"A Sizzlin' Sitz"

When all the “i’s” are dotted, all the “t’s” are crossed, and the final page is turned; one may look back at the Siegfried sitzprobe of May 17 & 18, 2011 and correctly identify it as the tipping point where one could now actualize–not just envision–the success of the upcoming Ring Cycle here in San Francisco.

Because Siegfried is the first Ring installment to receive a stand-alone performance on May 29th (before we enter into presentation of 3 full cycles of all 4 operas), it will be the arbiter by which we measure the coming operatic wave for this 2011 special exposition series.  That being said (and while not usually superstitious), I am a bit cautious about jinxing our upcoming premiere…  But truth be known, we had an extraordinary “Sizzlin’ Sitzprobe” a few days back that has left us all at the edge of an “infinity pool”.  (For those who may not know: The ‘sitzprobe’ is a special rehearsal where the singers simply stand and sing, and the orchestra simply sits and plays, the score of the opera–with EVERYONE paying utmost attention to the conductor!!)

With 9 French Horns(!), 5 Trombones, 4 Trumpets (maybe 5…I lost count!) a flawless Wind section (including 3 Bassoons), a full complement of Strings, and perfect Percussion, etc., etc., etc.; the rehearsal space at the Presidio, on the northern point of the San Francisco Peninsula, was awash with a wall of sound that seemed as if it could prevent the waters of San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean from ever meeting.  On the other hand, the sometimes tempestuous union of orchestral resonance and vocal splendor was like watching the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide at Cape Reinga, on the upper-most point of New Zealand’s north island (since I am pushing the ‘bodies of water‘ metaphor here).

Without going through every cast member, let’s just suffice it to say that all were at their highest level of concentration and in great vocal form, and the orchestra was perfectly iridescent under the expert touch of Maestro Donald Runnicles’ baton.  The above repeats itself in full with the sitzprobe of Gotterdammerung, which is scheduled for its stand-alone performance on June 5, 2011.