First in Wagner’s four-part opera “Der Ring des Nibelungen” gets an American twist
By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka
Themes that dominate American history – the lust for power, the lure of gold, the beauty of nature, and the destructive impulses of its citizenry – are abundant in Richard Wagner’s magnificent work, “The Ring of the Nibelung”. Provocative parallels are promised in Artistic Adviser Francesca Zambello’s imaginative new staging of the massive, four-opera cycle, which begins with “Das Rheingold” – a grand mythic tale of mountaintop chicanery. This co-production with Washington National Opera uses imagery from various eras of American history – including the California gold rush and the Roaring Twenties. Donald Runnicles conducts a cast headed by three great American singers – mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore and baritones Mark Delavan and Richard Paul Fink. Set designs are by Michael Yeargan; lighting by Mark McCullough; choreography by Lawrence Pech; and costumes by Catherine Zuber.
JENNIFER LARMORE & MARK DELAVAN
THE DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
WOTAN – Mark Delavan, bass-baritone. A Merola Opera Program alumnus and former Adler Fellow, Mr. Delavan makes his role debut in this production of Das Rheingold and will sing Wotan throughout the Company’s American Ring cycle. The baritone has appeared with the Company in fourteen productions ranging from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin to Puccini’s Tosca. Next season he sings Michele (Il Tabarro) in Los Angeles Opera’s production of Il Trittico; Tomsky (The Queen of Spades) at the Met; Alfio and Tonio at Lyric Opera of Chicago; Jochanaan at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona; and the Dutchman at Atlanta Opera.
LOGE – Stefan Margita, tenor. A native of the Czech Republic, Mr. Margita made his San Francisco Opera debut as Walther von der Vogelweide in the fall 2007 production of Tannhäuser. This production marks his role debut as Loge.
RICHARD PAUL FINK (as “Alberich”) and Rhine Maidens
ALBERICH – Richard Paul Fink, baritone. Mr. Fink made his San Francisco Opera debut in 1996 as Escamillo in Carmen. In 2005, he returned to the Company to create the role of Edward Teller in Doctor Atomic—a role he reprised for Netherlands Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, and will sing this fall at the Metropolitan Opera. Celebrated throughout the U.S. and Europe for his interpretation of Alberich in Wagner’s Ring cycle, Fink has sung the role at the Met, Seattle Opera, the Dallas Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Deutsche Oper Berlin. Upcoming engagements include Alberich at the Met, Vodník in Toronto, and Amonasro (Aida) in Seattle.
FRICKA – Jennifer Larmore, mezzo soprano, made her San Francisco Opera debut as Orphée (Orphée et Eurydice) in 1995 and returned to the Company the following year as Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia). This production marks her role debut as Fricka. The Grammy Award winner has made more than seventy audio recordings to date, which has earned her the distinction of being the most recorded mezzo-soprano of all time. In November of this year she will sing the title role of La Cenerentola at Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie.
ERDA – Jill Grove, mezzo-soprano, is a Merola Opera Program alumna. She made her San Francisco Opera debut in 1996 in the dual roles of a Dyke and Anne Kronenberg in Harvey Milk, and she returned to the Company productions of Elektra (1997), The Mother of Us All (2003), and La Forza del Destino (2005). Her upcoming engagements include Erda in Das Rheingold and Siegfried at the Met and Los Angeles Opera, Countess Geschwitz (Lulu) at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Zita (Gianni Schicchi) at Los Angeles Opera.
MIME – David Cangelosi, tenor made his Company debut in 1999 as Sellem in The Rake’s Progress and returned last season as Valzacchi in Der Rosenkavalier. Recent career highlights include Spoletta at the Dallas Opera; Monostatos, Horace Adams (Peter Grimes), and Pang at the Santa Fe Opera; Dr. Caius at Los Angeles Opera; his Carnegie Hall debut as Torquemada in Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole; and Beppe (Pagliacci) at Washington National Opera, which was telecast on PBS’s Live from Kennedy Center. Next season he will sing Guillot (Manon) and Goro at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
GÜNTHER GROISSBÖCK (as Fafner) & ANDREA SILVESTRELLI (as Fasolt)
FASOLT – Andrea Silvestrelli, bass made his San Francisco Opera debut as Oroveso in Norma during the 1998–99 season. Upcoming engagements include Simone (Gianni Schicchi) and the Bonze (Madama Butterfly) at Los Angeles Opera, Osmin at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Sparafucile at Houston Grand Opera. Upcoming engagements include Simone (Gianni Schicchi) and the Bonze (Madama Butterfly) at Los Angeles Opera, Osmin at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Sparafucile at Houston Grand Opera.
FAFNER Günther Groissböck, bass makes his San Francisco Opera debut in a role he has sung at the Rhine Opera of Strasbourg and the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Upcoming engagements include Fafner and Hunding in a new production of the Ring cycle at Paris Opera; King Heinrich (Lohengrin) at Houston Grand Opera and Bavarian State Opera; and Colline and Banquo (Macbeth) at the Metropolitan Opera. The bass will also appear as Sarastro at Los Angeles Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago; the Commendatore (Don Giovanni) in Barcelona; Landgraf Hermann at the Teatro Real in Madrid; and Daland (Der Fliegende Holländer) for his Atlanta Opera debut.
DONNER – Charles Taylor, baritone, makes his San Francisco Opera debut with this production. Taylor was selected as a recitalist for the Marilyn Horne Foundation and has won a scholarship from the Wagner Society of New York. Upcoming engagements include Amonasro (Aida) at Seattle Opera; Tonio and Alfio at Houston Grand Opera; and Alfio at the Met.
WELLGUNDE – Lauren Mcneese, mezzo-soprano makes her San Francisco Opera debut in this production in a part she has sung at Lyric Opera of Chicago and will perform at Los Angeles Opera next spring. Upcoming engagements include Stéphano at PORTOpera and performances with Los Angeles Opera as La Ciesca in Woody Allen’s production of Gianni Schicchi, the Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte), and Wellgunde (Götterdämmerung). She will make her Opera Company of Philadelphia debut in the title role of L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and as La Ciesca.
FLOSSHILDE – Buffy Baggott, mezzo-soprano. A California native Buffy makes her San Francisco Opera debut with this production. She garnered critical acclaim in 2006 when she created the role of Ellen in Berkeley Opera‘s production of Suprynowicz’s Chrysalis. She was a member of the Santa Fe Opera Studio, where she appeared in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline—seen on PBS in 1997. This fall she will appear in Lulu at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
STEFAN MARGITA (as Loge) & TAMARA WAPINSKY (as Freia)
WOGLINDE – Catherine Cangiano, soprano. An alumna of the Juilliard School, Cangiano has won the Licia Albanese Puccini Competition and the New Jersey State Opera Competition, and received grants from the Liederkranz Foundation and the Gerda Lissner Foundation. Upcoming engagements include her role debut as Suzel in Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz at Sarasota Opera and Faure’s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42 in Berlin under the baton of Matthias Jacob.
FROH – Jason Collins, tenor makes his San Francisco Opera debut with this production. He recently made his debut at Canadian Opera Company as Count Lerma (Don Carlos) and sang the Steersman in Der Fliegende Holländer for his debut at Seattle Opera. Collins received the 2007 Richard Tucker Career Grant and the 2005 Richard F. Gold Career Grant and won the 2000 Mario Lanza Competition. The tenor holds a bachelor’s degree from the Juilliard School and a master’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music. He is a recent graduate of the Pittsburgh Opera Center.
FREIA – Tamara Wapinsky, soprano. A first-year Adler Fellow, Ms. Wapinsky makes her War Memorial Opera House debut in Das Rheingold. Wapinsky is a past winner of the Giulio Gari Competition, the Licia Albanese Puccini Competition, and the Opera Index Competition, and she received a Joan Kreitzer Snyder Award at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Upcoming engagements include Giannetta (The Elixir of Love and The Elixir of Love for Families) and Musetta (La Bohème) during the 2008–09 San Francisco Opera season.
The running time for Das Rheingold is 2 hours, 35 minutes, with NO intermission. There is no late seating, so arrive promptly.
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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com.
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