SF Opera’s Antony and Cleopatra

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_DSC1405* Notes * 
The world premiere of John Adams’ Antony and Cleopatra (Act II Scene 3 pictured, {photograph} by Cory Weaver) at San Francisco Opera featured highly effective voices and lushly textured music. The piece has a sure glittery but darkish high quality to it, and the manufacturing leaned into that, to make certain.

The libretto for this work was by the composer, however primarily based totally on the play by Shakespeare with prospers from classical texts by Plutarch, Virgil, and others. This was extra profitable dramatically than different libretti of Adams’ latest operas, however maybe there have been fewer possibilities for the bizarre however charming outbursts about pigs or chocolate cake.

The orchestra sounded splendid, Maestra Eun Solar Kim has precision with dynamism. The orchestration has two harps which very a lot known as to thoughts Wagner to me, particularly close to the top of Act I. I used to be additionally fairly taken by means of celesta (or bell piano), which I may hear very clearly up within the again balcony. Someway it did not remind me of the Sugar Plum Fairy in any respect, and I stay up for listening to the opera once more to focus in on this and the cimbalom, which I instantly responded to, as I used to be obsessive about dulcimers as an adolescent. The refrain additionally sounded nice, very a lot collectively and full.

The singing was sturdy, there have been numerous characters, however they had been all distinct. It was pretty to listen to mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Deshong as Octavia, sister of Caesar. Her voice is splendidly wealthy and deep. I additionally actually favored mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven as Charmian, Cleopatra’s attendant, who radiated calm reasonableness in distinction to Cleopatra’s wild rages.

_DSC9485Probably the most evocative aria for me was in Act I Scene 2, “Age can’t wither her, no customized stale her infinite selection” sung by Antony’s lieutenant Enobarbus. Bass-baritone Alfred Walker particulars the attraction of Cleopatra in entrance of a scrim with projections of the character, as she lounges upstage (pictured, {photograph} by Cory Weaver). Walker is sympathetic and his voice successfully conveys how alluring and magnetic Cleopatra is.

The three principal singers had been additionally fairly vigorous. Tenor Paul Appleby is an unctuous Caesar, his voice may be very vibrant and fairly. At instances his sound could have lacked heft, however I believe it might need needed to do with the staging, he was dampened by being upstage and boxed in by surroundings in Act II Scene 2, as an example.

Bass-baritone Gerald Finley makes for a charismatic main man, singing Antony with a lot sweetness. However better of all was soprano Amina Edris as Cleopatra, her voice has an intense vitality to it, and she or he was downright scary when it was known as for, implacable and domineering.

The manufacturing, directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer, is trendy and stark. The scene modifications are seamless, there have been many shifting stage components that would disguise and reveal completely different settings. The projections had been elegant, typically black and white, and employed thoughtfully.

* Tattling * 
I had a ticket for the final row of the opera home, however since standing room is again, I made a decision to face close to the middle aisle, particularly for the reason that efficiency was not offered out and it was simpler to see from that vantage level with out anybody instantly in entrance of me.

I used to be requested if this was my first John Adams opera, which I used to be so amused by, I may hardly reply. It was clear that the pandemic has made my social expertise even worse. In any other case, the viewers round me was quiet and respectful, although there might need been some inappropriate laughing when Eros, follower of Antony, stabbed himself in Act II Scene 3.

My 8-year-old baby loves Nixon in China, and I had thought perhaps I may convey him to listen to this. His overview of Physician Atomic (not a really child-appropriate work, we solely heard the primary quarter-hour) was that it sounded “like Nixon in China however dangerous and noisy,” so I used to be curious if the music right here could be one thing he could be fascinated by. The themes of Antony and Cleopatra appear a little bit too grownup for a 3rd grader although.

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