E sempre Laura!

Our new correspondent Miss Laura Hope Cruisey finishes her report from Santa Fe.

Everywhere we look there is Nicole Cabell – so exotic! Wow! Very interesting looking woman; and her new arias CD is the most advertised classical record around, and it is getting good reviews. She was kind of a Mrs. Obama on stage as Musetta – slap them men around and tell ’em off! Boy, I want her on my side! And if you want high B-naturals, she’s your gal.

Only problem is, when she’s not above the stave, she isn’t. Musetta’s little prayer in Act IV disappeared under the orchestra (as you know there is virtually no orchestra at that point). Miss Cabell, who has a huge mouth and beautiful teeth, is big in the recording studio, and not so big otherwise. Better direction might make her a better artist. Why do I think she needs to go back to the vocal studio and sing a lot of Mozart?

Other ladies: Keep your ear cocked for Katharine Goeldner, a really “together” package of solid mezzo voice, nice looks, excellent stage demeanor; she’s the real thing. Be aware of Susanna Phillips; tall, nice shape, from Alabama, and a spritzy, big lyric soprano voice that knocked the spots off Fiordiligi vocally, perhaps not otherwise – but there was that conductor problem.

The second cast of La bohème boasted a Mimi from Lucca, Italy, one Signora Serena Farnocchia. Not bad; and I was so grateful for her understated death scene. No histrionics, she just – died. Nice to hear Puccini in its native tongue. Maybe a little passagio problem with Sra. F., but I’ll not be picky. Also interesting was a nice looking young man named Alexander Vinogradov who has a lovely warm bass voice. He was too young to sing Colline, but the audience let him get away with it and so will I.

Later: I have had lunch and I ate some posole with a lot of green chile to make my tongue sharper. Here goes: I have to talk about Jean-Philippe Rameau’s comedy ballet, Platée. Surprise! It was the best (only?) show of the summer! M. Laurent Pelly, designer-producer from gay Paree, was the hero of the piece and he made it a romp, an intelligent one. You know the story about a “romance” between Jupiter and the frog-lady Platée, that really didn’t happen tho’ she thought so? It’s silly stuff, and without a clever tenor to drag the female frog role you are in trouble.

Happily Santa Fe had Jean-Paul Fourchécourt, a whiz of a comic actor. Singer? Hell, Ira Siff can sing the notes a lot better; frankly I wondered why they didn’t cast a counter tenor in the part? But, then, he/she has to be funny, and little M/M Fourchécourt surely was that. What an impressive, giving performance! I want to hear him again, but I can’t think of a role; maybe more French baroque?

A Liverpool limey named Harry Bicket (who conducts in all the big houses), was a whiz-bang music director for the Rameau. It was long, loaded with dance numbers, male near-nudity and all kindsa stuff, and was a damn good show. Too bad you missed it.

Well, that’s a hop-skip-‘n-jump thru the Santa Faux season! I omitted a lot of detail, but this is already too long. Was this the worst season SFO has had in a very long time? Some have been saying that. Lots of talk around Santa Fe about the retirement of General Director Richard Gaddes, long associated with SFO, and much in the mould of founder John O. Crosby; yet he leaves after seven years. He just hired Edo de Waart as chief conductor to run the orchestra. Alan Gilbert, whom New Yorkers have heard a lot about lately, and who is just announced to conduct at the Metropolitan Opera next season (Dr. Atomic), left SFO at the end of last year. What IS going on? The new theatre is lovely, the money is plentiful, it’s summertime and the living is easy.

I’ll ask La Cieca’s distinguished readership a fantasy question: Should the SFO board make a deal with the San Francisco Opera board to take over and run Santa Fe as a satellite company, and meld their two distinguished young artists’ programs and shift the management away from New York (whence SFO has always been run) to The West? Think about it! And remember, you heard it first here (or did you?)

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