Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Did I Say Something About Calixto Bieito?

Why, yes, I did. Something about seeing a Rossini comedy only if it were a Bieito production set in an abbatoir.

Another opera I have seen too often with mediocre direction and singing is Carmen, which is ubiquitous in the culture in that people who know nothing about opera have heard the habanera, the seguidilla, and the toreador song. And...somehow, San Francisco Opera has picked up Bieito's Carmen production for the 2015-16 season.

Okay, not quite: the press release says "based on" that production, and not directed by Bieito. Presumably that means that SFO can edit the production if it wishes. Still! I will have to go. And it's a coup for the company: as the press release says, this is Bieito's first opera production in the US.

And it will be a good summer in 2016, with the double-cast Carmen, Don Carlo (alas, in Italian, but hot damn, look at the cast - finally, I will see this masterpiece with the singers it deserves), and Jenufa, though goddamn, it's the Tambosi production I saw in 2007, with the damn rocks in its head, not SFO's beautiful Zambello production. On the other hand, Karita! as the Kostelnicka!

To sum up the 2015-16 season, it is well balanced and well cast and worth seeing. My personal regret is that there is nothing being presented except Usher House that I have not seen already.

It's David Gockley's last season as general director, though we will be seeing his programming for a couple of seasons after this. There are some enticing bits in the press release, most notably this:
 In early 2016, the Company will produce, for the first time, a winter/spring season of intimate and innovative operatic works, to be presented in the new Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera’s 299-seat Atrium Theater in the Veterans Building adjacent to the War Memorial Opera House.
Here's the full lineup, with cast and conductor and whatever else seems worth listing in the bullets.
  • Luisa Miller, Verdi; September 11-27. Luisotti/Crocetto, Fabiano, Hampson, Siwek, Semenchuk, Silvestrelli. Zambello production; Yeargan design; Feldman, director. Hampson, really? Still not convinced he's a Verdi baritone, but this is a lighter role than Anckarstrom.
  • Sweeney Todd, Sondheim; September 12-29. Summers/Finley, Blythe, Stober, Madore, Grills, Tigges. Can this production overcome the hazards of musical theater in a 3200-seat theater?
  • Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti; October 8-28. Luisotti/Damrau, Beczala, Mulligan, Teste. New production from the Susannah team.
  •  The Magic Flute, Mozart; October 20-November 20. Foster/Appleby, Sierra, Sly, Shagimuratova, Reiter, Fedderly. Jun Kuneko production, which I hated the first time around. I, uh, didn't care much for the English version either: it's a mashup of the Martins and David Gockley.
  • Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Wagner. November 18-December 6. Elder/Grimsley, Jovanovich, Willis-Sorensen, Cooke, Gantner, Anger, Shrader. Co-production with Glyndebourne and Chicago. Really, I am Not a Big Fan of the most unfunny comedy of all, but with this cast....
  • Il Barbieri di Siviglia, Rossini. November 25-December 9. Finzi/Meacham, Mack, Barbera, Corbelli, Silvestrelli, Cooke. Same production seen in 13-24.
  • Usher House (Gordon Getty) and The Fall of the House of Usher (Debussy/Orledge); December 8-13. Foster/Mulligan, R. Croft. Ahem. The Debussy is a completion of an unfinished work; Berkeley Opera did a different completion in the 90s, on a double bill with Bluebeard's Castle, several performing venues ago. This should be an....interesting....pairing.
  • Carmen, Bizet; May 27-July 3, 2016. Carlo Montanaro conducts two casts. Roberts/Costa-Jackson, Jagde/Massi, Nelson/Sumuel, Sierri/Grimaldi. Set in post-Franco Spain. Okay!
  • Don Carlo, Verdi; June 12-29. Luisotti/Fabiano, Stoyanova, Krasteva, Kwiecien, Pape, Silvestrelli. Same production seen 15 years or so ago, I believe, but infinitely better casting.
  • Jenufa, Janacek; June 14-July 1. Belohlavek/Bystrom, Mattila, Burden, Quinn. Note that Mattila is singing the Kostelnicka, not Jenufa!
I'll be skipping Magic Flute and Barbieri, but I'm in for the rest.

Some statistics:
  • Andrea Silvestrelli has four roles: Wurm in Luisa Miller, Bartolo in Barbieri, Night Watchman in Meistersinger, Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo
  • Brian Mulligan, described by Joshua Kosman as "nearly indispensable," continues his run of baritone roles, taking Enrico in Lucia and the baritone roles in the double bill.
  • For the second season in a row, Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts only three productions. They're all right in his wheelhouse, but what gives with this? Runnicles almost always had four or five.
  • Not yet announced: Papagena in Magic Flute and Grandmother Buryja in Jenufa.
  • No Pat Racette.
  • No Christian Van Horn! What will we do without him??
The press release is long, long long. Read the whole thing here. However, here are the company and role debuts:


Ain Anger                                            Veit Pogner in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Paul Appleby                                     Tamino in The Magic Flute
Calixto Bieito                                      Production of Carmen
Lee Blakeley                                       Director of Sweeney Todd
Malin Byström                                   Jenůfa in Jenůfa 
Sir Mark Elder                                    Conductor of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Lawrence Foster                              Conductor of The Magic Flute
Martin Gantner                                                Sixtus Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Erika Grimaldi                                    Micaëla in Carmen
Nadia Krasteva                                  Princess Eboli in Don Carlo
Marie Lambert                                  Revival Director of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Elliot Madore                                     Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd
Riccardo Massi                                  Don José in Carmen
Carlo Montanaro                              Conductor of Carmen
Zachary Nelson                                 Escamillo in Carmen
Scott Quinn                                        Števa Buryja in Jenůfa
Joan Anton Rechi                             Revival Director of Carmen
Ian Rutherford                                  Associate Director of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Ekaterina Semenchuk                    Federica in Luisa Miller
Rafał Siwek                                         Count Walter in Luisa Miller
Krassimira Stoyanova                     Elisabetta in Don Carlo
Nicolas Testé                                     Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor
Rachel Willis-Sørensen                  Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg


Stephanie Blythe                             Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd
William Burden                                 Laca Klemeň in Jenůfa 
Malin Byström                                   Jenůfa in Jenůfa 
Sasha Cooke                                      Magdalena in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Richard Croft                                      Edgar Allan Poe (Usher House) and The Doctor (La Chute de la Maison Usher)
Michael Fabiano                               Rodolfo in Luisa Miller and Don Carlo in Don Carlo
Gerald Finley                                     Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd 
Matthew Grills                                  Tobias Ragg in Sweeney Todd
Greer Grimsley                                 Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Thomas Hampson                            Miller in Luisa Miller
Brandon Jovanovich                       Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Elliot Madore                                     Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd
Karita Mattila                                     Kostelnička in Jenůfa 
Brian Mulligan                                   Roderick Usher in Usher House and La Chute de la Maison Usher
Scott Quinn                                        Števa Buryja in Jenůfa
Ekaterina Semenchuk                    Federica in Luisa Miller
Alek Shrader                                      David in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
Nadine Sierra                                     Micaëla in Carmen
Andrea Silvestrelli                            Wurm in Luisa Miller
Rafal Siwek                                         Count Walter in Luisa Miller
Philippe Sly                                         Papageno in The Magic Flute
Heidi Stober                                       Johanna in Sweeney Todd
Michael Sumuel                                Escamillo in Carmen
Rachel Willis-Sørensen                  Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Wayne Tigges                                    Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd


John Marcher said...

You did indeed mention Bieito in an abbatoir and Carmen will have to do in place of Rossini. I agree this is a very well-balanced season- it makes me think Gockley took the unsolicited advice I gave him back in 2010 about scheduling 4 for the newbies/masses/fossils and 4 for us who like new and different.

As someone who has been very critical of Gockley early seasons, I have to admit he's really done an excellent job as his tenure winds down. I'm looking forward to all of this except Barber, Flute, and Meistersinger of course, but that is a great cast, even though the Ushers are the only thing I too haven't seen before.

The Atrium Theater is a very exciting/intriguing development, and between that and SoundBox the City may be on the verge of some very interesting things. By the way, the artistic director of the Atrium is Elkhanah Pulitzer, who directed West Edge's Hydrogen Jukebox last summer.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I'm pretty excited by the new theater. I think that SFO has wanted or needed an experimental theater for a long time, and I'm looking forward to whatever they produce there, even though it'll probably all be done on the cheap with Adlers and local singers.

I'll go to Meistersinger anyway. :)

John Marcher said...

I would be fine with Adlers or locals in a space for 300 people. Hopefully Merola will move in there as well and SFO will make the space available to others.

I wonder who ponied up the money for the Mayer system.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Dede WIlsey?