The story was bigger than its actors, the Tosca ritual was ignored. It wasn’t a Tosca for the ages though maybe it was (San Francisco’s previous Tosca production hung around for 95 years). P.S. It was an evening of powerful theater, and incidentally it was really good opera.
Opera’s triple crown, Donizetti’s tragic queens — Anna Bolena who was beheaded by her husband Henry VIII, their daughter Elizabeth I who beheaded her rival Mary, Queen of Scots and who executed her lover Roberto Devereux.
The truly tragic moments of this long history rich in humanity behind us we embark on the sordid tale of the Lord of the Gibichungs’s marriage to Br¸nnhilde and the cowardly murder of Siegfried, to arrive at some sort of conclusion where Br¸nnhilde sacrifices herself to somehow empower women. Or something.
We discover the child of incestuous love, we ponder a god’s confusion, we anticipate an awakening. Most of all we marvel at genius of the composer and admire the canny story telling of the Zambello production.
The hero Siegfried in utero, Siegmund dead, Wotan humiliated, Br¸nnhilde asleep, San Francisco’s Ring ripped relentlessly into the shredded emotional lives of its gods and mortals. Conductor Donald Runnicles laid bare Richard Wagner’s score in its most heroic and in its most personal revelations, in their intimacy and in their exploding release.
Alberich’s ring forged, the gods moved into Valhalla, Loge’s Bic flicked, Wagner’s cumbersome nineteenth century mythology began unfolding last night here in Bayreuth-by-the-Bay.
San Francisco Opera wrapped up its 95th fall opera season just now with a bang up Turandot. It has been a season of hopeful hints that this venerable company may regain some of its former luster.
Not many (maybe any) of the new operas presented by San Francisco Opera over the past 10 years would lure me to the War Memorial Opera House a second time around. But for Girls of the Golden West just now I would be there again tomorrow night and the next, and I am eagerly awaiting all future productions.
Nothing but a wall and a floor (and an enormous battery of unseen lighting instruments) and two perfectly matched artists, the Manon of soprano Ellie Dehn and the des Grieux of tenor Michael Fabiano, the centerpiece of Paris’ operatic Belle …poque found vibrant presence on the War Memorial stage.
A beautifully sung Traviata in British stage director John Copley’s 1987 production, begging the question is this grand old (30 years) production the SFO mise en scËne for all times.