Monday, December 03, 2012

SF Opera 2013-14, or Wall-to-Wall Racette

Here's the story, in brief:
  • Mefistofele, Boito (Racette, Abdrazokov, Vargas/Luisotti)
  • Dolores Claiborne, Picker (Biller, Zajick, Futral/Monahan)
  • Falstaff, Verdi (Terfel, Arteta, Arwady, Demuro, Rapier, Stober, Capitanucci, Silvestrelli/Luisotti)
  • Flying Dutchman, Wagner (Grimsley, Schnitzer, Storey, Sigmundsson/Summers)
  • Barber of Seville, Rossini (Meacham/Iversen, Leonard/Mack, Camerena/Shrader, Corbelli/Muraro, Silvestrelli, Cook; Finzi)
  • Show Boat, Kern (Stober, Racette, Robinson, Gunn, Simpson/DeMain)
  • Madama Butterfly, Puccini (Racette, Jagde, DeShong, Mulligan/Luisotti)
  • La Traviata, Verdi (Yoncheva/Perez, Pirgu/Costello, Stoyanov/Kelsey, Luisotti/Finzi)
A few things that should jump out at you:
  • Patricia Racette in four roles in three operas
  • Heidi Stober in two substantial leads
  • Andrea Silvestrelli a bit underused as Don Basilio and Pistola
About Racette. As I said during the Q&A, I love Pat more than just about anyone not named Beth Clayton, but WTF? Okay, I didn't put it that way. It turns out that Butterfly was originally something else that turned out to be too expensive, so they swapped it out for Butterfly. I vaguely got the idea that having her sing Julie in Show Boat is....a bit of an aside for her? A sweetener for taking away [nameless postponed opera]? Mefistofele is certainly off the beaten track.

Someone else asked about Britten, and, yes, they did think about doing Britten during his centenary, but. I think this must have been another case of "we need to sell tickets, soooo...."

I also asked about the recent performances of arias from Il Corsaro, and David Gockley said that no, they're not planning Corsaro, but they are planning a different, rarely-done early Verdi opera for a future season.

During his introductory remarks, Gockley was explicit about this: that the need to keep the company on a decent financial footing has been paramount during the ongoing recession. His priority has been to keep quality high while sacrificing repertory. He said that he is leaving repertory holes, and he knows it, that he hopes will be filled by his white knight successor. During the chit chat after the press conference, I told him that this had pre-emptively answered my planned question about whether we'd be seeing From the House of the Dead and Die Frau ohne Schatten, because....both are very expensive to stage and risky as far as ticket sales go.

The Wilsey Center project next door is proceeding; this will given the company shop space nearby as well as a 350-seat theater for chamber opera and other productions suitable for a small theater. (See recent programs for lots of info about the Wilsey Center plans.) The Indiana St. property where shops are currently housed is in contract to be sold. The funds from that sale will pay back the endowment, from which money was borrowed to fund several years of planned deficits.

There's another commission in the works, to a favorite Italian composer of Luisotti's, Marco Tuttino. His opera will be based on Alberto Moravia's Two Women, which was made into a film by Carlo Ponti. Tuttino has already written around 15 stage works (operas or musicals).

Mefistofele will be the company's Robert Carsen production, which had been sold to Turin. We tracked it down and bought it back. We are collaborating with the Met to restore it; they will use it in a future production.

Show Boat will be done in grand opera style, with white and black choruses, white and black dancers, and so on. It cannot be done this way on Broadway because of the economics. I believe we were also promised that it would not be amplified ("not dependent on mikes stuck down their throats").

They're finishing up the process of getting all labor contracts aligned for media purposes; only the stagehands' contract needs to be negotiated before they can have regional & international cinema presentations, streaming media, DVDs, and other. The next ballpark simulcast will be during the summer of 2014.

Tobias Picker, J.D. McClatchy, Dolora Zajick, Elizabeth Futral, Susannah Biller, and James Robinson were all on hand for a nice discussion of Dolores Claiborne and performances of an aria and a trio. I rather liked the music and what they had to say; looking forward to the performances.


CruzSF said...

Hi IronTongue, I get a strong sense from reading your coverage of the SFO announcement that you know which opera was postponed/cancelled due to high costs ... Do you? :-)

Thanks for the extensive post on the season announcement. I usually attend these but didn't receive a letter re: the schedule. Do you have an idea of why the usual donors weren't invited? Or did my expected invite get lost in the mail?


Lisa Hirsch said...

They didn't say which opera was cancelled, alas, but it is something that will be done in a future season.

That's a drag about the season announcement! But the last three years, there hasn't even been a press conference for the season announcement. My guess, board, and a few other invites only this time.

CruzSF said...

Oh, interesting. So they haven't given up on the other opera, but are just going to wait until times are flush? That's promising (or at least, not completely dire).

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yep - totally expecting to see it, whatever it is.

Axel Feldheim said...

Thanks for this report. This is slightly off-topic, but was any mention made of how ticket sales were for the numerous performances of Rigoletto & Tosca this season? I've heard reports that these performances were not very full, even with discounted seats, but the opera seems to be repeating this strategy with Barbiere, Traviata & Showboat.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Not off-topic at all; the season press conference would have been a good place to ask about that.

Nothing was mentioned, but I'll ask the press office.

CruzSF said...

I went to two performances each of Rigoletto and Tosca. Only the second Tosca (Nov 29th with Racette) was nearly full in Dress Circle and Grand Tier. I was shocked at the number of empty seats during the other nights. Actually, all my nights at the opera this season had numerous empty seats on the Dress Circle side sections, except for Lohengrin.