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

Adler Fellow Eugene Brancoveanu: An Appreciation

[The following tribute to Adler Fellow Eugene Brancoveanu complements my review of the 2006 performances of the San Francisco Opera production of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville”.] Piano, pianissimo senza parlar The first words of “Barbiere” are sung by Almaviva’s henchman, Fiorello.  Before I get into the main body of the performance critique (see: Deconstructing S.F. Opera‚Äôs … Read more