Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Donna Anna for SFO

The San Francisco Opera just put out the advisory below a few minutes ago. Can you believe they waited until AFTER the final dress rehearsal to make this decision? Opening night of Don G in SF is day after tomorrow! Poor Ms. Briggs (a fine singer whom I've heard on many occasions); this must be a terrible situation.


SAN FRANCISCO, May 31, 2007 – After the final dress rehearsal for Don Giovanni, San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley, in consultation with Music Director Donald Runnicles and members of the artistic staff, made the decision that soprano Hope Briggs was not ultimately suited for the role of Donna Anna in this production.  Soprano Elza van den Heever, a member of San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellow Program, will replace Ms. Briggs in the role for all performances of Don Giovanni, which opens June 2 at the War Memorial Opera House.  Ms. van den Heever has performed the role of Donna Anna at the Lincoln Theater in Napa Valley and is contracted to sing the role with a major American opera company in a future season.

© 2007 C. Chang

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Steinway at the farm

Voigt and Steinway

So I braved collapsing freeways and overpriced gas this past weekend, and went down to Palo Alto to hear Deborah Voigt in recital at Stanford University.

Singing an obscure late Mozart cantata, followed by songs by Verdi, Strauss, Respighi, Amy Beach and Bernstein, I regret to say that it wasn't a particularly impressive outing for Voigt, whose throaty gargle sounded alarmingly strident that day. Sure, it could have been a series of interpretive missteps, but even the Strauss selections often sounded shouty and pitchless, rather than soaring and radiant. Her rendition of Verdi's songs were largely salvaged by the clear and beautifully painterly piano playing of accompanist Brian Zeger.

I hold much respect and admiration (particularly judging from portions I heard of the MET's Aegyptische Helena broadcast of a few weeks back) for Voigt as a unique and remarkable artist, but can anyone still assert that her massive weight loss hasn't changed her vocally?

In any case, at a wine and cheese function after the performance for invited guests, I enjoyed meeting Steinway, Ms. Voigt's adorable and impeccably well-behaved Yorkshire Terrier, who obediently posed for me for this close-up:

Deb's pooch

© 2007 C. Chang

Five-mile-high canines: Gockley wants to know

Speaking of Steinway (see above), David Gockley has actually asked Deborah Voigt if her dog has had sex in an airplane. If you don't believe me, check out this otherwise terrific podcast (at 44:50), where Debbie rehashes her gastric bypass surgery, weight loss, her ROH firing and rehiring, and much more.

© 2007 C. Chang