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March 2015
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John Eliot Gardiner Conducts L'Orfeo

PBP_0527-Monteverdi-Choir,-EBS-at-Buckingham-Palace-(Credit-Paul-Burns)_1* Notes * 
John Eliot Gardiner, the English Baroque Soloists, and the Monteverdi Choir (pictured left, photograph by Paul Burns) performed a beautiful L'Orfeo, Favola in musica at San Francisco Symphony's Davies Hall last night. The playing was elegant, even the brass instruments sounded clean. The singing was even and lovely. The vigorous choristers sounded together.

Despite being billed as a concert version of the piece, there were clearly costumes and choreography. The orchestra was split in the middle, with Maestro Gardiner stage left center, and the choir upstage on risers. This left an aisle for the singers, and much dancing occurred here. The female chorus dressed in bright, short dresses for the acts in The Fields of Thrace and in black, long gowns for the acts in The Underworld. The choir had a lively stage presence.

Most of the principal voices were exceedingly pretty. Soprano Francesca Aspromonte (Music/Messenger) has a bird-like sound with some fire, while Mariana Flores was an ethereal Euridice and warbling Hope. Francesca Boncompagni's breathing was noticeable as Proserpina, but her voice is suitably plaintive. Tenor Krystian Adam was warm and genial as the First Shepherd. Tenor Nicolas Mulroy sang a subdued Apollo.

The bass voice of Gianluca Buratto (Caronte/Plutone) is well-supported and rich with impressive low notes. Tenor Andrew Tortise seamlessly sang the title role. He could have conveyed more mournfulness in Act IV, but his voice is bright and gorgeous.

* Tattling * 
The opera was performed without an intermission but those around me on the Orchestra Level were silent and attentive.

Cal Performances 2015-2016 Season

September 11-12 2015: National Circus of the People's Republic of China
September 18 2015: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
September 24-25 2015: Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela
October 1-4 2015: Mariinsky Ballet & Orchestra
October 9 2015: Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club
October 11 2015: Takács Quartet
October 11 2015: Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India
October 16-18 2015: Twyla Tharp
October 23 2015: eco ensemble
October 24 2015: Bach Collegium Japan
October 29-30 2015: Circa
November 6-7 2015: Ensemble Intercontemporain
November 7 2015: Youssou N'Dour
November 8 2015: Leila Josefowicz, violin and John Novacek, piano
November 13-14 2015: Compañia Flamenca José Porcel
November 19-22 2015: Rude Mechanicals
November 22 2015: Danish String Quartet
November 27-29 2015: Mummenschanz
December 6 2015: Garrick Ohlsson, piano
December 12-13 2015: Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host
January 22-23 2016: Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan
January 24 2016: Yefim Bronfman, piano
January 24 2016: Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour
January 29-30 2016: St. Louis Symphony
February 14 2016: eighth blackbird
February 21 2016: Takács Quartet
February 26 2016: Jordi Savall, viol and Frank McGuire, bodhrán
February 27-28 2016: Chitresh Das Dance Company
February 28 2016: Danish String Quartet
March 5 2016: Renée Fleming, soprano
March 6 2016: Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder of SERIAL
March 6 2016: Yefim Bronfman, piano
March 11-13 2016: Mark Morris Dance Group and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale
March 18-19 2016: Trajal Harrell
March 19 2016: Buika
March 19 2016: L'Arpeggiata
March 20 2016: Savion Glover with the Jack DeJohnette Quartet
March 26 2016: Montreal Symphony Orchestra
March 29- April 3 2016: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
April 2 2016: Musicians from Marlboro
April 9 2016: The Tallis Scholars
April 10 2016: Brentano String Quartet
April 14 2016: Gil Shaham, violin
April 17 2016: Murray Perahia, piano
April 26 2016: Matthias Goerne, baritone and Alexander Schmalcz, piano
May 1 2016: Kronos Quartet
May 5-8 2016: Edgar Oliver
May 7 2016: David Finckel, cello and Wu Han, piano
May 12 2016: Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor and Jérôme Ducros, piano

Cal Performances announced the 2015-2016 season on April 20, 2015. The Koret Recital Series includes Renée Fleming, Matthias Goerne, and Philippe Jaroussky.

Official Site | Brochure

PBO and SF Opera Adlers

Adler_Fellows_Opera_Steps* Notes * 
A number of San Francisco Opera Center's Adler Fellows (pictured left) performed with conductor Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra last night at the SFJazz Center. The evening was a delight from beginning to end. The first half of the program featured four instrumental pieces interspersed with four vocal pieces, all by Mozart. The Overture in D major, K. 106 was played with grace, while Contredanse No. 1 in D major, K. 106 sounded rather cheery. I enjoyed the emphatic playing of the repeated notes in Contredanse No. 3 in B-flat major, K. 106.

Soprano Julie Adams sang "Nehmt meinen Dank" with clarity. Her voice has much strength and not a trace of strain. Baritone Edward Nelson was terribly charming in "Con un vezzo all'italiana" from La finta giardiniera. The quartet "Dite almeno, in che mancai" with Adams, Nelson, tenor Brian Thorsett, and bass Anthony Reed was brilliant as well.

The second half of the show was devoted to Rossini's first produced opera, La cambiale di matrimonio (The Marriage Contract). The piece is concise and quite amusing. The orchestra played with verve and McGegan looked pleased throughout as he conducted. Some of the Baroque instruments seemed less well-suited to Rossini than others, but the enthusiasm of all those involved never waned.

The singing was wonderful. Mezzo-soprano Nian Wang sang Clarina's aria ("An'chio son giovine") with conviction. Bass Matthew Stump makes for a wonderful, blustering Tobia Mill. Baritone Efraín Solís is hilarious as Slook. Tenor Brian Thorsett sings Edoardo Milfort with effortlessness. Soprano Jacqueline Piccolino is a dulcet-toned Fannì. Her sings with a certain subtlety that is appealing for this role.

* Tattling * 
The first five rows were removed to provide the orchestra with a pit.

SFCM's L'elisir d'amore

Sfcm-elisir* Notes *
Last week the San Francisco Conservatory Opera Program held two performances of L'elisir d'amore. The charming production marked the debut of director Jose Maria Condemi, who is incoming Director of Opera at the school. The spacious set (pictured left) features a runway downstage of the orchestra pit, and different levels upstage. The costumes looked to be from the 1940s.

Proceedings were rather lively, the young singers moved vivaciously. There was much physical humor, and Daniel Cameron was particularly amusing as Belcore. Evan Kardon (Adina) was hilarious in "Io son ricco e tu sei bella," rowing in an inappropriate but entertaining style. Sergey Khalikulov's Dulcamara was funny as well.

As for the music, most of the voices were bright and light, perfect for this opera. Mario Rojas (Nemorino) sang "Una furtiva lagrima" with beauty, and the bassoonist played nicely. Sabrina Romero's pretty voice suited Giannetta, and was a contrast to Kardon, whose sound is stronger and more piercing.

Scott Sandmeier conducted a spirited orchestra. The playing was rapid but mostly together, with only a few squeaks here and there.

* Tattling * 
The Saturday performance was sold out. There was a distressing amount of talking from many audience members.

Upcoming L'Orfeo at SFS

Gardiner-col-portrait-Credit-Sheila-Rock@DeccaSir John Eliot Gardiner (pictured left, photograph by Sheila Rock) is touring the United States with the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir from April 19 to May 1, 2015. They are performing a concert version of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at Davies Hall in San Francisco on April 27, 2015. This concert and others are featured in San Francisco Symphony's Spring Sale, which started yesterday and runs until April 15, 2015.

US Tour Monteverdi | Spring Sale