In good company, I saw The Queen of Spades, last night at the SF Opera. It’s a surreal experience complete with distorted sets and masses of people. Somehow the show didn’t grab me at any moment. There were some wonderful little scenes like a vertical bed pasted to a backdrop meant to mimic looking directly down on someone sleeping. A scene with fanciful puppetry also was engaging. Singing-wise, it was just as inconsistent as the theatrics. Excepting one strong baritone, everyone had their moments of greatness and failure. I was baffled by a lot of singing away from the audience despite well-constructed sets that bounced sound back toward the crowd. I was impressed, however, by the use of off-stage chorus singing that gave a real soundtrack ghost feel to a lot of the show.
The Chronicle review outlines the story well without turning the piece into a Josh Kosman-like opinion article. I agree with Winn, though, that Runnicles was pretty darn good.