Saturday, March 01, 2014

Out with a Bang

The 2014-15 is currently scheduled to be David Gockley's next-to-last as general manager of San Francisco Opera, and he has pulled out a few stops for it. We also know that he is doing at least some of the planning and casting for the next couple of seasons; subscribers got that letter last year mentioning Elektra, Don Carlo(s), Jenufa, and some singers expected to appear in future seasons.

Anyway, it's a good, well-balanced season, with ten operas, though short on German opera, which is represented only by Le Nozze di Figaro and, well, Handel's Partenope of which there is none, though there are works by a couple of Italian-opera-writing German-speaking guys. Maybe that take the season out of the realm of the well balanced. I hope this won't go on for too many seasons.

The big-gun, big-ticket item is Berlioz's monumental Les Troyens, which is so long that the non-matinee performances start at 6 p.m. Troyens is also the only opera not sung in Italian or English.
  • Norma, with Sondra Radvanovsky, Marco Berti (sigh), Davida Karnas, Christian Van Horn (Luisotti; Kevin Newbury)
  • Susannah, with Patricia Racette, Brandon Jovanovich, Raymond Aceto, and a cast of thousands (Karen Kamensek)
  • Un Ballo in Maschera, with Krassimira Stoyanova/Juliana di Giacomo, Ramon Vargas, Thomas Hampson (!), /Brian Mulligan, Heidi Stober, Dolora Zajick. 
  • Partenope, with Danielle de Niese, Daniela Mack, Alek Shrader, Philippe Sly, and dueling countertenors Anthony Roth Costanza and David Daniels.
  • Tosca (yawn), with Lianna Haroutounian, Brian Jagde, and Mark Delevan. 
  • La Cenerentola, with Karine Deshayes and Rene Barbera.
  • La Boheme, in a new production, with two casts (Sonya Yoncheva, Michael Fabiano, Nadine Sierra, and Alexei Markov alternating with Leah Crocetto, Giorgio Berrugi, Ellie Dehn, and Brian Mulligan). Christian Van Horn, Dale Travis, and Philippe Sly round out the cast, with no breaks. Giuseppe Finzi conducts.
  • Les Troyens, with Donald Runnicles conducting (thank goodness). Susan Graham, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Brian Hymel, Sasha Cooke, Brian Mulligan, Christian Van Horn, and Rene Barbera.
  • Two Women (La Ciocioara), a new opera by Marco Tutino, with Anna Caterina Antonacci, Stephen Costello, Mark Delevan, and Sara Shaffer. Nicola Luisotti conducts.
  • Le Nozze di Figaro, with a cast good enough to get me back to see this again. Philippe Sly as Figaro, Luca Pisaroni as the Count, Lisette Oropesa as Susanna, Nadine Sierra as the Countess (okay, that I don't quite grok), Kate Lindsay and Angela Brouwer as Cherubino. Patrick Summers conducts.  Unfortunately the same 35-year-old productions....
Here is the real oddity in the season. If you thought Patricia Racette's four appearances in the current season was unusual, take a look at Christian Van Horn's 2014-15 season:
  • Oroveso, Norma
  • Alidoro, La Cenerentola
  • Count Horn, Un Ballo in Maschera
  • Colline, La Bohème
  • Narbal, Les Troyens
  • A tweet from Mr. Van Horn tells me that he is also in La Ciociara!
In other words, he appears in 39 performances of five operas 44 performances of six operas! That must be some kind of a record for a singer in leading roles. He might as well rent an apartment for the year.

(He is an excellent singer and I am happy to hear him in multiple roles, but it is surprising that SFO is hiring one individual for so many parts. There is no reported world shortage of bass-baritones, which makes me suspect that perhaps there were some cancelations by other singers - but who knows?)

Updated: Owing to a good point made by Mr. JK; see the comments.
Updated again: Owing to the tweet from Christian Van Horn.
AND AGAIN: Gockley's next-to-last season.


Joshua Kosman said...

Psst — don't look now but neither Figaro nor Partenope is a German opera.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Written by German-speaking composers, Joshua.

Joshua Kosman said...

Yes, I knew what was behind your comment. But my point is that there's no conceivably useful sense of the term "German opera" that includes either of those pieces.

There's no difference stylistically between Handel and, say, Porpora, or between Mozart and Salieri; their respective cradle tongues don't matter one whit. If you don't classify Figaro and Partenope as Italian operas then there's not much point in doing national classifications at all.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Good points; see updated entry.

James Shrader said...

Gotta agree with Joshua. French play, Austrian composer, Italian genre - ain't no German DNA anywhere to be found.

Lisa Hirsch said...

LOL, see the amended blog posting above, which I am about to amend again for unrelated reasons.