Donald Runnicles, music director of the San Francisco Opera, turns 50 and celebrates tonight with a gala all-Wagner concert. The artist list includes Christine Brewer, Willard, White, and three of the leads in the current production of The Flying Dutchman - Juha Uusitalo, Christopher Ventris, and the marvelous Nina Stemme. It's not difficult to hallucinate what they might be singing. Some Tristan from Brewer; maybe Isolde's Narrative and Curse, maybe her Transfiguration. White is a natural for the "Leb'wohl" from Die Walkuere or "O du mein holder Abendstern" from Tannhäuser. For Stemme and Uusitalo, the Act II Dutchman/Senta duet.
But there are two unexpected singers on the roster - Carol Vaness and the great Frederica von Stade. What on earth are they singing? Vaness sings dramatic parts but ought not; perhaps it's Elsa or Eva for her. As for Flicka, there's not a lot of work in Wagner for a lyric mezzo, even a high lyric mezzo. Maybe Magadalena in the Meistersinger quintet? Or the Wesendonck Lieder??