Tag Archives: San Francisco Opera

Heart of a Soldier – The World Premier of a Gripping BiOpera

Heart of a Soldier is the third BiOpera that I have reviewed recently (Nixon in China and Dr. Atomic are the others) and it is basically different from almost all other operas. The story is a biography of a current person, and it is by far the driving force of the opera; music, acting, scenery, lighting, etc. are important only in-so-far-as they enhance the story telling. Continue reading »

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SF Opera Ring – Part IV, Why Was This Performance So Great?

The quick and easy answer to the title question is ó Nina Stemme. More knowledgeable critics than I have praised her singing. For example, Richard Scheinin writes in the San Jose Mercury News, ďShe has been the cornerstone. She is a singer of arresting power and sheer delicacy, her voice both spacious and focused. And filled with color . . .Ē Continue reading »

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SF Opera Ring – Part III, How

As Director of the SF Opera Ring Series, Francesca Zambello faced two challenges which are not normally present in opera. First and foremost was the fact that in each act of each opera the music is continuous. Wagner allowed for the fact that it takes a stage crew a substantial number of minutes in real time to make necessary scenery changes by generously filling those minutes with orchestral sound. Thatís fine as far as auditory reception goes, but opera also has its visual component. What to do visually during these musical interludes? Continue reading »

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SF Opera Ring – Part II, Who and What

Now Iím ready to tell you about seeing my first live performance of the complete Ring cycle. Iíll begin with an organized list of the dramatis personae, only a few of whom are ordinary mortals. Rather than clutter up the text by giving both the role and the singer each time, Iíll refer only to the role names here and give credit to the singers in an appendix, which lists them all in convenient reference form. Continue reading »

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SF Opera Ring – Part I, Introduction

The past week has been an extraordinary experience. In the course of 6 days I spent some 17 hours in seat R1 of the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco watching and listening to Wagnerís complete Ring cycle; the 3rd and last cycle of the 2011 summer season of the San Francisco Opera. Continue reading »

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The Makropulos Case – Karita Mattila stars in the role of a 337-year old woman

The story of Elina Makropulos is a strange one.¬† She was born in 1537 in Greece.¬† When she was a teenager her father gave her a potion he had invented which would enable her to grow normally to the peak of her maturity, and then to live for three hundred years without aging. Continue reading »

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Cyrano de Bergerac – Pla°cido Domingo sticks his nose into San Francisco

Several years ago I took a guided tour of the harbor in Antwerp, Belgium.¬† As we passed each place of interest, the guide would give a short spiel in English and would repeat it three or four times in French, Italian, German, and maybe Flemish.¬† Speaking in English, he pointed out a statue with a large nose and compared it to Jimmy Durante.¬†¬† Then when he gave his spiel in Italian the comparison was to ďPinocchio,Ē¬†¬† and in German to ďTill Eugenspiel;Ē in French he made a comparison to (you guessed it) Cyrano de Bergerac. Continue reading »

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Madama Butterfly – Svetla Vassileva Superstars in a Superstar Production

When I go to a performance of Verdiís La Traviata or Pucciniís La Boheme a small child-like part of me hopes, ďMaybe this time will be different.Ē¬† Right up until she takes her final breath I wish for Violetta or Mimi to recover.¬† It wouldnít take much, you know.¬† A newly-discovered drug ó a doctorís admission of a faulty diagnosis. Continue reading »

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Figaro – You Walk out Humming and Chuckling

I have only one complaint about this opera.¬† Itís not with story which is delightful.¬† Itís not with the music which is perfection.¬† Itís not with the title which is descriptive.¬† Itís not with the San Francisco Opera Production I attended last Saturday which was super-excellent.¬† No, my complaint is with Pierre Beaumarchais for using the same characters in his two plays that were the bases for Rossiniís The Barber of Seville and Mozartís The Marriage of Figaro. Continue reading »

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Aida – A New Definition of Spectacular

The magic begins with the outer curtain.¬† When we take our seats on the side aisle in row S, we see an enormous black triangle in a field of scrolled gilt. Continue reading »

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