Daniel Barenboim has been named Music Director of La Scala, effective December 1, 2011. His contract is for 5 years. Barenboim is already the General Music Director of Staatsoper Unter den Linden.
* Notes *
The English Concert, lead by Harry Bicket, played at Walt Disney Concert Hall last night as part of a tour that goes on to Chicago, Boston, Toronto, and New York. The program consisted of entirely Baroque music and started with Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber's Sonata No. 6 for trumpet, strings, and continuo. The trumpet soloist was Mark Bennett, who played the difficult instrument fairly accurately. The ensemble plays with emphatic (and undoubtedly informed) historicity. In any case, there was very little legato. The violist had a few harsh notes, but this was more textural than it was annoying.
After the Biber came several pieces by Henry Purcell. Countertenor Andreas Scholl (pictured above, photograph by James McMillan courtesy of Decca) sang "Sweeter than roses," "Music for a while," and "An evening hymn." The acoustic of Frank Gehry's building is much more flattering to Scholl's voice than Herbst Theatre or Zellerbach Hall. The overall effect was that of warmth and effortlessness. The ensemble went on to play scenes from Purcell's King Arthur, out of order, it seems, starting with the Chaccone. Scholl sang "O solitude, my sweetest choice," "What power art thou," and "Fairest isle." The percussiveness of "What power art thou" was striking.
Following the intermission, The English Concert played Georg Muffat's Passacaglia from Sonata V. The program returned to Purcell, with scenes from The Fairy Queen. This was interspersed with Scholl singing "One charming night" (from Act II of the aforementioned opera), the song "If music be the food of love," and "When I am laid in earth" (from Dido and Aeneas). The encore was "Music for a while."
* Tattling *
The audience was the most attentive I have observed in any of the Music Center venues. There was some quiet whispering, but never when Scholl was singing. Scholl himself stopped his first piece for the latecomers getting in their seats. He was very good-natured about waiting.
A watch alarm sounded at 10pm, during the encore.
Shawn Mathey will replace Topi Lehtipuu as Don Ottavio in San Francisco Opera's new production of Don Giovanni, opening this Saturday. Lehtipuu has withdrawn due to illness. Shawn Mathey makes his San Francisco Opera debut with these performances.
In other Don Giovanni news, Peter Mattei replaces Mariusz Kwiecien in the first three performances of Met's new production, on October 13, 17, and 22. Kwiecien herniated a disc in his back during rehearsal. He will return to the role starting October 25. Rodion Pogossov takes over Mattei's performances of Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia on October 14 and 22.
On Thursday evening the Merola Opera Program held a reception honored Executive Director Jean Kellogg, outgoing President Patrick Wilken, and incoming President Donna Blacker. Wilken was given a proclamation from San Francisco's City Hall. Kellogg and Blacker took office at the beginning of the month.
* Notes *
This week San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas performs a program of Mozart, Adès (pictured left, photograph by Maurice Foxall), and Stravinsky. Saturday's performance began with Mozart's Symphony No. 35 in D major, K.385, Haffner, which was played with much volume and heft. The tempi were not particularly distinctive, and the Menuetto lacked lightness. The Mozart was followed by a San Francisco Symphony co-commission of Thomas Adès entitled Polaris: Voyage for Orchestra. The piece itself had a pretty atmospheric quality, but Tal Rosner's video installation was simply absurd. The images of the beach were first obscured by some sort of Swiss cheese shadow that spun around and around. The rest of the video looked like a tasteful advertisement for either coats or seaweed, and there was one circle that appeared with a particular note in the brass that was extremely amusing.
After the intermission came Stravinsky's Petrushka. The playing was clear and forceful. The interplay between trumpet, bassoon, and flute was quite pleasing. MTT and the orchestra gave a charming encore, Stravinsky's Scherzo à la Russe. The playing was filled with vim.
* Tattling *
My date absolutely hated the Adès and mooed during the ovation. I could only laugh.