Review: SF Opera presents “Madame Butterfly” (****)

by Charles Kruger Liana Haroutounian is unquestionably a great diva gifted with a magnificent instrument, insightful musicianship, and exceptional acting talent. But fans who recall her remarkable SF Opera debut as Tosca in 2014 could hardly be blamed for wondering whether she could be equally successful as the demur  and sorrowful Cio-Cio-San. Well, put all doubts to rest. Harotounian is […]

Review: ‘Don Pasquale’ at San Francisco Opera (****1/2)

by Charles Kruger Donezetti’s “Don Pasquale” is often spoken with along with Rossini’s uncannily popular “The Barber of Seville” as one of the greatest exemplars of Italian comic opera. To summarize the plot: Don Pasquale is upset that his nephew rejects the Don’s choice of a bride, preferring to marry for love. The determined, though elderly, Don […]

Review: ‘Andrea Chénier’ at SF Opera (****1/2)

by Charles Kruger Responding to the great romantic masterpieces of the likes of Verdi and Wagner, opera composers, like their literary contemporaries, turned from romance to realism, creating the movement called “opera verismo” — true-to-life opera stories, with music that emphasized character and realism. By modern standards, the masterpieces of “opera verismo” (think of Carmen or […]

Review: ‘Carmen’ at San Francisco Opera (***)

by Charles Kruger Bizet’s music is outstripped by Calixto Bieto’s controversial staging in SF Opera’s “Carmen.” We all know “Carmen,” certainly one of the most accessible so-called war horses of the operatic repertoire. While we know it ends in violent death (it’s dramatic opera, right?), we also know we can count on it for rural charm, […]