Saturday, June 08, 2013

Così fan tutte Dress Rehearsal

Thursday evening I was at the dress rehearsal for San Francisco Opera's Così fan tutte, which opens this Sunday. The airy & brightly colored production moves the action to a spa in Monte Carlo during World War I. The young cast all gave lively singing & acting performances. Bass Marco Vinto was consistently solid as Don Alfonso & communicated smug maturity. I liked baritone Philippe Sly's wonderfully resonant & cushy sound & his ease moving on stage. Tenor Francesco Demuro's voice was high, narrow, & strong. Soprano Susannah Biller sounded girlish & bright & was a crabby Despina. Soprano Ellie Dehn & mezzo Christel Lötzsch, as the sisters, had strong, even, & well-matched voices. Ms. Dehn's sustained "Per pietà, ben mio perdona" in act 2 got extended applause.

Nicola Luisotti was a frantic & propulsive conductor. He had the orchestra playing out vigorously. We even heard him yell a couple of times. There were sloppy moments, & the singers were not always together with the orchestra. Maestro Luisotti accompanied some of the recitatives on fortepiano & playfully interpolated other pieces of music. I liked hearing a theorbo & a guitar in the recitative accompaniment.

The audience seemed delighted by the production & applauded the entrance of Ferrando & Guglielmo by toy boat in act 2, though Ferrando nearly fell later getting back into it as it pulled away. The supertitles provided amusingly loose translations at times. My favorite supertitle simply read "(Despina disguised as doctor)".

San Francisco Opera photo IMG_20130606_170509_zps5b8d30e7.jpgThese dress rehearsals are general seating, & attendees can be competitive. My opera companion & I were lucky to make it to a front row seat in the grand tier with a great view of the orchestra pit. The older woman next to me asked me to call down to a gentleman in a box to find out how he got permission to sit there. She came provisioned with a pocket flask, from which she took occasional nips.

§ Così fan tutte
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

San Francisco Opera
Conductor: Nicola Luisotti
Director: Jose Maria Condemi

Don Alfonso: Marco Vinco
Ferrando: Francesco Demuro
Guglielmo: Philippe Sly
Fiordiligi: Ellie Dehn
Dorabella: Christel Lötzsch
Despina: Susannah Biller

Thursday, June 6, 2013 6p
War Memorial Opera House

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