Even 'Juggling Babies,' This Marnie Is Not Like Hitchcock's
Soprano Marnie Breckenridge is known in the Bay Area as a gorgeous, multifarious, adventurous singer, who has conquered in a many roles, ranging from the classics (Lucia, Papagena) to countless contemporary works here and elsewhere (La Princesse in Glass' Orphée, the lead in Eötvös’ Love and Other Demons in Glyndebourne, and Jake Heggie’s To Hell and Back at Ravinia). She has a leading role in Opera Parallèle's upcoming production of Golijov's Ainadamar.
Hitchcock's 1964 Marnie (with Tippi Hedren) depicted a petty criminal with psychological problems, to be redeemed (or not — this column never gives out spoilers) by an improbably young Sean Connery.
Breckenridge — who is giving a rich, boldly contemporary recital on Jan. 19 in the S.F. Conservatory, accompanied by Kristin Pankonin — can be accused only of occasionally throwing in the air and catching her young children — the way I understand what juggling is. When I asked her for information about the recital, reply came just in the nick of time, and the excuse:
My apologies for the late reply. Between traveling to SF from New York City (where I reside), juggling my toddler and infant, then finding a moment of computer time, it has been a bit nutzo trying to get details in order.
As to the program — of Barber, Strauss and the Bay Area’s Jake Heggie, Henry Mollicone, Kurt Ericson, David Conte, and David Garner — she writes:
Since this is a home-coming concert of sorts, we wanted to highlight the music of many Bay Area composers with whom we've collaborated over the years. With a plethora of music to choose from, we ultimately narrowed down from the standpoint of what the poetry showed us.
Certain themes about a woman's state-of-mind in love, longing, chaos, and even madness, then resolution, death, transcendence kept coming to light as we compared poetry, and this is how we came up with the landscape,etc. of the program.
It is such a huge and joyful honor to be able to sing the music of living contemporary composers. It is very interesting and challenging to both of us as artists to bring stunning poetry coupled with new musical melodies and ideas to our audiences. There is a renaissance in vocal music right now and we are enjoying being part of it by working with these fresh and relevant composers.
It's homecoming for S.F. Conservatory alumnae Breckenridge ('96) and Pankonin ('89) piano, both artists treasured in the Bay Area. The pianist has been at the very hub of musical activity here for decades, and her recent illness was of great concern to a legion of friends and colleagues, including Frederica von Stade and Zheng Cao. Asked how Pankonin was doing, Breckenridge replied in a message I received permission to share:
Kristin is doing better but not in the clear, unfortunately. Her recent blood count showed lower white cells. She is undergoing a PET scan today. She is still on chemo. They want to get her on a new chemo pill this week but she is begging them to wait until after the concert in case of side effects. Bless her. Talk about determined ...
As to stars of tomorrow from the Conservatory, note the school's Voice Concerto Competition Finals at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 30, in the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall; a free event.
Included in: Music News: Jan. 15, 2013