Review: SF Opera presents Engelbert Humperdinck’s ‘Hansel & Gretel’ Performed in English (****1/2)

by Charles Kruger Engelbert Humperdinck’s ‘Hansel & Gretel’ is the perfect operatic example of a one hit wonder. Humperdinck is known for nothing else. So what? ‘Hansel & Gretel’ is a marvel, an opera so popular that it has been in performance, without interruption, and no lag in reputation, for more than a century. The […]

Review: Puccini’s ‘Manon Lescaut’ at SF Opera (***)

by Charles Kruger Lianna Haroutounian as Manon and Brian Jagde as the Chevalier des Grieux in SF Opera’s production of Puccini’s first great success, “Manon Lescaut.” Photo Credit: Cory Weaver/SF Opera. Much less familiar than Puccini’s “big three” masterpieces (La Boheme, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly), Manon Lescaut was the composer’s first great success. The story […]

Review: ‘Billy Budd’ presented by San Francisco Opera at War Memorial Opera House (*****)

by Charles Kruger In their publicity material promoting their wonderful and deeply moving production of the opera, “Billy Budd,” SF Opera provides this summary: “Meet Billy. He’s handsome, honest and good. He’s also doomed.” That is accurate and it brings to mind the obvious question: why should such a wonderful young man be doomed? What […]

Review: ‘Siegfried’ at SF Opera

by Charles Kruger Musicologists have noted that the four opera Ring cycle might be considered analogous to a traditional Classical symphony: the first (“Das Rheingold”) being an exposition of themes, the second (“Die Walkure”) a traditionally slow movement, the third (“Siegfried”) a light scherzo movement, and the last (“Gotterdammerrung”) a grand dramatic finale. The point […]