Monday, September 10, 2012
Opera in the Park 2012
This year's edition of San Francisco Opera's free Sunday afternoon concert in Golden Gate Park was exquisite. The weather was beautiful, the music good, and the dozen singers excellent to fabulous. Even General Director David Gockley's plummy-voiced introductions were brief and to the point.
The SF Opera supernumeraries usually have their own large blanketed posse area close to the stage, headed by Sally Warren and Irene Bechtle who would show up early to snag the space, but they were nowhere to be seen this year. This meant there were beautiful strays such as Jenny Jirousek above wandering around looking for their gang who didn't seem to have shown up.
We arrived late for the concert, just as baritone Joo Won Kang was singing the Di Provenza il Mar aria from Verdi's La Traviata. Though it was hard to tell through the speaker system and wind, the aria sounded spectacular. Also taking top honors were the opening night Rigoletto stars Aleksandra Kurzak, Željko Lučić and Andrea Silvestrelli singing Una Voce Poco Fa from The Barber of Seville, a tragic aria from Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, and The Slander Aria La Calumnia from The Barber of Seville, respectively.
We were also homeless without Irene and Sally, so we found a spot of lawn near the back at the edge of the pavement walkway which provided some fascinating people watching. When we arrived, I asked a middle-aged woman if I could borrow her program, and she hissed, "You can buy them over there!" while pointing at a San Francisco Chronicle tentlet on the periphery. Thirty seconds later, the young woman above handed me her program with a smile, and in exchange I shared our bottle of white wine. She and her boyfriend were from Zurich, and she was doing research for her PhD thesis about English usage between different generations in San Francisco's Chinatown.
After intermission an open space was grabbed by the gay man above with his two little dogs and his two female friends, and they started jabbering in the most banal way imaginable through the rest of the concert. When the music became louder, their voices would do the same as if they were at a dance club, thoroughly missing the point of the afternoon. Not wanting to make a scene, or commit murder, or listen to Puccini, we left early, still vibrating with the loveliness of the day.