Thursday, October 28, 2010

Opera 101—A Nose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet… As Victory

Picture, if you will, the tender balcony scene between Roxane and Cyrano, and later between Roxane and Christian. The music swells. The singers profess their love. The curtain falls on the first half of Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac

A smattering of applause, then a roar from the crowd. Cheers for the great Plácido Domingo in one of his signature roles? Nope. The San Francisco Opera had flashed the final score of Game #1 of the World Series as the closing supertitle. Who knew that opera buffs had it in them? But there they were, checking their iPhones during the brief pauses between scenes, taking photos of City Hall (all lit up in orange for the occasion), and cheering the Giants at the end of the Second Act.

Final:  Giants 11  Rangers 7

And the opera?  Pretty darn good. Musically, it doesn’t really compare to our other selections for the year, but with Plácido Domingo as the lead and a strong Roxane (Ainhoa Arteta), it really got to me.  Of course, the original play has always been one of my favorites, both for its poetry and its humor. The poetry was somewhat lost in this version, especially given the French diction of the singers, but the sets were impressive and the adaptation choices quite interesting.  I particularly liked how they flipped the opening theater scene from being about the gamblers, pickpockets, and aristocrats in the audience to a backstage view of the performers getting ready. Ragueneau's bakery was gorgeous and the Arras battlefield was also well done. I'm not sure I would seek out a recording of this opera for my collection, but it was definitely an enjoyable performance.

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