San Diego, CA—There is nothing quite as exciting as an opera. It has all the elements you would want to see and hear in theatre. Beautiful music, dance, drama (oft times melodrama) comedy, tragedy, stunning costumes and scenery and of course acting are all combined to make this wonderful medium unique. When all the stars are lined up in perfect harmony and all systems are on go there is no place on earth yours truly would rather be than sitting in the audience savoring the experience.
This season The San Diego Opera, with General Director Ian Campbell at the helm, will be bringing to our fair city a combination of well known not so well known often produced and not so often produced, operas to the Civic Theatre. The season spans the calendar year from January to May and includes Puccini’s grand opera “Turandot”, Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier”, Gounod’s “Faust” and ends with Bizet’s popular “Carmen”. What a lineup!
Here are some details about “Turandot” you might want to store away for the future: The last time “Turandot” was mounted at the Civic Theatre was in 2004. One of my favorite conductors, Edoardo Müller, will be in the pit overseeing the orchestra, seasoned and familiar face on the San Diego Opera scene; director Lofti Mansouri will manage and guide the cast through the entire production. World famous artist, David Hockney will take credit for the spectacular set designs and costumes by Ian Falconer are owned by the San Francisco Opera.
Since it is one of my favorites, I’m ready for another go around with the “ice Princess Turandot” whose icy heart is tough to win over. She has no problem hacking off the heads of suitors who claim their love for her but can’t solve the three riddles her ministers Ping, Pang and Pong put forth to potential husbands, in order to win her heart.
This year American soprano Lise Lindstrom will be making her San Diego debut singing the title role of Turandot. Uruguayan tenor Carlo Ventre will be returning to San Diego in the role of Calàf singing one of the best known tenor arias from Puccini’s masterpiece, “Nessun dorma”.
“Turandot” will be sung in Italian with English translations above the stage. Scheduled performances are as follows: Sunday January 29th 7PM, Tuesday February 1st 7PM, Friday February 4th 8PM and Sunday February 6th 2PM.
Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier”, which was last performed in San Diego in 1991, will be performed in German with English translations above the stage. Coming a month plus after the dramatic “Turandot”, “Der Rosenkavalier” will be a welcome change after the heavy hitting “Turandot”.
This comic opera in three acts has all the makings of laugh out loud comedy and farce-mistaken identity, a woman playing a man playing a woman and convoluted love affairs. The role of Octavian, the seventeen-year-old lover of our heroine Marschallin in the trouser role, is being sung by German mezzo-soprano Anke Vondung.
Making her return to San Diego after her debut in 2004 as Violetta in “La traviata” and returning in 2005 as Amelia in “Simon Boccanegra”, Anja Harteros will be singing the title role of Marschallin.
The story takes place in 19th century Vienna so be prepared for some beautiful Strauss (Vienna) waltzes. “Der Rosenkavalier” had its premiere in January 25, 1911 at the Dresden Opera House. This year it will be celebrating its 100th birthday while playing here at the Civic Theatre. Both Anja Harteros and Italian bass Ferrucco Furlantto (Baron Ochs) will be making role débuts here.
German conductor Christof Perick returns to San Diego leading the orchestra and Lofti Mansouri will direct.
Performance dates are as follows: Sunday April 3rd at 2PM, Wednesday April 6th at 7PM, Saturday April 9th at 6PM and Tuesday April 12th at 7PM.
Following on the heels of the Strauss comic opera, Gounod’s ‘morality masterpiece’ “Faust” will open April 23rd at 7PM. “Faust “ will be sung in French with English translations above the stage. The last time San Diegan’s saw this French opera was in 2001.
It’s difficult to know exactly how many plays; movies, musicals, symphonies or book plots have been fashioned on the old ‘devil may care’, sell your soul to the devil (in this case Mephistopheles) in exchange for whatever suits you at the time but they are numerous.
In Gounod’s “Faust”, he forfeits his soul to the devil for youth and pleasure. In short there’s hell to pay after the desire, satisfaction and money are gone or wear off and the moral lessons kicks in.
Last season’s Romeo and Juliet, American tenor Stephen Costello and American soprano Ailyn Perez (real life husband and wife team) will be returning in the roles of Faust, the seducer, who trades his soul to the devil and Marguerite (the seduced virgin) who is ruined by Faust’s selfishness. American bass-baritone Greer Grimsley will be singing the Mephistopheles or villain role.
Our own resident conductor Karen Keltner will conduct and David Gately will direct. Sets and costumes for this opera are from the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The following times are scheduled for performances of “Faust”: Saturday April 23rd at 7PM, Tuesday April 26th at 7PM, Friday April 29th at 8PM and Sunday Mat 1st at 2PM.
Closing out this diverse season is one of the all time favorites, Georges Bizet’s “Carmen”. What a nice birthday present for yours truly. It runs from May 14th (a day after my birthday) through the 22nd with performances at 7Pm on Saturday the 14th, 7PM on Tuesday the 17th, 8PM on Friday the 20th and 2PM on Sunday the 22nd.
With heavy hitters including Edoardo Müller in the pit, British stage director John Copley at the helm, John Conklin in charge of the set designs and with costume designer Susan Memmott Allred, a strong and vigorous “Carmen” is the best way to end this 2011 opera season.
Both Georgian mezzo-soprano Nino Surguradze in her San Diego Opera debut as Carmen and Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra as her lover Don José, also in his San Diego Opera debut have strong credentials having performed in famous opera houses all over the world.
Talise Trevigne, American soprano, as Micaëla, is also making her San Diego Opera debut. Returning American baritone Wayne Tigges, who will take on the toreador role as Escamillo, was last seen here in the 2006 production of “Carmen” in another role. A familiar face in this crowd returning to our stages, Priti Gandhi Italian-born soprano who was seen as Anna in last year’s production of Verdi’s “Nabucco”, will be playing Mércèdes.
In case you had forgotten, Carmen is the sexy and provocative cigarette factory worker who entices the young, naïve and smitten soldier Don José into her arms and lures him on a path of crime with a band of gypsy smugglers forcing him to give up his career and his righteous lifestyle.
He drops his beloved fiancée Micaëla like a hot potato and he ends communication with his mother. There is no way but down for this young lover especially in the hands of the firebrand, Carmen who hops from one lover to the next as the mood suits her.
Love, jealousy and betrayal are at the heart of this grand tragic opera. Set in Spain in 1830 and sung in French with English translations, “Carmen” is one of Bizet’s most famous operas containing some of the most beautiful and exciting arias including the “Toreador Song”, “Habanera” and the heartbreaker “C’est toi/c’est moi!”
For more information visit:http://www.sdopera.com/Home
See you at the opera.