Review: Furlanetto’s, San Diego Opera’s, Compelling 1869 Version of “Boris Godunov” – January 30, 2007

For the past 35 or so years, opera companies in the United States and throughout the world have been experimenting with versions of Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” other than the elegantly re-orchestrated version by Mussorgsky’s close friend, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, that held the world’s stages for nearly a century. A common theme underlay each experiment – to … Read more

Review: A “Faust” Surprise in Houston – January 23, 2007

The foul weather flags were flying along Galveston Bay, the Houston area’s Gulf of Mexico shoreline, when William Burden, the tenor scheduled to sing the title role in Houston Grand Opera’s production of Gounod’s “Faust” awoke to an inflamed throat. Throughout the day he consulted with his doctor, voice experts, and the opera’s management. It … Read more

The Devil’s Details Part II: Thoughts on Gounod’s “Faust”

Last year, the Wall Street Journal’s opera critic Heidi Waleson called Gounod’s “Faust” a “silly opera”, employing a phrase apparently designed to show her condescension to the task of reviewing the Met’s then new production. There was no accompanying essay explaining why Ms Waleson so characterized the venerable French opera. I have always looked forward … Read more

“Almost Famous”: THE THREE TENORS at San Francisco Opera 1967-1981

The Wall Street Journal published an unflattering essay (“A Hissy Fit Too Far”) about tenor Roberto Alagna’s recent unsuccessful appearance as Radames in La Scala’s Franco Zeffirelli production of Verdi’s “Aida”. The article, under the byline of Ian Brunskill, obituaries editor(!) of the Times of London, held forth the proposition that Alagna has been promoted … Read more

Grading David Gockley’s First Year at San Francisco Opera

David Gockley assumed the general directorship of the San Francisco Opera in the middle of the 2005-06 season, when three operas were still do be performed in the 2006 “summer season”. This was earlier than originally announced, but his predecessor, the embattled Pamela Rosenberg, announced that she “missed her grandchildren in Germany” and would depart … Read more