Friday, July 03, 2009

Ailyn Pérez in Traviata

San Francisco Opera
La Traviata
Giuseppe Verdi
Wed Jul 1 2009 7:30 pm

Violetta Valéry: Ailyn Pérez
Alfredo Germont: Charles Castronovo
Giorgio Germont: Dwayne Croft
Flora: Leann Sandel-Pantaleo
Gastone: Andrew Bidlack
Baron Douphol: Dale Travis
Marquis D’Obigny: Austin Kness
Grenvil: Kenneth Kellogg
Annina: Renée Tatum
Giuseppe: Dale Tracy
Messenger: Bojan Knezevic
Flora’s Servant: William Pickersgill
Matador: Jekyns Pelaez

Conductor: Donald Runnicles
Director and Designer: Marta Domingo

Somehow I ended up at San Francisco Opera's Traviata for a 2nd time, though with Ailyn Pérez replacing Netrebko. I'm glad I was goaded into it, for I would have been sorry to miss this very satisfying performance. Besides singing beautifully, Ms. Pérez portrayed a vulnerable & sympathetic Violetta. She was an expressive actress, both with her voice & in her manner. I was especially grateful for her many wonderful pianissimos, which drew the audience to her character. Her 2nd act scene with Germont, full of pathos, was a dramatic highlight. She was also an excellent vocal match for Castronovo, who was probably over-matched by Netrebko. Even though their contributions were short, the voices of Bojan Knezevic as the Messenger in Act II & Renée Tatum as Annina made me take notice.

At the end the audience gave Ms. Pérez a standing ovation. She did a "Yes! I nailed it!" victory pump with her arms, then jumped up & down & waved to the audience as the final curtain came down. She knew as well as anyone that she'd done a great job.

I met a few cheerful members of Orfeus, as well as Bravo Club chair Alexandra Siliezar. We got a peek at SF Opera's impressive in-house audio mixing & video editing suites, used to prepare the radio broadcasts, simulcasts & cinema series. As we left the backstage area, I was surprised to find myself walking by Castronovo, ready to go on. He was relaxed & friendly & greeted us as we passed.

The robotic cameras used to record the performances have incredible zoom & can be easily trained on the auditorium. Those in the boxes & orchestra seating should therefore be mindful of their behavior.

Intermission Features
During the 2nd intermission, I perused an orchestral score someone was using to follow along with the performance. Some of these opera fans like to make sure that every note is in place. I also shook hands with CFO Michael Simpson, though neither of us probably had any reason to do so.

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