I try not to comment on performers' outfits too often; yeah, you're all right that the visuals are part of the experience, but my preference is to focus on the musical, plus there's the complex issue of what women wear (or can wear) versus what men wear (or can wear). Nonetheless, it was an interesting week at SFS.
Sunday matinees are dress down days, with the men in black suits rather than tails and the women....um, dressed the way they usually dress (long black). Last weekend, the star was definitely violinist Leor Maltinsky's brilliant lavender tie. As SFMike once pointed out, he looks like a young Mark Ruffalo to start with. (A web search turned up this portrait of him playing violin in a bathtub.) The tie just added a charming bit of eccentricity to his stage presence.
Then there was Jean-Yves Thibaudet. The pianist is no longer wearing the trademark red socks, I'm sorry to say. Why, oh, why did his obviously expensive jacket have such a weirdly patchy look to it, as though different parts were differently worn? And why did it not seem to fit quite right?
Last night's program - which you should go see tonight if you can - brought us Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki in her San Francisco Symphony debut, along with pianist Horacio Gutiérrez in Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto. What a woman should wear while conducting is one of those interesting questions: every one I've seen has opted for long black, whether it was Marin Alsop's plain pants and short jacket, Maggie Brooks's long skirt and short jacket, or what Mälkki wore last night.
She was wearing what I think of as the female equivalent of tails: black slacks and a beautifully cut jacket that fell to her knees and flared slightly, tunic-style, on its way down. It was a rather severe look but suited her well. I understand completely why kalimac jokes that it must have been cold and blustery on stage, because it really did look a bit like an overcoat. That probably is not quite the impression she wanted to make, but I'll tell you, if I could find a garment like hers that actually fit me, I'd buy it in a second.
As for Gutiérrez, sigh. He wore a matching jacket and pants in a sort of dark gray; they were almost shiny, the jacket needed to be pressed, and honestly, the cut was not flattering. He could do better. I mean, tails would have looked better.
(I note that both Thibaudet and Gutiérrez played the hell out of their respective concertos; this is merely about their look on stage.)