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As I prepare for learning the precise nature of my Oscar blitz tomorrow, here are a few thoughts on last week’s announcement of San Francisco Opera’s 2015-2016 season. (For a fuller assessment of David Gockley’s final season, John Marcher provides a terrific rundown over at A Beast in a Jungle.)

Diana Damrau as Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. Photo by Ken Howard.

Diana Damrau as Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. Photo by Ken Howard.

Of course, as a self-proclaimed bel canto whore, I am most looking forward to Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, based on Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel, The Bride of Lammermoor, set in seventeenth-century Scotland. I am optimistic for this one despite my relative disappointment with this past season’s La Cenerentola. I’m sure this new production can’t be worse (or can it?) than the one I saw in Paris where the fabulous leads (Sonya Yoncheva as Lucia and Michael Fabiano as Edgardo) were not well served by the wildly inappropriate modern/military resetting. As a rule, I’m not an opponent of resetting, but I was on my way to Scotland at the time so I was particularly disappointed by the choices made by the director and designer.

Oddly enough, given my second disappointment* at the Paris Bastille that fall, the other opera I am most looking forward to is Jenůfa. This will be my third Janáček opera, having seen both Kátia Kabanová and Věc Makropulos at the Opéra de Paris. Although I didn’t love the production choices for Makropulos, I liked both operas more than I thought I would and have heard nothing but glowing reviews of the 2010 SFO production of Makropulos, which I did not attend.

Also, I’m happy to see two French works in the mix, an avant-garde Carmen (hopefully not of the disco variety) and Claude Debussy’s La Chute de la Maison Usher (on a double bill with Usher House by Gordon Getty). I love Poe so I am eager to see these two takes on the story. As for Carmen, let’s just hope the lead has better French pronunciation than our last go-around, and that Gockley doesn’t strip the production of all interest.

Carmen at the English National Opera. Photo by Alastair Muir.

Carmen at the English National Opera. Photo by Alastair Muir.

I must register my disappointment in the return of the 2012 production of Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), less for the opera, which I love, than for the vertigo-inducing set and the fact that it is sung in English, which, as I’ve said before, is wrong like a wrong thing. I believe La Maratonista agrees with me on this so I’m assuming this will be the production we drop.

Die Zauberflöte aside, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know of my dread of German operas, both for their length and, well, their German-ness. However, I have just two words to say about the upcoming production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Brandon Jovanovich. Pretty sure I can put up with that for over five hours. Plus, Sasha Cooke!

Rounding out the season are Sweeney Todd, which should be fun, and two Verdi works I know nothing about, Don Carlo and Luisa Miller. Also on the schedule is the recent production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, but the SFO has already notified me that it will not be part of our subscription.

Speaking of our subscription, I’m thrilled to report that La Maratonista and I won the fall “selfie” contest and will therefore have the pleasure of viewing this summer’s encore production of Le nozze di Figaro from box seats. In addition to the fact that we will be attending on La Maratonista’s birthday, it is also a fitting way to close out our fifth season, as Le nozze di Figaro was the first production we saw back in the early days of this blog in 2010.

San Francisco Opera production. Photo by Cory Weaver.

San Francisco Opera production. Photo by Cory Weaver.

Looking forward to a great season!



*I saw both Lucia di Lammermoor and Věc Makropulos in October 2013 while visiting my family in Paris. While each had strong singing, I disliked both productions. Lucia di Lammermoor‘s set didn’t work at all for the story and the interesting concept for Věc Makropulos just didn’t get executed properly. Notably, the overture was backed by the projection of news/publicity footage of Marilyn Monroe as well as clips from the 1933 King Kong; however, no context was provided for this montage and it was a bit of a jumble (and, as I explained in my post on the Palais Garnier, one’s ticket does not include a basic program explaining what one is about to see). Later in the production there were other films clips, including a number from Sunset Boulevard. Now, I understand what they may have been trying to do (making a statement on beauty, age, stardom), but how many people can identify clips from Sunset Boulevard off-hand? The take on the opera was more Anna Nicole than the dignity that Norma Desmond strove for.

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