Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond


September 19, 2006

Deborah Voigt as Amelia. Photo: Terrence McCarthy 2006

The other major purpose for this recent San Francisco trip was to complete September's California Verdi trifecta by attending the San Francisco Opera's season opening produciton of Un Ballo in Maschera starring Deborah Voigt. Unfortunately it was not a case of saving the best for last. San Francisco's current Ballo is the operatic equivalent of Disneyland's Pirates of the Carribean ride. (The old one. Not the new Johnny Depp one) As an adult, there is little amusmant to be found in the experience outside of a twinge of nostalgia.

The boring and unimaginative period staging was not helped by Gina Lapinski's direction or the uninspired conducting of Marco Armiliato. However there was the consulation prize of getting to hear Deborah Voigt, who did her best to keep this ship afloat. I'm not sure I was completely sold on her Amelia, but she did have one advantage over her fellow cast members - she was willing to do some actual acting.

With bad acting, there is always some debate as to whether they or the director are to blame. In this case, I suspect it was more the later considering that non-performances were given by not only Marcus Haddock and Ambrogio Maestri but also virtually eveyone in the cast. On the plus side, standing still and staring at the audience throughout the performance did give the audience the chance to concentrate on their signing ,which was enjoyable throughout.

This, of course, was the first production of the first full season under David Gockley's tenure as general director of the company. But, as I've said before, this wasn't all due to his planning, and you can hardly hold one stinker against anyone.....At least, not yet.


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