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San Francisco Opera’s “Carmen”─two mezzos, Kendall Gladen and Anita Rachvelishvili, will there be any heat?

Mezzo-soprano Kendall Gladen, a former Adler Fellow, plays Carmen and Thiago Arancam is Don Jose in San Francisco Opera’s “Carmen” which runs through December 4, 2011 at War Memorial Opera House. Photo: courtesy Cory Weaver, SF Opera

Last Sunday afternoon’s opening of Bizet’s Carmen at San Francisco Opera brought high hopes with mezzo soprano Kendall Gladen as Carmen, a role the former Adler Fellow has played to great acclaim at leading opera houses.  The blasé performance was buoyed immensely by Nicola Luisotti’s passionate conducting─rousing, brisk, clear, fresh and attenuated with marvelous aplomb─but when the conductor generates more heat than the lead singer, and the two leading men─ Brazilian tenor Thiago Arancam (as army corporal Don José) and Brazilian baritone Paulo Szot (as bullfighter Escamillo)─were not hitting their strides, one can only hope that mezzo number two, Anita Rachvelishvili (rotch-vell-esh-VEEL-ee), who steps in this week, will bring some fire to the stage.  

Aside from Luisotti’s marvelous conducting, the vocal highpoints were the children’s chorus and the San Francisco Opera chorus, both singing very well.  Soprano Sara Gartland, a current Adler Fellow, was touching as Micaëla, especially in her moving Act I duet with Don José though her voice at times seemed almost too powerful for the role.  Carmen’s sidekicks Susannah Biller as Frasquita and Cybele Gouverneur as Mercédès also added some pizzazz.  Wayne Tigges as Zuniga, and Timothy Mix as La Dancaïre and Daniel Montenegro as Le Remendado sang their minor roles with aplomb and proficiency.  José Maria Condemi’s restaging of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s 1981 production was also effective.  The handsome sets were designed in sumptuous earthen hues evoking 19th century Seville and provided an excellent backdrop for the red-hot passion that should have unfolded onstage.  Next week, another mezzo-soprano, Tbilisi-born Anita Rachvelishvili, also experienced in the role and very much looking the part, steps forward as Carmen.  Let’s hope she brings some fire to our beloved aria, “Habanera,” and makes that flower she tosses at Don José in Act I wilt, as should he.   Carmen is all about seduction–through music, voice, and dance and bodies exuding and responding to passion.  If we aren’t seduced, it’s just not Carmen.  

Details: Carmen is at the War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco.  There are eight remaining performances:  Tuesday, 11/15/2011, at 8 p.m with Anita Rachvelishvili; Thursday, 11/17/2011, at 7:30 p.m. with Anita Rachvelishvili; Sunday, 11/20/2011, at 2 p.m. with Anita Rachvelishvili; Wednesday, 11/23/2011, at 7:30 p.m with Anita Rachvelishvili; Saturday, 11/26/2011, at 8 p.m; Tuesday, 11/29/2011, at 7:30 p.m; Friday December 2, 2011.  Tickets are $29 to $330.  Information: www.sfopera.com.

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November 14, 2011 Posted by | Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SF Opera’s Marin Opera Guild hosts its annual Champagne Gala this Sunday, August 7, 2011, at San Domenico Music Conservatory in San Anselmo

San Francisco Opera's Adler Fellows will perform this Sunday at the San Domenico Music Conservatory hosted by the Marin chapter of the San Francisco Opera Guild. Photo: courtesy SF Opera

The Marin Chapter of the San Francisco Opera Guild is hosting its 29th Annual Champagne Gala this Sunday, August 7, 2011, at the San Domenico Music Conservatory in San Anselmo.  The fundraiser will feature San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellows, resident artists of the San Francisco Opera Company, performing songs from Grand Opera and Broadway Classics.  Special guests Ellen Kerrigan and Baker Peeples will also sing.  The proceeds will benefit the Guild’s Opera a la Carte music education program for Marin County schools and its Opera Previews, featuring renowned musicologists offering an in-depth look into the season’s operas.  After the 2 p.m. performance, guests will be able to mingle with the artists and enjoy champagne and savory hors d’oeuvres in the conservatory’s idyllic setting.  

Current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows: Susannah Biller, soprano; Leah Crocetto, soprano; Sara Gartland, soprano; Nadine Sierra, soprano; Maya Lahyani, mezzo-soprano; Ryan Belongie, counter-tenor;  Brian Jagde, tenor; Brian Jagde, tenor; Daniel Montenegro, tenor; Ao Li, baritone; Ryan Kuster, bass-baritone; David Hanlon, coach and accompanist; Tamara Sanikidze, coach and accompanist.

Opera Previews Sponsored by the Marin Chaper of the San Francisco Guild for the 2011-2012 Season:

 

Mon Aug 29, 2011, 8 p.m. Turandot:      Giacomo Puccini Dr. Timothy Flynn: Olivet College, Assistant Professor of Music, Music Program Director
Thurs Sept 8, 2011, 8 p.m. Heart of a Soldier:      Christopher Theofanidas   Donna DiNovelli Dr.  Mitchell Morris:  Professor of Musicology, UCLA
Mon Sept 19, 2011, 8 p.m. Lucrezia Borgia:   Gaetano Donizetti  Dr. Mary Ann Smart:  Professor of Musicology, U.C. Berkeley 
Mon Oct 10, 2011, 8 p.m. Don Giovanni:   Wolfgang Amadeus  Mozart  Dr. Simon Williams:  Professor & Chair, Theatre & Dance Dept., U.C. Santa Barbara
Mon Oct 24, 2011, 8 p.m. Serse (Xerxes):   George Frideric Handel Dr. Bruce Lamott:  Director, Philharmonia Chorale
Thurs May 31, 2012, 8 p.m. Nixon in China:   John Adams   Dr. Stephen Hinton:  Professor of Music, Stanford University
Mon June 4, 2012 8 p.m. Attila:    Guiseppe Verdi Dr. Alexandra Amati-Camperi Dept Chair, Professor of Music, University of San Francisco

All Opera Previews at held at Villa Marin, 100 Thorndale Drive, San Rafael.  Time: 8 PM lecture; 7:30 PM complimentary tea/coffee and refreshments.  Admission: $10 per lecture or $60 for series.  For information, contact Tenki Davis at 415. 457.1118 or t4tenki@comcast.net.

Details: Champagne Gala begins at 2 p.m. at the San Domenico Music Conservatory, 1500 Butterfield Road, San Anselmo.  Tickets are $50 and can purchased at the event. For further information, contact Anne Zucchi at 415.924.9352, zucchiz@aol.com .

August 4, 2011 Posted by | Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment