Monday, August 30, 2010

Fall Previews - Opera Edition

I'm not one of the ten (10) writers tapped by SFCV to do previews of the Bay Area's fall music season, so I'm going to make some kind of attempt to post about what I consider the highlights to be. Let's start with the opera scene.

At the big guy, San Francisco Opera, we have a weird season that I've already complained quite a bit about: a dozen performances each of Madama Butterfly and Aida, a bunch more of Nozze di Figaro, plus Werther, a mixed bag of an opera, Cyrano de Bergerac, a genuine rarity staged for the benefit of the world's greatest living baritenor, and, finally, the opera I am really excited about, Janacek's The Makropoulos Case, starring one of the world's greatest living sopranos, Karita Mattila. If you're relatively new to opera, by all means, take in the standards even though Pat Racette is not singing Cio-Cio-San; unless you subscribe, it'll be tough to get a ticket to Cyrano, Domingo's probable swan song with this company. Werther has a fantastic third act, not so much the first two - I'm going, knowing that it will not be sung with what you would call French style. Makropoulos is a great masterpiece by the eccentric and distinctive Bohemian Moravian; it will be easy to get tickets; I hope you'll go.

Here on my side of the Bay, Berkeley Opera, renamed Berkeley West Edge Opera, has a great season all around, opening with Handel's Xerxes, followed by a re-imagining of Carmen into The Carmen Fixation, with the excellent Buffy Baggott, and closing up with Clark Suprynowicz's Caliban Dreams. Not yet up on their web site is the readings series, one-off concert performances of rare operas, but they were announced in the printed brochure I picked up at Legend of the Ring. (I realize not all of these operas are in the fall, but I am thrilled by the repertory!)

Down South, Opera San Jose is putting on a couple of standards this season, but also the West Coast premier of David Carlson's Anna Karenina. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with Tolstoy's great and maddening novel of marital unhappiness. On the Peninsula, West Bay Opera has La Forza del Destino,  which would be interesting to see in a small theater.

Pocket Opera hasn't got dates up yet, though their season is listed on their home page. As usual, they've got a fair number of rarities (what, exactly, is The Marauders, which is by Verdi? I Lombari?) mixed with standards, but you have to have a high tolerance for a piano-dominated orchestra and unnecessary narration from the stage. Worth it for a piece you won't get to see anywhere else, but I would personally skip the standards.


pjwv said...

I'm going to guess that The Marauders is I Masnadieri.

Do I get a prize if I'm right?

I don't know how far into the season you're going with this, but don't forget the two Britten operas at Cal Performances, or Orphee by Ensemble Parallele.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Sure - if you're right, I'll take you to the opera! (I'm sure you're right!)

I'm trying to stick to the fall and forgot to check when those operas are being performed.

Checking, though - Orphee is in February, 2011 and the Britten operas are in March. I'll blog 'em in my January preview. :)

Anonymous said...

> eccentric and distinctive Bohemian

Moravian, actually (makes a big difference in that part of the world)

Lisa Hirsch said...

Argh, you are completely right. Fixing right away.