Sunday, September 20, 2009

SF Opera at the Ballpark

Il Trovatore at the ball park
San Francisco Opera
Il Trovatore
Live Simulcast
AT&T Park
Saturday, September 19 at 8 pm

Conductor: Nicola Luisotti

Manrico: Marco Berti
Leonora: Sondra Radvanovsky
Azucena: Stephanie Blythe
Count di Luna: Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Ferrando: Burak Bilgili
Inez: Renée Tatum
Ruiz: Andrew Bidlack
A Messenger: Dale Tracy
A Gypsy: Bojan Knezevic

Even though I printed out my early entry ticket from SF Opera's website & arrived at AT&T Park at just about 6:30pm, field seating for this event was already full. My companion & I ended up in the stadium seating, overlooking right field. With 25,000 people showing up, how can anyone say there is no audience for opera? Just before curtain time, Anne Richnavsky, winner of the on-line contest, sang the National National in a lovely, tender voice. She easily interpolated an extra high note on the word "free" which provoked a roar of approval from crowd.

From what I could tell through the booming sound system, this Trovatore is excellently cast. Sondra Radvanovsky sounded magnificent, though she was entirely upstaged during her 1st aria by a little boy who ran out onto the pitcher's mound &, using a variety of feints, managed to elude 3 men for quite some time. Stephanie Blythe is a formidable Azucena & seems to be well-matched by the solid & ringing sound of Marco Berti as Manrico. Dmitri Hvorostovsky looks & sounds dashing. The gigantic rotating set made for a smooth video presentation. The gypsy camp scene with the choreographed anvil blows & stage fighting looked great on the extra-wide screen. During the final scene effective use was made of a split-screen to provide close-ups of the principals during a trio & a duet. Nicola Luisotti conducted the final bars with a wild vigor.

During the intermission, David Gockley appeared in the broadcast booth & led the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Opera", with the help of a follow-the-bouncing-ball video. Unfortunately he got stuck hopelessly behind. The cast took their curtain calls waving various baseball gear. Maestro Luisotti was totally goofy, turning his baseball cap backwards & swinging a toy bat.

I was surprised that the stadium audience actually paid close attention to the performance. In my section, there was no coming or going during the performance at all & only very occasional chatting. In other words, people behaved just as they would inside the Opera House.


Eric Freeman said...

I noticed the same thing about the audience. They were very fidgety for Tosca, with a huge portion bailing at the 2nd intermission. People really were engrossed this time around. It was a great night!

Axel Feldheim said...

I actually had a seat in the opera house for the Tosca simulcast, so thanks for giving us a comparison of the 2 ball park audiences. I was quite impressed that people really seemed to be into the performance, especially as the plot for Trovatore is not very coherent. It also got a bit cold out there.