Tuesday, July 05, 2011

SF Opera Ring Cycle 3: Götterdämmerung

San Francisco OperaI got my standing room ticket a bit past 11am & received 181, meaning that the box office sold out all 150 standing room tickets at 10am for this final performance of the San Francisco Opera Ring Cycle. SFMike has documented the madness. I again sat on the balcony floor, libretto in hand, taking in the orchestra's beautiful playing & the cast's powerful singing. Even just listening, I was often overwhelmed. The Norn scene has turned out to be one of the cycle's strengths, the singers complementing each other with distinct yet equally strong voices. Andrea Silvestrelli's snarling, cavernous voice by itself communicates Hagen's malevolence. Nina Stemme only grew stronger with each act, & her Brünnhilde was warm, compassionate & consoling in the Immolation Scene.

Ian Storey was a much more consistent Siegfried than in his cycle 1 performance, his voice appropriately weighty & bluff. Melissa Citro was often sharp, but her acting projects well. Gordon Hawkins's voice is solid & dark, though his characterization of Alberich is not threatening. In the Rheinmaiden scene, it was easy to pick out Renée Tatum's well-grounded Flosshilde.

The orchestra played responsively & generously for conductor Donald Runnicles. The transition between the 1st two scenes of Act I was a perfectly controlled crescendo. The Rhine Journey was full & billowing. The performance had a sense of continual unfurling. Act II seemed to pass by in minutes. There was emphatic applause for the orchestra before Act III, as well as a shout of "Bravo Maestro!" We were immediately rewarded with a brilliant French horn solo at the top of the act. The Funeral Music was taut yet throbbing, & it put a lump in my throat. The audience was totally silent in the spaces between those startling, portentous orchestral blows. And I actually heard the opera's soft final notes, which are normally drowned out by overly-enthusiastic applause.

Ms. Stemme received a standing ovation when the curtain came up on her solo bow. I glimpsed her beaming face on the video screens. The French horn soloist stood next to Maestro Runnicles when the orchestra was revealed on stage. Everyone received loud applause & cheers, though when the house lights came up, one of my companions in standing room felt that they could have let the ovations continue longer. Even as we were talking, ushers were clearing us out of the house.

The Opera Tattler at Götterdämmerung It was a warm weekend, so I spent the intermissions in the Biergarten, which was a crush of people. The Opera Tattler was adorned with flowers grown by her Ring Cycle companion. When asked who she was this time, she answered that she was dressed as herself, The Opera Tattler. With the hardiness of a Volsung, she has attended Ring rehearsals, lectures, pre-cycle performances of Siegfried & Götterdämmerung, & all 3 cycles. I assumed she would leave the performance horizontally, but she was indeed still standing at the end of the day.

§ Götterdämmerung
Conductor - Donald Runnicles
Director - Francesca Zambello

First Norn - Ronnita Miller
Second Norn - Daveda Karanas
Third Norn - Heidi Melton
Brünnhilde - Nina Stemme
Siegfried - Ian Storey
Gunther - Gerd Grochowski
Gutrune - Melissa Citro
Waltraute - Daveda Karanas
Alberich - Gordon Hawkins
Woglinde - Stacey Tappan
Wellgunde - Lauren McNeese
Flosshilde - Renée Tatum

San Francisco War Memorial Opera House
Sun 07/3/11 1:00pm

No comments: