Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Season Opener and Media Round-Up

My review of San Francisco Opera's Luisa Miller is posted at SFCV. As you can see, I just could not get very enthused about it, between uncharacteristically blah conducting from Nicola Luisotti, poor direction, a production that would be better if you just removed a few elements, (the horse! the riding crops! if a riding crop appears on stage in Act I, it must beat someone bloody by Act III) and mixed singing.

Luisotti is known to be variable from performance to performance, so that's the element most likely to perk up the proceedings in future performances. But it's too late to rescue the direction and make something more dramatic out of the production.

And let's face it: it's not a very good opera. Two years later, Verdi would be writing a masterpiece nearly every time he set pen to paper, and even the misses (the first Boccanegra, the debatable Vepres Sicilienne) would be a lot more interesting than Luisa.

Looking over the Verdi works list, I sort of blame Cammarano, mostly because the works around that time with librettos by Piave are so much better. "Sort of" because I haven't read the chapter in Budden about Luisa so I don't know what else might have affected the circumstances under which Verdi wrote the opera.

But the question still comes up: Why not perform Ernani instead? It calls for similar performing forces and has a much more interesting score. (Of the plot, I say little, because it sucks in its unbelievability.) It needs a blood and thunder approach to work, same as Luisa, and the only time I've seen it live was in an overly-polite production at ENO.

Well, I think the answer to my question is simple: SF Opera owns a Luisa production, but not an Ernani production. The company has performed it in 1968, 1969 (LA), and 1984 only.  The Ernani production must be long gone and might have been borrowed anyway.
More to come.

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