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Cal Performances 2014-2015 Season

MT_katwade_outsideZHAugust 12 2014: Yo-Yo Ma performs Bach's Cello Suites
September 13 2014: Eco Ensemble
September 25-28 2014: Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble
October 10 2014: Art Spiegelman and Phillip Johnston perform WORDLESS!
October 11 2014: Afropop Spectacular: Bassekou Kouyate and the Krar Collective
October 12 2014: Takács Quartet and Marc-André Hamelin, piano
October 16-19 2014: Australian Ballet performs Swan Lake
October 24-25 2014: Sasha Waltz & Guests
October 26 2014: Richard Goode, piano
October 30 2014: Mavis Staples, vocals
November 2 2014: Jorge Federico Osorio, piano
November 7-8 2014: Théâtre de la Ville performs Six Characters in Search of an Author
November 9 2014: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
November 13 2014: Apollo's Fire plays Monteverdi's Vespers for the Blessed Virgin
November 14-15 2014: Curlew River – A Parable for Church Performance
November 15 2014: Academy of Ancient Music plays Bach's Complete Orchestral Suites
November 15 2014: David Sedaris
November 16 2014: San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and Tony Arnold, soprano
November 16 2014: Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
November 21-23 2014: Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe perform The Old Woman
November 23 2014: St. Lawrence String Quartet
December 4 2014: Cantus performs All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914
December 5-6 2014: Paul Dresher Electro-Acoustic Band and Amy X Neuburg perform They Will Have Been So Beautiful: Songs and Images of Now
December 6 2014: Audra McDonald, soprano
December 7 2014: Takács Quartet and Erica Eckert, viola
December 10 2014: Yo-Yo Ma, speaker
January 13 2015: Gidon Kremer, violin and Daniil Trifonov, piano
January 18 2015: The Kronos Quartet and Wu Man, pipa
January 24-25 2015: Peking Acrobats
January 25 2015: San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and Nicolas Hodges, piano
January 31 2015: Matthew Polenzani, tenor
January 31- February 1 2015: Kodo
February 4-7 2015: Les 7 Doigts de la Main Circus performs Sequence 8
February 8 2015: Peter Nero Trio
February 15 2015: Olli Mustonen, piano
February 19 2015: The Nile Project
February 20 2015: Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI
February 22 2015: San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
March 1 2015: Susan Graham, mezzo soprano
March 1 2015: Cassandra Wilson, vocals
March 6 2015: The Intergalactic Nemesis: Book Two: Robot Planet Rising
March 8 2015: David Finckel, cello and Wu Han, piano
March 11 2015: Hugh Masekela, trumpeter, vocalist and Vusi Mahlasela, singer-songwriter
March 12 2015: Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano and Tamara Stefanovich, piano
March 14-15 2015: Joffrey Ballet
March 15 2015: Jennifer Koh, violin
March 19 2015: Chick Corea, piano and Herbie Hancock, piano
March 20-22 2015: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
March 28 2015: Davitt Moroney, harpsichord
March 29 2015: San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
March 28-29 2015: Chitresh Das Dance Company performs Shiva
April 10-11 2015: The Tallis Scholars
April 13 2013: Ray Kurzweil
April 12 2015: Ian Bostridge, tenor
April 17 2015: Arlo Guthrie
April 21-26 2015: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
May 1-3 2015: Handspring Puppet Company performs Ubu and the Truth Commission
May 1 2015: Les Arts Florissants
May 8 2015: Donal Fox Trio
May 10 2015: Christian Tetzlaff, violin and Lars Vogt, piano
May 15 2015: Sérgio Assad, guitar and Odair Assad, guitar
June 2015: Ojai North!

Matías Tarnopolsky announced the new Cal Performances season today.

Official Site | Brochure

Opera Parallèle's Les mamelles de Tirésias

Mamelle2837* Notes *
Opera Parallèle has put together a double bill of Mahagonny Songspiel with Les mamelles de Tirésias at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Opera Parallèle has embedded the Poulenc between the second and third parts of the Weill. Director Brian Staufenbiel never lacks for ideas and connects the two pieces by setting them in an apocalyptic future, which looks distinctly like Steampunks at Burning Man. The main set piece is a boat on wheels (pictured above, photograph by Steve DiBartolomeo) that is pulled around the stage by the singers. The action includes quite a lot of choreography, especially for the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the OP Chorus, and the Resound Ensemble. The effect of all these elements together is disorienting and utterly surreal.

For opening performance on Friday, Artistic Director Nicole Paiement conducted the ensemble with characteristic poise. The orchestra sounded incredibly together and clean. The singing was exquisite. Aleksey Bogdanov, Hadleigh Adams, Daniel Cilli, and Thomas Glenn all made fine contributions. Gabriel Preisser was amusing as Le Mari in the Poulenc, his voice is pretty. Renée Rapier sang Betty in the Weill, and was haunting in "Alabama Song" with Rachel Schutz (Jessie). Schutz was most impressive as Tirésias/La cartomancienne. Her voice is so bright and elegant.

* Tattling * 
The audience members were fairly quiet, though I did notice that the woman in Row E Seat 103 fussed with her purse a few times and also spoke to her neighbor about the cookware that appeared on stage.

Opera San José's Don Giovanni

Don-giovanni-sj-opera-2014* Notes *
Don Giovanni opened with two different casts at Opera San José over the weekend. The piece seemed a bit beyond the abilities of all those involved. Though Mozart sounds wonderfully effortless, the Sunday afternoon performance on Easter was both sincere and labored. It was probably a wise decision to cut "Dalla sua pace," for example. Anthony Quartuccio conducted an orchestra that sounded angular and moderate. The unsubtle singing was promising but not quite together, the singers often lagged behind the orchestra.

Mozart does not leave a lot of margin for error, and the mistakes were painfully exposed. All of the singing was rather loud, and we never had a problem hearing the singing over the rest of the music. Jennifer Forni was a slightly shrill Donna Anna. Lisa Chavez made for a sultry and vehement Donna Elvira. Krassen Karagiozov was an amusing and bright Leporello. In the title-role Evan Brummel lacked charisma. His voice is nice enough, but the most memorable moment of his performance was when he accidentally threw the mandolin into the door frame after "Deh vieni alla finestra."

For the most part, the fairly standard production kept to the text. The ending did not involve a supernatural descent but was resolved by having Masetto punish the rake instead.

* Tattling * 
There was much noisy candy-eating in Rows D and F on the right side of the orchestra level.

Don Quichotte at San Diego Opera

Don-quichotte-2014* Notes * 
The last performance of the 2014 season at San Diego Opera was the matinée of Don Quichotte on Sunday, April 13. This may well have been San Diego Opera's final offering, complete with a Save San Diego Opera demonstration outside and capacity attendance inside. The production is a revival of the one at San Diego Opera in 2009.

Maestra Karen Keltner held the orchestra together, and the music sounded lovely. The chorus was generally good, though the bandits in Act III were not exactly together at first. This improved by the end of the act. The small roles were all filled nicely, it was especially nice to hear Susannah Biller (Garcias) and Joel Sorensen (Rodriguez). Eduardo Chama was delightful as Sancho Pança, he is a fine basso buffo. Anke Vondung sparkled as Dulcinée, and her voice is both rich and smooth. Ferruccio Furlanetto was again entirely committed to the title role. His pathos and ridiculousness came through with great beauty.

* Tattling * 
San Diego Civic Theatre only has four wheelchair locations, and an usher put a person in a wheelchair next to me in Row B Seat 43. I had purposely selected this seat as I have a temporary medical condition that requires that prompt attention every few hours. The usher did not consider me at all in his deliberations, and even asked that I get out of his way at one point. However, the person in the wheelchair was exceedingly considerate of me, and was careful to let me get past him at intermission and the end of the show. It was unfortunate that about half the stage was not easily visible for him.

SFCM's Postcard from Morocco

Postcard-portland* Notes *
San Francisco Conservatory Opera Program is currently presenting Argento's Postcard from Morocco. A co-production with Portland Opera, the set and costumes are entirely professional. The action takes place within a waiting room of a transit station, which has rows of chairs that are easily wheeled about. The concept behind the staging is inventive, though there were certain moments that did not quite make sense with the text. For example, in addition to their attributes, all of the characters have the same suitcases. This was especially confusing for A Man with Old Luggage, as he had both a rucksack meant to signify his old luggage, and the large off-white square piece of baggage exactly like everyone else's. The production matches the opera in being highly surreal, including a possessed slide projector.

Curt Pajer conducted a small orchestra that sounded clear and lively in Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall. The musicians occasionally overwhelmed a few of the singers. The playing for the "Souvenirs de Bayreuth" section of the opera was entertaining. The cast on Thursday night's performance was talented. Laura Arthur (A Lady with a Cake Box) and Sergey Khalikulov (A Man with a Cornet Case/A Puppetmaker) made fine contributions to the evening. Molly Wilson (A Lady with a Hand Mirror) and Mason Gates Neipp (A Man with Old Luggage) were particularly good in the operetta duet. Ellen Preseley impressed as A Foreign Singer. Daniel Cameron was a touch quiet as A Man with a Shoe Sample Kit, but his acting was strong. Woojeong Lee sounded bright as A Man with A Paint Box. His accent was obvious at times but his voice is rather pretty.

* Tattling * 
The audience was restless during the instrumental section. A latecomer took a seat in Row L Seat 2, but switched seats at one point, placing herself directly in front of someone in Row J. Not only was the offender's underwear distressingly visible above her jeans, she deigned to talk to her friends in the row of her new seat.

Vivaldi's Juditha triumphans at PBO

Van de Sant Portrait new* Notes * 
The 2013-2014 season of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra ended with Vivaldi's only surviving oratorio Juditha triumphans devicta Holofernis barbarie. The work features a few of the more unusual Baroque instruments. Violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock played viola d'amore in "Quanto magis generosa" and clarinetist Eric Hoeprich played a chalumeau in "Veni, veni, me sequere fida." Both of these arias are for Juditha, and were sung beautifully by mezzo-soprano Cécile van de Sant (pictured left) at Sunday's concert in Berkeley. Her voice is rich and smoky, with great resonance. The orchestra was in fine form, as was the chorus. One was especially impressed at how the chorus was able to nuance the different roles it played.

The rest of the singing was more than competent. Soprano Dominique Labelle sang the role of Juditha's handmaid Abra. Mezzo-soprano Diana Moore sang Holofernes with authority, she did a particularly nice rendition of "Seda, o cara, dilecta speciosa." Mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux sounded bright as Vagaus, the squire of Holofernes. Her parts with the chorus were wonderful and her coloratura in "Quamvis ferro, et ense gravis" was incredible.

* Tattling * 
I was sandwiched between subscribers that talked over me before the performance, but were kindly apologetic about doing so. They did keep fairly quiet during the music. Someone's mobile telephone in Row F quacked while Holofernes sang recitative.

I was under the impression this performance would be two hours or perhaps two and a half hours long, but with a run time of three, I sadly had to leave at intermission.

Eugene Onegin at Pocket Opera

2013_08_25 PocketOpera_22653* Notes *
Pocket Opera performed an English language version of Eugene Onegin yesterday at the Hillside Club in Berkeley. Donald Pippin is utterly charming, and his narration and translation of the text were both lively. The production is likewise cute and accessible. Though the playing was not entirely together and the musicians were far from being perfectly in tune, everyone performed with a lot of heart. Part of the problem was that the orchestra was behind the singers, creating a great deal of chaos as far as synchronization. The singing too had flaws, there were swallowed notes, some shrillness or thinness at the tops of certain voices, as one would expect from such a small, local opera company. Nevertheless, there were more than a few moments of intimacy and beauty, and some of these very same imperfect voices were able to sound quite lovely. The chorus was lilting and did well with all the scene changes. Though hearing this opera on a small scale like this might seem a bit peculiar, it is appealing and may make one appreciate the work with new ears.

* Tattling * 
There was a particular person who blocked the entire aisle with his walker, shoving my seat which was neither directly in front of him nor adjacent to his. Since this was fire hazard, an usher had to deliberate with him about putting it somewhere else in the hall during the performance. This same person was unable to understand make out the words as they were sung and unable to see the supertitles. He yawned loudly and at the end of Act I, nearly pulled out the chair under the person in front of him as he used it to stand up. He had the good sense to leave at intermission.

Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions 2014

Met-auditions-2014The 2014 winners of the Metropolitan Opera (pictured left) National Council Auditions are sopranos Julie Adams and Amanda Woodbury; tenor Yi Li; bass-baritone Ao Li; and bass Patrick Guetti. Four of these five are associated with the Merola Opera Program. Adams and Woodbury are Merolini this year. Yi Li was in Merola in 2012 and Ao Li was in Merola in 2010. Ao was, of course, also an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera for three years. Adams recently graduated from San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

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