Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fall Tenor Swaps, San Francisco Opera

The first cast change of the San Francisco Opera's fall season was Nian Wang leaving the cast of Dream of the Red Chamber, with Irene Roberts joining. Now we've got two more, and one is, well, an eyebrow-raiser.

The first is that Scott Quinn has withdrawn for personal reasons from Vec Makropulos, where he was to make his role debut as Albert Gregor. The opera opens in around three and a half weeks, so likely rehearsals are under way. Who knows what "personal reasons" means, in this case?

Charles Workman will sing Gregor instead. Workman is American, but he is active primarily in Europe and has a most interesting repertory, according to Operabase. He has sung roles ranging from Tito in Clemenza to Nobile in Thomas Adès's The Exterminating Angel, which was staged for the first time just a few weeks ago. Here's what the press release says about him:
American artist Charles Workman is a versatile artist whose early career saw him in the forefront of Rossini and Mozart tenors while also being highly-regarded in early music, French repertory and 20th-century and contemporary music. Following initial debuts at the Metropolitan Opera, Workman moved to Europe in 1995 where he has performed to great success with the leading opera companies and orchestras including the Paris Opéra, London’s Royal Opera, Milan’s La Scala, Moscow’s Bolshoi, Madrid’s Teatro Real, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the companies of Geneva, Zurich, Lyon, Munich and Prague. Upcoming engagements include The Drum Major in Wozzeck for Geneva; Nobile in Thomas Adès’ The Exterminating Angel for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Edmund in Lear for Salzburg Festival and various roles in Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher in Madrid.
Welcome to San Francisco, Mr. Workman!

Meanwhile, later in the season, Maxim Aksenov has withdrawn from the role of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and this is the eyebrow-raiser, because Mr. Aksenov withdrew from June's run of Carmen performances "for personal reasons" as well. Any number of things could be going on here, including family issues, or an ongoing illness that the singer prefers not to disclose (and if so, he is completely entitled to privacy). In any event, one wishes him well.

He'll be replaced by Vincenzo  Costanzo, about whom the press release says:
In November and December, tenor Vincenzo Costanzo will sing the role of Lt. B. F. Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. A native of Naples, Italy, Costanzo has had a fast rising international career and has worked with such distinguished conductors and directors as Daniel Oren, Myung-whun Chung, Franco Zeffirelli and Liliana Cavani. He recently performed to great success the role of Pinkerton in Milan with La Verdi Orchestra, Florence, Piacenza and Venice; Verdi’s Macbeth at the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam; the role of Rodolfo in Luisa Miller at Madrid’s Teatro Real; Nabucco at the Reggia di Caserta; and also sang Alfredo in La Traviata at the AIDS Gala at Deutsche Oper Berlin. Costanzo’s future engagements include Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera in Piacenza and Modena; Madama Butterfly in Madrid and Venice; La Rondine in Berlin; Macbeth in Palermo; Simon Boccanegra in Liège and La Bohème in Salzburg.
He's making his SFO and United States opera debut. Welcome!


Henry Holland said...

Speaking of tenors, I was in San Francisco last weekend, went to the Saturday Andrea Chenier. To say that Yonghoon Lee is no Mario del Monaco or Placido Domingo isn't a slight, it's just that he was.....efficient. Didn't bother with the whole "acting" thing, his Chenier was a cipher. He sang his three big arias well and did a good job in the final scene. Anna Pirozzi took a while to warm up, she was best in the final scene. George Gignadze was probably the best of the main singers as Gerard, the rest of the cast and the chorus were fine.

As for Nicola Luisotti's conducting, I just don't get why SFO hired him. Totally run of the mill, plus he had a tendency to drag the tempos. There was also some coordination problems between him and some of the singers. The production was fine, nothing radical or "regie" about it at all, it was good for what it was.

As for the opera, I like it on record a lot but on stage there were some longeurs, especially in the third act. The problem for me was mainly that Andrea Chenier doesn't really grow throughout the opera, he's the same character at the end as at the beginning. The love that he and Maddalena have for each has to be taken on faith because they don't really interact much and when they finally do, they're simply madly in love with each other.

Glad I went, but unless Mario del Monaco ca. 1960 is reincarnated and in a performance, not an opera I'll seek out live again.

Lisa Hirsch said...

ARGH I spaced out on your presence in SF last weekend, I'm sorry.

That's about what I thought of the performance. It's not a very good opera - he doesn't convince me that Chenier and Maddalena are in love or really have much of a relationship, certainly not enough for her to go to the guillotine with him.

For Del Monaco, swap in Corelli. There's a performance around from Vienna with Corelli, Tebaldi, and Basianini, von Matacic conducting, that's convincing on recording.

Luisotti: his first appearance in SF was electrifying, 2005 in Forza, and he has done some good work in Italian opera since then. Overall he has proven to be less talented than Donald Runnicles. He had three of 9 operas last year and 3 of 9 this year, and that speaks volumes to me.

You do know he will be leaving at the end of 2017-18, which means at the end of fall 2017, because summer 2018 is the Ring?

Henry Holland said...

It was a very quick trip, got there Saturday afternoon, went to the opera, spent Sunday at the Giants great ballpark, home Monday morning. Man oh man does flying suck, even an hour flight like the ones I took.

Yes, Corelli, what a voice!

Seeing the opera in person really brought home how unconvincing Chenier's and Maddalena's "love" is, it left a big gap in the opera for me.