Tuesday, September 13, 2011

SF Opera: Turandot

SF Opera Opening NightOn Friday night I attended opening night at the San Francisco Opera as a standee. There was some confusion, as a catering tent had been set up on top of our numbered spaces outside, but we managed to sort ourselves out with our marks. Near the head of the line was of course the Opera Tattler, as well as SFMike, looking elegant in his tuxedo & modesty declining to brag about attending 2 opening nights in one week. Upstairs standing room was not crowded, & there was room to spread out. We saw the familiar David Hockney sets, which are cartoony & garish. The bare-chested executioner sports an impressive dragon tattoo. The look is preferable to the comic book sumo wrestler I saw the last time.

Conductor Nicola Luisotti led a vigorous & loud performance of Puccini's sadistic opera. The chorus belted, & the orchestra was ear-splitting in the climaxes. Tenor Marco Berti as Calaf made a consistently big, solid sound without ever seeming to push or strain, though I found his acting & singing to be uninflected. I was surprised when he cut short the last note of his "Nessum dorma." Soprano Iréne Theorin is a powerful & intense singer, & she communicated Turandot's anger & iciness well. Leah Crocetto as Liù was the real star of the evening. Her singing is lyrically Italiante, & though her voice is large she also sang wonderful, far-reaching pianissimos in Act I. She convincingly conveyed Liù's purity & innocence. Ping, Pang & Pong were an animated trio, & their clownish movements were easy to read from the balcony. I liked the roomy voice of baritone Hyung Yun as Ping. Even though they were playing old men, Joseph Frank as the emperor & Raymond Aceto as Timur were sturdy & incisive.

SF OperaFor opening night, statues of golden lions stood in front of the Opera House, & the boxes were festooned with red & blue garlands. Patrons took lots of photos of the over-size bouquet of roses in the lobby. The people seated in the last row of the balcony appeared to be first-time opera goers. They were fidgety & chatty, even during "Nessun dorma."

§ Turandot
by Giacomo Puccini
(Last duet and finale by Franco Alfano)

San Francisco Opera
Conductor, Nicola Luisotti
Director, Garnett Bruce
Set Designer, David Hockney

A Mandarin, Ryan Kuster
Liù, Leah Crocetto
Timur, Raymond Aceto
Calaf, Marco Berti
Prince of Persia, Christopher Jackson
Pu-Ti-Pao, Justin Roninger
Ping, Hyung Yun
Pang, Greg Fedderly
Pong, Daniel Montenegro
Handmaidens, Dvora Djoraev, Virgina Pluth
Emperor Altoum, Joseph Frank
Turandot, Iréne Theorin
War Memorial Opera House
Fri 09/9/11 8:00pm

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