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Stephanie Blythe won't be making her role debut as Klytemnestra next month after all; she has withdrawn "for personal reasons."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mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens will sing the role of Klytemnestra, replacing mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe who has withdrawn from the production for personal reasons.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.”

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