Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Opera in the City - Show Boat

SF Opera Showboat - FacadeThe last time Mijo and I went to see a performance at the Opera was in 2010 and it was Madama Butterfly. It has been long overdue for us to see a performance by the San Francisco Opera.  

We saw a lot of pictures and ads about SF Opera's latest production called Show Boat. Mijo and I checked it out and we both enjoyed it. It was a different kind of opera but it was very entertaining.

This San Francisco Opera's production of Show Boat only had ten show dates. Mijo and I picked a Thursday night show. The War Memorial Opera house was packed. It must have been a sold out show by the looks of it.

SF Opera Showboat - Tickets

Ok. This is the story from my very simplistic brain.

Basically, the story is set during the turn of the century in the American South. It is a story of a girl, Magnolia, who is the daughter of the Show Boat owners Andy and Parthy. Their Show Boat is in town in Natchez, Tennessee. Magnolia falls in love with a dashing local man named Ravenal. Ravenal is what Magnolia's mama would consider as a no-no man because he has a vice which is gambling. Eventually, they ended up falling in love and getting married. Both move to Chicago but eventually lose everything because of Ravenal's addiction to gambling. Ravenal leaves Magnolia and their daughter. Magnolia, who is a great singer, starts working as a performer at a club.  She eventually becomes a famous Broadway singer.  Magnolia forgives Ravenal and Ravenal gets reunited with Magnolia and their daughter. Happy ending!
SF Opera Showboat - War Memorial Opera House

The Show Boat is not like the other opera productions that I've seen before. It is more like a hybrid of a Broadway show because of the dialogues and some comic scenes but the songs sound like an opera where the song voices are stronger and much more powerful. Of course, the music was provided by a live orchestra.  I loved it.

For me, it is more approachable this way. Maybe this is how the opera is evolving? Of course, it is nice to see the subtitles even when the songs are in English.

SF Opera Showboat - Curtain

The actors and the company were amazing. The main characters were played by:
Heidi Stober as Magnolia Hawks, Michael Todd Simpson as Gaylord Ravenal, Bill Irwin as Cap'n Andy Hawks, Harriet Harris as Parthy Ann Hawks, Patricia Racette as Julie La Verne, Angela Renee Simpson as Queenie, Kirsten Wyatt as Ellie Mae Chipley, Morris Robinson as Joe, John Bolton as Frank Schultz, James Asher as Pete.

The costumes and set design were great as well as realistic. They absolute took me to Tennessee at the turn of the century. Of course, the orchestra sounded really great. Conducted by John DeMain. Directed by Francesca Zambello and Choreographed by Michele Lynch.

SF Opera Showboat - Intermission talk 2

During Intermission, Director of Production Greg Weber, came out and gave tidbits about the company and the production and also answered questions sent that night by opera goers via social media. If you are like me who enjoys learning the behind the scenes of a show, you'll like this one. I went to an Opera Open House last year and it was kind of like that, only this one was shorter, of course.

SF Opera Showboat - Intermission talk 1

San Francisco Opera's production of Show Boat only had ten show dates and the last one was on July 2, 2014. It may be a different kind of opera genre but it was very entertaining. Mijo and I absolutely loved it. I recommend not missing this show if it becomes part of SFO's production in the future.

Show Boat is based on the novel Show Boat by Edna Ferber. Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Music by Jerome Kern.

Thank you, as always, San Francisco Opera for bringing Show Boat to San Francisco.


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