Partenope at San Francisco Opera

Handel rules! What a genius! He is funny when tragic ( like in Julio Cesare), but he is over the top-wet-your-pants-laughing hilarious in a comic opera, especially directed by master stage director Christopher Alden. The amount of gags and jokes is astounding, but they just flow organically from the dialogue and the music. All the coloraturas and fiorituras are not an end in themselves, but rather sound effects of everyday actions like unbuttoning a shirt or shaking a cocktail. The audience really appreciates that!

The setting of the piece feels taken out from BBC’s Hercule Poirot – white architecture, high society, games of cards, drinks, cigarettes, silk pj’s…
Brilliant and foxy Danielle de Niese
pretty much dances her part from beginning to end, you cannot take your eyes off her. I never thought I would see a countertenor (Anthony Roth Costanzo) singing while hanging down from a staircase. How on earth does he “support” in this position? I am going to the gym tomorrow to see how this can be done.
All the cast top notch. It was interesting seeing how small an ensemble (orchestra) you need for Handel. This makes it easier for the lighter voices to shine (figuratively speaking) in a big theater.
Music : lovely, although no such memorable tunes as from Julio Cesare. Doesn’t matter – transports you to another time, another reality. Why, oh, why cannot contemporary composers come up with stuff like that, something that just feels great in your ear, in your muscles, in your bones… That was rock’n’roll of the 1700…

Nice touch – in the intermission the screen for the super titles showed the score of SF Giants-Cardinals baseball game. That sparked almost the same enthusiasm as some of the arias.

Very impressed and uplifted – so glad I went, in a spur of the moment…