Soprano Patricia Racette debuts as the heroines of
Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi
By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka
For the third time in the 87 year history of the Company, San Francisco Opera presents Giacomo Puccini’s complete triptych Il Trittico, opening on September 15th with five subsequent performances through October 3rd at the War Memorial Opera House. A trio of one-act operas that runs the gamut from heart-wrenching tragedy to sparkling comedy, Il Trittico, last presented here in its entirety in 1952, returns to the War Memorial stage with soprano Patricia Racette making role debuts in each of these three one-act operas — Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi.
Patricia Racette, Soprano
The acclaimed Italian baritone Paolo Gavanelli and tenor Brandon Jovanovich return to San Francisco Opera, and celebrated contralto Ewa Podleś makes her long-awaited Company debut. San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers leads these performances, and James Robinson directs this inventively updated production from New York City Opera.
Ewa Podleś, Contralto and Paolo Gavanelli, Baritone
Patrick Summers, Conductor and Brandon Jovanovich, Tenor
Patricia Racette returns to San Francisco Opera in her 20th anniversary season with the Company performing the heroine of each of Il Trittico’s three operas—a rare and challenging undertaking and a first in San Francisco Opera’s history. An alumna of the Merola Opera Program and former Adler Fellow, Racette is one of the premiere American dramatic sopranos of our time. Il Trittico was selected specifically by San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley to showcase Racette, and this production marks the soprano’s role debuts of “Giorgetta” (Il Tabarro), “Sister Angelica” (Suor Angelica) and “Lauretta” (Gianni Schicchi). Ms Racette will reprise each role this fall at the Metropolitan Opera. Last seen as “Cio-Cio San” in San Francisco Opera’s widely acclaimed performances of Madama Butterfly in 2007, Racette has performed more than 25 roles with the Company, including the title roles of “Luisa Miller” and Jenůfa, “Liù” in Turandot, “Mimì” in La Bohème and “Violetta” in La Traviata. Racette will return to San Francisco this summer to appear as “Marguerite” in Charles Gounod’s Faust.
A classic verismo opera which tells a story of jealousy, forbidden love and a fateful mistake that costs a man his life, Il Tabarro (The Cloak) features Patricia Racette as “Giorgetta”, an unhappy wife who longs to run away with one of her husband’s employees. “Luigi”, Giorgetta’s lover is performed by American tenor Brandon Jovanovich, last seen at San Francisco Opera opposite Racette in 2007’s Madama Butterfly. In a role he recently performed to critical acclaim at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Paolo Gavanelli sings Giorgetta’s much older husband “Michele”, a barge owner overcome with rage when he discovers his wife’s infidelity. Andrea Silvestrelli, who recently appeared at San Francisco Opera in Verdi’s Requiem, is “Il Talpa”, one of Michele’s stevedores, and Catherine Cook, a former Adler Fellow who has sung more than 30 roles with the Company, sings his wife “La Frugola”.
The dramatic second opera of Puccini’s triptych is Suor Angelica, the heart-wrenching story of a repentant nun destroyed by news from her past about a long kept secret. Although her pain causes her to take her own life thus ensuring her eternal damnation, Sister Angelica’s last living moments are transformed by a miraculous vision. Patricia Racette is “Sister Angelica” and renowned Polish contralto Ewa Podleś makes her highly anticipated Company debut is as Sister Angelica’s aunt, “the Princess”. Merola Opera Program alumna Meredith Arwady also makes her San Francisco Opera debut as “the Abbess”. Appearing as fellow sisters at the convent are Catherine Cook as “Sister Monitor” and Rebekah Camm as “Sister Genovieffa”.
A tale of greed, bribery and prevailing love, Gianni Schicchi is a rousing comedy that portrays the selfish family of a recently deceased man as they read his disappointing will, concoct a clever scheme to turn the tables in their favor, and then lament when their plan backfires. Clever con-man “Gianni Schicchi” is performed by Paolo Gavanelli. Schicchi’s daughter and hopeful bride “Lauretta” is sung by Patricia Racette and her eager lover “Rinuccio” is sung by Adler Fellow David Lomelí, who made his San Francisco Opera debut last season as “Alfredo Germont” in La Traviata. Among those appearing as the deceased Buoso Donati’s family members are former Adler Fellow Thomas Glenn as Buoso’s nephew “Gherardo” and bass Andrea Silvestrelli as Buoso’s cousin “Simone”.
In his first performances since being named San Francisco Opera’s principal guest conductor, Patrick Summers returns to conduct the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in this production. Summers, who is also music director of Houston Grand Opera, has led a vast repertory for the Company, including Ariodante; Samson and Delilah; Iphigénie en Tauride; the world premieres of André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire and Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking; and the West Coast premiere of Heggie’s Three Decembers. In 2012, Summers will conduct the West Coast premiere of Heggie’s Moby-Dick, a San Francisco Opera co-commission.
This New York City Opera production with sets by Allen Moyer and costumes by Bruno Schwengl is directed by James Robinson, who most recently directed The Elixir of Love at San Francisco Opera in 2008. The San Francisco Opera Chorus is directed by Ian Robertson.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the six performances of Il Trittico are scheduled for September 15th (8:00), September 18th (8:00), September 24th (7:30), September 27th (2:00 Matinee), September 30th (7:30), and October 3rd (8:00) 2009.
For more information: IL TRITTICO
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Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, 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. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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