Tuesday, August 15, 2017

That's One Less Turandot Performance I'll Have to See

Toni Marie Palmertree
Photo: Valentina Sadiul

Toni Marie Palmertree will sing Liu in all of the September performances of Turnadot, replacing Maria Agresta, who has withdrawn owing to illness. Here's most of the press release:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 15, 2017) — San Francisco Opera announced today a casting update for its season-opening production of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot, running from September 8 through 30 at the War Memorial Opera House. American soprano Toni Marie Palmertree will sing Liù, replacing Maria Agresta who has withdrawn due to illness. Originally scheduled to portray Puccini’s tragic heroine on September 24 and 30, Palmertree will now perform in all six September performances.

Palmertree scored a triumph last season when she substituted for an ailing colleague on two hours’ notice as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’sMadama Butterfly. The occasion marked her first time portraying the character on stage and her first leading role with the Company. San Francisco Classical Voice remarked: “The young soprano not only met the challenge, but she claimed her place among the finest vocal interpreters of the role heard here recently.” Currently in her second year of a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship, Palmertree has sung the Priestess in Verdi’s Aida, the Heavenly Voice in Don Carlo and appeared in Company productions of Jenůfa and Dream of the Red Chamber. She recently starred in West Bay Opera’s production of Puccini’s Il Trittico, portraying Giorgetta in Il Tabarro and the title role in Suor Angelica.  
San Francisco Opera inaugurates its 95th season on Friday, September 8, with Puccini’s Turandot, staged in the iconic production by English artist David Hockney and conducted by Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti, and two opening night galas. Saturday, September 9 features the opening of a new production of Richard Strauss’ Elektra. The festivities continue on Sunday, September 10, withSan Francisco Chronicle Presents Opera in the Park, an annual Bay Area tradition celebrating the opening of the opera season with a free concert in Golden Gate Park.  
Puccinis 1926 masterpiece is set in fabled Peking and follows the courtship of a beautiful and untouchable princess by a mysterious stranger who must triumph in a deadly game of riddles to win her love. The opera is renowned for its powerful choruses and extraordinary vocal highlights, including Turandot’s commanding “In questa reggia” (“In this palace”), Liù’s dramatic death scene and Calaf’s famous Act III aria, “Nessun dorma” (“No one sleeps”). Left unfinished at the time of Puccini’s death, Turandot was completed by Italian composer Franco Alfano and had one of the 20th century’s most spectacular operatic premieres. 
 An internationally acclaimed artist who is known for a diverse repertory of roles, Martina Serafin returns to the War Memorial Opera House stage in one her most celebrated portrayals as Princess Turandot. This season, the Austrian soprano also performs Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera and Opernhaus Zürich; Abigaille in Verdi’s Nabucco at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala; and the title role of Tosca at London’s Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Serafin made her San Francisco Opera debut in 2007 as the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hawaii Friday Photo

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, March, 2017
The photos I have don't begin to do the location justice.

Monday, August 07, 2017

San Francisco Opera Cast Change Announcement: Elektra

Don't panic: it's not Christine Goerke.

Stephanie Blythe won't be making her role debut as Klytemnestra next month after all; she has withdrawn "for personal reasons." Rehearsals are starting this week; I hope Ms. Blythe is well and that it's just a matter of "maybe this role isn't for me after all," a decision any singer can make.

Stepping into the part is Michaela Martens, who sang Cassandre in one performance of Les Troyens two years ago and did a good job with it.

Here's the part of the press release about the swap (the rest is economiums to Goerke, Pieczonka, Nanasi, etc.):

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 7, 2017) — San Francisco Opera announced today a cast change for Richard Strauss’ Elektra, which opens on Saturday, September 9, in English director Keith Warner’s new staging at the War Memorial Opera House. American mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens will sing the role of Klytemnestra, replacing mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe who has withdrawn from the production for personal reasons.

Martens made her 2015 San Francisco Opera debut as Cassandre in Berlioz’s towering Trojan War epic,Les Troyens. She returns to the Company to sing her first performances of another demanding operatic role, Klytemnestra, the murderous and guilt-ridden mother of Elektra in Strauss’ 1909 opera with a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal based on the Greek tragedy by Sophocles.

Known for her vivid portrayals of some of the most challenging mezzo-soprano roles in the repertory, Martens has performed on many of the world’s leading stages including the Metropolitan Opera, Munich’s Bavarian State Opera, Vienna State Opera, Grand Théâtre de Genève and English National Opera. Her other roles include Judith in Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle; Kostelnička in Janáček’s Jenůfa;Herodias in Strauss’ Salome; Ortrud in Wagner’s Lohengrin and Kundry in Parsifal. She will reprise her Klytemnestra with Houston Grand Opera in January 2018. Martens is a former Merola Opera Program participant, a past winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and holds a degree from The Juilliard School.
 Conductor David Robertson, who led Martens in acclaimed performances at the Metropolitan Opera (John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer) and Carnegie Hall (Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary), said of the mezzo-soprano: “She thinks deeply about what it is she does, but then lets that thought inform her instincts so that nothing she does ever feels calculated. There are things that she does both in the singing and sometimes when she’s not singing that are so strong. They come from the way she inhabits the roles.”

Three Terrifying Things Before Breakfast

It was one of those mornings. Here's what terrified me:

1. Alex Wellerstein's post at Restricted Data, ostensibly about a conference in Japan, that also discusses the situation with North Korea.

2. The link in Wellerstein's post to this Jon Chait column, which reproduces some of Trump's January discussion with Malcolm Turnball. The president of the United States can't understand the following details of Australian - US policy:

  • Australia doesn't allow refugees who arrive by boat to enter their country.
  • This is to discourage use of an extremely dangerous sea crossing to reach Australia.
  • The US agreed to accept up to 1,250 refugees who arrived in Australia this way.
  • These refugees are not in prison.
  • The US can vet the 1,250 to our heart's content to make sure it's safe to admit them to the US.
I think David Frum is right that it is very, very bad that a conversation between the US president and a world leader was leaked. What if it had been an Obama conversation when the Iran nuclear deal was being negotiated? But that conversation demonstrates the mental incapacity of the president to such an extent that you understand why it was leaked.

3. The possibility that the US will default on its debt, owing to the intransigence of a small number of our elected representatives in Congress. This could introduce another terrible worldwide recession, and there is no way that the current administration would respond effectively to it. It's not even clear that they think a default is a bad thing. Here's Paul Krugman adding to my anxiety.