Monday, April 06, 2015

SFCM: L'elisir d'amore

Saturday evening I attended the SF Conservatory of Music's sold-out performance of L'elisir d'amore, in a sunny production directed by Jose Maria Condemi. The opera was moved to rural America, circa 1950. The set design did a good job filling the space vertically. Scenery on the back wall depicted a farm landscape, with a sun, & later a giant Harvest Moon, hanging in the sky. Bales of hay & a clothes line were the main on-stage props. A grassy walkway extended from the stage to around the orchestra & was used effectively for numbers like the barcarole, which Adina & Dulcamara sang in front of the orchestra.

The cast all gave cute, animated performances, & the action moved quickly. Nemorino was a plucky teenage milkman, & tenor Mario Rojas sang him with a lovely plush, ringing tone & sense of a yearning. His singing maintains a nice line. "Una furtiva lagrima" felt like it consisted of just 2 long phrases, & it received prolonged applause. Soprano Evan Kardon has a strong, penetrating voice, & her Adina sounded potent & mature. In a pantomime during the overture, she was contemptuous & abusive toward Nemorino.

Baritone Daniel Cameron as Belcore walked with a great hip-dislocating swagger & sang with a pleasant light, high voice. He was especially amusing doing an exercise routine involving a kettle bell swung between his legs. Baritone Sergey Khalikulov made a clear, open sound & was a snazzy Dulcamara. I enjoyed hearing soprano Sabrina Romero's high, warbling & youthful voice as Giannetta.

The orchestra's playing was secure & balanced, & conductor Scott Sandmeier led with gentle tempos, though there were occasional coordination problems between singers & orchestra. The chorus of about 16 sounded cohesive & easily made a big sound in that hall. They also did a maypole dance to end act 1.

The audience laughed at all the jokes & gave the performers a standing ovation. Two latecomers during the 1st half were not hesitant to walk directly in front of the orchestra to reach their seats on the opposite side of the auditorium. My opera companion & I happened to be seated next to the woman who also sat next to me at La Cleopatra a few weeks ago.

§ L'elisir d'amore
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Scott Sandmeier, conductor
Jose Maria Condemi, stage director
Members of the SFCM Opera program and Conservatory Orchestra

Adina............Evan Kardon
Giannetta......Sabrina Romero
Nemorino......Mario Rojas
Belcore.........Daniel Cameron
Dulcamara.....Sergey Khalikulov

Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall
Saturday, 04 April, 2015 | 07:30 PM SFCM: L'elisir d'amore

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