Bay Area Summer Opera Institute (BASOTI)
Stage Director: Yefim Maizel
Conductor: Jun Nakabayashi
Il Destino: Caroline Gatlin
Satirino: Jennifer Gaspasin
L'Eternita: Kathryn Crabb
La Natura: Leigh Akin
Calisto: Sarah Young
Giunone: Emily Pelc
Diana/Giove in Diana: Erin Tompkins
Endimione: Kristen Choi
Linfea: Christopher O'Neill
Mercurio: Seth Kunin
San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Recital Hall
Jul 15 08:00 PM
The SFCM recital hall is an ideal venue for this staged production of Cavalli's La Calisto done by the students of BASOTI. The opera is performed in a modern realization, & the whole thing takes less than 2 hours, including the intermission. The pit ensemble is a string quartet plus an electronic keyboard played by Hatem Nadim, who uses it to supply harpsichord, lute & harp. Supertitles are projected on the stage wall, which works well in this small space.
The singers are young & fresh, though the quality of the voices varies a great deal. Emphasis is on acting & moving on stage. The production mixes contemporary & classical dress & plays up the comical aspects of the plot. Characters often skip, prance & dance about, resulting in a lot of stage noise. Seth Kunin, as a dude in dark glasses & a Hawaiian shirt, certainly moves his hips well. One of the most solid performances was by tenor Christopher Nelson, singing the nymph Linfea in drag. I don't know if this is the original conception of the role, but he made it work. It was all the funnier that his paramour is a soprano who looks a quarter of his size. Calisto's transmutation into a bear was less convincing. The Furies, dressed like Goth pole dancers, forced her to wear a miniature bear skin rug over her head.
In a variation on the usual electronic device menace, during the 1st minutes of the show, a cell phone fell from the balcony & clattered to the floor. Thankful it did not hit anyone seated in the row below, which included me. During the intermission the phone was returned to its owner upstairs. It was not clear if the phone was still operational.