La Forza del Destino, the latest production of the SF Opera, opened yesterday in a wonderful new production. The Opera completely reinvented this classic, and came up with a fresh and polemic take which delighted us. And with the brilliant singing we enjoyed last night, no one will mind much of the liberties taken with the sets and costumes.

Forza is a monumentous production. It lasts 3h40mn, with a huge cast, a large choir, an action which goes across Europe as if it was served by southwest airlines, four acts and two intermissions: the operatic equivalent of the summer blockbuster.

The storyline requires suspension of disbelief, but it is part of going to the opera anyway. It goes roughly like this: Leonara is being caught in the middle of the night, in the midst of eloping with her suitor Alvaro, by her dad. Alvaro ends up killing the old man accidentally. Alvaro and Leonara run away but get separated in the confusion. Carlo, Leonara's brother, vows to avenge his father and kill both lovers. The forces of destiny will bring Carlo, Alvaro and Leonara together over the course of many years and many travels, so they can meet their fate.

Photos by Terrence McCarthy/SF Opera: above, Vladimir Kuzmenko and Andrea Gruber, below Željko Lučić and Jill Grove