Hooray, the circus is back in town!
SAN FRANCISCO, May 31, 2007 – After the final dress rehearsal for Don Giovanni, San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley, in consultation with Music Director Donald Runnicles and members of the artistic staff, made the decision that soprano Hope Briggs was not ultimately suited for the role of Donna Anna in this production. Soprano Elza van den Heever, a member of San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellow Program, will replace Ms. Briggs in the role for all performances of Don Giovanni, which opens June 2 at San Francisco Opera.
So to recap:
- Hope Briggs goes through an entire rehearsal period and somehow makes it all the way through a final dress on Wednesday thinking that she's singing Donna Anna in a couple days
- Thursday it's announced that she's been canned for artistic reasons, and that Elza van den Heever, who wasn't even covering the role to begin with, will make her SF Opera debut on Saturday in a role she hasn't rehearsed in a staging she doesn't know
- many reports from Wednesday (from various sources) are that Hope sounded just fine, and certainly not so dramatically awful as to warrant such a bizarre action
- Hope says that no one told her they thought she was awful beforehand
- Hope happens to be a Runnicles/Rosenberg protégée, and David Gockley seems to be making it clear that this was his decision
- people are unsurprisingly pointing out that Hope is African American and Elza is a white South African (especially unfortunate on a day when the front page of the Chron has a story about how there are absolutely no Black people represented on the Yoshi's 10th-anniversary CD and almost no African Americans in the 5-day Berkeley Downtown Jazz Festival)
- this happens to coincide with SF Opera's much-discussed launch of high-def OperaVision screens and video simulcasts, which makes everyone wonder how much emphasis is going to be placed on how people look
Weeelllll... I'm sure I have no clue what's actually going on over there under the big top! But you know where you'll find me Saturday night. Condolences to Hope and toi toi to Elza, both singers whom I would have been/am happy to hear again.
Oh, and welcome to the SF Opera Summer Season! "The Price of Passion," indeed.