Saturday, October 31, 2020

Bonus Photo


Stones of Stennes
Stromness, Orkney
June, 1982

Previously: Stones of Stennes

Same photo, edited to bring out details

Thursday, October 29, 2020


This is a non-partisan message: if you're a US citizen who is at least 18, cast your vote between now and Tuesday, November 3. There are some states where it's not even too late to register, if you're eligible. You can use's site to register to vote if your state allows registration this late. 

Your voting choices are somewhat reduced at this point.

1. If you're voting by mail-in/absentee ballot, it's too late to put it in the mail. Instead, drop it off at an approved location. DO NOT MAIL IT. It's not guaranteed to get there in time. Use's web site to locate a drop box.

2. Alternatively, vote in person, whether early or on election day. To find out where to vote in person, go to the web site for, type in your address, and click Search.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Museum Mondays

The Care of Children
Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garrett
London, November, 2019


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Santa Fe Opera 2021

John Crosby Theater, Santa Fe Opera
Photo by me

Santa Fe Opera just announced their plans - some of them, anyway - for 2021. It's a fine season that I'd be happy to attend, between Nozze, Britten Midsummer Night's Dream (a wonderful piece and a superb setting of the play), Eugene Onegin (maybe I'll like it this time around), and, of course, the John Corigliano / Mark Adamo The Lord of Cries, which is, perhaps, what Adamo's Dracula opera has morphed into.

I've put the majority of the press release after the cut. Note the hot and cold running countertenors (Anthony Roth Costanzo as Dionysis in the Corigliano; Iestyn Davies as Oberon in MSND). Angel Blue is a wonderful singer; I have seen her only once, eleven years ago, and I still remember the beauty and spin of her voice.

No mention of rescheduling Tristan und Isolde or Rusalka, both of which I had hoped to hear this year.

A New Production of Mozart’s THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO

Directed by Laurent Pelly

Opens the 64TH Season on July 10

John Corigliano & Mark Adamo’s THE LORD OF CRIES

Directed by James Darrah

Receives its World Premiere on July 17

A New Production of Tchaikovsky’s EUGENE ONEGIN

Directed by Alessandro Talevi

Opens on July 24

A New Production of Britten’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Directed & Designed by Netia Jones

Receives its Company Premiere on July 31


with 2021 Season Artists and The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra led by John Fiore on August 7


on August 15 & 22

3 New Productions; 1 World Premiere; 30 Performances; 23 Debut Artists

21 Returning Artists; 5 Former Apprentices; 3 U.S. Debuts

San Francisco Opera Relief Fund

War Memorial Opera House, SF
Photo by me

Like nearly every other musical organization in the U.S., San Francisco Opera isn't able to sell tickets to much, if anything, these days: future performances that might or might not take place, special events such as the scheduled drive-in screening of Lucia di Lammermoor on October 25, and...what else? And the company would like to continue paying company members, even if at greatly reduced salaries.

So now there's a matching challenge, from various wealthy sponsors. I'll note that John and Cynthia Fry Gunn donated some $40 million to the company a few years back, sponsoring the new music / commissioning project, I believe.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (October 13, 2020) — San Francisco Opera announces the launch of the Company Relief Challenge, a $5 million matching fund to help underwrite the Company’s support of its members and sustain San Francisco Opera through the unprecedented disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund will match one-to-one all annual gifts, pledges and donated ticket funds through November 23, 2020. This critical challenge is made possible by the inspiring generosity of longtime Company sponsors John and Cynthia Fry Gunn, Pitch and Cathie Johnson, and Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem. 
“San Francisco Opera has always enjoyed extraordinary support from the community, but the dedication our donors have shown during this crisis is truly phenomenal,” said San Francisco Opera Association President Keith Geeslin. “I am so grateful to John and Cynthia, Pitch and Cathie, and Maria and Jan for their generous leadership in supporting the people of the Company and inspiring others to follow their example.”

San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock stated: “We are a company of makers and creators, each season employing hundreds of the world’s leading singers, instrumentalists, designers, dancers, crew members, administrators and more. We are deeply grateful both to our Company members who are making such deep sacrifices right now and to the community of opera lovers that is sustaining these incredible employees and artists, allowing us to present world-class opera long into the future. The support that this challenge will make possible ensures we will come back to an exciting future that includes Eun Sun Kim’s inaugural 2021–22 Season and our 2022–23 Centennial Season with confidence, optimism and creativity.”

For more information or to donate to San Francisco Opera’s Company Relief Challenge, visit or call San Francisco Opera Donor Services at (415) 565-3212.

The global pandemic has caused the cancellation of San Francisco Opera’s Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 seasons. During the shutdown, the Company continues to engage with audiences and share great artistry worldwide through new initiatives including Opera is ON, streams of past performances, the Opera Aficionado interactive education series and alternative programming such as the virtual event Celebrating the Summer Season. Over the past months, as health orders have permitted, limited work has resumed at San Francisco Opera’s Scene Shop and Costume Shop. The construction of a new orchestra shell and multilevel set of Fidelio (the new production which was to have premiered last month) will allow the Company to be innovative and flexible in its programming. The Costume Shop has begun creating costumes for future productions while continuing to produce thousands of face masks for Bay Area essential workers. The shutdown has also allowed the final phase of the War Memorial Opera House seat upgrade project to take place this fall and winter, ensuring a more comfortable and accessible opera-going experience when performances resume in the Opera House.

My thought on this: if you can, support the local artistic organizations that are important to you.

Friday, October 23, 2020

More Opera is On from SFO


War Memorial Opera House
Photo by me

Here's what's coming from SFO:

This week: Nozze di Figaro

October 31–November 1: Donizetti’s Lucia di LammermoorOssonce; Dessay, Filanoti, Viviani. 2008. I've never seen this cast/conductor/production.

November 7–8: Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball): Luisotti; Di Giacomo, Vargas, Hampson, Zajick. 2014.

November 14–15: Mussorgsky’s Boris GodunovSinaisky; Ramey, Uhlenhopp, Kowaljow, Ognovenk, Yang. 2008.

November 21–22: Verdi’s Rigoletto: Luisotti; Demuro, Lucic, Kurzak, Silvestrelli. 2012.

November 28–29: Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of  Love). Campanella; Mula, Vargas, Corbelli.

Friday Photo

Panorama from Chelsea looking north to midtown
NYC, October, 2019


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

LA Phil Cancels Balance of 2020-21


Walt Disney Concert Hall
March, 2017
Photo by Lisa Hirsch

The LA Philharmonic has bowed to the inevitable and canceled the rest of their planned 2020-21 season. Here's the email to subscribers and ticket purchasers:

We are sad to share that, due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis, all LA Phil-presented concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall have been canceled through June 9, 2021. While this news may not be surprising in this climate, it is heartbreaking to keep our venues silent and not be able to share in the experience of live music with you.

As a result of this cancellation, we’ve compiled answers to some common questions to help alleviate any confusion.

If conditions change, could the LA Phil plan new concerts that would happen in spring 2021?
The LA Phil is closely monitoring federal, state, and local public health guidelines and regulations. If we are able to stage socially distanced or outdoor live events in the spring, subscribers will have the opportunity to purchase tickets before the general public.

Will the 2021/22 season include the same artists as the 2020/21 season?
While some of the guest artists who were scheduled to perform in the 2020/21 season may join us for our 2021/22 season, the programs will be different. We anticipate sharing the 2021/22 season programming with you in April 2021.

If I purchased concert tickets, how are those tickets being handled?
Any tickets purchased for the 2020/21 season have been returned as an account credit. As programs will be changing, it relieves you of the need to exchange tickets later. You can simply use your account credit to purchase individual concerts when they become available.

If I have previously requested an account credit or refund, how can I confirm that this request has been completed? 
You may log in to your account at to confirm the status of any previous requests. You are able to see account credit total amounts and you may confirm that a refund has been processed by viewing your subscription under Order History. If you need additional assistance, you may contact Audience Services at or by calling 323 850 2000 from 10am to 6pm Monday through Friday.

Can I talk to someone about my tickets?
Yes, we are here to answer any questions you may have and guide you through this process. Please contact us by email at or by phone at 323 850 2000 between 10am and 6pm Monday through Friday. Due to heavy phone volume and reduced staff, we encourage you to contact us by email to avoid experiencing longer-than-normal wait times.

What is the LA Phil doing during this time?
The LA Phil is continuing to share music online and on the air. In September we launched the first season of SOUND/STAGE, a series of short concert films recorded on the stage of the Hollywood Bowl. We are excited to announce the second season will kick off in early January. On January 15, In Concert At the Hollywood Bowl , which ran on KCET and PBS SoCal in the Los Angeles area this summer, will be given a national run. Our newest venue, The Ford, launched a fully digital 2020 seasonfeaturing performances, workshops, and summits with some of Los Angeles’ most exciting artists. Check out our social media channels and websites, or sign up for a weekly Watch & Listen email to get the latest performance videos, playlists, interviews, and more from the LA Phil.

How can I help?
Please consider making a donation to the LA Phil and Learning programs like YOLA, which have continued to serve musicians in under-resourced communities throughout this crisis. Between the concert cancelations at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl this year, the LA Phil has lost approximately $105M as a result of the pandemic. We need your support to help sustain our work during this period, as we continue to realize Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel’s vision of music for all.

Thank you for being a part of the LA Phil family. Knowing that there is a community of music lovers waiting to come together again gives us something to look forward to – our first concert with you as part of our audience is going to be one we will all remember and cherish.

In the meantime, we wish you good health and great music.

And here's the press release:

In accordance with current guidance from public health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association is cancelling the remainder of its previously scheduled concerts for the 2020/21 season at Walt Disney Concert Hall through June 9, 2021.

While Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and The Ford are closed to the public due to COVID-19, the LA Phil is bringing its music and programming to the broadest possible audience through a far-reaching set of media partnerships and digital initiatives. These wide-ranging programs will continue in the new year and will include new episodes of the LA Phil’s innovative media project SOUND/STAGE, which brings together short concert films with essays, interviews, and bonus performances by some of today’s most exciting artists and thinkers; In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl, a six-episode television series hosted by Gustavo Dudamel airing on PBS stations nationwide starting January 15; and more. 

Chad Smith, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s David C. Bohnett Chair Chief Executive Officer, said, “As hard as it is to lose entire seasons at the Hollywood Bowl, The Ford and now Walt Disney Concert Hall, we are responding creatively under Gustavo’s leadership, so we can continue to bring music, learning programs and important conversations to the largest possible audience in Los Angeles and beyond. This is truly a joint effort of the entire LA Phil community, with leadership from our Board, ongoing support from our generous donors, the open-hearted collaboration of our brilliant orchestra and staff and the work of some of the finest media and programming partners in their fields. Together with all of Los Angeles, we will arrive on the other side of this pandemic. We now look toward next summer, when we will welcome audiences back to the Hollywood Bowl and The Ford and celebrate each iconic venue’s centenary with new meaning and purpose.”

Gustavo Dudamel, Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, said, “Cultural institutions like ours must be a part of the very fabric of our community, and during this challenging time we must strive to inspire and empower people even more through our music and programming. We must reach across genres through screens, livestreams, and more, and remember that each note we play also carries with it an element of hope for the future and a desire for a better world. In the end, I believe that music and art will heal the soul of our community.”

Launched in May 2020, the “Play Your Part” fundraising campaign aims to mitigate the approximately $105 million revenue loss the LA Phil will experience as a result of COVID-19. The campaign helps to support the LA Phil’s operations and programs such as YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), which have continued to operate throughout the pandemic. 

Thomas L. Beckmen, Los Angeles Philharmonic Board Chair, said, “As we look forward to brighter days, we must ensure that the LA Phil remains vibrant and is supported until we are once more able to gather. The LA Phil continues to be here for all of us, and so we must play our part in bolstering this great institution so it can serve the people and communities of Los Angeles and the world long into the future.”

The LA Phil will continue to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and will reassess the Association’s situation as necessary. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Bang on a Can Today

Looking for good music today? Bang on a Can's online marathon has this approximate schedule:

Bang on a Can October 18, 2020 Marathon Performance Schedule

Set times are approximate


3pm     George Crumb A Little Midnight Music (selections) performed by Susan Grace


Annie Gosfield Curveballs and Asteroids (world premiere) performed by Ken Thomson


Christina Wheeler performing her own A Coda for the Totality of Blackness Trilogy (world premiere) 


Alvin Singleton Argoru II performed by Seth Parker Woods


4pm     Haushka


Jeffrey Brooks Santuario (world premiere) performed by Mark Stewart


Mazz Swift performing her own Give up the world 


Greg Saunier John Paul George and Ringo Pry Open the Gates of Hell (world premiere) performed by David Cossin


Gemma Peacocke Fear of Flying (world premiere) performed by Nathalie Joachim


5pm     David Longstreth  


John Fitz Rogers Come Closer performed by Mike Harley


William Parker performing his own Hum Spirituals (world premiere) 


Leaha Maria Villarreal The Warmth of Other Suns performed by Andie Tanning


6pm     Tyshawn Sorey 


Tania León Paisanos Semos! and Bailarín performed by JIJI


Anna Webber 


Christopher Cerrone Liminal Highway (first 2 mvmts) performed by Tim Munro


7pm     Valgeir Sigurðsson Brevis (world premiere) performed by Vicky Chow


Nels Cline & Yuka C. Honda


Daniel Bernard Roumain Why Did They Kill Sandra Bland? (world premiere) performed by Arlen Hlusko


Du Yun 


8pm     Krists Auznieks Arise (world premiere) performed by Robert Black


Bill Frisell 


That URL is

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Tsk, Tsk, NY Times.

I'm a pretty regular reporter of typos and factual errors to the NY Times, that is, at least once a month and sometimes more often than that. I count 18 this year. Usually, I send email to the paper's tell-us-the-error address; sometimes I contact the writer. Usually, I get action.

There's an error that has been up at the Times since April about which I sent email and I tried to contact the author (on Twitter, probably a mistake). It's in this Michael Kimmelman article about skyscrapers on Park Avenue.

Scroll down to the photo that's labeled as follows:

The MetLife Building, formerly known as the Pan Am Building, from 1963, squatting over Grand Central Terminal in the middle of Park Avenue.


That's the MetLife Building in the background, all right. But the photo was taken from E. 49th and Park Avenue looking south, and the building over which the MetLife Building squats is the Helmsley Building, not Grand Central Terminal. Here's a similar photo of the Helmsley Building, from Wikipedia; and here's a photo showing the MetLife Building and Grand Central Terminal

You'd think that a photo editor at the NY Times would be able to tell Grand Central from the Helmsley Building. Either the caption or the photo should be corrected. 

Belated Friday Photo


Took my car to the car wash yesterday. Most of the ash from the fires is now gone.
Oakland, CA
October, 2020

Monday, October 12, 2020

Museum Mondays

St. Anthony Abbot and St. Stephen
Victoria & Albert
November, 2019

Detail of St. Anthony Abbot


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Music at Kohl Mansion

 Music at Kohl Mansion has sent out information about the first part of its upcoming season, with a further announcement coming in December. Let me guess that the future announcement is predicated on whether or not it will be possible to have any in-person programming in 2021.

The press release has information about pricing ($20/ticket), but nothing about how you access these on-line performances. Presumably they provide this when you buy the tickets or right before the concerts take place. If you'd like to purchase tickets, start here.

Fauré Quartett, Sunday, November 1 at 7 p.m.

Programming for this concert will feature Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Opus 15 and two songs by the celebrated French composer, “Notre amour” and “Les berceaux.” [Note from your blogger: the Fauré Quartett is a piano quartet, not a string quartet.] 

Cellist Amit Peled, Sunday, November 15 at 7 p.m.; guest pianist to be announced

In honor of the Beethoven 250 Celebration, the program will feature Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A Major, Opus 69 and Cello Sonata No, 4 in C Major, Opus 102.

Alexander String Quartet, Sunday, January 24, 2021 at 7 p.m.

The Beethoven 250 Celebration continues with the grand master’s highly inventive, six- movement String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Opus 130.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Not Going to be "Haunted"

Netflix has a new series available, The Haunting of Bly Manor.  That name should ring a bell: Bly is the site of Henry James's story The Turn of the Screw and Benjamin Britten's great opera of the same name.

From the trailer, it looks as though this film is a flat-out horror movie, a description that suits neither the James nor the Britten. The James is extremely subtle; you can hardly tell what's real. When I read it a few years ago, it seemed as though there was a single clarifying sentence about the events in the story. The Britten is more explicit, and terrifying in its own way, but the chills are musical and psychological.

Horror stories they're not. I expect to stay away from Bly Manor.

Cancellations Left and Right

The other week, the Met canceled the balance of the 2020-21 season. This week, Philharmonia Baroque canceled everything through April, 2021. As their web site says:

There is no indication that halls will reopen to capacity, we cannot bring guest artists to the U.S. from other countries because borders are closed, and most importantly, it remains unsafe for our musicians and audience.

The Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills says:

Last July 30, we shared with you our intended programming for the coming year, full of hope that we would be able to invite you back to our stages in some manner. But we have now determined that The Wallis will not open its two indoor theaters - the Bram Goldsmith and the Lovelace Studio Theaters - prior to September 1, 2021, due to the current state of the viral pandemic, local and county health and safety regulations and significant economic sensitivities. Naturally, this is heartbreaking for all of us, but we do not foresee a viable way to make indoor live performances work safely and economically at this time.

I'm sorry to say that we should expect a lot more of this in the next few weeks. I will be very surprised if San Francisco Opera's planned spring performances (Barber of Seville, Der Zwerg, and concerts with Lianna Haroutounian and Irene Theorin) take place as planned. I mean, maybe the concerts could be done outdoors someplace, if the singers are able to travel here and then travel to their respective homes.


Bonus Friday Photo

Doorway, Square Rapp
October, 2018

Bonus because I found a photo that I published twice.


Friday Photo


San Francisco Bay from Oakland Airport
January, 2015

Monday, October 05, 2020

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Early Retirement

Mariusz Kwiecien

Damn: Mariusz Kwiecien is retiring from opera. The baritone injured his back several years ago during rehearsals for Don Giovanni at the Met. He had surgery, for a slipped disc, then subsequently had a second surgery that involved an implant between vertebrae in his back. He's only 47 and surely had a decade or more ahead of him.

I was lucky enough to see him three times, and hoo boy did he make an impression on me. He has an extremely beautiful voice and a truly magnetic, very sexy, stage presence.

First was San Francisco Opera's 2007 Don Giovanni, with Donald Runnicles conducting and an excellent David McVicar production. It was the most successful production of this opera I have seen, because it took the plot seriously and didn't clown around. Also, Kwiecien was just exactly right: virile, sexy, dominating, a little cruel.

Next, Krol Roger, in the title role, a specialty of his, at Santa Fe in 2012. That's a pretty great piece, not done nearly often enough for...incomprehensible reasons, and Kwiecien was at the center of a superb cast (William Burden, in 1960s sheepskin, was the Shepherd, Erin Morley the queen).

Five years ago, he was back for the musically and vocally glorious Don Carlo in SF, which I happily saw twice. He isn't quite a Verdi baritone, but still, his Rodrigo was dramatically magnificent and sounded glorious with Michael Fabiano's Carlo.

So, this is a big loss for opera. A wonderful singer with a great stage presence, Mariusz Kwiecien will be greatly missed. Wishing him success in his future endeavors; he's going to assume the position of Artistic Director of the Wrocław Opera starting with the 2020-21 season.

Friday, October 02, 2020

Thursday, October 01, 2020

San Francisco Opera Resumes Streaming


War Memorial Opera House
Photo by Lisa Hirsch

Starting in roughly ten days, San Francisco Opera will resume its weekly streams of operas staged in the last few years. Here's what's coming.

October 10-11, 2020. Tosca, from 2014, in the Thierry Bosquet production that was in use from 1997 until the first bring-up of the new production. Cast: Lianna Haroutounian (house and role debut), Tosca; Brian Jagde, Cavaradossi; Mark Delavan, Scarpia; Dale Travis, Sacristan; Joel Sorensen, Spoletta; Efrain Solis, Sciarrone; Scott Connor, Angelotti. Riccardo Frizza, conductor; Jose Maria Condemi, director.

October 17-18, 2020. Attila, from 2012. Ferrucio Fulanetto, Attila; Lucrecia Garcia, Odabella (I would swear I saw Oksana Dyka in this?); Quinn Kelsey, Ezio; Diego Torre, Foresto; Samuel Ramey, Pope Leo. Conducted by Nicola Luisotti, directed by Gabriele Lavia.

October 24-25, 2020. Le Nozze di Figaro, from 2015, in the awful old production. Philippe Sly, Figaro; Lisette Oropesa, Susanna; Luca Pisaroni, Count Almaviva; Nadine Sierra, Countess Almaviva; Kate Lindsey, Cherubino; John Del Carlo, Bartolo; Catherine Cook, Marcelina; Maria Valdes, Barbarina. Patrick Summers conducts.

My opinions on these: Haroutounian is worth the price of a ticket for the Tosca, in which Jagde is boxy and Frizza misses almost completely what Puccini needs. I remember nothing about Attila except that I suspected we wouldn't be seeing Ramey here again. I missed this Nozze because I swapped my tickets for Les Troyens so friends on a tight budget could see it. The cast is certainly attractive, although I remember my raised eyebrows over the casting of Nadine Sierra, who had been a charming Papagena, as the Countess.