Saturday, December 26, 2009
Sunday, January 3 at 8 p.m. – Verdi’s Il Trovatore
Nicola Luisotti makes his debut as San Francisco Opera’s music director with Verdi’s suspenseful tale of a corrupt count, a dashing warrior and a Gypsy who plots to avenge her mother's wrongful death. The illustrious cast features soprano Sondra Radvanovsky (Leonora), mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe (Azucena), tenor Marco Berti (Manrico) and baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Count di Luna), with bass Burak Bilgili (Ferrando) and mezzo-soprano Renée Tatum (Inez). Walter Sutcliffe, director. [Fall 2009; I was less thrilled with this than most people were, but S. Rad. is worth the price of admission.]
Sunday, February 7 at 8 p.m. – Puccini’s Il Trittico
A triptych that runs the gamut from heart-wrenching tragedy to sparkling comedy, audiences have the rare opportunity to enjoy Il Trittico in its entirety, the way its creator intended. Soprano Patricia Racette portrays the heroine in each of Il Trittico’s three one-act operas—Giorgetta (Il Tabarro), Sister Angelica (Suor Angelica) and Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi)—joined by baritone Paolo Gavanelli (Michele/Il Tabarro and Gianni Schicchi), tenor Brandon Jovanovich (Luigi/Il Tabarro) and contralto Ewa Podleś (The Princess/Suor Angelica). The cast also features mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook and bass Andrea Silvestrelli. San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers, conductor; James Robinson, director. [Fall 2009. Racette, Gavanelli, and Podleś were all spectacular, with great performances also from Andrea Silvestrelli, Meredith Arwady, Brandon Jovanovich, and David Lomeli.]
Sunday, March 7 at 8 p.m. – Listener’s Choice
Listeners vote on their favorite opera from the preceding year. The opera receiving the most votes will be rebroadcast on March 7. For more information, visit www.kdfc.com.
Sunday, April 4 at 8 p.m. – Verdi’s Requiem
KDFC broadcasts this special gala performance of Verdi’s choral masterwork celebrating former San Francisco Opera Music Director Donald Runnicles, who concluded his remarkable 17-year tenure at the close of the 2008-09 Season. Maestro Runnicles leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus, with soprano Heidi Melton, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, tenor Stefano Secco and bass Andrea Silvestrelli. [Spring 2009. This started out as a train wreck, improved a lot!]
Sunday, May 2 at 8 p.m. – Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio
A Spanish nobleman sets out to rescue his beloved from the clutches of a tenacious Turk in this witty tale set to Mozart’s exuberant score. Soprano Mary Dunleavy (Constanze) and tenor Matthew Polenzani (Belmonte) head an exceptional cast featuring soprano Anna Christy (Blonde), bass Peter Rose (Osmin) and tenor Andrew Bidlack (Pedrillo). The performances feature the United States operatic debut of German conductor Cornelius Meister. Chas-Rader Sheiber, director. [Fall 2009; Fantastic conducting from Meister, great performances from Polenzani, Christy, Rose, and Bidlack. Dunleavy, why??]
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
While K. Murphy's new gig, director of music administration at NYCO, is, in fact, an important spot, H.G. Murphy's career isn't exactly huge. Tommasini cited her recent Met appearance as Sister Genovieffa in Suor Angelica, terming the character innocent and dreamy. Honestly, if you've seen Suor recently, can you tell the nuns apart?? Aside from Angelica, the monitor, and the Abbess, I mean?*
You can take a look at her career in the Met archive to get some perspective; there've been a lot more Barbarinas and Gianettas (Elisir) than Sophies and Nanettas. You can't make a case for her being what I'd call an important Met artist, though she has certainly been a consistent and valuable singer there for the last 20 years. If you're looking for career comparisons, bearing in mind that Grant Murphy is singing a lighter repertory, see Patricia Racette, who is a year or so older than Grant Murphy, but who graduated immediately from the Voice of the Falcon in Frau and the Priestess in Aida to leading roles.
Tommasini also runs off the rails when he says that Richard Bonynge and Joan Sutherland were a powerhouse team who "kept their married life private." Richard Bonynge's career got an immense boost from the fact that you could hardly hire Sutherland to sing without also hiring him to conduct. The one time I heard him, in a late 1990s Lucia at San Francisco, he struck me as an extremely competent, but not very interesting, conductor. I doubt he would be as prominent as he has been if he'd been married to, say, Mary Curtis-Verna.
So, while I enjoyed the Murphy family article a great deal - there are plenty of interesting insights into what it takes to have a musical career, let alone two musical careers in one family - I don't think Tommasini proved that they're a "power couple."
* I confess. Genovieffa has some real music; she gets the leading vocal part when they're discussing the beam of sunshine on the fountain. Still. It's one of those roles that nearly any lyric soprano can sing effectively. At San Francisco, Rebekah Camm sang the part. And did you ever judge a performance of Suor on the basis the singers other than the Angelica and Zia Principessa?
Monday, December 21, 2009
Seventh Avenue Presbyterian is a comfortable venue, intimate enough and spacious enough, and easy to get to by public transit. Parking in the neighborhood is not so much fun.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Seventh Avenue Performances (San Francisco) announces 2010 Season
For more information contact: J. Jeff Badger, Managing Director at the above EMail address or 415.664.2543 x3
Seventh Avenue Performances (www.SevenPerforms.org) is pleased to announce its 2010 season that once again presents a variety of performances at reasonable prices (general admission $20, student/senior $15) in San Francisco's Inner Sunset neighborhood; all performances are at Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1329 Seventh Avenue in San Francisco. Our new season features opera, classical and world music, and we are pleased to once again be the San Francisco venue for our Artists-in-Residence, San Francisco Renaissance Voices (www.SFRV.org). The 2010 season includes:
Saturday, January 17, 7:30 pm – "Castles and Countrysides" - Season Opener with Brocelïande
We had such fun when Brocelïande made their Seventh Avenue debut on our 2009 Season that we decided to have them back to provide a celebratory start to 2010 with an inviting program of Celtic traditional and Early Music to welcome in the New Year! Included are Scottish songs by Robert Burns, Irish songs and dances, French traditional music, and songs of Tolkien. Featuring stellar vocal and instrumental harmonies, their entrancing sound is built on the interweaving of up to 3-part vocals with the lyrical music of the Celtic harp, octave mandolin, cello, 12-string guitar, recorders, whistle, and percussion. Brocelïande is Margaret Davis, Kristoph Klover, and Kris Yenney.
Saturday, February 6, 7:30 pm – The Music of Benjamin Britten
San Francisco Opera Chorus tenor Colby Roberts is joined by Kevin Rivard, horn; Dawn Harms, concertmaster and Maestro Matthias Kuntzsch, conductor and piano, to perform the music of Benjamin Britten featuring Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horns and Strings. The program will also include Britten's Les Illuminations, Sonnets of Michelangelo and Winter Words.
Saturday, March 6, 7:30 pm – Songs of War and Peace
Our Artists-in-Residence, San Francisco Renaissance Voices (Todd Jolly, Music Director), perform the first concert of their new season, "Music in Time of War," with music from the Renaissance and early Baroque featuring Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Missa pro Victoria (based on Janequin’s Le Guerre) as well as Dufay’s Lamentio Sanctae Matris Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, Gallus’ Les Heroes, Te Deums from the Franco-Flemish Renaissance, and troubador songs from the Crusades.
Saturday, April 17, 7:30 pm – Ya Elah Women’s Ensemble (Bon Singer, director)
Ya Elah sparkles with the influence of Bulgarian village songs, Sephardic and Middle Eastern melodies. The musicians have backgrounds in cantorial, folk, jazz, ethnic and classical styles. Composer, arranger, and singer with Kitka for 14 years, Artistic Director Bon Singer is recognized as one of the premier directors of Bulgarian choral music in the United States.
Saturday, May 15, 7:30 pm – The Armed Man
The Renaissance drinking song L’homme Arme’ (The Armed Man) has served as the basis for more masses than any other tune in history. This concert by San Francisco Renaissance Voices (Todd Jolly, Music Director) features both of Josquin des Prez’s versions his Missa L’homme armé sexti toni and his most famous version, Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales, a technical tour-de-force, containing numerous mensuration canons and contrapuntal display in which the L'homme armé tune is repeated for each movement on a consecutive step of the scale.
Saturday, June 26, 7:30 pm – Les Grâces Baroque Ensemble
Les Grâces performs the music of the 17th and 18th centuries with a focus on French music. The group features soprano Jennifer Paulino with Rebekah Ahrendt (viol), Annette Bauer (recorders) and Jonathan Rhodes Lee (harpsichord).
Saturday, July 31, 7:30 pm – The Armed Woman
San Francisco Renaissance Voices (Todd Jolly, Music Director) presents this concert dedicated to proving that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword and features music composed by women from the Medieval through Baroque periods. Featured is Isabella Leonarda’s (1620-1704) Magnificat, Opus 19 #10 with other music by Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), Maria Xaveria Peruchona (1652-1709), Sister Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (c1602-1678), Maddelena Casulana (1544-1590), the courtesan Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677), the mysterious Antonia Bembo (1640-1720) and the child prodigy Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729).
Saturday, August 21, 7:30 pm – Of Heloise
Soprano Nancy Ogle (University of MN professor of Music, Surry Opera) and countertenor Justin Montigne (Chanticleer, Clerestory) offer the Bay Area its first listen to selections from an upcoming opera by Minnesota composer Jan Gilbert. Of Heloise recounts part of the epic love-lost story of Heloise and Abelard, whose letters, exchanged years after the end of their affair, bear testament to the passion they held for each other and to the deep intellectual and artistic bond they shared until death. Modern music on a medieval theme anchors this original and exciting program.
Saturday, September 18, 7:30 pm – Teslim
Teslim means both ‘commit’ and ‘surrender’ in Turkish and features two well known Bay Area musicians: violinist Kaila Flexer and Gari Hegedus on oud, Turkish saz, Greek lauoto and other (mostly plucked) stringed instruments. This potent duo performs Greek, Turkish and Sephardic music. In addition, both Flexer and Hegedus are composers whose original music is based on these fertile traditions
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Before you start protesting about the many, many problems, take a look at what Krugman has to say about it: he's not overjoyed, but if this doesn't pass, it'll be the 2020s before anything passes. Yep, we can continue to have 35 million people without health insurance (and thus without consistent and decent access to health care), or we can accept and build on the Rube Goldberg machine that is the current bill. So: Pass it!
(And we should think about some serious reform of the Senate. The U.S. Constitution does not require a supermajority to pass legislation, but between the ideological polarization of Congress, and especially the Senate, and rule changes over the last 40 years, there's a de facto requirement of 60 votes. Consider the history of California under our rule for a supermajority to pass budgets: do you want the whole country to look like my fine state?)
(And yes, I do think it stinks that, as usual, access to abortion is being further thrown under the train to pass this. What Ben Nelson got in addition to that is more federal money to expand Medicaid in Nebraska - that I like just fine.)
Friday, December 18, 2009
They are operating under significant budget constraints, with a season that will have a budget some $6 million under this past year's. That is something, considering that it includes three presentations of the Ring cycle in a new production. Jon Finck's email makes it clear that the opera will save some money by skipping the press conference.
The fact is, we already know about the Summer, 2011 season: it's three presentations of the Ring cycle. So all that needs to be announced is the remaining productions, for fall, 2010. In a good year, there would be seven operas, making a total of eleven for the season. But given the budgetary issues, I'm betting on six at the most and maybe even five. Opera Tattler has been following rumor, gossip, opera press releases, and singers' web sites carefully; see her San Francisco Opera future seasons page for the latest.
Why do we sing? – January 1, 2010 10pm, KALW, 91.7 FM
Do human beings have an innate ability to sing? When people say they can’t sing, should we believe them?
The inimitable Ella Fitzgerald – January 8, 2010 10pm KALW, 91.7 FM
America’s First Lady of Song changed the face of jazz vocals. VoiceBox explores the story behind the voice.
Hooray for Community Choruses, January 15, 2010 10pm KALW 91.7 FM
There are more than 500 choruses in the Bay Area and one in five Americans sings in a choir. Why are Americans so passionate about singing for pleasure? (I hope she's talking to Helene and Bill Whitson of the marvelous Choral Archive!)
Men with high voices, January 22, 2010 10pm KALW 91.7 FM
Once upon a time, countertenors wouldn’t go about publicizing the fact that they sang high. These days, male sopranos and altos are kings of the classical and pop worlds.
Mavens of Cabaret, January 29, 2010 10pm KALW, 91.7 FM
VoiceBox explores the vocal pyrotechnics of the smoothest cabaret artists from the Bay Area and beyond
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Trying to find a video (perhaps in a arts channel archive) of
something that came out perhaps 20 years ago: A performance by a
Canadian orchestra (perhaps the Montreal Symphony, don't know for sure
though) of Rhapsody in Blue that was done in an unusual way, with
performers moving on stage around a pianist--like
an enactment of the music. This is all the info I have to go
by...don't know the title of the piece (other than rhapsody in blue)
I have done some checking on Amazon and the web with no success. Can anyone identify the production in question?
OperaCast has links to the radio stream:
Here's the program:
XXI. Mini Fesztivál 2009 - IV/2.rész
1. Lendvay Kamilló: Six B. to B.,
a) Sietős léptek,
b) Harangjáték, c)Tétova induló,
af Hangyák háborúja (Kéry János),
2. Kurtág György: Szálkák Op. 6/d (Marczi Mariann),
3. Ligeti György
a) Fém - etüd No. 8. (Marczi Mariann),
b) A bűvészinas- etüd No. 10. (Lajkó István),
4. Bozay Attila: Bagatellek Op. 4. (Lajkó István),
5. Durkó Zsolt: A gömb története - részletek,
c) Landino-szext és Korál,
e) Bartókos dallam,
af Adoniszi sor,
g) Precipitando e ritartando,
h) Vae victis (Lendvai Dalma),
6. Vajda János: Változatok zongorára (Taraszova Krisztina),
7. Dubrovay László: Öt zongoradarab (Holics László)
(Fesztivál Színház, január 24.)
(IV/3.rész : december 30. szerda, 19.30)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
As for recordings, Christmas from a Golden Age, a Romophone record now reissued on Naxos (I think), the Leontyne Price Christmas album, and sundry medieval sets. That's it for me.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
The county supes are naturally a little concerned about the last-minute nature of the loan. The authors of the Culture Monster blog posting, Mike Boehm and Garrett Therolf, note that L.A. Opera's most recent tax return, for the year ending June 30, 2008 (that's 18 months ago), showed serious signs of distress: the company's board of directors provided more than $19 million in interest-free loans, of which $5 million has been forgiven, and ticket sales of $18.2 million covered way less than 50% of the annual budget of $55.6 million.
Even if you wish his programming were less middle-of-the-road, it's almost impossible to imagine the fiscally-conservative Gockley letting San Francisco Opera get into this kind of difficulty. Thank goodness.
Update: Mark Swed discusses the future of the Ring cycle and the opera here, not saying much about how this mess happened.
Further Update: Brian at Out West Arts has interesting comments about the loan.
More Updates: Reportage by Boehm and Theolf here. Short article by Dan Wakin in the Times here. The head-banging line from the LA Times story:
The company had run short on cash, Rountree said, partly because "there was a failure to fully appreciate that they needed to put out $20 million of the $32 million for the 'Ring' Cycle two years in advance."
22 concerts at The Stone, NYC, December 16th through 29th, 2009.
Statement of curator David Garland:
"The emphasis of my programming at The Stone during the last weeks of 2009 is on musicians who subtly, insistingly, and creatively expand the potential of song. By investing songs with both heart and brain, and by tapping into the alchemy of the understandable and the mysterious, these daring songwriters prove that the ancient combination of words and music can still yield surprises, open new vistas, and permit and promote profound communication."
Tuesday, December 22 at 10pm
The M6: Meredith Monk Music Third Generation
Repertoire to include music by Meredith Monk from Book of Days, ATLAS, Volcano Songs, American Archeology, and Dolmen Music
THE STONE is located at the corner of Avenue C and 2nd Street
ADMISSION: $10 per set
students 13 to 19 admitted half price
children 12 and under free
There are no advance ticket sales. All admissions are at the door prior to each performance.
Here's the general schedule:
10pm nightly: Different versions of the iconic Reich composition, Music for 18 Musicians Noon & 8pm daily: Interviews with Reich from WNYC archives
Thursday: The Birth of a Style: Influences and Teachers
Friday: Counterpoint: From Vermont to Cello
Saturday: Reich in Full Voice: Vocal, Choral and Tape
Sunday: The Cave (Reich’s only opera)
Monday: Live Concerts from the WNYC Archives
Tuesday: Music for Percussion
Wednesday: Reich Remixed: The Next Generation
- Original and exciting new recordings of all of Reich’s recorded works, many with personal introductions by Reich himself
- Exclusive rare performances and interviews from the WNYC archives, including visits with John Schaefer on New Sounds and Soundcheck, long-format interviews with
Tim Page on Meet the Composer and with Leonard Lopate on The Leonard Lopate Show
- Do You Q2 blog, with celebrity tributes from contemporaries, collaborators and admirers from different fields, including: David Lang and Nico Muhly, composers; Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo; So Percussion’s Jason Treuting; and Bang On A Can Allstars & Steve Reich & Musicians’ Evan Ziporyn
- Reich (Remixed), a collection of Steve Reich material remixed by some of today’s most important DJs and remixers
- Exclusive, time-limited download of Reich’s Dance Patterns, courtesy Nonesuch Records http://nonesuch.edgeboss.net/
download/nonesuch/music/ 075597991321/a_fl_steve_reich_ daniel_variations_8_dance_ patterns_332481_256.mp3
Monday, December 07, 2009
Friday, December 04, 2009
They are brave. H/T to Scott Spiegelberg at Musical Perceptions for the link.
The case LaSalle tries to make is that Clooney is today's "American actor," which he never really defines, though he offers a bunch of examples. But he misses the most obvious comparison to Clooney, omitting from his list of past "American actors" Cary Grant.
If you've seen a few Grant films and a few Clooney films, the comparison couldn't be more apt. They're both charming, attractive, graceful in a loose-limbed way. You sometimes get the feeling they're playing themselves rather than whatever character they are nominally representing.
Really, by the end of the article, I was rolling my eyes and thinking, never send a guy, and especially a straight guy (which as far as I know is the case with LaSalle) to write this sort of article. He completely and totally missed the most obvious facts about George Clooney: the man is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, he is aging beautifully and not trying to hide his age (think Paul Newman, who was a stunner right through to his last film, versus the grotesque current appearance of Robert Redford), and he's always charming. Honestly, if George Clooney turned up on my doorstep...well, never mind.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Note: what he means is, he has to be able to perceive and understand the musical narrative. The composers he dismisses out of hand this week are Cage, Babbitt, Stockhausen, Glass, Reich, and Riley, a fascinating assortment of composers. He almost seems to be lumping Cage and Babbitt together, in fact!
Just noting that there's obviously a lot of Riley he hasn't heard.
Here's my personal definition of music: it's organized sound moving in time, typically organized by one or more of harmony (in the larger sense), rhythm, meter, timbre, form, or melody.
Just because you don't understand or like a particular style or composer doesn't mean it's not music.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Convince me that there's something about the opera or next summer's international cast - with an Italian tenor, a Canadian bass, and an American soprano - that makes it worth my shelling out even $10 for standing room to see this thing. I bow to no one in my love of Patricia Racette, but....couldn't they have hired her for Minnie instead?