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Subject: Re: Tosca at SFO
From: Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 12 Oct 2018 22:00:03 -0700

text/plain (112 lines)

Thanks for that, Kirsten.

I’ll be seeing it on the 30th, after we get back from Israel and London.

Carmen Giannattasio has been much hyped up in the local press as the “Lady Gaga of Opera” due mostly to her looks and skill for self-promotion. She’s the first singer I’ve seen prominent in the season’s opening Opera Ball (showcase for the great dress designers and plastic surgeons).

As Ronnie Spector said of her early days of the Ronettes with their choreographed moves and long tight gowns, “Ya gotta have a gimmick.”

So I’m very curious about what I’ll hear. What I’ve been able to catch on YouTube shows a voice of good range and size, but fairly prosaic otherwise: nothing unusual or distinctive in sound or musicality. Maybe I’ll hear more when I see her. She did study with Leyla Gencer.

Max Paley

> On Oct 12, 2018, at 9:47 PM, Kirsten Lee <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Last night I attended Tosca here in San Francisco. This is my 5th Tosca this
> year after the combinations of Yoncheva/Grigolo, Jennifer Rowley/Grigolo,
> Netrebko/Yusif, Gheorghiu/Calleja - all excellent duos with some unfortunate
> Scarpias mixed in. (Hampson was the worst of all)
> Only attraction for me was the role/house debut of Carmen Giannattasio whom
> I heard as Violetta before. The tenor Brian Jagde despite his big voice,
> secure high notes, nailing both big arias and being tall and handsome - I
> find him quite boring. He's like a duct tape of SF opera casting department.
> We should lend him to the Met to sing Radames. He could probably sing Samson
> very well as well.
> Scarpia of Scott Hendricks (saw him once 14 years ago here when he sang
> Marcello to Anna Netrebko's Musetta) was rather forgettable in Act I
> (literally there was where's Waldo moment for me at the end of Act I - I
> couldn't see or hear him - O Scarpia, you make me forget you ), too
> disturbing in Act II, probably because he was so convincing in his acting
> and the staging emphasized the abuse of power in the era of #MeToo. The
> voice is too small for the role, there's no authority or evil nobility in
> the tone. Barking != Menace.
> We used to have a STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL Thierry Bosquet production of Tosca
> for many years here in San Francisco with trompe l'oeil naked statues in
> Farnese, I don't know why it had to be replaced with cheaper looking version
> the same locals (Although Sant'Andrea della Valle interior was transformed
> to crimson walls of San Giorgio in Ragusa, Sicily) 
> Some unnecessary tweaks in staging were added  as well. In Act I there's the
> blonde marchesa Attavanti herself looking and acting like Barbarina looking
> for her lost pin, here looking for her lost fan during Te Deum. Once Scarpia
> produces the fan, he apparently leads her away. 
> In the beginning of Act II, Attavanti was just #SheToo'ed by Scarpia in
> Farnese. Also in Act 2, Scarpia was eating at his desk, so when he was
> writing the safe conduct it was a bit tricky for Tosca to grab the knife.
> Here we have Scarpia  who likes to collect armors - so very conveniently he
> acquires a shield with several mini swords strategically stuck on for
> decoration in the beginning of Act II. So Tosca pull Nothung to kill
> Scarpia. In Act III in Castel Sant'Angelo there are kids playing solders and
> executions, looked like a scene out of Carmen. (maybe for our star soprano's
> namesake.)
> The program booklet had a profile piece on Giannattasio, "the first Italian
> soprano in more than 20 years to sing Violetta at the Met" - saw that
> performance and the most memorable was her curtain call where she ran up to
> Luisotti and jumped on him with her legs wrapped around him like a koala
> bear. (He didn't fall) Tosca is her role debut and I thought the role suited
> her very well. She has power and clarity in her voice, she can float notes,
> she's an excellent actress and the vocal color is right for role, although
> not distinct enough that I could tell it from another singer.  
> One of my pet peeves for Tosca is excessive rolling R in "Avanti a lui
> tremava tutta Roma" done by most non-italian speakers so it was nice to hear
> it uttered plainly with disgust.
> I was very happy to find some historical archive collections in the display
> cases at the foyer. They had display cases with costumes (how tiny was
> Dorothy Kirsten's waist!), Tiaras and necklaces worn by the legendary
> Toscas, newspaper clippings going back to 1932, orchestra ticket from
> decades ago for $10!
> Kirsten
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