MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

SFO’s Newly Forged Ring: Siegfried as More Than a Prequel

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Daniel Brenna as Siegfried and David Cangelosi as Mime in Wagner’s “Siegfried.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Continuation of my coverage of San Francisco Opera’s Ring for Musical America:

SAN FRANCISCO—From an emotional force akin to Greek tragedy to the straightforward exploits of a superhero: for a director, one of the main challenges posed by the Ring’s third evening is how to bridge that gulf, all the while clarifying the stakes in Siegfried so that the audience will buy into the return to full-on tragic mode in the cycle’s mammoth finale….

continue [behind Musical America‘s paywall — but will be open access Friday afternoon]
Part 1 here

Filed under: Musical America, review, Ring cycle, San Francisco Opera, Wagner

San Francisco Opera Reforges Its Ring

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Iréne Theorin as Brünnhilde and Greer Grimsley as Wotan in Wagner’s “Die Walküre.”
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Here’s Part 1 of my review for Musical America of San Francisco Opera’s Ring, directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by Donald Runnicles:

SAN FRANCISCO—One sure gauge of a successful Ring production is when it consistently leads you to a liminal state: to a kind of hovering between rapt focus on the moment and deliberation about what it all implies. Over the course of San Francisco Opera’s Ring, I found myself taking that threshold for granted, encouraged to ponder the connections, musical and dramatic, that are essential for Wagner’s project to make its desired impact.

continue [behind MA’s paywall]

Filed under: directors, Musical America, review, Ring cycle, San Francisco Opera, Wagner

The Memorable Women at San Francisco Opera Continue, with La Traviata and Turandot

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Aurelia Florian as Violetta Valéry in Verdi’s “La Traviata.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Part two of my reviews of San Francisco Opera’s fall season is now posted on Musical America:

SAN FRANCISCO—Along with a sensational production of Elektra , San Francisco Opera’s lineup so far this season is spotlighting some of the art form’s most gripping female …

continue reading (behind Musical America‘s paywall)

Filed under: Puccini, review, San Francisco Opera, Verdi

High-Voltage Elektra at San Francisco Opera

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Christine Goerke; Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

New review for Musical America:
SAN FRANCISCO—“The museum is closing…” The Elektra presented as part of San Francisco Opera’s new fall season takes place in the midst of a fictional exhibition of Mycenaean-era artifacts. But this Keith Warner …

continue reading (paywall)

Filed under: review, San Francisco Opera

Don Pasquale and Andrea Chénier at San Francisco Opera

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In addition to Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber, I reviewed September’s other two productions at San Francisco Opera: a winning Don Pasquale (in which Larry Brownlee made his company debut) and a weak Andrea Chénier. The review is online at Musical America (subscription required):

SAN FRANCISCO—Was it merely coincidence or a cleverly tucked-away reference by way of programming? Regardless, San Francisco Opera opened its new season with a trio of operas in rotation … »Read

Filed under: Lawrence Brownlee, Musical America, review, San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera’s Dream of the Red Chamber

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Pureum Jo as Dai Yu (c)Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

My review of the world premiere production of Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber at San Francisco Opera has now been posted on Musical America (behind paywall):

SAN FRANCISCO—By its very nature, opera is a medium well-suited to synthesizing widely varied traditions into fascinating new hybrids. Dream of the Red Chamber, which received its world premiere production by San Francisco Opera in September, seeks to adapt one of the most beloved works of Chinese literature to the musical and theatrical dimensions of Western opera.

continue reading

Filed under: Musical America, review, San Francisco Opera

SF Opera Carmen: Bieito’s U.S. Debut as Gockley’s Swansong

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Irene Roberts (Carmen) and Brian Jagde (Don José) ©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

My review of Calixto Bieito’s Carmen — his official U.S. opera debut, in a production revived at San Francisco Opera — has now been posted on Musical America (behind paywall):

SAN FRANCISCO—An icon of iconoclasm, Calixto Bieito has been alternately demonized and deified for the challenges his stagings pose to business as usual. Kudos to San Francisco Opera, in this final hurrah from outgoing general director David Gockley, for becoming the first North American company to give the Catalan director’s work a platform. “Carmen,” which both opened and will close SFO’s 2016 summer season (with a free “opera at the ballpark” live simulcast on July 2), marks Bieito’s absurdly belated U.S. opera debut — a dozen years after his Abduction From the Seraglio at the Komische Oper Berlin sparked outrage and international headlines.

 

Filed under: Calixto Bieito, directors, review, San Francisco Opera

Verdi at His Most Ambitious

My essay for San Francisco Opera’s program: Don Carlo, part of the final trio of operas in David Gockley’s farewell season:

“Don Carlos has really thrilled him. I think that this drama, instinct as it is with real passion, is just what he needs,” reported Léon Escudier, Verdi’s French publisher, after a trip to visit the composer in 1865.

He was sounding Verdi out on some possible topics for a fresh commission from the Paris Opéra. Another idea that aroused Verdi’s interest was King Lear—a project he had long hoped to realize—but Verdi opted for Don Carlos, a historical tragedy by Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805), as more suitable for treatment in the French grand opera style.

continue reading

Filed under: essay, San Francisco Opera, Verdi

John Adams’s New Opera

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© Terrence McCarthy/San Francisco Opera

It’s now official: the newest opera from John Adams, Girls of the Golden West, which during the California Gold Rush in the 1850s, with a libretto by Peter Sellars, will be premiered in the fall of 2017 at San Francisco Opera. SFO has co-commissioned the work with Dallas Opera, Dutch National Opera, and Teatro La Fenice.

Here’s the company’s press release:

SAN FRANCISCO (June 14, 2016) — San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today announced the Company will present the world premiere commission of Girls of the Golden West, a new opera set during the 1850s California Gold Rush, by the internationally-renowned team of composer John Adams and director/librettist Peter Sellars. Presented at the War Memorial Opera House for seven performances opening November 2017, San Francisco Opera will announce casting, conductor, design team and ticket information in January 2017 as part of the Company’s 2017–18 repertory season.

continue reading

Filed under: John Adams, music news, San Francisco Opera

Elder Wagner

 

Bliss: Sir Mark Elder, who just conducted the opening of San Francisco Opera’s Meistersinger.

Filed under: conductors, San Francisco Opera, Wagner

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