Thursday, June 30, 2011

SF Opera Ring Cycle 3: Die Walküre

San Francisco OperaCompetition was fierce for standing room at San Francisco Opera's last Ring Cycle performance of Die Walküre, & every time I turned a corner in the Opera House, I ran into someone I knew. The turnout was for soprano Heidi Melton. Ms. Melton was a stand-out Adler Fellow, & local opera buffs feel a vested interest in this debut. She was a touching & sympathetic Sieglinde, her singing communicating desperation & urgency. Ms. Melton is not a small woman, yet her interpretation exuded vulnerability, even fragility. She has a large, liquid voice, & no matter how much sound she makes, one feels that she is using only half her strength. She did her local fans proud.

The orchestra was on fire the entire evening, starting with the careening storm music, & from then on everyone performed with a heightened sense of involvement. HD-ready tenor Brandon Jovanovich thinks he is singing Puccini, & sounds more gorgeous with each successive performance. Act I swept by, & the applause extended well after the house lights went up. At the start of Act II it was like someone turned up the volume on the orchestra, & then Nina Stemma vaulted on stage & was even louder. She received spontaneous applause after her short scene with Wotan. In Act III the excited audience applauded the Valkries at their entrance by parachute & when they held aloft the portraits of fallen soldiers. Ms. Stemme's singing only grew more warm & powerful as the opera progressed. I continued to enjoy the plush voice of Elizabeth Bishop as Fricka. At times I found Mark Delevan's singing of Wotan almost pretty. The orchestra played like it was a living, breathing creature & was stunning. I left feeling grateful I was at this performance

Valkyrie at SF OperaA dog barked in the balcony during Act I, but was otherwise well-behaved. I was told that he has been attending performances since he was a puppy. Regrettably I neglected to capture photographic evidence of The Opera Tattler's Freia outfit on the previous night, but here she is in the Biergarten pre-performance, spear in hand. I have no idea how she took that to her seat.

§ Die Walküre
San Francisco Opera Ring Cycle 2011

Conductor: Donald Runnicles
Director: Francesca Zambello

Sieglinde: Heidi Melton
Siegmund: Brandon Jovanovich
Hunding: Daniel Sumegi
Wotan: Mark Delavan
Brünnhilde: Nina Stemme
Fricka: Elizabeth Bishop

Ortlinde: Melissa Citro
Schwertleite: Cybele Gouverneur
Waltraute: Daveda Karanas
Gerhilde: Sara Gartland
Helmwige: Tamara Wapinsky
Siegrune: Maya Lahyani
Grimgerde: Renée Tatum
Rossweisse: Lauren McNeese

War Memorial Opera House
Wed 06/29/11 7:00pm


elsa said...

it was a truly memorable evening, barking dog and all. i was honored to be standing next to 'not for fun only'.

Axel Feldheim said...

Elsa: It was a special performance & privilege to share the rail with you as well! At last night's Merola master class, Matthew Epstein observed that everyone in the cast, except for Ms. Stemme, had been Merolini or Adlers. & now we can brag that we heard Heidi's 1st Sieglinde!