Monday, August 04, 2008

Merola Opera's Don Giovanni

On yesterday's windy afternoon I was at Fort Mason for the 2nd performance of Don Giovanni by the Merola Opera. There's no pit in Cowell Theatre, so the orchestra is on the floor, quite exposed to the audience. I was seated in a row about mid-way to the back of the auditorium, & I probably wouldn't have wanted to be any closer. This is a good venue for Mozart, although one sometimes heard sea gulls squawking during the performance. It's nice to step onto the pier during intermission.

The entire cast was solid, all of them good actor-singers. Amanda Majeski as Donna Anna was a stand-out from the moment she opened her mouth in the 1st scene. She is a commanding presence both vocally & dramatically & already has a weighty sound. Her Act I aria "Or sai chi l'onore" was a highlight of the show. David Lomelí demonstrated great breath control, dispatching each of the long phrases of Don Ottavio's Act II aria in a single breath. Carlos Monzón had a warm stage presence as Leporello, & Joélle Harvey was a very cute Zerlina.

The orchestra was a bit less consistent. A couple of the violinists had persistent intonation problems. The 1st stand violinist doubled on the mandolin, with some difficulty. We had to forgo the-on stage bands in the Act I & II finales. We did have the necessary extravagance of trombones, though. The poor fellows crept to their seats half-way through Act II & sat with their heads down, looking asleep, as they waited for their assignments. The woodwinds sounded good, & I liked the flute.

The staging was pretty busy. I guess with young singers there is no problem having them run around, collide, wrestle, & roll around on top of each other. 4 supernumeraries were kept busy as the Don's abused servants. One of them was Civic Center blogger.

There were a lot of people waiting for returns, so this must have been a sold-out show. Merola only put on 2 performances, but I'll bet they could have sold a 3rd show easily.


sfmike said...

Glad you got to see the show. It was definitely rough around the edges but it was some of the most fun I've ever had.

Axel Feldheim said...

I'm glad I made it too. The show was sold out, so I was lucky as well! It's a treat to hear opera in a smaller venue.