Thursday, September 17, 2009

SFO: Il Trittico

San Francisco Opera
Il Trittico
Giacomo Puccini
Tue Sep 15 2009 8 pm

Conductor: Patrick Summers
Director: James Robinson

Il Tabarro

Giorgetta: Patricia Racette
Luigi: Brandon Jovanovich
Michele: Paolo Gavanelli
La Frugola: Catherine Cook
Il Talpa: Andrea Silvestrelli
Il Tinca: Matthew O'Neill
Two Lovers: Tamara Wapinsky, David Lomelí
A Song Vendor: Thomas Glenn

Suor Angelica

Sister Angelica: Patricia Racette
The Princess: Ewa Podleś
Sister Genovieffa: Rebekah Camm
The Monitor: Catherine Cook
Mistress of the Novices: Daveda Karanas
The Abbess: Meredith Arwady
Sister Dolcina: Leah Crocetto
The Nursing Sister: Heidi Melton
Sister Osmina: Virginia Pluth
First Lay Sister: Daniela Mack
Second Lay Sister: Mary Finch
First Alms Sister: Tamara Wapinsky
Second Alms Sister: Dvora Djoraev
Sisters: Mary Finch, Claire Kelm, Rachelle Perry, Sally Mouzon

Gianni Schicchi

Gianni Schicchi: Paolo Gavanelli
Lauretta: Patricia Racette
Rinuccio: David Lomeli
Nella: Rebekah Camm
La Ciesca: Catherine Cook
Zita: Meredith Arwady
Gherardo: Thomas Glenn
Marco: Austin Kness
Betto: Jake Gardner
Simone: Andrea Silvestrelli
Amantio di Nicolao: Levi Hernandez
Spinellocio: Bojan Kneževic
Gherardino: Kyle Reidy
Pinellino: Kenneth Kellogg
Guccio: Valery Portnov

When applause began as the lights went down last night, I looked into the pit for the conductor but didn't see him. Then I realized that people were applauding the evening's sponsors as their names came up on the supertitles. Perhaps the excitement from last week's opening has yet to subside.

The simply designed set for Il Tabarro successfully indicated barge, river & dock without needing to be highly realistic. Paolo Gavanelli was oustanding as Michele. With his large, embracing voice & excellent acting, he communicates perfectly. Supertitles are simply unnecessary for such a performer. Gavanelli received well-deserved applause for his enraged closing monologue. Patricia Racette as Giorgetta looked appropriately sexy & a bit beaten-down. Brandon Jonanovich, in blue jeans, tank-top & unbuttoned shirt, convinced as a stevedore, yet his singing was pleasingly Italianate. Catherine Cook's slightly crazed rag-picker was unnerving. Andrea Silvestrelli's impossibly deep & cavernous voice had to be noted every time he opened his mouth. All this plus Patrick Summers's fluid conducting & Puccini's sinister, film noir music left me feeling overwrought during the 1st intermission.

When the curtain came up for Suor Angelica, I was shocked by the 20th century institutional setting & glaring florescent lights. Ewa Podleś has a voice like a force of nature, emanating from someplace in the center of the earth, & she gave a powerhouse performance as the Princess. Though her sound was a bit effortful, Patricia Racette never overacted. I liked the naturalistic way she broke a glass cabinet to get at bottles of poison. Maestro Summers led a beautifully seamless orchestral flow. The off-stage band at the end was eerie. In the final moments, there was no other-worldly vision. Instead the staging remained resolutely grounded in reality, emphasizing the already sadistic nature of the story.

When the curtain went up before the music started for Gianni Schicchi, the audience applauded the bizarre, op-art, black & white design of the production. Mr. Gavanelli again put in a star performance, nimble in both movement & voice as the title character. When Ms. Racette entered as a youthful & spirited Lauretta, she smiled at the audience, as if to say, "Here I am again!" She got a laugh from the petulant stance she took just before launching into the lovely yet over-familiar "O mio babbino caro". The ending, however, was interrupted by premature applause. Though Puccini does not differentiate the family members much, the Zita of Meredith Arwady, who has a wonderfully hefty contralto sound & great comic poise, stood out, as did Mr. Silvestrelli, whose huge voice was again impossible to overlook.

It's impressive that SF Opera came up with 3 equally strong parts for this triptych. People tell me that productions of Il Trittico are rare, so I did really well with my first outing this season!

I cannot help noting that the background essay in the program is by Gavin Plumley, who has been known to leave unusually pertinent comments here. I at times doubted his existence.


Stephanie Dodaro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie Dodaro said...

I can't make the Friday performance and can barely stand that it will go on without me. I'm not exaggerating that much.

Axel Feldheim said...

I understand. It's wonderful that they pulled off all 3 with good casting, conducting & staging. There are still 4 performances left. Don't forget to listen for the low-pitched fog horn during the overture to Il Tabarro.

Patty said...

We were there last night and I loved all three. Fabulous.

A male audience member yelled out "bravo" prior to the end of "O mio babbino caro" which annoyed me, but I guess the staging causes some to interrupt the aria. Oh well.

I was exhausted and felt beat up after the first opera. Emotional and sad after the second. And giddy after the third.

What an exhausting emotional roller coaster of a night!

Axel Feldheim said...

Patty: so glad you had all the right buttons pushed at Il Trittico! Yes, I think the staging of "Il mio babbino caro" encourages people to applaud at the wrong time, though it is really funny all the same.