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June 2, 2009

VERDI REQUIEM - POWERFUL RUNNICLES TRIBUTE


(To the right: Photo of the Verdi Requiem with Donald Runnicles
at The Opera House)
Photo: Kristen Loken Anstey





LEE HARTGRAVE
REVIEWS

June 2, 2009

VERDI’S REQUIEM DIRECTED BY DONALD RUNNICLES WAS A STUNNING CLOSER TO HIS 17 YEARS AT THE SAN FRANCISCO OPERA.

The Verdi Requiem had its moments of greatness, especially when the Opera Chorus was the focus of attention. The Ian Robertson’s Chorus is always a mind blowingly beautiful thing. This particular evening they were enthralling. I just wish they could have been more upstage instead of in the back of the Orchestra. It would have had more impact to have them closer.

Runnicles brought Verdi’s music to a Heart-stopping beat with all the drama and excitement that you would expect from him. He seemed to be inspired and deserved this tribute for all of his years with the Opera.

Then there were the Opera Singers. Soprano, Heidi Melton, stepped in at the last minute for Patricia Racette, who was not feeling well. Melton’s powerful voice enthralled us. She has an astonishing and beautiful voice. Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blithe was refreshingly impressive and uniformly terrific.

The singing by tenor Stefano Secco was Grade A most of the time, but there could have been more energy. And bass Andrea Silvestrelli just didn’t seem to connect at all. I had hoped for more.

All in all, this was a stunning event. And though Donald Runnicles will not be with the SF Opera, he already has a new position where his performances will continue to thrill the World.

Next up at the San Francisco Opera House is "Tosca". You also can see "Tosca" on the Big Screen at AT&T park. More info: www.sfopera.com

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook Section and produced a long running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

MORE REVIEWS: www.beyondchron.org
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