CC and I caught tonight's performance of San Francisco Opera's La Fanciulla Del West from our usual orchestra seats and there were some noticeable differences in what I heard from last week's performance, attended in the balcony. At the first intermission we ran into Jim, whose encyclopedic knowledge and experience are always a delight, and he was sitting quite closer to the stage than we were. Jim thought Deborah Voigt was not as familiar with the role as she should be, since she was constantly looking at Luisotti for either help or cues. As the night progressed, having heard it before, I began to doubt this was the case. I suspect Voigt was looking Luisotti thinking "turn it down, how am I supposed to sing over this?" because I have never heard the SFO orchestra play louder than they had this evening.

My impression, largely gleaned from the previous performance and a knowledge of Voigt's professionalism, comes from hearing the orchestra repeatedly go way over all the singers in tonight's performance. Maybe the difference is in the acoustics between the balcony and the orchestra, but I've sat in this hall enough to doubt it. Tonight it was loud- too loud for Puccini. It was Wozzeck-level loud, which one doesn't need for this kind of music, but is great for Berg. Even Timothy Mix was buried in Luisotti's wall of sound.

Other observations- maybe someone read my previous post, because Licitra and Voigt seemed to make more of an effort at the "chemistry" so lacking in last week's performance; Licitra has a great voice, but a minimal amount of stage presence; Sherriff Jack is probably the most poorly-developed character in an opera ever- not bad enough to hate like Scarpia, not sympathetic enough to even consider he may have a shred of decency ala Pinkerton- fail.

The music of the second act sounds so far ahead of its time. This is the foundation for soundtracks to almost every Western made in Hollywood for the next fifty years and it's pretty mind-blowing to hear how much this score influenced Copland and the multitudes who scored AFI's list of the best Westerns ever made. The seeds for all of those soundtracks are found here, written in 1910 by an Italian. Amazing when you really think about it, which I obviously am. The core of what came to be known as the soundtrack of the American West, so deeply rooted in the consciousness of North Americans- courtesy of Puccini?

The horse didn't work for me the second time around, either.

And to the usher who told CC she had to put her gummy bears away as we were walking back to our seats- was that really necessary?