Opera Parallèle’s “The Little Prince”

Holiday glitter and desert blooms Opera Parallèle paid tribute to the season last Saturday, Dec. 8, with a heartwarming performance and plenty of tinsel. That was Rachel Portman’s opera adaptation of The Little Prince, an oft-republished story by Antoine de Saint-Exupery that uses the form of a children’s book to impart some ageless wisdoms. And the “tinsel” was a cast of top-notch voices and members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus who dressed in gold and silver with...

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“It’s a Wonderful Life” turns operatic

It’s oddly ironic that Frank Capra’s 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life” was released by his production company Liberty Films. For the film and the opera, revised from its 2016 premier, both look at freedom as seen by an American Everyman who wants to rid himself of the shackles of small-town living and capitalist venality, and live a larger, grander life. A life he has freely constructed out of his imagination and idealism. The opera version that opened this Saturday at San...

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Love from the hinterlands: San Francisco Opera’s “Arabella”

Arabella, lovely Arabella, positioned to buy her family out of debt through marrying off her beauty to the highest bidder, but searching wistfully for Mr. Right. Can the two inharmonious approaches to love resolve into one happy ending? In Richard Strauss’ opera they do indeed. And in the San Francisco Opera production that opened on Tuesday they resolve, like Tobias Hoheisel’s production design, from black and white into varieties of gray. Nonetheless suggesting, somehow, that an...

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A sumptuous “Tosca” at San Francisco Opera

The Opera House curtains open on an elaborately decorated Roman church, its walls deep scarlet, the religious paintings over the altar and on the left side of the apse painted in the fleshy and darkly sensual style of the late Renaissance. There, in front of an easel, the painter Cavaradossi contemplates his portrait of Mary Magdalene and sings about feminine beauty and love. In San Francisco Opera’s Sunday performance of Puccini’s Tosca, “Recondita armonia” revealed all the...

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Honor in the streets of Buenos Aires

San Francisco Opera opened its season with two of the most famous one-acts of verismo opera, which are often presented together: Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. In a well-considered version of these two operas, production and set designer José Cura linked the two operas by placing them in the same neighborhood of Buenos Aires and interweaving the characters. Cavalleria opens the evening’s performance. As the day dawns in the colorful streets of La Boca, a...

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Long live Donizetti’s fiery Queen!

Don’t go to the opera for historical fact. That’s a time-tested axiom. And one San Francisco Opera’s production of Roberto Devereux not only supports but makes a virtue of. Donizetti’s 1837 opera is said to be based on a history and a tragedy, but at its heart it’s a simple Italian love triangle with exotic celebrity characters. Exotic because Queen Elizabeth I and her court were distant in both time and place from Donizetti’s operatic Naples. Director Stephen Lawless...

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