On Friday, I attended the opening night of San Francisco Opera in upstairs standing room. The curtain went up half an hour late. There was an unexplained delay then supererogatory speeches from Chairman of the Board John Gunn & Opera President George Hume. A photographer took a picture of the audience from the stage, & we sung the national anthem.
This was the 1st of a dozen performances of Rigoletto, which is double cast. Tenor Francesco Demuro as the Duke has a robust voice with a rough but bright edge. He was strongest in the opening scene of act 2. His "La donna è mobile" kept in the flow of the scene & did not pop out as a show-stopping aria. Baritone Željko Lučić was completely at home in the part of Rigoletto. His voice is clear & ringing & has a bracing tension. I liked soprano Aleksandra Kurzak's dark, solid voice. Her high notes were clean & secure, & she has nice dynamic control. Her Gilda, instead of being hopelessly naive & foolish, seemed assertive & more than a match for the Duke. Bass Andrea Silvestrelli's Sparafucile was my favorite bit of casting. His deep, open voice seems to originate from somewhere beneath the building. He was chilling.
The male chorus sang with a barbed, vivid sound. Secondary roles, many filled by Adler Fellows, were all sung strongly. Conductor Nicola Luisotti led with a lot of rubato & made the music a connected flow instead of a series of oom-pah-pah numbers. The orchestra, especially the strings, played vigorously for him, & I liked the clean, floating clarinet solos. The climaxes were thundering.
This is the familiar production designed by Michael Yeargan. The stark street settings are inspired by the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico. Red, yellow & blue predominate. Period costumes establish the time & place. The staging is straightforward.
The opening night audience gave the performance a low-key response. They were treated to champagne served on all levels of the house immediately following the show, in celebration of SF Opera's 90th season. There were few standees upstairs, & I saw many empty seats in the last rows of the balcony. It was a pleasure to be at the rail with SF Mike & the Opera Tattler. Someone gave the Tattler a "Brava Diva!" for her rendition of the national anthem in her hefty baritone.
Opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi
San Francisco Opera
Conductor: Nicola Luisotti
Director: Harry Silverstein
Set Designer: Michael Yeargan
The Duke Of Mantua: Francesco Demuro
Matteo Borsa: Daniel Montenegro
Countess Ceprano: Laura Krumm
Count Ceprano: Ryan Kuster
Rigoletto: Željko Lučić
Marullo: Joo Won Kang
Monterone: Robert Pomakov
Sparafucile: Andrea Silvestrelli
Gilda: Aleksandra Kurzak
Giovanna: Renée Rapier
A Page: Laura Krumm
An Usher: Jere Torkelsen
Maddalena: Kendall Gladen
Fri 09/7/12 8:00pm
War Memorial Opera House