COURTESY PHOTOGrand entrance: Melody Moore

COURTESY PHOTOGrand entrance: Melody Moore

A star is born in 'Tosca' intermission

Giacomo Puccini's 1900 “Tosca,” one of world's most popular operas, has love, jealousy, political oppression, an evil tyrant, torture, murder, execution, a suicide leap… and great music.

But when San Francisco Opera's double-cast run of 12 performances opened Thursday, there was more: the diva took ill, the understudy stepped in, and a star was born. The young local favorite received an ovation that shook the walls of the War Memorial Opera House.

The full house greeted Angela Gheorghiu warmly in the title role when she appeared in the first act, a relief because she often cancels, although not here in The City. She sang well, but in an uncharacteristically subdued fashion.

After a longer than usual intermission, General Director David Gockley came out, and, looking stressed, announced that Gheorghiu was experiencing a sudden, severe attack of intestinal flu and being taken to the hospital.
Gockley said Melody Moore, a noted Merola-Adler program alumna, would take her place. During the half-hour it took her to get into costume, the audience milled around, buzzing. Adding to the drama was the fact Moore had never before performed the role.

The audience held its collective breath. Yet Moore appeared confident, secure and in good voice. When she sang her line to Scarpia, “I am not frightened,” she was totally believable.

Another example of opera and life intertwining: When Scarpia sang “the diva is missing” (from the cantata being performed offstage), the audience burst into laughter tinged with stress.

Moore embarked on every understudy's dream, or nightmare, with ease and assurance. Her great aria, “Vissi d'arte” (I lived for art), came soon enough, and long, thunderous applause reflected appreciation and relief.

With “A Star Is Born” playing out center stage, it was difficult to pay attention to anything else. Nicola Luisotti's direction was uncharacteristically subdued in the first act, perhaps in deference to the situation, but the Te Deum soared (even with Roberto Frontali's just-good-enough Scarpia), and the orchestra was fine the rest of the evening.

Massimo Giordano's Cavaradossi was OK. He improved by the third act, but “E lucevan le stelle” (When the stars were shining) received only a smattering of accolades; Luisotti went on with the music, then halted briefly to allow the weak applause.

The opera’s alternate cast features Patricia Racette as Tosca, and another Merola-Adler rising star, Brian Jagde, as Cavaradossi.

Who will sing Tosca on Nov. 20? It is unknown at this point: either Gheorghiu, recovered, or Moore, for whom it would be a first-act debut.

REVIEW
Tosca
Presented by San Francisco Opera
Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 2 p.m. Nov. 18, Nov. 25 and Dec. 2; 8 p.m. Nov. 20, Nov. 24,  Nov. 27 and Dec. 1; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 and Nov. 28-29
Tickets: $22 to $340
Contact: (415) 864-3330, www.sfopera.com

Scheduled to sing
Gheorghiu, Giordano – Nov. 18, Nov. 21, Nov. 25, Nov. 28,  Dec 1
Racette, Jagde – Nov. 20, Nov. 24, Nov. 27, Nov. 29, Dec. 2 

 

 

artsmusicPop Music & JazzSan Francisco Opera

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Lowell High School is considered an academically elite public school. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Students denounce ‘rampant, unchecked racism’ at Lowell after slurs flood anti-racism lesson

A lesson on anti-racism at Lowell High School on Wednesday was bombarded… Continue reading

Scooter companies have expanded their distribution in neighborhoods such as the Richmond and Sunset districts. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA board signs off on changes to scooter permit program

Companies will gete longer permits, but higher stakes

A health care worker receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images/TNS)
City sets ambitious goal to vaccinate residents by June

Limited supply slows distribution of doses as health officials seek to expand access

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive at Biden's inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021, in Washington, DC.  (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)
Joe Biden issues call for ‘unity’ amidst extreme partisan rancor

‘I will be a president for all Americans,’ he says in inauguration speech

MARIETTA, GA - NOVEMBER 15: Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff (R) and Raphael Warnock (L) of Georgia taps elbows during a rally for supporters on November 15, 2020 in Marietta, Georgia. Both become senators Wednesday.  (Jenny Jarvie/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Vice President Harris swears in senators Padilla, Warnock, Ossoff

New Democratic senators tip balance of power in upper legislative house

Most Read