Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tosca Through the Ages

San Francisco, 1932
First Production in the War Memorial Opera House

San Francisco, 1997
First Production in the Refurbished War Memorial Opera House

Zeffirelli Tosca, goodness knows when
Metropolitan Opera

Metropolitan Opera, 2017
David McVicar Production

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dutoit Banned From Davies

Well, that's what this San Francisco Symphony press release amounts to, since he has been removed from upcoming concerts with both SFS and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Separately, the Philadelphia Orchestra issued a statement basically saying they're shocked.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA—The San Francisco Symphony has severed all ties with Charles Dutoit in response to allegations of sexual misconduct that have been brought against the conductor. This decision is the result of the serious nature of the allegations, internal and external discussions, and the San Francisco Symphony’s strong commitment to a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment in the workplace.
Charles Dutoit was scheduled to conduct the San Francisco Symphony in two weeks of concerts in April, including a program of music by Debussy and Ravel, and a program including Holst’s The Planets. A new conductor for these concerts will be announced at a later date. Dutoit was also scheduled to conduct the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on tour in January as a part of the Orchestra’s Great Performers Series. He will not be appearing in Davies Symphony Hall for these concerts.

Ø  Great Performers Series
Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 7:30 pm
TBD conductor
Gautier Capuçon 
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

DEBUSSY (arr. Büsser) 
Petite Suite
Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major , H.VIIb:1
The Firebird

Ø  Great Performers Series
Monday, January 29, 2018 at 8 pm
TBD conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet 
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Fountains of Rome (Fontane di Roma)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major, S.125
Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 8 pm
Friday, April 20, 2018 at 8 pm
Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 8 pm

Susan Graham mezzo-soprano
San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Ragnar Bohlin director
San Francisco Symphony
DEBUSSY (orch. Ravel)
Sarabande from Pour le Piano
DEBUSSY (orch. Ravel)
Daphnis et Chloé [complete]

Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 10 am (Open Rehearsal)
Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 8 pm
Friday, April 27, 2018 at 8 pm
Sunday, April 29, 2018 at 2 pm

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet piano
Women of San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Ragnar Bohlin director
San Francisco Symphony
Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor
Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major
The Planets, Opus 32 

Lieder Alive! Concert in January

This looks great:

Neue Lieder, Neues Jahr
LIEDER ALIVE!’s Second Biennial Neue und Alte Liederfest
Sunday, January 14, 5pm

Heidi Moss Erickson, soprano
Kindra Scharich, mezzo-soprano
Ronny Michael Greenberg, piano
Performing works by Johannes Brahms, Ludwig von Beethoven, Mark Carlson, Kurt Erickson, Felix Mendelssohn, Henry Mollicone, Max Reger, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Richard Strauss, Hugo Wolf, and Luna Pearl Woolf
(full concert program provided below)

Ticket Information
Tickets are $35 in advance through Eventbrite, or $40 at the door; premium reserved seats are available for $75.  Tickets may be purchased at Eventbrite, or by calling (415) 561-0100. For more information, visit our website,

Venue Information
Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez, between 23rd Street and Elizabeth, San Francisco. Doors open a half hour prior to the performance time.

Please note: High-res jpegs are available at the media page. 

JOHANNES BRAHMS:  Die Schwestern
ROBERT SCHUMANN:  An den Abendstern
                                       Erste Begegnung
Heidi Moss Erickson, soprano
Kindra Scharich, mezzo-soprano
Ronny Michael Greenberg, piano

BRAHMS:  Die Mainacht
SCHUMANN:  Mondnacht
Scharich, Greenberg

FELIX MENDELSSOHN:  Abschiedslied der Zugvögel
ERICKSON:  Wie war so schön doch Wald und Feld! (World Premiere)
Moss Erickson, Scharich, Greenberg


SCHUMANN:  Ich denke dein
Moss Erickson, Scharich, Greenberg
FRANZ SCHUBERT:  Nähe des Geliebten
HENRY MOLLICONE:  Nähe des Geliebten
Moss Erickson, Greenberg

RICHARD STRAUSS:  Traum durch die Dämmerung
MAX REGER:  Traum durch die Dämmerung
LUNA PEARL WOOLF:  Traum durch die Dämmerung (World Premiere)
Moss Erickson, Greenberg

HUGO WOLF:  An die Geliebte
Scharich, Greenberg
MARK CARLSON:  An die Geliebte (World Premiere)
Moss Erickson, Scharich, Greenberg

(Note from the Blogmeister: If you're thinking of buying one of the premium seats, do this out of the goodness of your heart. The venue is small and you will have absolutely no problem seeing or hearing anything.)

More on Sexual Abuse in the Classical Music World

I woke up today to the news that three singers and an instrumentalist have accused Charles Dutoit of sexual assault. You can read all about it in this AP article, published at the Time Magazine web site. or at other outlets that have picked up the story. A tiny amount of research shows that the deceased veteran soprano who warned Paula Rasmussen about Dutoit during the run of Les Troyens in LA must have been Carol Neblett, who died only weeks ago.

In the article about Dutoit, note, particularly, people who don't want their names printed because it might affect their ability to get work. This should not happen.

A few more good articles have been published recently on the subject of sexual abuse:

  • Anne Midgette minces no words, warning orchestras and opera companies everywhere about the consequences of ignoring what might be going on within their institutions: Institutions raced to dump James Levine. They should look hard at themselves.
  • Anthony Tommasini minces words, as usual, saying, oh, he'll move his Levine recordings out of the living room. How's that for a decisive move? (Follow-up on January 2: who cares what Tommasini does with his Levine recordings? It is completely immaterial to what really matters, which is 1) policies that protect performers from predatory peers, conductors, administrators, etc. 2) administrators who act on those policies.)
  • Ellen McSweeney sums up a few things: Advocates Have Found Five Qualities Associated With Sexual Violence. The Classical Music World Hits Four of Them. Omitted: almost all general directors of performing arts orgs are male. The very few exceptions include the NY Philharmonic (Deborah Borda), San Francisco Performances (founded by Ruth Felt, who was president for around 35 years, Melanie Smith is currently president), Washington Performing Arts (Jenny Bilfield, formerly of Stanford Lively Arts, er, Stanford Live), Kennedy Center (Deborah Rutter), and Lincoln Center (Deborah Spar). I would have mentioned concertmasters as having unusual power and prestige within an orchestra. 
  • Jeremy Eicher has a few things to say. In classical music, a year of urgency and of reckoning

Monday, December 18, 2017

Turandot Refurbished

David Hockney's production of Turandot looked especially great this past fall at San Francisco Opera, and various press and audience materials mentioned that it had been refurbished. The latest edition of the Backstage with Matthew newsletter tell us why:
In April this year, we discovered with horror that our legendary Turandot production had sustained major water damage and had to be drastically remediated and, in part, rebuilt, during the summer. Our productions are currently stored in shipping containers on Treasure Island, and the combination of rust, salt water, and sweating inside the containers has led to major problems in our scenic storage. We are in the process of rehousing our scenery, but the refurbishment of Turandot was a major triumph for the production department, including our scenic facility in Burlingame. They lovingly researched and recreated the stunning painted drops, giving us a bold and vital new look at this iconic David Hockney production.

(The new issue of Backstage with Matthew isn't on the SF Opera web site yet, but you can read previous issues here.)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

#MeToo Comes to UC Davis Music Department

The famed Berlioz and Wagner scholar D. Kern Holoman gave up his professorships on Monday after a former student, who is now an administrator at UC Davis, alerted officials there that he was going to write about Holoman on his blog (link is to story). Danny Gray told officials about being assaulted and later raped by Holoman.

Holoman's response is Levine-like ("Our memories of that time differ markedly," that is, yes, there was sex! but it was entirely consensual) but includes something apologetic (not sure how sincere it is).

Gray had gone to the administration contemporaneously with the events, so there is evidence from then, and went to them on another occasion as well. As the story notes, UC has a miserable record of handling abuse in the workplace; see, particularly, how nice they were to former law school dean Sujit Choudhry, who sexually harassed a subordinate.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Opera America Awards

Opera America has made $225,000 in awards to assist in the production of a number of operas. Here are the works, composers, and companies involved. Congratulations to all of the recipients! I hope to hear your works.

Today It Rains by composer Laura Kaminsky and librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed

Today It Rains is set on the transformative train ride that Georgia O’Keeffe took from New York to Santa Fe in 1929, during which she began to redefine herself as an artist and confront certain aspects of her marriage to Alfred Stieglitz. Based on an original concept by Mark Campbell, with a projection design by Kimberly Reed, the production will be conducted by Nicole Paiement and directed by Brian Staufenbiel.

For this same work, Opera Parallèle previously received two grants: a 2016 Repertoire Development Grant and a 2017 Commissioning Grant, part of the Opera Grants for Female Composers Program. 

Magda/Max by composer Garrett Fisher and librettist Amy Schrader

Magda/Max is inspired by the dramatic life and death of Magda Goebbels, unofficial first lady of the Third Reich. The story unfolds through the experiences of Max, a gay Jewish prisoner in a concentration camp who is beaten close to death for “deviant” behavior. In a fever-dream, he imagines himself as Madga Goebbels, lamenting a society that refuses to accept the new world order. As the war comes to a close, Max's fate becomes intertwined with the Nazi leaders trapped in Hitler’s bunker, and freedom is only attainable through the ultimate sacrifice.

Schoenberg in Hollywood by composer Tod Machover and librettist Simon Robson
Based on a scenario by Braham Murray

Schoenberg in Hollywood centers on influential composer Arnold Schoenberg and his late-career effort to assimilate into the culture of 1930s Los Angeles. The opera will explore the humor, heroism and pathos of Schoenberg’s struggle, as it imagines his complex life in Hollywood and uncovers its relevance for future generations. It will premiere at Boston Lyric Opera in fall 2018.

Blue by composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson

Blue dives into the emotional epicenter of an African-American couple who lose their teenage son when he is killed by a police officer. Blue will premiere during the 2019 festival season and will be one of the subjects of “Breaking Glass,” a podcast and series of national forums hyperlinking opera and topical issues.
For this same work, The Glimmerglass Festival previously received a 2016 Commissioning Grant, part of the Opera Grants for Female Composers program.

The Phoenix by composer Tarik O'Regan and librettist John Caird

The Phoenix examines the life of Mozart’s friend and librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte. After the composer's death, Da Ponte flees Europe for America. Pursued by tax collectors and wronged women, Da Ponte reinvents himself countless times as a priest, a poet, a father, a political exile, a grocer and a teacher. The Phoenix will premiere in March 2019 as part of HGO’s multidisciplinary initiative “Seeking the Human Spirit.”

Five by composer Anthony Davis and librettist Richard Wesley

Long Beach Opera will facilitate the revision and new premiere of the opera Five. The opera follows five African-American and Latino teenage boys who were wrongly convicted for the 1989 rape and beating of a white jogger in Central Park. The “Central Park Five” spent between 6 and 13 years in prison until they were exonerated by DNA evidence, following the confession of the true assailant.

Eurydice by composer Matthew Aucoin and librettist Sarah Ruhl

Eurydice, based on the play by Sarah Ruhl, tells the Orpheus story from the perspective of Eurydice, using contemporary language to present the young lovers as quirky and conflicted. Eurydice meets her father in the Underworld, her memory erased, and they must re-establish their bond. When Orpheus arrives to bring her back to the land of the living, will she return with him? Eurydice was commissioned in 2015 by the Met Opera/Lincoln Center Theater New Works Program.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by composer Paola Prestini and librettist Mark Campbell

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a family-friendly opera based on the young adult novel of the same name by Kate DiCamillo. It follows the adventures of an aloof toy rabbit named Edward whose comfortable life abruptly ends when he is thrown into the sea. His adventures take him far and wide until he finally opens his heart and finds his way back home.

For this same work, Minnesota Opera previously received a 2017 Commissioning Grant, part of the Opera Grants for Female Composers program.

The Flood by composer Korine Fujiwara and librettist Stephen Wadsworth

A collaboration between Opera Columbus and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra,The Flood tells a story of human connection through loss and shared tragedy across multiple generations of one family, centered on the devastation caused by the Great Flood of 1913 in the Franklinton neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio. The Flood will receive its world premiere in Columbus in February 2019.

For this same work, Opera Columbus previously received a 2016 Commissioning Grant, part of the Opera Grants for Female Composers program.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones by composer Terence Blanchard and librettist Kasi Lemmons

Fire Shut Up in My Bones is based on the moving memoir by journalist Charles Blow, chronicling his coming of age in small-town Gibsland, Louisiana, formerly the site of a plantation. Blow learns to break the cycles of violence that ignite this community, which is tied together by deep bonds and the spirit of resilience.