Bay Area — It required Rossini's "Otello" 178 many years to achieve world war 2 Memorial Opera House.
Better never than late?
Not quite. But certain suspensions of memory are helpful if a person really wants to savor this bel-canto curio by itself ornate terms.
Forget "Il Barbiere di Siviglia."
Shakespeare's text was switched by one Francesco Maria Berio di Salsa right into a creaky formula libretto that trivializes the heroic tragedy. Mental profundity be damned.
Rossini's music is definitely pretty, from time to time even inspired. However it journeys very gently over passions that Verdi made tumultuous in 1887.
The opus is labeled opera seria. but many of their melodic and harmonic conventions could serve equally well for opera buffa. All one will have to do is alter the words.
Which raises the discomforting specter of Rossini's Sevillian barber--who became of make his debut in 1816, exactly the same year that introduced Rossini's Moor of Venice to Naples. The pervasive wit, subtle knowledge and breathless musical invention that completely defined the comic opera for eternity, or an acceptable facsimile thereof, prove less helpful when put on this violent tale of affection, hate, jealousy and dying.
So what is an opera lover to complete when faced using the elegant naivete of Rossini's "Otello"?
Relax, relax, benefit from the lovely tunes, marvel, if at all possible, in the pyrotechnical displays and disregard the anticlimax from the finale.
The opera is full of gracefully complex arias and intricately poised ensembles. A lot of the orchestral writing is astonishingly colorful. Even though the characterizations will always be generic, one must admire anybody who tries to get over the natural vocal hurdles.
Rossini requested his cast to do high-wire functions with no internet. He savored singing like a spectator sport. For much better or worse, his "Otello" should be treated being an enlightened concert in costume.
The concert ought to be fabulous, obviously, and also the costumes ought to be wonderful (Zack Brown's lavish 16th-Century wardrobe serves nicely here). Which may be enough. There's little to become acquired through the theatrical gilding of the historic lily.
The Bay Area forces, regrettably, weren't happy to leave of sufficient age alone. Laurie Feldman, very busy, all-purpose director, and Gerard Howland, the ever-present, economy-oriented designer, cluttered the proceedings with gimmicks.
Feldman introduced a masked troupe of commedia-dell-arte mimes on stilts (the Fratelli Bologna) who happened interior and exterior the experience to include play-within-the-play commentary. Additionally they reduced the orchestral interludes to accompaniment for inane human-puppet shows.
Picky? Yes. Illuminating? No.
Howland provided a clumsy but cheap unit set that was comprised of two antique portals, a few awkwardly raked platforms along with a backdrop that covered primitive scenic projections. Overpowering everything and everybody would be a magnificent statue of the golden lion--36 ft lengthy, two tales high and three,000 pounds heavy.
Presumably among the Turkish spoils Otello introduced to Venice, the fine feline monster dominated the backdrop for the majority of the opera. Once the curtain rose around the final scene of desperation and murder, however, happens revealed the large lion straddling the cover of Desdemona's bed.
Ah, meaning. Alas, misplaced meaning.
On Saturday, the cartoon image created laughter at home. The response, though understandable, demonstrated catastrophic towards the tragic mood the principals were trying so nobly to sustain.
The singers contended with sufficient problems without insensitive scenic competition. Rossini's cantilena, in the end, is actually daunting in the straight line convolutions and altitudinous assaults. This is a grotesque understatement.
The 3 central males within the opera are actually tenors. A whole lot worse, they are actually tenors who are able to climb effortlessly--or perhaps an not reasonable facsimile thereof--to climactic notes within the never-never-region above top C.
Chris Merritt, that has lengthy focused on this type of challenge, recognized the punishment from the title role with stoic authority, with astonishing versatility and reassuring security at both range extremes (really low in addition to high). A few of the climbing flights sounded a little squealy. A few of the sustained tones switched a little unsteady pressurized. A few of the theatrical poses looked silly instead of imposing. Still, it was a valiant, informed performance.
Bruce Ford provided a far more mellifluous, almost equally virtuosic counterforce as Rodrigo. Craig Estep, who extended at one staggering moment for any stentorian E-natural, held their own within the underwritten role of Iago.
Cecilia Gasdia exuded poignant discomfort and sang very softly, apart from some pitch problems, because the innocent Desdemona. Portraying her platitudinous father, Kevin J. Langan introduced solid basso relief to some treble-dominated world. Mika Shigematsu made a lot of the modest responsibilities allotted Emilia.
Patrick Summers conducted with apparent sensitivity and elegance. He supported the unhappy singers most sympathetically, though he sometimes elicited scrappy playing in the hard-working orchestra.
In most, it was a telling exhumation. And today, please, to Verdi.
* Rossini's "Otello," presented through the Bay Area Opera in the War Memorial Opera House, 199 Grove St. (at Van Liness), Bay Area. Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. $8 (standing room) to $120. (415) 864-3330.