Sunday, June 07, 2009

SFO Tosca

Giacomo Puccini
San Francisco Opera
Fri Jun 5 2009 8 pm

Floria Tosca: Adrianne Pieczonka
Mario Cavaradossi: Carlo Ventre
Baron Scarpia: Lado Ataneli
Cesare Angelotti: Jordan Bisch
Sacristan: Dale Travis
Spoletta: Joel Sorensen
Sciarrone: Austin Kness
Jailer: Kenneth Kellogg
Shepherd Boy: Zachary Weisberg

Conductor: Marco Armiliato
Director: Jose Maria Condemi
Production: Lotfi Mansouri
Set and Costume Designer: Thierry Bosquet
Chorus Director: Ian Robertson

There was an extra buzz this evening, since this was the performance being simulcast to AT&T Park. General Directory David Gockley, appearing a bit nervous, made a short welcoming announcement. The orchestra played the national anthem, immediately after which we heard Gockley's voice proclaim, "Plaaay opera!"

Having attended the dress rehearsal last week, I was worried about tenor Carlo Ventre, who sounded weak. However, it was clear now that he spent the entire dress rehearsal singing half voice. Tonight, at full voice, his sound was tight, focused & pretty. He showed some power in the 2nd act when, released from the torture chamber, he prolonged his cry of "Victoria!" & was convincingly defiant. Oddly, I thought his best singing came after he had finished E lucevan le stelle. Suddenly his voice sounded bigger & freer, & it was not overpowered by Pieczonka's sturdy voice.

Pieczonka was a consistently powerful singer, even in the humbling Vissi d'arte. Ataneli sang & acted the part of Scarpia easily, seeming to take pleasure in his own evil nature. It was a very even cast, all the secondary parts being done capably as well. I admired Zachary Weisberg's clear & straightforward account of the Shepherd Boy's song. Under Armiliato, the orchestra's playing was clean & slightly brisk.

The staging is completely conventional & safe. It probably played well on the big screen, since it gives the cast something to act at every moment. The curtain calls played to the ball park audience as well by having each singer take a bow with a piece of Giants paraphernalia: Cavaradossi modeled a jersey, Tosca waved a baseball cap, & the sacristan pulled out a giant #1 hand.

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