Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dry Land at Shotgun Players

Martha Brigham (Amy) and Grace Ng (Ester)
Shotgun Players Dry Land
Photography by Ben Krantz Studio

My partner and I have been enthusiastic subscribers to Shotgun Players for the last several years, ever since their remarkable traversal of Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia, a trilogy of plays about mid-19th c. Russian revolutionaries. This week, we saw their current production, Ruby Rae Spiegel's Dry Land. It's a gripping play, featuring two young women swimmers on the verge of adulthood, about to graduate from high school and go on to....what?

Spiegel was just 21 when she wrote Dry Land, and she has a superb ear for dialog; her young women -- and their friends -- are very real, as is the predicament that one of them is in. Martha Brigham, as Amy, and Grace Ng, as Ester, give remarkable performances, as does Don Wood, in a role where he has almost nothing to say.

I highly recommend this play and, really, everything Shotgun is doing (so far, this year has been excellent). You can read about Dry Land and buy tickets here; you can use the code tellafriend to get a two-for-one discount on tickets, too.

Diane Zola Joins the Met

Diane Zola, who is currently at the Houston Grand Opera, succeeds Robert Trattray, who died a couple of months ago, as Metropolitan Opera assistant general manager for artistic operations. She will be in charge of planning, scheduling, and casting, from what I read. 

No press release in my inbox or on the Met web site, so expect more details.

Interim Leadership at Cal Performances

Matias Tarnopolsky is departing soon for the Philadelphia Orchestra, and today Cal Performances announced interim leadership. There's nothing in the press release about a search committee (but there has to be one) or the timeline for finding a successor to Tarnopolsky. The 2018-19 season has already been announced, and it's a safe bet that much of the planning for 2019-20 is already done.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ today announced the appointment of S. Shariq Yosufzai, a vice chair of Cal Performances’ Board of Trustees, as interim executive director of Cal Performances, effective June 15. Reporting to the Chancellor, Mr. Yosufzai assumes the leadership of Cal Performances from Matías Tarnopolsky, who departs this summer after a distinguished nine-year tenure, to serve as president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Rob Bailis, Cal Performances associate director, will serve as interim artistic director, and will be a senior member of Mr. Yosufzai’s team. The Chancellor will lead the search for the next permanent director of Cal Performances in collaboration with Cal Performances Board of Trustees co-chairs Susan L. Graham and Helen Meyer. 
The balance of the press release is after the cut.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Sunday, May 27, 2018

About that Sunday, June 24, SF Opera Götterdämmerung Performance

I'm looking at SFO's Ring Festival Guide, a handy brochure that's packed full of practical information about attending operas at the War Memorial Opera House.

The last two pages are taken up with "Getting to the Opera House," definitely useful if you're an out-of-towner. There is a tiny, tiny note as follows at the bottom of page 8:
Shuttle is not available for the Cycle 2 Götterdämmerung on Sunday, June 24.
Oh, dear.

The shuttle in question is the Chariot shuttle that does pickup at Civic Center BART and dropoff at the Opera House before performances, reversing that after performances.

The note is...incomplete. The reason the shuttle won't be available is that Civic Center Plaza and a couple of blocks around its circumference will be completely impassable on Sunday afternoon, June 24, because about a half-million people will be crammed in there celebrating GLBTIA Pride Day.

Everybody at SFO, gay or straight, is aware of this, because there is always a performance on Pride Sunday. Perhaps the mob scene should be discreetly noted on this page in the brochure? If you're on foot, you need to allow 20 extra minutes, maybe more, to get to the opera house.

It is true that SFO does send out email a couple of days before Pride Sunday to known ticketholders, so that'll help, but I'm in favor of heavy documentation, so I'd put it in the brochure....and in the Siegfried program, as an insert. Yeah, half the audience will faint because they're worried that Irene Theorin or Daniel Brenna is sick, but they'll recover.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Joana Carneiro Announces Departure From Berkeley Symphony

"Intention to step down" means "stepping down," more or less now. Here's what I have of the press release, care of a friend, because I haven't received it yet:
*Joana Carneiro announces her intent to step down as Music Director of Berkeley Symphony after nine seasons.*
Joana Carneiro, whose adventurous artistic vision and leadership has garnered both critical acclaim and audience praise, has announced that she will step down as Berkeley Symphony’s music director as of the end of the 2017-2018 season and after nine seasons at its artistic helm. Carneiro will stay on as Music Director Emerita. 
A committee has been formed to seek the next Music Director and to determine the best approach for the future of Berkeley Symphony. 
Guest conductors Ming Luke, Jonathon Heyward, Christopher Rountree, and Christian Reif have been scheduled to conduct the four symphonic concerts planned for the 2018-2019 season. Full 2018-2019 season details will be forthcoming.
Between living in Portugal and her family responsibilities (birth of triplets plus a fourth baby this year), she has been absent a lot the last couple of years. Wishing her the best, of course.

When Kent Nagano stepped down, the search process took two years and eight conductors were among the finalists. I'm in favor of bringing back William Eddins, whose program was fantastic and who had the orchestra sounding the best I have ever heard it.

Current list of known openings, which I have attempted to put in chronological order. Some of these posts must have been filled, and I will research that this weekend.
  • Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: currently looking owing to departure of Charles Dutoit
  • Orchestre National de Lyon: open now, with Leonard Slatkin's departure
  • Opera North: open now, with Aleksandr Markovic's departure
  • Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: 2017 is Stephen Lord's final season as MD
  • Teatro Regio Turin: Open now with departure of Gianandrea Noseda 
  • Minnesota Opera: Michael Christie leaves this year 
  • Sao Paulo Symphony: Marin Alsop leaves at some point
  • BBC Philharmonic when Juanjo Mena leaves at the end of 2017-18
  • Berkeley Symphony, when Joana Carneiro leaves at the end of 2017-18
  • Washington National Opera, departure of Philippe Auguin at conclusion of 2017-18 
  • San Francisco Opera, departure of Nicola Luisotti at conclusion of 2017-18
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which Leonard Slatkin leaves at the close of the 2017-18 season.
  • MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony: 2018 departure for Kristian Jarvi
  • Scottish Chamber Orchestra: 2018 departure for Robin Ticciati
  • Toronto SO: 2018 departure for Peter Oundjian
  • Winnipeg SO: 2018 departure for Alexander Mickelthwate
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra (when Jaap van Zweden takes up his new post at the NYPO). Rumor heard that James Gaffigan is under consideration for this post.
  • Orchestre de Paris, when Daniel Harding leaves at the end of 2018-19
  • Sarasota Orchestra after Anu Tali  leaves at the end of 2018-2019
  • Melbourne Symphony: Sir Andrew Davis leaves at the end of 2019 
  • Ulster Orchestra: Rafael Payare leaves in 2019
  • Richmond Symphony: Steven Smith leaves in 2019 
  • Singapore Symphony: 2019 departure for Lan Shui
  • Dresden Philharmonic: 2019 departure for Michael Sanderling
  • Sydney Symphony Orchestra: David Robertson will be leaving the SSO at the end of 2019. So he really will be without an orchestral home as of 1/1/2020.
  • San Francisco Symphony! when MTT leaves at the end of 2019-20
  • Montreal Symphony Orchestra: Kent Nagano is leaving the OSM after 2019-2020. 
  • Fort Worth Symphony: Miguel Harth-Bedoya leaves in 2020 
  • Royal Opera, when Antonio Pappano leaves in 2020
  • Opera de Paris, when Philippe Jordan leaves in 2020
  • Atlanta Symphony, when Robert Spano leaves in 2020
  • Virginia Symphony: JoAnn Falletta leaves in 2020
  • BBC National Orchestra of Wales when Thomas Søndergård leaves for his new job
  • Milwaukee Symphony
  • Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
Conductors looking for jobs (that is, as of the near future, or now, they do not have a posting):
  • Lionel Bringuier
  • Robert Spano
  • Juanjo Mena
  • Antonio Pappano
  • Ludovic Morlot
  • Sian Edwards
  • Jun Markl
  • Ingo Metzmacher
  • Jac van Steen
  • Mark Wigglesworth
  • Simone Young 
  • David Robertson
  • Peter Oundjian as of the end of 2017-18
  • Philippe Auguin
  • Kwame Ryan
  • Ilan Volkov
  • Aleksandr Markovic
  • Lothar Koenigs
  • Henrik Nanasi
  • Kent Nagano
  • Leonard Slatkin (73 and done with being an MD)
And closed:
  • Orchestra of St. Luke's: Bernard Labadie starts with the 2018-2019 season 
  • Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra: Thomas Zehetmair starts with the 2018-2019 season
  • BBC Concert Orchestra: Bramwell Tovey started in 2018 
  • Toledo Symphony: Alain Trudel starts with the 2018-2019 season
  • Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich: Paavo Jarvi starts with the 2019-2020 season
  • Netherlands Radio Philharmonic: Karina Canellakis starts with the 2019-2020 season 
  • Sylvain Cambreling has replaced the late Sir Jeffrey Tate at the Hamburg Symphony
  • San Diego Symphony: Rafael Payare starts in 2019 
  • Yomiuri Nippon Symphony: Sebastian Weigle starts in April 2019
  • Vienna RSO: Marin Alsop starts with the 2019-2020 season
  • Elim Chan becomes chief conductor of the Antwerp Symphony in 2019-20
  • Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: Jaime Martin starts with the 2019-2020 season 
  • Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège: Gergely Madaras starts with the 2019-2020 season 
  • Kent Nagano is now the Generalmusikdirektor of the Staatsoper in Hamburg
  • WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne: Cristian Măcelaru starts with the 2019-2020 season
  • Israel Philharmonic: Lahav Shani starts with the 2020-2021 season 
  • Bayerische Staatsoper when Vladimir Jurowski joins in 2021.
  • Vienna Symphony: Andrés Orozco-Estrada starts with the 2021-2022 season
  • Clarinetist Martin Frøst becomes chief conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra in 2019 when Thomas Dausgaard leaves for Seattle.Thomas Zehetmair is going to the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra in 2019
  • Matthias Bamert is going to the Sapporo Symphony in 2018 
  • Lorenzo Viotti was named music director of the Gulbenkian Orchestra, as of 2018
  • Joana Mallwitz appointed GMD in Nuremberg, effective 2018
  • Philippe Jordan to the Vienna Staatsoper / VPO (Dominique Meyer not planning to appoint a WSO MD; his contract expires in 2020.)
  • Semyon! Bychkov! fills the vacancy at the Czech Philharmonic, following the death of Jiří Bělohlávek
  • Dennis Russell Davies becomes music director of the Brno Philharmonic, which had been open since 2015, as of the 2018-19 season.
  • Nicola Luisotti becoming an assistant music director at the Teatro Real, Madrid, 2018.
  • Seattle Symphony, where Thomas Dausgaard will succeed Ludovic Morlot in 2018-19; announced early October, 2016
  • Vancouver Symphony; Otto Tausk comes on in 2018

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Giovanni Porta's Ifigenia in Aulide at Ars Minerva

Ars Minerva's next Baroque revival will be Giovanni Porta's Ifigenia in Aulide, which they'll perform on November 30 and December 1 at 7:30 at ODC Theater and in an abridged concert version on November 9th at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church on Channing Way in Berkeley.

Tomato Tuesday 1

Intermittently tracking the progress of my tomatoes.

I'm growing tomatoes again this year. The first year I lived in this house, I dug out a big plot and grew ten plants of tomatoes, meaning I was pretty overloaded and gave away a lot. I grew tomatoes often in the 90s, but not much this century. Two years ago, I had four pots of tomatoes, all of which caught some kind of fungus or blight, barely produced, and died prematurely.

This year, I've got four pots again, and I'll see how they do. There's more sunlight where I stuck the pots - I think.

Tiny Tim
Will be very small. It's a red cherry tomato.
Mid-season, 60 days.

Supposed to be disease-resistant.
Mid-season, 70 days.

Early season, 65 days.
Yellow fruit.

Gold Nugget
Early season, 55 days.
Yellow cherry tomato

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Event Miscellany, Bay Area & NYC Edition


Left Coast Chamber Ensemble

Left Coast closes the season with a program that includes the rarely-performed Schoenberg Serenade for baritone and seven players, Jemnitz's Trio for Violin, Viola, and Guitar, and Benavides's
Rinconcito for Small Ensemble (world premiere). The first performance was last night, but you can catch the second at the SF Conservatory of Music on Monday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m.

San Francisco Renaissance Voices

Their program is called "To Henry with Love From Venice," Renaissance motets and madrigals. Times & locations, in Berkeley & SF:

Sunday, May 20 - 4:00 pm - St. Clement's Episcopal, 2837 Claremont Blvd, Berkeley
CLICK HERE to buy tickets
Saturday, May 26 - 7:30 pm - Church of the Incarnation, 1750 - 29th Ave, San Francisco
CLICK HERE to buy tickets

New York City Opera Festival

I managed to MISS posting about the first half of this exciting festival of works old and new, but here's what they have coming up in the next several weeks, with links:
May 25Center for Contemporary Opera presents Backwards from Winter
Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, Upper Level, New York, NY 10025

May 27SIGN & SING and American Opera Projects premiere five short operas based on The Dinner Party 
Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238

May TBD: Encompass New Opera Theatre presents Paradigm Shifts Music and Film Festival
Location TBA

June TBA: the little OPERA theatre of ny presents the New York Premiere of This Little Light of Mine: the stories of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price
Location TBA
June 1Christman Opera Company presents a double bill of Adriana McMannes with the World Premiere of A Metamorphosis
National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Ave, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10001
June 1Opera on Tap presents New Brew Series: OOTmeal
Barbès, 376 9th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
June 2New Amsterdam Opera presents La Favorita
The Center at West Park, 165 West 86th St, New York, NY 10024

June 13 and/or 14: Opera on Tap presents Hansel and Gretel: The Playground Opera
The playground at Public School 129, 425 West 130th St, New York, NY 10027
June 15Experiments in Opera releases Jason Cady’s Buick City, 1:00 AM
Podcast episodes available online at iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcast sites
June 22 – 24Opera Upper West presents The Impresario
Location revealed upon ticket purchase
June 23 & 24The Gilbert & Sullivan Light Opera Company of Long Island presents Patience
The Jeanne Rimsky Theatre at The Landmark, 232 Main St, Port Washington, NY 11050
June 30The Gilbert & Sullivan Light Opera Company of Long Islandpresents Patience
The Theatre at The Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10027

Berkeley (Early Music) Festival & Exhibition (June 3 to 10)

I have never understood why this event omits the critical phrase "Early Music" from its name, so I have inserted it above for clarity.

As usual, the alternate-years festival has a ton of interesting concerts and master classes coming up. Not so much as usual, they're in conflict with the San Francisco Silent Movie Festival, and I will have to make DECISIONS. The Main Stage events include California Bach Society in choral works of Marc-Antoine Charpentier; soprano Christine Brandes and violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock in a program called Nasty Women; the ensemble Juilliard415 (what it sounds like); Dark Horse Consort; Davis Senior High School Baroque Ensemble (folks, isn't that a little early to be specializing?); Voices of Music; Sequentia; and many other groups.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Museum Mondays

St. Sebastian

Torturer with Crossbow

Torturer with Long Bow

Bavarian National Museum, Munich
August, 2015

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Jenufa, Then and Now

I'll have a full post up about Santa Fe Opera's 2019 season eventually, but one of the two most interesting-to-me productions is David Alden's Jenufa, originally done at the ENO. I don't know most of the singers, but Patricia Racette as Kostelnicka Buryjovka would be enough to get me to Santa Fe next year, and the wonderful Susanne Mentzer is Grandmother Buryjovka.

I have fond memories of Racette's San Francisco Jenufa in 2001, and earlier this week, I took a look back and found that Joshua Kosman also liked it. (SFCV's review seems to have vanished into thin air, alas.) Here's Tim Page reviewing Racette as Jenufa in the David Alden production that Santa Fe will bring up; the great Jiri Belohlavek, may he rest in piece, conducted.

My second Jenufa, after Racette's, was that of Karita Mattila, in LA in 2007, in the Olivier Tambosi production we had in SF two years ago. I didn't like Mattila nearly as much as Racette; I could not see past her glamorous and womanly presence to the young and somewhat naive Janufa. Racette's vulnerability and the sweetness she brought to the role worked beautifully and she was heartbreaking. I also liked Malin Bystrom's steel-spined and fairly bleak Jenufa, which came at the role in another possible way.

Mattila, though, was an absolutely towering Kostelnicka in SF. I'm looking forward to what Racette does with the role. It will be different in interesting and thoughtful ways, I know.

For a look back at a great Kostelnicka of the past, take a look at this hair-raising excerpt with the great Astrid Varnay; I am linking to it rather than embedding it for possible spoilage. The entire performance, from 1970 and conducted by Rafael Kublek, is also on YouTube.

The Opera Hour

Several years ago, David Gockley, former general manager of San Francisco Opera, succeeded in negotiating the return of opera to the airwaves of San Francisco. We had a few telecasts and some years of monthly radio broadcasts on KDFC of SFO productions, mostly from the previous season but with occasional blasts from the past.

Alas, this seems to be coming to an end. We will now get a monthly one-hour show with Matthew Shilvock and Bill Leuth, call The Opera Hour. At least for now, the opera broadcasts are "on hold," according to San Francisco Opera; according to KDFFC, The Opera Hour "replaces" the monthly broadcasts.

I missed the first installment, which was last Sunday, Maybe 8, at 8 p.m. - if you heard it, I'm curious to hear what it was like. It remains to be seen what shape, exactly, this show will take; previews of upcoming works on the season? Anna Netrebko and Renee Fleming's greatest hits? A little Caruso for fun?

I am not particularly a fan of KDFC or Bill Leuth; even since the station's acquisition, the programming is of the Mozart in the Morning / one movement of a symphony / lightweight variety, with barely a nod to new or very old music, and little vocal music. I can imagine that the Sunday evening opera broadcasts weren't getting much in the way of an audience, because the time was bad and during much of the year they were competing with the Met's Saturday morning (local time) broadcasts).

I'm sure Matthew Shilvock will be an engaging host, because he is unfailingly enthusiastic, knowledgable, and good in front of an audience. Bill Leuth, despite his music degrees, is a radio announcer who has to push KDFC's particular brand.

I'm also still waiting to hear whether the show takes which case, I'll be asking for some Birtwistle.

SF Opera press release after the cut.

New George Benjamin Opera on Medici.TV

I hardly ever watch opera on DVD or TV or the computer, but on Saturday, May 26, Medici TV will be streaming George Benjamin's new opera, Lessons in Love and Violence, starring Barbara Hannigan (should be enough to get you to watch!), Stephane Degout, and Gyula Orendt. The opera is based on the events in the life of King Edward II of England, his wife Isabel, and his favorite (love?) Gaveston.

It's gotten great reviews, and everyone I know who has seen Benjamin's Written on Skin thought it a great work. I am breaking my usual rules to see this.

For more information, see Medici's page about the broadcast. It's at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time, 2:30 Eastern Time.

Friday, May 11, 2018


Coming some time in the future to San Francisco Opera: a new production of Hansel und Gretel. How do I know? It says so right here on the Royal Opera House web site: co-production with San Francisco Opera.

I love the Richard Jones production SFO did twelve or so years back, and which lives on at the Met and perhaps elsewhere. Looking forward to this Hansel, though, as the opera is a favorite of mine.

Friday Photo

Hail falling on my neighbor's roof
April 16, 2018

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Whoa: Herlitzius Withdraws from SFO Ring; Theorin Steps In

Evelyn Herlitzius has withdrawn from the upcoming San Francisco Opera production of Der Ring des Nibelungen, owing to health reasons. Irene Theorin will replace her.

A note or two before the press release: SFO says that got the news from Herlitzius on Monday and she contacted them from her home in Dresden (she isn't in SF yet, in other words).

Today is Wednesday. Brünnhildes don't grow on trees and a lot of luck is involved with the company's ability to hire Theorin: she has a break between performances in April and performances in the fall. Nina Stemme is committed to a Parsifal that opens in late June; Christine Goerke is currently in rehearsals for Lohengrin in London; Catherine Foster might be available; can't tell from Operabase. (Foster sang the production in DC a couple of years ago.) The only other possibly available sopranos I can see are Lise Lindstrom and Linda Watson.

All that said, best wishes to Evelyn Herlitzius for a return to health; her withdrawal must be a huge disappointment to her, SFO, and her fans.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Museum Mondays

Detail, St. George and the Dragon
Bavarian National Museum, Munich
August, 2015

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

New Recording from Kurt Ribak, with Release Party!

Kurt Ribak
Photo by Clifton Romig

Jazz bassist extraordinaire Kurt Ribak and his group have a new CD, called onward, which will be released on May 1, 2018. I have a couple of Kurt's CDs, and they are really terrific - looking forward very much to this one. If you don't know Kurt and his music, here's an interview from 2015 with Brian McCoy.

AND there's a release party! You can hear Kurt and the folks on the CD at the Freight & Salvage on Monday, May 7. Details:

Freight & Salvage
2020 Addison Street
Berkeley, CA 94704

Doors open 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16 in advance / $20 at the door.

Press release after the cut.