Previous month:
February 2024
Next month:
April 2024

Mark Padmore Sings Winterreise

Cal-performances-mark-padmore-mitsuko-uchida-by-justin-pumfrey* Notes *
Tenor Mark Padmore sang Schubert's Winterreise at Cal Performances yesterday afternoon. Accompanied by the pianist Mitsuko Uchida ( pictured with Padmore, photograph by Justin Pumfrey) we were taken on an intense journey with these 24 songs.

Padmore has a bright voice and clear German diction. He was able to convey the text not only through his enunciation but by coloring the notes, the meaning felt completely obvious. I liked how he could sound like a perfectly pretty bell but also get across the passion of the words. There were times when his intonation was inexact, but this heightened the drama of these lieder rather than detracting from the piece. Uchida's playing was clean and supportive.

Der Lindenbaum and Die Post were particularly strong. The former starts with such sweetness, and turns darker and more strident, and then back. It was sad that during this performance the song began with a cellular phone ringing and had so much rustling of programs before it ended that Uchida hushed the audience. It was maddening given how beautiful and engaging the performance was.

* Tattling *
The performance started 15 minutes late, as it had no intermission. The audience was embarrassing. The person next to me in Row D fell asleep three or four times, jerking awake and shaking not only her seat but the ones around her. There was so much electronic noise, throughout, the worst of which was a phone that rang five times during the last song.

The Joffrey Ballet's Anna Karenina at Cal Performances

3cal-performances-the-joffrey-ballet-cheryl-mann* Notes *
The Joffrey Ballet's Anna Karenina was presented by Cal Performances last night at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley for the first of three performances. The 2019 ballet with music by Ilya Demutsky was played live by Berkeley Symphony and conducted by Scott Speck.

The music is eerie and busy, there is a lot going on with a full orchestra, piano, and vocalist Lindsay Metzger.

Choreographed by Yuri Possokhov, the story is condensed into two acts and runs just shy of two hours. Possokhov uses the floor quiet a bit, but judiciously, the movements are beautifully fluid. The racehorse scene (Act I, Scene 4) was particularly impressive as far as utilizing the many dancers all together, as was Act II, Scene 5, in Betsy Tverskaya's salon (pictured, photograph by Cheryl Mann). I was very much amused by the use of different colored tutus in this latter scene. There was also a lot of using furniture in the dancing, there's a couch that is featured in the love scene between Anna and Vronsky, a bed in Act II's prologue when Anna has a fever and the subsequent scene, and lots of chairs for the Parliament scene.

The production made good use of lighting, projections, and props, it moved through the many scenes effectively without falling flat or feeling too overdone with meticulous details.

The dancers were strong. From the very beginning, Hyuma Kiyosawa is an exuberant Levin, and Yumi Kanazawa is a sweet Kitty. Dylan Gutierrez is a lanky, almost gangly Karenin, but didn't have any trouble doing lifts with both Anna Karenina and their son Seryozha (played by Jimmy Gershenson). Alberto Velazquez is convincing as Vronsky, his duets were particularly good. Best of all was Victoria Jaiani as Anna Karenina. Her extension is incredible, and her utter brokenness at Obiralovka Train Station was haunting. The staging of her death, with the railroad tracks and light of the train, was artful.

* Tattling *
The audience was quiet, there was no talking or whispering, only a few rustles of programs or lozenge wrappers disturbed the music.

San Francisco Symphony's 2024-2025 Season

03_ESA_PEKKA_II_SF_SYMPHONY_0564-v3September 5-8 2024: Joe Hisaishi Symphonic Concert: Music from the Studio Ghibli Films of Hayao Miyazaki
September 19-21 2024: Salonen conducts Verdi's Requiem
September 25 2024: Opening Gala with Salonen; Lang Lang, piano
September 27-28 2024: Salonen conducts Nico Muhly
October 4-6 2024: Salonen conducts Brahms 4
October 18-20 2024: Salonen conducts Beethoven's Pastoral
October 25-26 2024: Thomas Wilkens conducts Rhapsody In Blue; Michelle Cann, piano
October 27 2024: Emanuel Ax, piano
October 31 2024: Pyscho film with live orchestra
November 1 2024: Coco film with live orchestra
November 7-9 2024: Nicholas Collon conducts Enigma Variations
November 10 2024: Itzahk Perlman and Friends
November 15-17 2024: Kazuki Yamada conducts Fauré's Requiem
November 21–23 2024: Bernard Labadie conducts Mozart; Lucy Crowe, soprano
November 24 2024: Top Gun:Maverick film with live orchestra
November 29-30 2024: Amadeus film with live orchestra
December 6-7 2024: Stephen Stubbs conducts Händel's Messiah
January 9-11 2025: James Gaffigan conducts Mazzoli, Barber, and Prokofiev; Ray Chen, violin
January 16-19 2025: David Robertson conducts Carmina Burana and Adams' Piano Concerto
January 24-25 2025: Mark Elder conducts Also sprach Zarathustra
January 30- February 1 2025: Herbert Blomstedt conducts Schubert and Brahms
February 6-9 2025: Paavo Järvi conducts Mahler 7
February 9 2025: Seong-Jin Cho, piano
February 13-16 2025: Salonen conducts Stravinsky and Debussy; Yuja Wang, piano
February 19 2025: Tessa Lark, piano
February 21-23 2025: Salonen conducts Xavier Muzik, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky; Daniil Trifonov, piano
February 26 2025: Joshua Bell and Academy of St. Martin and the Fields
February 28-March 2 2025: Robin Ticciati conducts Rachmaninoff 2
March 2 2025: Yuja Wang and Víkingur Ólafsson Duo Piano Recital
March 13-15 2025: Elim Chan conducts Tchaikovsky
March 23 2025: Lahav Shani conducts Israel Philharmonic
March 27-30 2025: Juraj Valčuha conducts Brahms and Shostakovich; Gil Shaham, violin
April 4-5 2025: Titanic film with live orchestra
April 6 2025: Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin with Lambert Orkis, piano
April 9 2025: Martin James Bartlett, piano
April 10-12 2025: Marin Alsop conducts Music of the Americas; Gabriela Montero, piano
April 20 2025: Evgeny Kissin, piano
May 2–3 2025: Gabriel Kahane's Talent and Phoenix
May 8-10 2025: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers film with live orchestra
May 15-17 2025: Dalia Stasevska conducts Rachmaninoff
May 20 2025: Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano and Michael Feinstein, piano with San Francisco Symphony
May 21 2025: Tony Siqi Yun, piano
May 23-25 2025: Salonen conducts The Firebird
May 23-25 2025: Salonen conducts Beethoven; Hilary Hahn, violin
June 1 2025: Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason Duo Recital
June 4 2025: Xavier Foley, double-bass with Kelly Lin, piano
June 6-8 2025: Salonen conducts Sibelius' Symphony No. 7
June 12-14 2025: Salonen conducts Mahler Symphony No. 2; Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano

Next season at San Francisco Symphony will be Esa-Pekka Salonen's last as Music Director.

Season Highlights | Press Release

Opera San José's 2024-2025 Season

DAP_1646_Resized-scaledSeptember 14–29 2024: The Magic Flute
November 16– December 1 2024: La bohème
February 15– March 2 2025: Bluebeard's Castle
April 19– May 4 2025: Héctor Armienta’s Zorro

Today new General Director Shawna Lucey (pictured, photograph by David Allen) announced Opera San José's next season, which includes a regional premiere of Zorro by Héctor Armienta, which opened at Fort Worth Opera in 2022.

Press Release | Official Site

The Magic Flute at Livermore Valley Opera

MF rehearsal 3* Notes *
Livermore Valley Opera's The Magic Flute (Act I pictured with Liisa Davila, Megan Potter, Leandra Ramm, Victor Cardamone, and Alex DeSocio) opened last night with a delightful and well-characterized cast of singers. 

The English-language production, directed by Yefim Maizel, is straightforward and the set is simple, a platform with three stairs and a background with video projections. There were also a pair of doors that came in to change the space. The backdrops that represented the outdoors looked more fairytale-inspired, while the interiors had more of a video game from the early nineties feel. The costumes were often draped and Grecian though Tamino and the Queen of the Night looked more like they were from Mozart's time.

Alexander Katsman held the small orchestra together, though there certainly were times when the flute and horns were exposed and not in tune. The main attraction of the evening was certainly the singing. Bankhead Theater is an intimate space and everyone was very audible, especially given how small the orchestra was.

Bass Kirk Eichelberger was convincing as Sarastro, the acoustics were very good for his low notes and it was impressive hearing the depths of his voice. Baritone Alex DeSocio is an adorable Papageno, his sound is very resonant and pleasing. He was funny and sprightly.

MF photo 6Soprano Shawnette Sulker's chirping, bright sound was almost too pretty for the Queen of the Night (pictured in Act II with Phoebe Chee) she just bordered on shrill on the run up to the hardest passages of both her big arias, but seemed to effortlessly and beautifully hit the high notes. Soprano Phoebe Chee is a robust and dramatic Pamina, well-supported and clear. I'd really like to hear her as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, which Liveremore Valley Opera is doing next season. Tenor Victor Cardamone makes for a very fine Prince Tamino, such a lovely, powerful sound, with such ease.

*Tattling *
The audience was focused and pretty quiet. I did hear some electronic noise when Papageno's pan pipes responded to Tamino's flute call.

I was a bit flustered upon my arrival to the theater as I had been running late all day, and didn't manage to put my leftover tiramisu in my purse before entering. One of the theater staff rightly took it from me, but I wasn't able to discern where I was to pick it up after the performance, and abandoned the cake as it was rather late and raining a lot.