Monday, May 29, 2017

Les Enfants Terribles at Opera Parallele

Opera Parallele's Les Enfants Terribles was so damn good that I would have seen it again had I not had events scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. (Or maybe I would have gone to SFS to see Matthias Goerne, the big miss of the weekend.) In any event, it was fabulous; Glass's score is simply gorgeous and the staging is apt, haunting, and spot-on. Must admit, of course, that I have a weakness for multi-piano works, as would anyone who turned pages for the first pianist in Les noces at an early age.

I'll also tell you right off that the Glass is a huge improvement over the 1950 Cocteau film, which is not only badly dated, but sunk by the fact that the actors, playing teens, are clearly in their mid-20s. There's just more suspension of disbelief when operatic voices are on stage.

A few things that I could not squeeze into the review:

  • There was a point where baritone Hadleigh Adams and dancer Brett Conway looked just like Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.
  • Opera Parallele patron Betty Wallerstein donated the use of her beautiful home for the film shoot. She gets a big credit and a nice write-up in the program. Thanks from here as well!
  • That ending? I think Glass needs a musical coda of some kind.

Reviews I know of:

1 comment:

Mike A. said...

I saw both Enfants Terribles and SFS Matthias Goerne. I completely agree with you, Enfants Terribles was amazing! Gorgeous production, beautiful score, well sung and staged. There's one aspect that escaped both your and Kosman's reviews, the awesome pre-performance talk by Kip Cranna, equipped with multimedia presentation to match the staging. He discussed the history, the music of Philip Glass, audio clips to highlight Glass' style, video clips of the movie trailer, other production of Enfants Terribles, etc. It was VERY informative and exhaustive, much more than the regular pre-performance talk in SF Opera. I would LOVE to get hold of that material!!!

For me, the SF Symphony Shostakovich/Tchaikovsky was extraordinary, mostly for the conducting debut of Manfred Honeck. He is a conductor that I've been hearing a lot, and I always wanted to hear him conduct, and he didn't disappoint at all. The SF Symphony played the Shostakovich with so much clarity and detailed, and with right pace. The Tchaikovsky 5th was the most thrilling performance I've ever heard! Exciting, and again, greatly detailed , never sluggish. He didn't over-indulge in the slow second movement, and I really like that. The horn solo and SF strings were particularly lovely there. I love that the third movement waltz sounded very Russian waltz, instead of Viennese (a la Strauss). Maestro Honeck received thunderous standing ovation on Thursday and he seemed very moved by it. He was running around to shake hands with most of the SF Symphony members. He's definitely the conductor to watch!!! I hope he'll be coming back more often!

As much as I adore Matthias Goerne, I'm afraid the Shostokovich's Suite sit rather too low for his voice, especially in the last few songs. I did a research after the concert and found that it's always sung by a bass, so I wonder why he decided to add this to his repertoire. His voice got swallowed by the big orchestra for those low notes, and he resolved to growl those. My symphony companion noted that he looked flushed producing those notes. It's unfortunate, because otherwise it was beautiful delivery. I particularly loved the "Love" songs, that he sang with so much beauty and compassion.

All in all, it's great weekend full of amazing performances!