Thursday, October 03, 2013

SFO: Mefistofele

Last week I was in downstairs standing room for San Francisco Opera's visually extravagant production of Boito's Mefistofele. The Prologue & Epilogue, set in a heavenly opera house teeming with ghostly angels, is a spectacle & a great fit with the music. The chorus has lots of assignments in this opera, & they were terrific in all of them. They were especially exuberant in the Walpurgisnacht scene, staged like a gleefully naughty New Year's Eve party. It received cheers from the audience. I was very entertained by the body suits that make choristers look completely naked.

Bass Ildar Abdrazakov had a steady, powerful voice, with the exception of his lowest notes. He was a patrician & somewhat aloof devil. His burly physique worked well with his shirtless costuming. Tenor Ramón Vargas sang musically & without strain, & his performance was very level throughout. Soprano Patricia Racette comfortably sang both Margherita & Helen of Troy the night I attended. She is an excellent actress & was very affecting as the condemned Margherita in act 3. I liked the bright & connected singing of tenor Chuanyue Wang as Wagner in the duet with Faust in act 1. Mezzo Erin Johnson was amusingly bubbly & buxom as Marta in act 2. Mezzo Renée Rapier was solid in her duet with Elena in act 4.

SF Opera photo IMG_20130924_184445_zps6630b293.jpgNicola Luisotti was an excitable & occasionally indulgent conductor. The orchestra sounded vivid. The brasses rang out clearly, & it was fun hearing the off-stage brasses. There were a few ragged moments in the strings. The orchestra level audience gave the show a standing ovation. I sometimes watched the show through binoculars, & an usher tapped me on the shoulder to make sure I did not miss Faust & Mefistofele appearing in the box seats. The indefatigable @LaurenSeattle introduced herself to me while we were in the standees line & at the end of the evening declared the production well worth the trip.

§ Mefistofele
Music by Arrigo Boito
Libretto by the composer

San Francisco Opera
Conductor: Nicola Luisotti

Mefistofele: Ildar Abdrazakov
Margherita, Elena: Patricia Racette
Faust: Ramón Vargas
Marta: Erin Johnson
Pantalis: Renée Rapier
Wagner, Nereo: Chuanyue Wang

Production: Robert Carsen
Revival Director: Laurie Feldman
Designer: Michael Levine
Lighting Designer: Gary Marder
Chorus Director: Ian Robertson
Choreographer: Alphonse Poulin

Tue 09/24/13 8:00pm
War Memorial Opera House


Civic Center said...

Glad you saw me in my starring assignment as a Devil.

Axel Feldheim said...

It took me a while to get around to it, but I'm glad I finally caught you & this great production. But when is SF Opera going to stop casting you so egregiously against type?

Civic Center said...

Dear Axel: At least it's better than the one year where I was cast as nothing but clergy in every opera.