James Conlon is one of the finest conductors around, and he is also a maverick presenter of unusual programs. And so it was expected that he would bring something different to his current appearances with the San Francisco Symphony (which he first led 32 years ago), and he did not disappoint.
Major supporters of the arts get some — not enough — publicity, and ceaseless, ever-present benefit angels such as Frederica von Stade model are also known — also not enough — though publicity is not why they do what they do.
If no weapons are involved, next time I am facing a gang in a dark alley, I want Gabriel Manro on my side. Making his debut here, in the West Bay Opera’s sensational production of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, Manro is a new kind of baritone: not lyric, not helden, not Kavalier, not Bariton-Martin — none of those. Rather, he’s a knock-down baritone.
At 83, Dame Cleo Laine's fabulous voice is in "good shape," she says, adding: "But I don't sing [Schoenberg's] Pierrot Lunaire anymore." She has also pulled back on her legendary three-octave range, with that hair-raising high G on top that fans had thrilled to for the past 60 years.
A formerly internal rift between several California Symphony board members and Music Director Barry Jekowsky opened wide enough this week to swallow up the 24-year-long relationship between the orchestra and its founding maestro, the man who put the organization on the country's musical map.
Tonight, at the opening of the Marriage of Figaro run in the War Memorial, stage director John Copley will receive the company's highest honor, the San Francisco Opera Medal. This is his 30th production here — 18 new ones and 12 revivals.
Richard Thomas' Jerry Springer the Opera is a multiple award-winning, much-praised work, developed with the support and participation of Cameron Mackintosh, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Nick Hytner, and other notables.
It finally made its profane, foul-mouthed, offensive and hilarious entry last weekend in a big, spectacular Ray of Light Theater production at the Mission's Victoria Theater, the beginning of a five-week run.
The Lucerne Music Festival, where Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony are heading, is an orchestral showcase, in addition to its many spectacular chamber-music events.
The month-long festival opened with Claudio Abbado and his Festival Orchestra and will close on Sept. 18 with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.
My criteria for selecting these events for recommendation are that they fall, more or less, in the narrow band between mainstream and the self-consciously “out there,” they are at the low end of the price spectrum, and they have some kind of personal connection or appeal to me.
Another season, another series of free concerts. Under the direction of Laurie Cohen, the Mill Valley Philharmonic is getting ready for its 11th season of concerts in various Marin locations, open to one and all.
Among my umpteen Merola Program closing concerts — all memorable in various ways — Saturday’s was one of the most enjoyable. Programmed, directed, and performed with care and effectiveness, this was what opera doesn’t always manage to be: delightful entertainment.