On paper- or at least in my imagination when I bought the ticket, San Francisco Symphony's season-ending semi-staged production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe seemed like an evening that held great promise. With the exception of the blasphemous horror perpetrated on Fidelio, SFS usually gets these shows right. But not tonight.

In fact, for only the second time ever, I actually left at intermission and as I write this from the comfort of my own apartment with a glass of bourbon on the desk I feel absolutely no remorse for having left before it was all over. There is simply no way it could have been salvaged and the hour and a half that it took to reach the freedom of intermission was already akin to having to sit through the SF Opera's mind-numbingly dull Boris Godunov last year- the only other performance which prompted me to bail at the first curtain. As I was about to return to my seat after the intermission I asked myself why am I going back for more? And so I headed for the door and the cool air of this gorgeous night.

Too bad, because there were a number of good singers in the cast, none of whom I'll name to spare them the indignity of having their names linked to this post should someone enter them into a Google search and come across this by random chance. But I couldn't hear them because the entire cast was over-amplified to the point of being almost completely incomprehensible. I know what you're thinking- amplified? In a house of classical music? Yep.

Amplified, and certainly not helped by the incessant oompah conducting of last minute fill-in George Manahan, who somehow managed to make everything sound like a high school band recital of Rossini overtures on a loop played through a 70's transistor radio. In other words, pretty much the only thing that came through clearly was the snare drum accompanying everything else which sounded like a stewed version of the Moulin Rouge soundtrack experienced with a hangover.

Throw this one onto the small heap of shows I would label "total failures" and don't even bother to watch it burn. I take that back- the little dancing fairies were very charming. Their parents can honestly tell them even the bloggers thought they were very good!

The evening's only highlight was catching the first public appearance of the Opera Tattler's fetching new 'do, meeting her visiting friend and comparing schnozes with blogger-to-be Dodaro. Mine's bigger. 'Nuff said.