Tuesday, November 22, 2022
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SF Opera’s Antony and Cleopatra


_DSC1405* Notes * 
The world premiere of John Adams’ Antony and Cleopatra (Act II Scene 3 pictured, {photograph} by Cory Weaver) at San Francisco Opera featured highly effective voices and lushly textured music. The piece has a sure glittery but darkish high quality to it, and the manufacturing leaned into that, to make sure.

The libretto for this work was by the composer, however primarily based totally on the play by Shakespeare with thrives from classical texts by Plutarch, Virgil, and others. This was extra profitable dramatically than different libretti of Adams’ latest operas, however maybe there have been fewer probabilities for the bizarre however charming outbursts about pigs or chocolate cake.

The orchestra sounded splendid, Maestra Eun Solar Kim has precision with dynamism. The orchestration has two harps which very a lot known as to thoughts Wagner to me, particularly close to the tip of Act I. I used to be additionally fairly taken by means of celesta (or bell piano), which I may hear very clearly up within the again balcony. One way or the other it did not remind me of the Sugar Plum Fairy in any respect, and I look ahead to listening to the opera once more to focus in on this and the cimbalom, which I instantly responded to, as I used to be obsessive about dulcimers as an adolescent. The refrain additionally sounded nice, very a lot collectively and full.

The singing was robust, there have been various characters, however they had been all distinct. It was beautiful to listen to mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Deshong as Octavia, sister of Caesar. Her voice is splendidly wealthy and deep. I additionally actually preferred mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven as Charmian, Cleopatra’s attendant, who radiated calm reasonableness in distinction to Cleopatra’s wild rages.

_DSC9485Probably the most evocative aria for me was in Act I Scene 2, “Age can not wither her, no customized stale her infinite selection” sung by Antony’s lieutenant Enobarbus. Bass-baritone Alfred Walker particulars the attraction of Cleopatra in entrance of a scrim with projections of the character, as she lounges upstage (pictured, {photograph} by Cory Weaver). Walker is sympathetic and his voice successfully conveys how alluring and magnetic Cleopatra is.

The three principal singers had been additionally fairly vigorous. Tenor Paul Appleby is an unctuous Caesar, his voice could be very vivid and fairly. At occasions his sound could have lacked heft, however I feel it may need needed to do with the staging, he was dampened by being upstage and boxed in by surroundings in Act II Scene 2, as an example.

Bass-baritone Gerald Finley makes for a charismatic main man, singing Antony with a lot sweetness. However better of all was soprano Amina Edris as Cleopatra, her voice has an intense vitality to it, and she or he was downright horrifying when it was known as for, implacable and domineering.

The manufacturing, directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer, is fashionable and stark. The scene modifications are seamless, there have been many shifting stage parts that would conceal and reveal completely different settings. The projections had been elegant, usually black and white, and employed thoughtfully.

* Tattling * 
I had a ticket for the final row of the opera home, however since standing room is again, I made a decision to face close to the middle aisle, particularly for the reason that efficiency was not offered out and it was simpler to see from that vantage level with out anybody immediately in entrance of me.

I used to be requested if this was my first John Adams opera, which I used to be so amused by, I may hardly reply. It was clear that the pandemic has made my social abilities even worse. In any other case, the viewers round me was quiet and respectful, although there may need been some inappropriate guffawing when Eros, follower of Antony, stabbed himself in Act II Scene 3.

My 8-year-old youngster loves Nixon in China, and I had thought possibly I may carry him to listen to this. His assessment of Physician Atomic (not a really child-appropriate work, we solely heard the primary quarter-hour) was that it sounded “like Nixon in China however unhealthy and noisy,” so I used to be curious if the music right here could be one thing he could be thinking about. The themes of Antony and Cleopatra appear a bit of too grownup for a 3rd grader although.

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