Dan and I went to San Francisco Opera’s production of Elixir on Wednesday night. It was such great fun to see and hear it right after finishing with Opera San José’s production. I certainly know the music intimately. I was sorry we missed Ramón Vargas. (Hmmm. He bagged the final show … ill?) Not that his replacement, Alex Shrader, wasn’t good. You can hear him in this first clip, which is in English since it was the version for families:

But I really did want to hear Mr. Vargas sing Una furtiva lagrima. Ah well, he sings a bit of it in this next clip:

I do wonder if the ice cream they are eating in this next clip is really ice cream. I’d heard that singers should avoid dairy products before singing. Hmmm. Is that true? (I know at least one singer who reads this. Mike?)

I was curious about tempi, since I thought we were draggy in a few spots. There were a few places that were slightly faster (precisely where I had wished some to be, actually … maybe I know something about tempi after all?!) but mostly it was much the same, and a few tempi were slower. I thought the SFO’s singers were good but, to be honest, I liked ours equally well. So there ya go. 🙂

We did discover that the buffet downstairs is far too expensive. Live and learn.


  1. I’m not a singer (but I don’t know when to shut up); the last I heard is that the dairy vs. voice thing is an urban legend/old wives’ tale. If you think about it, the vocal cords are in the breathing part vs. the swallowing part, right? Two separate tubes? It’s kind of like offering someone a drink of water when they’re coughing – not the same plumbing.

    On the other hand, if a given performer finds that it makes a difference then it does, and they should pay attention. And I’m not implying it’s psychosomatic, either – science ain’t figured it all out yet, after all, and we’re not all the same anyhow.

  2. While it’s true that what you eat/drink can’t actually affect the vocal folds, dairy products do increase phlegm production, which some people find difficult to sing through. Generally speaking I don’t pay that much attention to what I eat before I sing, though. But I’ve known plenty of singers who are more “delicate” – whether that’s psychosomatic or self-inflicted in some way is another story altogether.