Monday, February 28, 2022

Museum Mondays


Sandstone frieze of religious figures, each in a Goth arch

Architectural frieze? of religious figures
Metropolitan Museum of Art
February, 2018 

From the museum's web site:

Six Apostles from Retable


This fragment was part of a retable, a frieze installed behind an altar. Depicting Christ and the twelve apostles, it presented the figures in a rhythmic pairing united by an ornately cusped and pinnacled arcade. Represented from left to right are an unidentified apostle and Saint Bartholomew, Saints Andrew and James the Lesser, and Saints John and Peter, who both turn to face the now-missing Christ. The relief is contemporary with the construction of the collegiate church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, begun in 1326. A portion of the retable’s right section is now in the Musée du Louvre.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Friday Photo

Our CSA sent two bags of mesclun instead of one and maybe overboard with the greens in general.


Monday, February 21, 2022

Museum Mondays

Statue of a Satyr with a Panther
Last Supper at Pompeii
Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
August, 2021


Friday, February 18, 2022

Now Streaming: Paris Opera Les Troyens

This is the production I saw three years ago in Paris, during the 350th anniversary season of the Paris Opera. It was a season of big operas, including Tristan und Isolde (the Peter Sellars "Tristan Experience," with videos by Bill Viola), Les Huguenots, and Rusalka. The cast for Troyens was something: Brandon Jovanovich, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Stéphanie d'Oustrac, Stéphan Degout, Christian Van Horn, and others, with a production by Dmitri Tcherniakov that I liked and found thought-provoking, though I did not like the cuts.

You can now stream this on the web site of the Opera National de Paris for $7.99. (I hope that it doesn't turn out that I need a VPN because they're in Europe.) You can read a review of the production at Mark Berry's blog Boulezian. I interviewed Jovanovich and Van Horn during the Troyens run.

Friday Photo


Items in a storefront windows: tins of Campbell's tea, a chalkboard with the price of takeout coffee and tea, a large tea of Cornish gingerbread.

Items in a storefront window
Spitalfields, London
May, 2014

Monday, February 14, 2022

Friday, February 11, 2022

Hans Neuenfels

The German director, of spoken theater and opera, died earlier this week of COVID-19. He was 80.

I haven't seen anything indicating that Neuenfels ever worked in the United States. I've seen only one of his productions, the famous "rat" Lohengrin, staged at the Bayreuth Festival from 2010 until 2015. I saw the very last performance, at the end of which there was a 20-minute ovation for the performers. I reviewed Lohengrin (and all of the 2015 productions) for SFCV. I am not sure that I succeeded in conveying the strange beauty and charm of the production. There's a video; it's a good one and you should try to see it, but seeing the production live was something else. I'm deeply sorry that it's the only one of his productions that I have seen.

Friday Photo

Front hallway from living room.
Before plaster repair, floor refinishing, and painting.

Front hallway from living room.
After plaster repair, floor refinishing, and painting.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Green Umbrella (LA Phil) and SoundBox (SFS) Cancellations

News comes of cancellations in LA and SF that are not because of the coronavirus. Violinist Pekka Kuusisto has withdrawn owing to the serious illness of a family member. 

  • The Green Umbrella concert in LA that was scheduled for February 15 will instead be on April 19, 2022.
  • The SFSoundBox concerts of February 25-26 are cancelled.

The Shape of Things to Come, 2021-22 Edition

The coronavirus cancellations and postponements are starting again.

  • I've suspended my jujitsu classes indefinitely because of how contagious Omicron is.
  • Music@Menlo has postponed its planned benefit to March 13. Their email didn't include the original date.
  • Tulsa Opera has postponed Tobias Picker’s opera Emmeline from Friday, February 25 and Sunday, February 27 to their 2022-23 season.
  • The Presidio Theater and and The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics have cancelled the February 16-27 performances of Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski, which would have starred David Strathairn.
  • San Francisco Performances cancelled the Saturday, February 12 Dublin Guitar Quartet performance at Herbst Theatre.
  • Music at Kohl Mansion cancelled the Sunday, February 13 performance by Ida Kavafian and cellist Peter Wiley with members of Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music.  
  • Playful People Production moved their performances of The Pirates of Penzance to February 18—20 and 25—27.
  • Boston's Odyssey Opera has postponed to the fall its planned March 19, 2022 performance of TROIKA, a trio of one-act operas by Rachmaninoff.
Received at 4:20 p.m. on January 11, from Green Music Center:
Yesterday, amid a local and regional surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, Sonoma County Public Health Officer, Dr. Sundari Mase, issued a health order restricting gatherings of large groups of more than 50 people in indoor settings and groups of more than 100 people in outdoor settings.
In accordance with the recent health order, the Green Music Center is canceling the following events through February 11th:

January 21: New Century Chamber Orchestra

February 5: Family Day with Alphabet Rockers 

How long before other counties catch up?

Updated: February 9, 2022 

* The American Masters are defined here as Gershwin, Copland, Bernstein, and Ellington. I mean.
** NCCO and Symphony San Jose's programs both included Appalachian Spring, which MTT conducted in November with SFS.

Older Cancellations and Postponements 

  • American Bach Soloists postponed their NYE program.
  • S.F. Chamber Orchestra has cancelled its NYE programs; h/t Tod Brody for this news.
  • Wild Up postponed its Darkness Sounding festival from January to sometime in the spring.
  • PROTOTYPE postponed its 10th anniversary festival from January, 2022, to January, 2023.
  • Left Coast Chamber Ensemble has postponed its planned January program, "Living in Color", to May 22 and 23.
  • Wagner concert, billed as "The Greatest Wagner Concert Ever!", postponed from January 15 to a date to be determined. This concert was to have featured soprano Othalie Graham and the Vallejeo Festival Orchestra under Thomas Conlin.
  • Cutting Ball Theater postpones their upcoming show, Honestly, I’ve Never Wanted to Bash Someone in the Head with a Baseball Bat More Than I Do Right Now. 
  • Berkeley Symphony has postponed its January 16 chamber music concert to June 26.
  • Shotgun Players, Berkeley, has cancelled their upcoming production, Babes in Ho-lland, which was to have run from January 20 to February 6, 2022.
  • Itzhak Perlman's upcoming West Coast performances have been postponed. I am aware of Seattle, SF, LA and Escondido postponements.
  • SF Performances has cancelled Steven Isserlis and Connie Shih's January 29 recital, because of visa issues related to the pandemic.
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago postpones Missy Mazzoli's Proving Up, which was to have opened on January 22, to a future season.
  • Stanford University has cancelled all indoor events through January 28.
  • American Bach Soloists has cancelled its January 21-24, 2022 program, "Sweet Harmony."
  • Symphony San Jose has postponed their planned "American Masters"* program from January 22 and 23 to April 2 and 3; in addition, the program will be performed at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts rather than the California Theatre.
  • New Century Chamber Orchestra has cancelled its Green Music Center concert; see the note from January 11 about Green.**
  • NCCO has now cancelled all of its January concerts. If you're a ticket holder, you can exchange for a future program, donate the value of your ticket, or get a refund.
  • Earplay is postponing its planned January 31 program to Fall, 2022.

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Details about SFO Concert

Photo of exterior of the War Memorial Opera House at dusk; the building is a large Neo-classical opera house built in the 1930s.

War Memorial Opera House
Photo by Lisa Hirsch

A press release from San Francisco Opera provides an update on the the June, 2022 Verdi concert to be conducted by music director Eun Sun Kim. To summarize, these are the singers:
  • Nicole Car, soprano
  • Arturo Chacón-Cruz, tenor
  • Etienne Dupuis, baritone
  • Soloman Howard, bass
The concert will include bleeding chunks excerpts from Luisa Miller, Il Trovatore, and Don Carlo. The press release notes that the Don Carlo selections will include the auto-da-fe scene and the ballet music. 

Monday, February 07, 2022

George Crumb

A woman in a black dress and black half mask plays the flute in front of a projection resembling the sea. The flutist's music stand, a microphone, and a piano are also visible in the photo.

Linda Lukas, SF Symphony
Vox Balaenae at SFSoundBox
January, 2016
Photo by Lisa Hirsch

Composer George Crumb has died at age 92. He composed beautiful and individual music and was beyond a doubt political. Vox Balaenae is inextricably linked to the environmental disasters we face; other works are linked to the Vietnam War and political protest. He was an experimental composer, using extended instrumental and vocal techniques in his works. His scores themselves are extremely beautiful and individual. You can see some examples at The Spectacular Music Scores of George Crumb and elsewhere on the web.

Those who knew him say that he was a gentle and good-humored man, and a fine teacher. Condolences to all who knew and loved him.


Museum Mondays

Last Supper at Pompeii
Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
August, 2021


Sunday, February 06, 2022

More on Dausgaard and the Seattle Symphony

Douglas McLennan (of ArtsJournal) has published a couple of articles at Post Alley about the debacle at the Seattle Symphony. After the second was published, the orchestra finally responded and there are some corrections appended to that article, but honestly it does not look good for the current administration. The extreme turnover in the administration and on the Board of Directors are very bad.

One takeaway: the current executive director, Krishna Thiagarajan, apparently didn't have a particularly good record at his previous posts. The Board hired him for this job anyway - men get to fail upward a lot - and then failed to take action despite issues with him. 

Another takeaway: Simon Woods, the previous executive director, put together an excellent team of administrator and did a good job at the orchestra, where he was clearly a good fit. The LA Phil then hired him; he didn't work out there and within two years was replaced by Chad Smith, who, with Gail Samuel, was one of two  highly capable and strong internal candidates. (Samuel is now the president and CEO of the Boston Symphony.) 

I really feel for Woods, who hired Dausgaard and, I think, Ludovic Morlot, and who went from a job where he was successful to one that didn't work out.

Updated 2/11/2022: Woods didn't hire Morlot; see the comments.

Belated Friday Photo


Sunny the Japanese Bobtail enjoying the view
February, 2022
Oakland, CA

We recently finished remodeling our kitchen and laundry room; also, repainting the interior and refinishing the floors. You can see the new colors in the living room here. The entryway is painted the accent color we used in the bookcase. All of the trim and the picture rail to ceiling areas throughout the house (except the kitchen) are now painted the same bright white, also.