Troyens

Troyens

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Jenufa, San Francisco Opera

©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

A brief commentary, in large part because a review of this opera needs to be circumspect. In short, a brilliant, searing production of a harrowing opera. Great conducting from maestro Jiří Bělohlávek (maybe the friend who called him "the greatest conductor in the world" is right), great direction, excellent to great singing from all involved. 

Karita Mattila's Kostenicka is a miracle of singing and acting; at nearly 56, her voice remains beautiful and powerful, and she presents the character in all its complexity, very much making her the center of the opera. 


©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Malin Byström, new to SF, is a lovely Jenufa with a distinctive voice. William Burden (Laca) is, as always, a stage powerhouse; Scott Quinn is an excellent, dissolute, Steva. Jill Grove was a superb Grandmother Buryjovka, oddly brighter-voiced than Byström and making me notice for the first time how important the character is.


©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

I did not love this production, by Olivier Tambosi, the last time I saw it, in LA with Mattila as Jenufa. However, this time, everything came together and it was possible to overlook the overworked visual metaphor of the rocks on stage. I loved the intensity of the blue sky and wheat fields in Act I; you could feel the heat and the slight craziness in the town. And I also loved the falling snow outside Jenufa's window in the second act (much of which I cried through).

Go see it, is all I can say. It's a triumph all around, and something SFO and David Gockley must be, quite rightfully, very, very proud of.

9 comments:

Evangeline Brown said...

Searing is right. I feel privileged to have seen it.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Amazingly great, wasn't it? I cried a lot.

John McMurray said...

Jump on a plane, come to London and cry even more as ENO revives David Alden's extraordinary production which opens tonight. What an opera and what a message of honesty and reconciliation for these hideous times...

Lisa Hirsch said...

Can't tell you how much I wish I could, but...not a good time to go out of town for a couple of weeks.....

Eric Pease said...

We saw Jenufa last night and were blown away! thanks for the review and the nudge to go.

Also appreciated the suggestion that we not read the synopsis. You were quite right about seeing Jenufa for the first time.

And lastly, thanks for the Jenufa family tree you posted earlier. That was quite helpful. I've shared with friends who are going to the July 1st performance.

Eric Pease said...

one last comment. there is a recording of Jenufa from SF Opera from October 10, 1980 in the Yahoo group "operas_concerts"

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/operas_concerts/info

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, yay! You are very welcome.

That 1980 performance is available on Gala as well.

Cameron Kelsall said...

I don't know if I'd call Bělohlávek the greatest conductor in the world, but he's certainly the greatest conductor of this music. I'm fairly surprised he isn't conducting the fall run at the Met. He seems to be Mattila's preferred conductor, and has conducted of her previous Janacek assignments at the Met (as well as the 2009 ONEGIN, where his conducting was the best part of the evening). Of course, David Robertson is great in his own right. I was just surprised.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I kind of wish Bystrom was singing Jenufa on our coast instead of Dyka, whom I find maddeningly dull onstage.

Lisa Hirsch said...

You're welcome! And uh-oh about Dyka, since I'm thinking of seeing the Met run in late October....

When this Jenufa was done in LA, Conlon conducted - it might be that there are schedule conflicts, but who knows? I can't find anything about Belohlavek's schedule past August. :(