* Notes *
Violinist Rachel Podger (pictured left, photograph by Jared Sacks) lead Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in Vivaldi concerti from La cetra, La stravaganza, and L'estro armonico recently. The performance at the SFJazz Center last Friday in San Francisco was fiery. Podger had the eleven violinists and three violists standing, and lead with warmth and intelligence. As one would expect, the cellists and theorbo player sat, the bassist stood, and Hanneke van Proosdij stood at her organ but sat at her harpsichord.
The soli were all quite clear, and it was also wonderful when the orchestra or the soloists played in unison. Podger had particularly nice rapport with Elizabeth Blumenstock in Concerto for 2 Violins Op. 3, No. 8 in A minor, RV 522 and with Carla Moore in Concerto for 2 Violins Op. 9, No. 9 in B-flat major, RV 580. David Tayler had a lovely solo in the first half of the program, and it was nice to hear the theorbo by itself for a change. Cellist Phoebe Carrai gave a ferocious performance, and was particularly strong in Concerto for 2 Violins and Violoncello Op. 3, No. 11 in D minor, RV 565. Ellie Nishi's viola playing in Concerto for 4 Violins and Violincello Op. 3, No. 10 in B minor was also quite strong.
The violinists deftly switched places between pieces, with minimal fuss or disruption. The encore was the Largo from La Stravaganza, Op.4, Concerto No. 12 in G major, RV 298.
* Tattling *
A man across the aisle from me in Row G occasionally spoke loudly to his companion in the first half but settled down in the second.
The 2016 season at San Diego Opera was announced today and consists of two Puccini works and the West Coast premiere of Jake Heggie's latest opera. Greer Grimsley, Latonia Moore, Ferruccio Furlanetto, and Patricia Racette return to San Diego Opera. Important Company debuts include those by Teodor Ilincăi, Alexia Voulgaridou, Isabel Leonard, Nathan Gunn, Frederica von Stade, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Joyce El-Khoury, and J'Nai Bridges. Returning conductors are Massimo Zanetti, Yves Abel and Joseph Mechavich.
Cecilia Bartoli has canceled her West Coast Sacrificium tour, due to "unforeseen circumstances." She was to have performed with Sergio Ciomei in Santa Monica on March 21 and 26, in Costa Mesa on March 23, and in Berkeley on March 31 and April 2.
San Francisco Opera's 91st season started on September 6, 2013 and finished on July 13, 2014. Eight operas were held at the War Memorial Opera House in 68 performances. The Company concluded Fiscal Year 2013-14 (FY 14) with a deficit of $348,244 on an operating budget of $74,119,493. Total operating revenue for FY14 rose from $30,808,345 to $37,013,042 with income from ticket sales for FY14 at $22,674,340 compared to the prior season (FY13) at $19,785,866. Contributions to the FY14 Annual Fund reflected a slight decrease of less than 1% from the previous year, coming to $36,758,207 in financial support from approximately 7,600 donors.
August 20 2015: MTT conducts Schoenberg and Beethoven; Yuja Wang, piano
August 21 2015: MTT conducts Schoenberg, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky; Yuja Wang, piano
August 22 2015: MTT conducts Ives, Bartók, Mahler; Yuja Wang, piano
August 27- September 14 2015: European Festival Tour
September 24 2015: Opening Gala: MTT conducts TBA
September 25-26 2015: MTT conducts Ravel, Chopin, Respighi; Daniil Trifonov, piano
September 30- October 32015: MTT conducts Ted Hearne, Barber, Tchaikovsky; Susanna Phillips, soprano
October 4 2015: András Schiff plays Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert
October 7-10 2015: András Schiff conducts Mozart, Haydn, Schubert
October 11 2015: Chamber Music with members of SFS
October 13 2015: Manuel López Gómez conducts TBA; Lang Lang, piano
October 21 2012: Susanna Mälkki conducts Mussorgsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev; Christian Tetzlaff, violin
October 18, 2015: Paul Jacobs, organ and Christine Brewer, soprano
October 22-24 2015: Susanna Mälkki conducts Jukka Tiensuu, Chopin, Sibelius
October 28-30 2015: Andrey Boreyko conducts Prokofiev, Bartók, Tchaikovsky; Gidon Kremer, violin
October 31 2015: Halloween Concert
November 1 2015: Donato Cabrera conducts SFS Youth Orchestra
November 1 2015: Chamber Music with members of SFS
November 4-6 2015: Yan Pascal Tortelier conducts Bizet, Ravel, Saint-Saëns; Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano
November 7 2015: Día de los Muertos Concert
November 8 2015: Zubin Mehta conducts Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
November 12-15 2015: MTT conducts Sibelius and Schumann
November 18 2015: Leif Ove Andsnes plays Sibelius, Beethoven, Debussy, Chopin
November 19-22 2015: MTT conducts R. Strauss and Schumann; Laura Claycomb, soprano
November 27-28 2015: The Nightmare Before Christmas
November 29 2015: Chamber Music with members of SFS
December 5 2015: Music for Families TBA
December 6 2015: Deck the Hall Concert
December 11-12 2015: It's a Wonderful Life
December 11-12 2015: SoundBox
December 13 2015: Donato Cabrera conducts SFS Youth Orchestra in Peter and the Wolf
December 31 2015: New Year's Eve Concert
January 9-10 2016: Itzhak Perlman conducts Beethoven and Mozart
January 14-16 2016: Krzysztof Urbańsk conducts Kilar, Beethoven, Dvořák
January 15-16 2016: SoundBox
January 18 2016: Itzak Perlman, violin & Emanuel Ax, piano
January 21-24 2016: Marek Janowski conducts Beethoven and Pfitzner
January 24 2016: Pinchas Zukerman conducts Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Jonathan Biss, piano
January 25 2016: Pinchas Zukerman conducts Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
January 28-31 2016: Edwin Outwater conducts Weber, Saint-Saëns, Busoni, Hindesmith; Stephen Hough, piano
February 5-6 2016: Masaaki Suzuki conducts Mendelssohn, Mozart, Stravinsky
February 6 2016: Music for Families
February 11-14 2016: Pinchas Zukerman conducts Elgar and Mozart
February 12-13 2016: Vertigo
February 13 2016: Chinese New Year Concert
February 18-20 2016: Stéphane Denève conducts Nielsen, Guillaume Connesson, Prokofiev
February 19-20 2016: SoundBox
February 21 2016: Chamber Music with members of SFS
February 21-22 2016: Mikael Pletnev conducts Russian National Orchestra; Yuja Wang, piano
February 25-27 2016: Herbert Blomstedt conducts Beethoven and Bruckner; Maria-João Pires, piano
February 28 2016: Chamber Music with members of SFS
March 2-5 2016: Herbert Blomstedt conducts Mozart; Alexander Barantschik, violin
March 5 2016: Music for Families
March 6 2016: David Titterington, organ
March 10-13 2016: Charles Dutoit conducts Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Fauré, Stravinsky; Nikolai Lugansky, piano
March 13 2016: Igudesman and Joo: And Now Mozart
March 17-19 2016: Charles Dutoit conducts Berlioz's Requiem; Paul Groves, tenor
March 20 2016: Donato Cabrera conducts SFS Youth Orchestra
March 20 2016: Chamber Music with members of SFS
March 20 2016: Jeremy Denk, piano
March 23-26 2016: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
March 25-26 2016: SoundBox
March 30- April 8 2016: MTT conducts Copland and Schumann
April 3 2016: Chamber Music with members of SFS
April 6-10 2016: MTT conducts Schubert and Mahler; Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano and Simon O'Neill, tenor
April 13-16 2016: US Tour
April 20-23 2016: Pablo Heras-Casado conducts Rameau, Haydn, Biber, Beethoven; Ingrid Fliter, piano
April 22-23 2016: SoundBox
April 24 2016: Thierry Eschaich, organ
April 26 2016: Hilary Hahn, violin
April 27-29 2016: Pablo Heras-Casado conducts Bartók, Mason Bates, Ravel, Shostakovich
April 30 2016: Music for Families
May 6-7 2016: Alan Gilbert conducts New York Philharmonic
May 12-14 2016: Juraj Valčuha conducts Prokofiev, R. Strauss, Webern
May 12 2016: Yo-Yo Ma, cello and Kathryn Stott, piano
May 15 2016: Donato Cabrera conducts SFS Youth Orchestra
May 15 2016: Chamber Music with members of SFS
May 19-22 2016: MTT conducts Brahms and Schumann; Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano
May 25-29 2016: MTT conducts On the Town
June 2-4 2016: Vladimir Ashkenazy conducts Shostakovich and Elgar; Alexey Stadler, cello
June 5 2016: Chamber Music with members of SFS
June 8-12 2016: James Conlon conducts Britten, Mozart, Dvořák; Jan Lisiecki, piano
June 16-19 2016: MTT conducts Stravinsky and John Adams; Thomas Hampson, baritone
June 23-25 2016: MTT conducts C.P.E. Bach, Jörg Widmann, Brahms; Yefim Bronfman, piano
June 26 2016: Chamber Music with members of SFS
June 29- July 2 2016: MTT conducts Mahler's Symphony No. 2; Karina Gauvin, soprano and Kelley O'Connor, mezzo-soprano
* Notes *
American Bach Soloists is currently performing sold-out St. Matthew Passion concerts around the Bay Area. Jeffrey Thomas conducted a fastidious performance in Berkeley last night. The orchestra played neatly. The soloists were not entirely even, and the choral singing often sounded most cohesive.
Tenor Derek Chester (pictured left) sounded lovely as the Evangelist. His voice carries well, and he though he did have a few squeaks here and there, he sang compellingly. William Sharp gave an elegant performance as Christ, and also sang "Mache dich, mein Herze, rein," the last baritone aria of the piece.
Hélène Brunet had an ABS debut as first soprano and sounded quite clear. Clara Rottsolk (Soprano II) has beautiful low notes. Agnes Vojtko (Alto I) also had a fine lucidity in her singing. As Alto II, countertenor Jay Carter was somewhat strained, but his "Können Tränen meiner Wangen" was effective.
Tenor Charles Blandy has a bright sound with some rough edges, and tenor Jon Lee Keenan a pretty, reed-like voice that is perhaps less resonant. Baritone Thomas Meglioranza (Basso I) was easier to hear than baritone Joshua Copeland (Basso II).
* Tattling *
The person in Row H Seat 114 during Part II had difficulty being quiet. Not only did she speak to the woman she came with but she hummed along with the American Bach Choir and was rather out of tune.
My puerile companion was amused that one of the witnesses was sung by the countertenor.
San Francisco Opera is taking over the Rickshaw Stop for pop-up event entitled "Barely Opera" on March 2, 2015 at 8:00pm. The evening will feature famous arias, Broadway tunes, and more performed by the Adler Fellows. Tickets are 10 dollars, available at Event Brite or at the door.
Tenor Dimitri Pittas (pictured left) will replace Stephen Costello as Michele in La Ciociara at San Francisco Opera. Costello has withdrawn for personal reasons.
Baritone Vitaliy Bilyy will make his San Francisco Opera debut in the role of Miller in Luisa Miller. Bilyy replaces Thomas Hampson, who has decided not to add this particular Verdi role to his repertoire.
Soprano Elizabeth Futral will join the cast of Sweeney Todd in the role of the Beggar Woman.
* Notes *
Opera Parallèle opened the 2015 season with a chamber version of Dead Man Walking at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco last night. Opera Parallèle again makes a compelling case for contemporary works, and the appeal of Jake Heggie's first opera is obvious. Artistic Director Nicole Paiement conducted a lush and robust sounding small orchestra. Director Brian Staufenbiel's production is elegant and effective. The main props are a dozen floating rectangular screens, each segmented into smaller shapes made up of metal bars. The use of video projection in the background is tasteful, as is having two supernumeraries representing the murdered teenagers on stage for most of the opera.
The cast is impeccable. Catherine Cook did an amazing job singing Mrs. De Rocher, the mother of the title character. Her appearance at the pardon board in Act I Scene 7 was one of the strongest moments of the performance. The following scene with the parents of the victims was also ravishing. Robert Orth (Owen Hart), Kristin Clayton (Kitty Hart), Joseph Meyers (Howard Boucher), and Michelle Rice (Jade Boucher) are convincing. Talise Trevigne is an outstanding Sister Rose, her voice is beautifully lucid. Michael Mayes has a pretty voice, but his physicality works well for Joseph De Rocher. Jennifer Rivera sounded pure and lovely as Sister Helen.
* Tattling *
Everyone around me in the Center Orchestra section was absolutely quiet and attentive.
September 21 2015- May 6 2016: Otello
September 23 2015- January 30 2016: Turandot
September 25 2015- February 13 2016: Il Trovatore
September 26 2015- January 9 2016: Anna Bolena
October 8-31 2015: Tannhäuser
October 16- December 1 2015: Tosca
October 20- December 17 2015: Rigoletto
November 5- December 3 2015: Lulu
November 23 2015- May 5 2016: La Boheme
December 4 2015- January 7 2016: Die Fledermaus
December 16 2015- January 2 2016: The Barber of Seville for Families
December 31 2015- February 4 2016: Les pêcheurs de perles
January 21-February 26 2016: Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci
January 29-February 20 2016: Maria Stuarda
February 12- March 11 2016: Manon Lescaut
February 19- April 12 2016: Madama Butterfly
February 25- March 26 2016: Le Nozze di Figaro
March 10- April 7 2016: L'Elisir d'Amore
March 24- April 19 2016: Roberto Devereux
April 1-16 2016: Simon Boccanegra
April 14- May 7 2016: Elektra
April 22- May 7 2016: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
The Met announced the 2015-2016 season today. There will be 227 performances of 25 operas, including six new productions. The new productions are Otello, Lulu, Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Manon Lescaut, Roberto Devereux, and Elektra.
* Notes *
Der fliegende Holländer opened at Hawai'i Opera Theatre last night. Francesca Zambello's production, directed here by Sara Widzer, involves a lot of ropes. The set is simple and remains essentially the same the entire time, despite the intermission placed in the middle of Act II. Scenes are changed using light and a few props, including the aforementioned ropes and some furniture. The choreography is elaborate, singers dance and climb up metal scaffolding or rope netting. Though the stage direction seems somewhat fussy, the main plot points are well-motivated and the end is definitely effective.
The youthful cast is strong. Melody Moore is radiant as Senta, and has a lovely vulnerability. Ryan McKinny is powerful in the title role, and conveys a certain dangerousness in his growling, bold voice. Jay Hunter Morris sounds bright and plaintive as Erik. Paul Whelan (Daland) is cheerful and Nathan Munson (Steuermann) sweet. It was difficult, at least at yesterday's performance, to hear Maya Hoover as Mary, but her physicality is spot on for the role.
The orchestra, conducted by John Keenan, played the overture with spirit. There were times when the musicians could have sounded more cohesive, and this was also the case with the chorus. However, this does not detract much from the sturdiness of the piece itself or the fine soloists.
* Tattling *
It was helpful to sit in the first row for this performance, as it made it easy to ignore the scattered talking from my neighbors (Row A Seats 25 and 27) on the left. They were engaged by the experience but perhaps a bit noisy in their enthusiasm. The couple on my right (Seats 21 and 19) was completely rapt and silent.
Kathryn Bowden, Glastonbury, Connecticut
Cree Carrico, Detroit, Michigan
Amina Edris, Christchurch, New Zealand
Madison Leonard, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Meredith Mecum, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Toni Marie Palmertree, Fleetwood, Pennsylvania
Raehann Bryce-Davis, Keene, Texas
Tara Curtis, Kansas City, Missouri
Ashley Dixon, Peachtree City, Georgia
Nicole Woodward, Quincy, Florida
Christopher Bozeka, Akron, Ohio
Alasdair Kent, Perth, Australia
Soonchan Kwon, Daejeon, South Korea
Michael Papincak, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Alex DeSocio, Wichita, Kansas
Sol Jin, Seoul, South Korea
Kihun Yoon, Seoul, South Korea
Zachary Elmassian, East Lansing, Michigan
James Ioelu, Auckland, New Zealand
Austin Siebert, Shelbyville, Indiana
Brad Walker, Lake Zurich, Illinois
Scott Russell, Roanoke, Virginia
Ming Zhao, Kaifeng, China
Edoardo Barsotti, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
Robert Bosworth, Fort Worth, Texas
Aaron Breid, Del Mar, California
Samuel Emanuel, New Rochelle, New York
Kirill Kuzmin, Moscow, Russia
Apprentice Stage Director
Mo Zhou, Nanjing, China
The Schwabacher Summer Concert, directed by Roy Rallo and conducted by Valéry Ryvkin, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is on Thursday, July 9. The free outdoor afternoon Schwabacher will be held at Yerba Buena Gardens on Saturday, July 11. The Merola artists perform a double bill of Menotti's The Medium and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, on Thursday, July 23 and Saturday, July 25 in the newly-renovated Cowell Theater at Fort Mason. Mark Morash conducts and Peter Kazaras directs.
Donizetti's Don Pasquale, led by director Nic Muni and conducted by Warren Jones, will be presented on Thursday, August 6 and Saturday, August 8 at the Cowell Theater. The season ends with the participants singing in the annual Merola Grand Finale, led by conductor Antony Walker and directed by Merola Opera Program apprentice stage director Mo Zhou on Saturday, August 22 at the War Memorial Opera House.