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“It’s a Wonderful Life”—Comfortable Music with a Moral, at S.F. Opera

“It’s a Wonderful Life”—Comfortable Music with a Moral, at S.F. Opera

Jake Heggie’s Feel-Good Opera Packs a Lesson by Jeff Dunn Fine singing, a thin adaptation, tune-starved but inoffensive music, and an awkward set characterize San Francisco Opera’s third delivery from composer Jake Heggie, after successes with Dead Man Walking in 2000 and Moby-Dick in 2012. True to Frank Capra’s 1946 Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey is ready to jump off a bridge because his savings and loan bank is about to fail. Bailey’s friends and loved ones…

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“Cavalleria Rusticana” & “Pagliacci”—Stellar Singing and Acting from S.F. Opera

“Cavalleria Rusticana” & “Pagliacci”—Stellar Singing and Acting from S.F. Opera

Director Jose Maria Condemi’s Chivalrous Rustics & Sad Clowns Come Alive by Pamela Feinsilber It’s not often that San Francisco audiences are offered the most popular “double bill” in opera: “Cavalleria Rusticana” by Pietro Mascagni and “Pagliacci” by Ruggero Leoncavallo. While these one-act operas are sometimes presented separately, they’ve been together since both composers (Leoncavallo wrote his libretto, as well) entered a new-talent competition in Rome in 1890. Now there’s a fine new production of “Cav/Pag,” in the aficionados’ shorthand,…

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“Girls of the Golden West” Comes Home Empty-Handed, at S.F. Opera

“Girls of the Golden West” Comes Home Empty-Handed, at S.F. Opera

John Adams’ Premiere More Ken Burns than Ken Branagh by Jeff Dunn Why do I go to opera? For the same reason that tenor Andrea Bocelli does: “… because opera offers such deep sensations that they will remain in a heart for a lifetime.” Excellent singing, staging, and pit work distinguish San Francisco Opera’s new production, John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West, about the California Gold Rush. Unfortunately, composer Adams and librettist Peter Sellars each finds his own way…

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