'Tosca' at the Deutsche Oper Berlin
Best of 2017 Highlights
- Turandot at San Francisco Opera: The boldly colorful David Hockney production of Puccini’s “Turandot” gave the 95th season lift-off in a good revival that scarcely showed its age. At the conclusion, outgoing SFO Music Director Nicola Luisotti, who conducted, was awarded the San Francisco Opera Medal. Later in the run (all the way into December), SFO General Director Matthew Shilvock presented Hockney with his own medallion, the Company’s highest honor. Austrian soprano Martina Serafin assumed the title role admirably. She was replaced for the second half of the run by Swedish diva Nina Stemme. Tenor Brian Jagde, in his role debut as besotted Prince Calaf, starred in both casts. He again proved his winning combination of looks and talent. Adler Fellow Toni Marie Palmertree is also fast becoming a reliable casting solution with a big developing career of her own. Her portrayal of the slave girl Liu was haunting.
- #1: Tosca, Opernhaus Zurich – October 21: The American tenor Brian Jagde made his Zurich debut that night as Mario Cavaradossi and more than held his own…
- Turandot at San Francisco Opera: Musically speaking, I think this was a stronger production than in 2011 and, what’s more, I could better appreciate it this time because I’ve seen so many other operas in between. Brian Jagde, the former Adler Fellow who so impressed me in Tosca, and, more recently, Carmen, delivered an excellent “Nessun dorma” …
- Turandot at SFO, Nina Stemme, Brian Jagde, Leah Crocetto, debuting conductor Christopher Franklin gave the best performance of this I’ve seen.
- Turandot (Puccini): Esteemed British painter/artist David Hockney turned 80 in 2017, inviting retrospectives of his accomplishments by art museums. The San Francisco Opera celebrated his birthday by reviving his spectacular production of Puccini’s “Turandot”, with 12 performances divided between September and November/December.I have described Hockney’s “Turandot” (with Ian Falconer’s superbly conceived costumes) as a “world treasure” – performance art that can best be enjoyed in the visual and acoustic surroundings of the War Memorial Opera House.For the season-opening September performances, the San Francisco Opera Orchestra was resoundingly led by Maestro Nicola Luisotti, in his final weeks as music director of the San Francisco Opera.The September performances were the occasion for the role debut as Calaf of New York spintotenor Brian Jagde and the return of Austrian soprano Martina Serafin to the War Memorial Opera House as the Princess Turandot. Pennsylvania soprano Toni Marie Palmertree was Liu (role debut) and Ohio bass Raymond Aceto was Timur.The December performances featured Swedish soprano Nina Stemme in the title role, Michigan soprano Leah Crocetto as Liu and auspicious debuts by Maestro Christopher Franklin leading the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and bass-baritone Soloman Howard as Timur. Brian Jagde (Calaf), Joo Wan Kang (Ping), Julius Ahn (Pang) and Joel Sorensen (Pong) sang in all 12 performances.
For my performance reviews, see: Review: San Francisco Opera’s “Turandot” – Sonic Splendor, Visual Delight – September 8, 2017 and A Second Look: San Francisco Opera’s “Turandot” – September 24, 2017 and Review: San Francisco Opera’s Treasured “Turandot” – Stemme, Crocetto, Howard Join Cast, November 18, 2017.