I finally understand why cities get so excited about hosting the Olympics. When you don’t live in New York or London or Paris, it's tremendously satisfying being the focus of international attention and curiosity for even one night.
San Francisco Opera, y’all done good. Not just last night, but for the whole lead-up to last night. You made art, and you made people care about the art you were making. You got them so excited that people from all around the world were willing to fly to San Francisco to witness it. New Yorkers get this sort of big event seemingly every other week, but it was a rare treat for us to have everyone come to our home turf. To all who traveled, I hope you’re having a good stay and I’m sorry for the weather. (At least we’re not having an electrical storm.)
As for Doctor Atomic, regular visitors know that I’m not in the habit of writing reviews; others are much better equipped and better informed than I. All I do is relate a few impressions from time to time. In any case, I stand by my earlier comment that if there's any chance you're going to see this production, do not read too much about it first. I think you will find it revelatory how it plays out.
For now, I'll say simply that Gerald Finley won himself a new follower last night with an incandescent performance. Hot damn. "Batter My Heart," his Act I showpiece, will undoubtedly and deservedly earn him a great deal of the attention, but he is no one-hit wonder: there were numerous other moments that were comparably arresting and powerful. I'm astonished that his management site identifies him as a bass-baritone; he has an outrageous, brilliant top range that he seems to access without any added effort, yet the fullness of the middle and low are uncompromised. But the details of his tone and his instrument are rendered incidental by the complete commitment with which he sang this role. Suddenly I have a pressing need to hear everything he's recorded... (Heather, did you see he's about to release an Ives disc?)