The staging is the same from the 2009 run and the title role is still spectacularly sung and acted by Italian basso Ferrucio Furlanetto, who brings just the sort of gravitas the character needs to draw sympathy rather than exasperation from the audience. If you can pick one artist to carry the show and make people want the opera company to survive the current abysmal mess that it is in, Furlanetto would be it. He is so at home with this role that he plays with it now rather than just coping.
Anke Vondung is quite a different Dulcinea than Denise Graves was in 2009. Not as much presence, perhaps, but quite fresher and more lyrical voice (at times a bit too 'lyrical' in the huge hall that is the Civic Theater, as she was easily overpowered by the orchestra). Eduardo Chama is a crowd pleaser as Sancho Panza and got the most (complimentary) whistles at the curtain call for keeping the show fun even to its tragic ending. I should say... I don't know why Simeon Esper is still singing a minor role like Juan. The dude has got a gorgeous voice (and quite a good look to boot)!
The chorus was a bit out of sync at the start but gelled up nicely thereafter.
I'm afraid I'm being a bit boring writing this up... It wasn't a care-free night at the opera like it used to be. People were taking photos and videos before and after the curtain and making jokes about how this could be the last opera they'd get to attend here in "America's Finest City"... and I got a bit depressed and also a bit conflicted about it. I'd like the opera to survive, of course, and for the many people I admire in the organization to get to keep their job. At the same time, I wouldn't like for it to survive with Ian and Ann Campbells heading it (and a real opera board shake up would be nice, too, starting with Karen Cohn, whose histrionics in print has really poisoned the pool of anyone that cares even a little bit about the San Diego Opera).
|Typical staging at the SDO; traditional with period costume. This is from Tosca a few years back.|
|Just about the only minimalist staging of an opera at the SDO. Salome.|
And so, their dark cloud hang over the opera house and weighed down even Tuesday's good performance of Don Quixote... which I'll cite as the excuse for my lackluster not-much-of-a-review 'review'.. with apologies to the artists, who showed way more spunk than I do even though they are even more affected by this whole stinky thing!