Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Picture Time: The 2009 Season in Review

I look at a lot of pictures of opera over the season and so on the eve before the final performance of the season I thought I'd do a recap of our five operas and share with you the standout image from each production that I returned to time and time again.

January saw us begin with Tosca and brought our dastardly Scarpia, Greer "Opera God" Grimsley, to the stage. As he was one of the most memorable villans we've ever had in recent years, and one of the standout performers of this Tosca, it seems only fitting that we would use this image from "Va, Tosca" which captures the lust, greed and treachery of Scarpia in a single moment.

February brought us the rarely performed Don Quixote with the brilliant Ferruccio Furlanetto in the lead. As this was a production that was created and built by the wonderful team at San Diego Opera I had a very hard time selecting a favorite image from this production. Still, the image below was one I revisited time and time again. There are prettier images from this production, but there is something about Ferruccio here, alone with this thoughts, that makes me wonder what is going through his head. To see him move in this scene, one really does believe the famed knight is on our stage but reduced to still image, it captures an actor on the threshold of becoming his role.

Rigoletto came to us in March and brought with us the Slovakian soprano L'ubica Vargicova as Gilda. It is never easy for a woman in her thirties to play a teenager but here she captured the fey look of a girl in love even though she is aware it will lead to her doom. The high cheekbones, the toothy smile all add to illusion.

Of course, honorable mention must go to Kirstin Chavez as Maddalena who exuded sexiness on our stage and even made this jaded PR guy stammer and blush when cornered by her in the dressing room hallway.

By far my highlight of the season was our production of Peter Grimes and this image that I believe I already shared with you. It is not an image I would normally use as much of it is blurry but for this opera it is the blurriness that I am attracted to. This takes place at the end of the opera. Peter has gone out to scuttle his boat, dawn is breaking and the village is coming to life, starting their day exactly how the opera began. Only Ellen is aware of what has occurred, and her sharpness, her focus, highlights her isolation as the village comes to life around her.

And finally there is Madama Butterfly and another image that I would not have normally used as I originally found it too dark. But something happened in cleaning it up it and the noise that is created in the graininess of the image merely enhances it. For me, this image captures the burden, the weight that Cio-Cio-San feels and the horizontal lines of the soji screen behind her remind me of bars to a cage holding her captive.

And so there they are. My five, six, picks of the season.
Of course it helps to have great subject matter on our stage, but credit must also be given to Company Photographers Ken Howard and Cory Weaver (Don Quixote) whose skill, instinct and love of opera helped capture the essence of what we have on our stage which is no easy task.
- Edward

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