco Chronicle | Los Angeles Times | San Francisco Examiner | San Francisco Classical Voice | San Jose Mercury News | Examiner.com | The Classical Review

SF Opera's Les Troyens (Antonacci)

Troyens-act-4-sf-opera-2015* Notes * 
A new production of Les Troyens (Act IV pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) opened this afternoon at San Francisco Opera. The orchestra sounded absolutely gorgeous under the direction of Maestro Donald Runnicles. The playing was fluent and cohesive. The strings sounded lovely and the woodwinds were wonderful.

The cast is magnificent. Soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci sounded utterly deranged as Cassandra and giving an effective, disturbing performance. Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham had great appeal as Dido, her creamy voice is not as fresh as before, but it seems appropriate for the role. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke (Anna) is vital. Her voice shows no hint of strain or effort.

Tenor Bryan Hymel made for a powerful Aeneas. His voice is bright and cuts through the orchestration. Baritone Brian Mulligan (Chorebus) sounded rich and warm. Tenor René Barbera (Iopas) sounded wonderful in his Act IV aria, as did tenor Chong Wang (Helenus, Hylas) in his Act V aria. The chorus was strong.

David McVicar's production is not particularly coherent but does not interfere with the music. The set is enormous yet moves quietly. Acts I, II, and V could have been set at Burning Man. Acts III and IV look more like an Orientalist painting. The juxtaposition of these two aesthetics is odd, as were the different styles of dance used for each of the ballets.

* Tattling * 
The audience in the balcony was focused and quiet with the exception of a demonstrative, chatty couple sitting on one of the aisles in the the last row, house right. Thankfully it was easy enough to get away from them and they left after Act IV.

Michaela Martens in SF Opera's Les Troyens

MARTENS-Michaela-2015Michaela Martens (pictured left) will sing Cassandra in the second and fourth performances of San Francisco Opera's Les Troyens, which runs from June 7 to July 1, 2015. She replaces Daveda Karanas, who has withdrawn from the role due to pregnancy. Anna Caterina Antonacci, who was previously announced to sing three performances of Cassandra, has agreed to add a fourth on July 1, 2015.

Production Web Site | Press Release