October 8, 2013
October 8, 2013
Unconfirmed but likely, based on reliable sources in Europe: Lise Lindstrom will sing Senta in the San Francisco Opera's upcoming production of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, replacing Petra Maria Schnitzer, who withdrew from the role.
California-born Lindstrom, who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at San Francisco State University and Master of Music degree at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, is now a leading dramatic soprano, acclaimed in major opera houses as Turandot, Salome, and Brünnhilde, but this will be her San Francisco Opera debut.
At Conservatory student productions, she performed Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, then took off for Europe, and her hometown fans wouldn't have heard her again until now if it were not for a 2007 engagement by the San Francisco Symphony.
In a memorable concert performance of the closing scene of Salome in Davies Symphony Hall, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, she made a huge impression:
If Strauss were in the hall, he would have shouted at MTT: 'I can still hear her!' because even against those rolling waves of the big orchestra, Lindstrom projected every word, every note with clarity, power, and great tonal beauty.
The prediction six years ago, based on that performance:
There is no heldensoprano role too big for her. This Salome is also a best bet for everything from Turandot to Brünnhilde." (The correct term for the voice type is Hochdramatisch, but I like "heroic soprano" better.)
Since then, she has done them all, along with many other roles — including Senta in Warsaw, Utah, and New Orleans — Turandot in the Scala, Hamburg, Dallas, and at the Met (her 100th appearance in the role was last month in Covent Garden); and Salome in Vienna. Her upcoming engagements in leading roles are with the Met, Washington National Opera, Opéra de Montréal, San Diego, Vienna, Hamburg, and elsewhere.
The long-delayed SFO debut is made possible by the mid-cycle cancellation of the Ring in Graham Vick's production of Palermo's Teatro Massimo. Citing a deficit of over 3 million euros, the Sicilian company announced Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, scheduled for October and late November, respectively, are postponed until further notice, aborting plans for Palermo's first complete Wagner Ring Cycle in its 116-year history.
October 8, 2013
Volti San Francisco, Robert Geary's chamber chorus that's a six-time ASCAP-award winner for showcasing contemporary American music, holds a young composer competition every year. This year's winner is Melissa Dunphy, who is flying in from Philadelphia to workshop her new work with Volti at an event free to the public.
Rehearsal begins at 7 p.m. on Oct. 16, in the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco, but for a half hour before then, Volti is offering snack and chat. I bet part of the chat will be about Volti's upcoming 35th season.
Dunphy, 33, is from Australia, recepient of many awards, best known for her Gonzales Cantata, based on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. She is working for her doctorate in composition at the University of Pennsylvania on a Benjamin Franklin Fellowship.
October 8, 2013
Do not waffle in heading to the First Congregational Church on Polk on Oct. 18, 20, 25, and 27 to catch concerts opening Waffle Opera's third season. Really? You didn't know Waffle has been at it that long?
Sure has, and these concerts, featuring young artists from the Bay Area, many from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, offer a fine program, plus the usual waffle reception with the cast after the concert.
On the program: Bach's Coffee Cantata, a father's struggle to break his daughter's ever-increasing caffeine habit; and Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona, a melodic-comic tale entertaining audiences since 1733.
The official story of Waffle Opera:
Founded by a group of friends who realized that fine singing, acting, and breakfast foods were even better when offered up together.
As young artists in a time when many opera companies are closing their doors, we feel it is important to create our own opportunities and advocate for the art form we love. In this spirit, we present our brand of intimate, exciting opera, featuring the rising stars of the Bay Area.
October 8, 2013
Music News was happy to announce when Emmanuel Morlet was named artistic director of Green Music Center, but we are somewhat befuddled by his disappearance — without announcement (as far as I know) and no response from the Center's PR to inquiries.
Morlet, former Director of the Music Office for the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, was named to the Sonoma position in February, to begin his tenure in April, but in just a few months, he was gone.
The important post is probably awaiting a new occupant as the organization's website lists Larry Furukawa-Schlereth as Executive (actually "Executieve") Director, and four names under "Artistic Direction and Planning," including Robert Cole, formerly Artistic Director of Cal Performances. Top officials of the Board are Sandy Weill (Chair), Joan Weill and Marne Olson (Vice-Chair).
But no artistic director?
October 8, 2013
West Bay Opera General Director José Luis Moscovich, conducting again after a hiatus forced by back trouble, is looking forward to the company's production of Puccini's Tosca:
This is the apex of verismo, so everything is about life-like detail and realistic drama onstage. We chose a traditional setting, but prominently enhanced with video projections.
It allows us to relish the fact that after the first three chords of the piece, we are suddenly in Rome.
And we're going all the way: We've even created a special sound design for the bells of Rome that open the third act, to go with the view of the city from the Castel Sant'Angelo.
Puccini serves up a roller coaster of a score, with tempo changes, rubatos and meter changes coming at you at a dizzying pace. It’s definitely a challenge to put together, but the result can be fantastic: A sound carpet that writhes and heaves with the action onstage.
We have the right cast, and the chorus is outdoing itself, so, we’ve been having lots of fun with it. I trust audiences will, as well.
Richard Harrell directs, Jean-François Revon is once again set designer for that postage-stamp of a stage (how does he do it?), Stacey Stofferahn makes her WBO debut in the title role, David Gustafson is Cavaradossi, and Philip Skinner Sings Scarpia.
Stofferahn, from Belgium, has been singing a wide range of roles in the U.S., her favorites being Violetta (La traviata), Mimì and Musetta (La bohème), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), and Alice (Falstaff).
October 8, 2013
Without apologies to Churchill: Never was so much done by so few with so little.
With apologies to Charles Strouse and Lee Adams: Their musical about Superman belongs to Forgotten Broadway.
But here's wondrous little 42nd Street Moon again, paragon of Forgotten Broadway rescues and revivals, turning a forgettable musical into an unforgettable production.
Directed brilliantly by Dyan McBride, the Saturday opening of It's a Bird ... It's a Plane ... It's Superman unexpectedly provided a smiles-and-warmth-filled evening.
Once again, these Moonies put their heart into creation of a vibrant, funny, entertaining show, where there is not much on paper.
This is the 80th anniversary of two teenagers creating Superman, which became an Action Comics sensation five years later. Long after that, in the early 1960s, Harold Prince asked Bye Bye Birdie (1960) authors Strouse and Adams (who went on to create Annie in 1977) to come up with a musical spoof of the Man of Steel.
The show opened on Broadway in 1966, received mixed reviews and pretty good box office, but soon it petered out, and never made it back to a mainstage since.
I have no idea how McBride and company Directors Greg MacKellan and Stephanie Rhoads pulled together such a uniformly explosive cast, but a dozen singers-actors-dancers — from Lucas Coleman in the title role to the miniscule chorus line of Catherine Gloria, Nicole Renee Chapman, and Ariel Leasure — seem to be consistently on fire, their performances creating a delightful show where anything less than that would fall flat.
McBride, choreographer Staci Arriaga, and the cast combine dazzling dance numbers on the tiny stage with hilarious shticks and body movements channeling Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin — especially tall, thin Coleman who switches back and forth from Superman's super coordination to Clark Kent's awkwardness.
Thanks to owner DC Comics' refusal to allow use of characters other than Superman and Lois (acted and sung expertly by Jen Brooks, who is also dance captain for the company), the musical introduces a new nemesis instead of Lex Luthor: it is Dr. Sedgwick, a demented scientist, brought to hysterical life by Darlene Popovic. She is so evil you may just get hurt from laughing.
There is self-besotted, scheming columnist Max Mencken, whose songs and dances are among the highlights of the show in Brent Schindele's outstanding performance. Trevor Faust Marcom plays Jim Morgan, Lois' substitute love interest (I doublechecked if TFM is really the actor, not the character; it sound much more theatrical than Morgan). Safiya Fredericks and Diahanna Davidson turn in major performances in relatively small roles.
Music director Dave Dobrusky on piano and keyboard, Nick di Scala on woodwinds constitute the orchestra, worthy of the name, playing up a storm. 42nd Street Moon ticket prices are modest, even if the product is anything but. Head to the Eureka Theater before Superman flies away all too soon, on Oct. 20.
October 8, 2013
Excellent selection of an extra-strong group:
The 10 singers selected as 2014 Adler Fellows are sopranos Erin Johnson (Washington, New Jersey), Jacqueline Piccolino (Chicago, Illinois), and Maria Valdes (Atlanta, Georgia); mezzo-soprano Zanda Švede (Valmiera, Latvia); tenors A.J. Glueckert (Portland, Oregon), Pene Pati (Auckland, New Zealand), and Chuanyue Wang (Hei Long Jiang, China); baritones Hadleigh Adams (Palmerston, New Zealand), and Efraín Solís (Santa Ana, California); and bass-baritone Philippe Sly (Ottawa, Ontario).
Valdes, Švede, Pati, and Sly have already proved their "stars of the future" mettle.
Johnson, Piccolino, Glueckert, Wang, Adams, and Sly are returning as Adler Fellows. The outgoing 2013 Adler Fellows are soprano Marina Harris, mezzo-sopranos Laura Krumm, and Renée Rapier, baritone Ao Li, bass-baritone Joo Won Kang, and coach and accompanist Robert Mollicone.
October 8, 2013
In far-away London, a critic reviewing a CD spotted, identified, and extolled an instrumental passage without ever setting eyes on the musician or even being able to name him.
Philip Clark writes in Gramophone about the San Francisco Symphony American Mavericks CD, which includes Henry Cowell's Synchrony:
The long and chromatically fecund unaccompanied trumpet prologue makes a point manifest: a badge of honour, please, to the San Francisco SO's lead trumpeter, who plays with such unity of tone that you begin to suspect he or she has had a sustain pedal hooked into the bell of the instrument.
Clark is excused, but us locals know who "he or she" is: Mark Inouye, of course!
October 8, 2013
It's so difficult to squeeze Adam Arcuragi into a box that the best thing is not to try. Folk? yes; modern? yes; Western? yes; choral? yes; classical? yes ... and so on. His Death Gospel, created with his band, the Lupine Chorale Society, is just one of the many ways he has made an impression.
Among his albums: High Two (2006), I am become joy (2009), and Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It" (2012). He is also an award-winning poet and playwright.
Arcuragi, with Cheyenne Marie Mize is performing on a West Coast tour on these dates:
* Wednesday, Oct. 9 — Nevada City Center for the Arts
* Thursday, Oct. 10 — Berkeley, The Starry Plough
* Saturday, Oct. 12 — Portland, The White Eagle Tavern
* Sunday, Oct. 13 — Seattle, Sunset Tavern
Then points East and South.
I like various attempts to describe the Arcuragi sound, such as "A Philly soul with the old-school power of Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen ... infectious, breathtaking and just so good for a rousing sing-along," mused Bob Boilen, on NPR’s All Songs Considered (definitely a program to sample).
Other approaches: "raw, openhearted indie folk" ... "like traditional gospel, but with sweeping melodies and complex instrumentation"... "hypnotic melodies and chamber choir," and so on. Look him up when he is in your neighborhood.
October 8, 2013
One of the most influential opera directors of our time, Patrice Chéreau died on Monday of lung cancer in Paris. He was 68.
A man of many talents, Chéreau was active in theater and opera, as director, actor, and stage manager, reaching the apex of his career — and creating a landmark production — when he directed the Pierre Boulez-conducted Wager centennial Ring in Bayreuth in 1976, just seven years after he staged his first opera.
To appreciate his accomplishment, watch John Ardoin's chronicle of the making of the Chéreau-Boulez Ring.
In 2010, Chéreau assumed a guest curator role with the Louvre, incorporating dance, opera, theater, film, and painting into his show, Faces and Bodies.
October 8, 2013
San Francisco Opera is going to town electronically. Just in a few days, these are some of the company activities:
* Live streaming of Mefistofele to European cinemas, Oct. 2
* DVD/Blue-ray release of Moby-Dick and Lucrezia Borgia, Oct. 29
* On PBS' Great Performances, Moby-Dick, Nov. 1
* Live simulcast of Falstaff to Stanford's Frost Amphitheater, Oct 11
* On KQED-TV, SFO has just completed telecasts of Porgy and Bess, Aida, Boris Godunov, and Lucrezia Borgia
With David Gockley's state of the art Koret-Taube Media Suite, the first permanent high-definition broadcast-standard video production facility in an opera house, and the Media Gallery, the company is independent, collaborating — at times — only with Rising Alternative for the European simulcast and EuroArts for the DVD releases. But behold what else is going on in the world of arts-and-electronics.
Chances are your eyes will glaze over this as did mine, but I want this "on the record" so there is a place to find the information.
It's been only a little more than a decade since initial videocasts, such pioneering ventures as Gockley's 1998 Houston "plazacast" of Cenerentola with Bartoli, the Royal Opera House's simulcasts to the Covent Garden plaza, and then, in May of 2006 the San Francisco Opera's first free simulcast to the Civic Center Plaza (of Butterfly). And now, there are hundreds of opera/concert/ballet/theater performances seen live (but no longer free) in movie theaters around the world.
Who is the producer, who pays the bills, who takes in the income?
Beyond the do-it-yourself projects, such as San Francisco's (both the Opera and Symphony), the Royal Opera's telecasts, and the Met's involvement with its now-big business HD simulcasts, there are newly emerging (or recently expanding) media companies involved, such as National CineMedia (NCM)), which (quoting the company):
... operates NCM Media Networks, reaching U.S. consumers in movie theaters, online and through mobile technology. The NCM Cinema Network and NCM Fathom Events present cinema advertising and events across the nation’s largest digital in-theater network, comprised of theaters owned by AMC Entertainment Inc., Cinemark Holdings, Inc., Regal Entertainment Group, and other leading regional theater circuits.
NCM’s theater advertising network covers 183 Designated Market Areas (49 of the top 50) and includes approximately 19,600 screens (approximately 18,800 digital). During 2012, over 710 million patrons attended movies shown in theaters in which NCM currently has exclusive, cinema advertising agreements in place.
The NCM Fathom Events live digital broadcast network is comprised of approximately 750 locations in 173 Designated Market Areas (including all of the top 50). The NCM Interactive Network offers 360-degree integrated marketing opportunities in combination with cinema, encompassing 37 entertainment-related websites, online widgets and mobile applications.
National CineMedia, Inc. owns a 47% interest in and is the managing member of National CineMedia LLC. For more information, see http://www.ncm.com.
And, of Arts Alliance Media:
... based in London with offices in Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Oslo, Milan and Berlin, it is the worldwide leader in digital cinema, offering a complete range of services, as well as VPF financing solutions for digital conversion.
These services include installation, maintenance and support for digital cinema systems; world-class software solutions; management and delivery of content to cinemas; and alternative content and live events. AAM has European Virtual Print Fee agreements in place with all six Hollywood studios and has signed over 3,850 VPF screens in multiple territories, including with many leading exhibitors. The company recently activated its Latin American VPF programme with a raft of exhibitor signings in the past weeks. AAM's digital cinema software currently touches approximately 15,000 screens worldwide.
The London-based Network Operations Centre supports over 5,500 digital screens around the world, and the company’s digital cinema lab has mastered over 2500 titles to date, and shipped hundreds of thousands of DCPs. AAM’s strategic partnership with Arqiva allows exhibitors to benefit from satellite delivery of content to cinemas. Arts Alliance Media was founded in 2003 by Thomas Høegh.
And there is "Mr Wolf" (sic):
Founded in 2012 by Alfred Chubb with Arts Alliance Ventures, Mr Wolf produces and finances live events and music based feature films for worldwide distribution on all formats.
This is far from a comprehensive roundup, but it should give an idea of something good, big, burgeoning... and profitable, which may benefit not only the businesses involved, but — one hopes — the performing arts organizations as well.
October 8, 2013
The size and scope of the fabulous (if weirdly named) "SFMUSIC DAY. LIVE + FREE" don't jibe with the meaning of chamber music ("serious music performed by a small group of musicians"), but the Oct. 19-20 event at the S.F. Conservatory is the work of the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music (SFFCM).
On this sixth edition of the event, more than 30 ensembles from the Bay Area will all celebrate "Latin American connections." In the words of the organizers:
Disfrute nuestra música en vivo en un lugar lleno de energía y libertad, al estilo San Francisco. Explore las conexiones latinoamericanas que van desde las melodías tradicionales de nuestros países hasta las influencias contemporáneas en la música clásica y moderna. Este es un evento que le permitirá explorar la música que a usted le gusta, con la gente que usted prefiere, en un lugar en el que usted puede disfrutarla en vivo y con libertad.
SFFCM is marking its 15th anniversary with the free festival of everything Latin American, from folk and chamber music classics to contemporary ensembles. The purpose: "Presenting music in a way that is accessible to the widest audience possible."
Concerts in various locations in the Conservatory are expected to run about half an hour each. Says festival curator Martha Rodríguez-Salazar:
The event will highlight the rich influences and history of Latin American composers and musicians across a range of chamber music including baroque, classical, jazz and experimental. Programming was curated with an ear to the complex and fascinating questions this theme raises — questions encompassing ethnicity, identity, aesthetics, migration and authenticity.
We wanted to highlight the wide range of music coming from Latin America, ranging from Early California missions to the latest influences and cross-pollination of experimental music happening right now in the Bay Area.
The festival will start at 8 p.m. on Oct. 19 with a concert featuring seven ensembles, including MUSA, martha & monica, Mariachi Nueva Generación Cage/Galindo, Angela Lee & Marc Teicholz Duo, Conjunto Nuevo Mundo, Cascada de Flores, and John Calloway, and Clave Unplugged.
On Sunday, Oct. 20, performances will run from noon, including a series of villancicos from the Mexican Baroque with the Vinaccesi Ensemble, classical chamber music selections with the Alexander String Quartet, danzones with Orquesta La Moderna Tradición, and a fusion of Afro-Cuban and jazz styles with the John Santos Sextet.
The festival includes a multidisciplinary panel discussion, "Influences and cultural identities in Latin American arts: How diverse Latin American cultures have affected and influenced the arts in California."