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Subject: Re: SF Aida: Strength in Numbers
From: SUZANNE TURLEY <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:SUZANNE TURLEY <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 8 Jun 2001 09:47:53 -0700

text/plain (123 lines)

Dear List,

Though I agree heartily with Jano's praise of last night's opening Aida at
San Francisco Opera, I think he shorts the excellence of Patrick Summers'
conducting. Patrick's attention to the details of the  big picture both with
the orchestra and the stage is a wonderment.  He drew richness from parts of
the score that often go unattended as othes have been content to keep the
musical traffic under control rather than seeking the  full extent of the

Patrick  urged powerful, musical and sensitive performances from Ms Crider
and Mr Margison, who, agreed, have their inconsistancies at times. Ms
Diadkova is an Amneris for the ages, and  Mr Pyatnchko as Amanasaro is
indeed a find.  We can look forward to his Rigoletto next fall. The
strengths of all the other artists made it a muscally very satisfying
performance. Post Adler Fellows, Tammy Jenkins and Todd Geer, the Priestess
and Messenger, are testimony to the excellence of our Opera Center system.

I, too, had a few problems with the staging and choreography.  The thing
that bothered me the most was the  dancers in their diaphanous costumes,
looking  quite like escapees from Botticelli's Primavera, dancing in front
of Rhadames in the Temple scene at the end when the music is grand, full and
gorgeous and should just rock and roll on its own.  I found that very

On a silly note; where did those two ratty looking bronzed palm trees way up
stage right behind the  4  onstage (excellent, no wrong notes) horns in the
Triumphal Scene come from?  Were they refugees from Frank Sinatra's Twin
Palms estate in Palm Springs?

This was the first time the 1981 production has been properly re-staged, as
it was rudely interrupted by the 1989 earthquake and again by the move to
the Bill Graham during the House rennovation the only other times it has
been done.

Opera lovers, this Aida merits a trip to The Opera House, absolutely.



>From: Janos Gereben <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: Janos Gereben <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: SF Aida: Strength in Numbers
>Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001 23:34:57 -0700
>Unlike the Friday's cast of one in "Traviata" (Patricia Racette
>singing by her lonesome), tonight's opening of "Aida" in the War
>Memorial featured a brilliant group in comprimario roles. It was a
>good night for both Michele Crider and Richard Margison (two
>singers with their share of ups and downs, but this time it was
>almost all up) as Aida and Radames, but the delightful surprise
>was the wealth of performances by the entire cast - under Patrick
>Summers' consistently fine direction, a bit short of his best we
>have often heard in this house.
>Larissa Diadkova's Amneris was simply stunning, everything there
>from a huge, well-used voice to the security to sing appropriately
>to the music's requirements. Unlike the other two principals, both
>singing with effort no matter what's called for, Diadkova sang
>piano, forte or in-between. With San Francisco's great record of
>the right Amneris (if not always the Aida), Diadkova fit right in
>with the recent memory Resnik, Verrett, Arkhipova, Toczyska and
>Zajick. Watch out for this Kirov great (who sang here as long ago
>as the 1994 "Fiery Angel") at the Salzburg Festival this summer as
>Mistress Quickly in a Berlin Philharmonic "Falstaff."
>It's not often that you come away from "Aida" thinking of Ramfis,
>but Paata Burchuladze's high priest was so impressive vocally that
>every future performance in the role will be compared to the
>standard established by this "Prince" (real title) of the Russian
>Orthodox Church. If San Francisco were still the activist place of
>old, there could be a popular uprising in the audience to have
>Stephan Pyatnychko, tonight's Amonasro, replace the hapless
>Germont in the Verdi Festival's "Traviata" as long as he is in the
>city anyway. He has a beautiful lyric baritone, and musical
>intelligence to burn.
>Tammy Jenkins' priestess, Raymond Aceto's King, and Eric
>Hoisington as the solo dancer all fit right into the over-all
>excellence of the performance. Hoisington was excellent, but
>Christian Holder's choreography was on the funny side - but
>(unintentionally) humorous and strange - a cross between Isadora
>Duncan on a bad day and Turkish folkdance after an overdose of
>hashish. Ian Robertson's Opera Chorus excelled when it sang by
>itself, got "watered up" by the addition of the extra chorus for a
>bloated total of 101.
>Paula Williams' stage direction consisted mostly of moving people
>around in jerky, unnatural motion; the triumphal scene, with a
>body count of 233, moved - interestingly - from upstage to
>downstage, rather than from side to side. Douglas W. Schmidt's
>stage design is sufficiently gilded, but Lawrence Casey's costumes
>are on the bizarre side, including the white bridal gown for
>Amneris and puzzling foot ware for Radames. Sandals are logical in
>a topical climate, boots are less so, but perhaps justified in
>case of a soldier, but what do you make of open-toe cowboy boots
>for the leader of the Egyptian army? Fortunately, just by the time
>one would have tried to parse the concept, Burchuladze returned to
>sing, and feet were all forgotten.
>Attention to detail, however, was exhibited by SFO music director
>Donald Runnicles, in the audience (where he turns up with
>surprising regularity), talking about a 2002 "Tristan" he will
>record with Christine Brewer (singing the Mahler Eighth gloriously
>across the street, in Davies Hall, even as we were speaking), and
>the BBC Symphony. The detail? Tristan. Runnicles says he has one
>(no, not Christian Franz), but won't say who. But he is sure not
>shy about Brewer, speaks of her as a fan would. Come to think of
>it, she is likely to make an exceptional Isolde. Supported, one
>hopes, by a good tenor.
>Janos Gereben/SF, CA
>[log in to unmask]

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