“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’s … Read more

Review: Halevy Triumphs in Ponnelle “Carmen” – San Francisco Opera, December 3, 2006

California’s hottest late November/early December ticket for opera was the San Francisco Opera production of Bizet’s Carmen, whose nine scheduled performances were completely sold out for several weeks. Alternate casts and conductors permitted consecutive day performances on each of three weekends. This is a complete turnaround for a company that only a couple of years … Read more

Review: World Class “Manon Lescaut” – San Francisco Opera, November 19, 2006

Donald Runnicles’ first performance of Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” in San Francisco, was his fifth Puccini work among 54 different operas he has conducted for the company. Originally scheduled in a different (and almost certainly less traditional) production by former General Director Pamela Rosenberg, it represented current Director David Gockley’s fifth change in the fall season … Read more