Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Runnicles' Birthday Present

Christine Brewer, soprano

At Donald Runnicles' 50th Birthday concert last night at the Opera House, that snake thing Carol Vaness used as a prop for Elettra's aria "D'Oreste, d'Ajace" (from Idomeneo) was a plush toy from that IKEA store in Emeryville.

The delivery of the aria was great, but we hadn't yet seen the campiest from soprano that evening. At the concert's end, stage hands rolled out a giant birthday cake on stage, and Miss Vaness jumped out of it wearing a white low cut dress and a blond Marilyn Monroe wig, singing her own version of "Happy Birthday" on the verge of an orgasm.

Anyhow, the irony is that Donald's orchestra sounded very rough last night, but hardly mattered since it turns out maestro Runnicles' real birthday present was the awesome Wagnerian soprano Christine Brewer, making her SF Opera debut singing Isolde's Liebestod. It was a moment of re-affirmation for every Wagnerite in the house, that yes, there are voices walking among us who can do justice to this music.

We would have been happy with the Liebestod, but that Brewer and Juha Uusitalo (the current Dutchman) came back after intermission to do the final scene from Die Walküre was truly the proverbial icing on the cake. Hers is a truly "golden age" type voice, something to get really excited about. Brewer's sound soars easily over a large orchestra in the manner of Karita Mattila, but the hefty tone is rich and creamy, and her cool control of it is just amazing! One can only hope that her presence at this event signals the fact that the company has signed her on for a meaty role in an upcoming season.

© 2004 C. Chang

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7:58 AM  

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