As La Maratonista and I sat at the final performance of San Francisco Opera‘s Sweeney Todd on Tuesday, I realized I still had not posted about opening night. And I had such good blogging intentions for the fall. Ah, well… the road to hell and all that goes with it I suppose.
I guess it’s hard to get inspired by Luisa Miller. The opera is far from being one of Giuseppi Verdi’s best. The plot is a bit of a yawn and the music is only so-so. What’s more, the production design on this one was rather lackluster. Really, it just didn’t say “opening night” at all. It’s a good thing the singing was incredible and there were lots of pretty dresses to look at.
Giuseppi Verdi, Luisa Miller (1849)
Based on: a play by Friedrich von Schiller
Setting: a seventeenth-century Tyrolean village
Sung in: Italian
Plot in 101 words or less: Go, Luisa, it’s your birthday! And… scene. What was the point of that? Anyway, Luisa loves Carlo, but he’s really Rodolfo, son of Count Walter. The reason for this lie is never explained. Wurm wants Luisa for himself so he schemes with Walter to keep the lovers apart. Easy-peasy, since Rodolfo is engaged to Federica and she’s having none of it. So the stupidest scheme in the history of stupid schemes is just crazy enough to work and the resulting miscommunication leads Rodolfo to poison both Luisa and himself. Idiot. But at least he takes down Wurm with his final breath.
In short, nothing to write home about. Even if you are forced to write something in order to free your imprisoned father. The singing, however, was glorious. Leah Crocetto, a former Adler Fellow, who so impressed us as Liù in Turandot, held her own against a strong Michael Fabiano, who I’ve now seen numerous times (most notably in Lucrezia Borgia in San Francisco and Lucia di Lammermoor in Paris) and has never sounded better. Sadly the two didn’t have much chemistry together and weren’t really convincing as a couple. But neither the opera nor the production gives them much to work with.
Highlights from the rest of the stellar cast include Vitaliy Bilyy as Luisa’s father, Ekaterina Semenchuk as Federica, and Andrea Silvestrelli as Wurm. The latter looks to be gearing up for MVP of the season, as he will be coming back for both Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Don Carlo. The chorus didn’t seem to have much to do beyond adding window dressing in some glorious red velvet riding coats, but there was a kick-ass clarinet solo from the orchestra pit.
But enough of opera, I hear you saying, what about the dresses?!? Here are some of my favorites of the night:
All in all, a lovely night at the opera.