Arts & Events

San Francisco Opera Unveils A New Star in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Thursday October 09, 2014 - 11:08:00 PM

In Giuseppe Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, soprano Julianna Di Giacomo made her San Francisco Opera debut on Saturday, October 4, 2014; and a sensational debut it was! Sounding like a young Beverly Sills, Di Giacomo, a Santa Monica native and Merola alumna, has a very bright and focused soprano, which was heard to wonderful effect in the role of Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera. From the moment she came on stage, in Act I’s scene in Ulrica the soothsayer’s den, Di Giacomo thoroughly dominated every scene in which she appeared. Only veteran baritone Thomas Hampson, who sang the role of Count Anckarström, Amelia’s husband and friend of King Gustavus, managed to hold his own vocally with Julianna Di Giacomo. Unfortunately, as King Gustavus, tenor Ramón Vargas sounded thin and lacking in power in a role I heard him perform here in far better voice back in 1999. -more-

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: Steven Isserlis, Cello, with Philharmonia Baroque at First Congregational Church, Saturday & Sunday

Ken Bullock
Thursday October 09, 2014 - 10:05:00 PM

"He must have been the gentlest composer. The most gorgeous texture ... for me the music of angels," said virtuoso cellist Steven Isserlis before playing Boccherini's Concerto for Violincello No. 7 in G major (probably from the 1760s) with Philharmonia Baroque under Nicholas McGegan's direction on Wednesday night at SFJAZZ in San Francisco--the second of two concerti he played with brilliance and great feeling. The same program will be performed this Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 7:30, First Congregational Church in Berkeley. -more-