Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The principal pleasure of last Thursday's performance of Handel's opera "Orlando" at Herbst Theatre was running into writing colleagues who have become friends in the last couple of years. The Opera Tattler, above, was enjoying herself tremendously because "Early Music," and especially Handel operas, are some of her favorite repertory in the entire world. "I'm still trying to adjust to nineteenth century music," she confessed once, and her fresh ears mixed with keen intelligence are part of the fun of reading her.
Janos Gereben, above, possesses the opposite of fresh ears but through some alchemy, he is still genuinely excited and passionate about music and culture in all its varieties, even after writing about it for decades. He's also opinionated and funny as hell, with more than a touch of the friendly pedagogue. "Did you see how Nic had the orchestra sit sideways in that tiny pit so we could see conductor and musicians in profile -- something you could get only standing in the wings? It was brilliant. And so was the tallest mezzo-soprano in the world, Diana Moore. Wasn't she something? Or didn't you notice that either?"
The performance was being given by the 30-year-old local institution, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Nicholas McGegan, a British early music specialist who splits his time between European gigs, guest stints around the world, and San Francisco. He was definitely the highlight of the performance, which was being billed as "Orlando's Madness." Unfortunately, I wasn't as thrilled as either the Tattler or Janos or Axel, and wondered if it was just my mood (exhausted).
However, I read grumpy Joshua Kosman's review at SFGate and agreed with every word so I guess it wasn't just me. (Photo above is the artist David Barnard rather than Mr. Kosman.) The tall, young British countertenor William Towers as Orlando was beautiful to watch onstage but the voice was of the occasional hooting variety which makes me not want to listen to countertenors. My favorite of the singers was the "world's tallest mezzo," Diana Moore as a Moorish man, Medoro, and would love to hear her again.