If the set-up sounds French to you, don’t worry: it reminds us of La Chartreuse de Parme rewritten by Proust, complete with the blurred genders and the turn of the 20th century decadence of the aristocracy. The opera was written in 1911 for the latter, and Quinquin, already a soprano in pants, takes two turns as a man in drag, for the former.
That Quinquin is still quite innocent is proved by the fact that he’s singing enthusiastic arias after a night of love making, while a more knowledgeable lover would run away from the morning breath and sweaty armpits of his partner, or solidly doze away. But it’s all for our benefit: Joyce DiDonato does a convincing turn in a male character, and brings an angelic voice to the proceedings.
Pictures Terrence McCarthy, SF Opera. Above Joyce DiDonato kneeling in front of Soile Isokoski, as we should all do. Below, Miah Persson.