December 3, 2013
San Francisco Opera's The Barber of Seville for Families at the War Memorial on Saturday afternoon brought in a full house, half the audience consisting of children — unusual ones.
Quiet, attentive children, even those clearly in the preteen or pre-preteen category. When in the same house in a couple of weeks, San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker run begins, I only hope the same children will come to that, too.
Onstage, too, there were some remarkable young people, only a couple of decades older than the kids in the audience. It was a cast of Adler Fellows with impressive, career-ready stage presence, especially Joo Won Kang in the title role, Laura Krumm as the tall, willowy Rosina, and Ao Li as Don Basilio.
Shortened by an hour, sung in English (with supertitles), and using spoken narrative to explain the story, the family version relied on the excellent Emilio Sagi-Llorenc Corbella production, satisfying both "regular" and juvenile opera fans.
Speaking of the latter, I turned to a ponytailed 9-year-old in a party dress sitting behind me, and asked — trying hard not sound patronizing — if this was her first opera. She said no, and her mother listed Aida in Verona and Das Rheingold in New York among operas they attended before. True story.