Primary tabs

Michael Zwiebach

Michael Zwiebach is the senior editor/ content manager for SFCV. He assigns all articles and content, manages the writing staff and does editing. A member of SFCV from the beginning, Michael holds a Ph.D. in music history from the University of California, Berkeley.

Articles by this Author

Feature Article
January 8, 2008

As we begin the new year, San Francisco Classical Voice takes a look back at the performances of 2007 that some of our reviewers most enjoyed. As with any such list, the choices are entirely subjective. Each of these critics attended a large number of performances in their areas of specialization throughout the year, and so was able to choose from a broad range of music (in some cases, listing events they attended but that another SFCV critic reviewed).

More »
Feature Article
December 4, 2007

In the Western musical tradition, December is the time for the “holiday concert,” full of impressive, noisy praise, the sing-along Messiah, and dozens of choral offerings featuring carols and the more generic “holiday music.” Nowhere in the generalized musical prescription that fuels our annual shopping and eating binge does it say “gentle, 17th-century, Lutheran, devotional work.”
Sure, the Bay Area has recently seen a couple of performances of Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Christmas Mass and other substantial fare, but few organizations, with the notable exception

More »
Feature Article
October 9, 2007

Oakland Opera Theater is one of those refreshing arts organizations that thrives on risk-taking. Not content to restrict its repertory to 20th-century and contemporary works (an idea that would give most managers nightmares), the company brings a distinctive approach to productions both old and new.

More »
Archive Review
September 25, 2007

Sometimes a creative artist produces a work that releases more energy and inspiration than it costs, and suggests paths to the future, as well. Mozart's Il rè pastore (The shepherd king) is a case in point. The 1775 serenata, or modestly sized serious opera, is filled with glorious music from beginning to end, particularly in the second act. It contains percursors to Mozart's penultimate opera, La clemenza di Tito (The clemency of Titus, 1791), and some of its ideas were recycled into Idomeneo (1781).

More »
Feature Article
August 21, 2007

You have to be a bit of a high-stakes gambler to be an opera composer. You spend a long time, probably several years at least, carefully putting together a project, writing and revising it, and seeing it through to performance (assuming it's been accepted for production). And then, even if the first audiences applaud it — not necessarily a given — its future is uncertain.And the same thing is true for an opera company. Commission a work, and win the prestige of having performed it. But
later see it disappear into the ether, along with money, sets, and costumes.

More »
Feature Article
August 14, 2007

You have to be a bit of a high-stakes gambler to be an opera composer. You spend a long time, probably several years at least, carefully putting together a project, writing and revising it, and seeing it through to performance (assuming it's been accepted for production). And then, even if the first audiences applaud it — not necessarily a given — its future is uncertain.And the same thing is true for an opera company. Commission a work, and win the prestige of having performed it. But
later see it disappear into the ether, along with money, sets, and costumes.

More »
Archive Review
July 10, 2007

Music festivals, whether of the mini or maxi kind, invite audiences to think of music as part of an entire experience. For most of the year, we're content just to hear a concert. But the summer festival experience is also partly about location and lingering twilight. In this, American Bach Soloists holds a few cards that make its SummerFest programs irresistible, beyond the superior concerts that are the main reason for attending. The little St. Stephen's Church, nestled into a hillside near the bay in Belvedere, hosts ABS throughout its season.

More »
Feature Article
June 12, 2007

It's an ironic fact that these days, Handel's operas are being triumphantly presented around the world, while Christoph Gluck's are mostly ignored. Handel, for all his musical glories, was old-school opera seria — castrato singers in the primary roles, convoluted plots and subplots, and stand-and-deliver arias, one after another. Gluck, on the other hand, was the primary ignition switch on modern operatic ideology.

More »
Feature Article
June 5, 2007

It's an ironic fact that these days, Handel's operas are being triumphantly presented around the world, while Christoph Gluck's are mostly ignored. Handel, for all his musical glories, was old-school opera seria — castrato singers in the primary roles, convoluted plots and subplots, and stand-and-deliver arias, one after another. Gluck, on the other hand, was the primary ignition switch on modern operatic ideology. He streamlined plots, eliminated extraneous characters, and valued brisk staging and smart acting.

More »
Archive Review
May 29, 2007

You don't have to be a critical genius to figure out that Talise Trevigne, the star of San Francisco Lyric Opera's new production of Lucia di Lammermoor has a major-league voice and star quality to match. She lit a fire under Saturday's satisfying, if basic, performance at the Florence Gould Theater at the Legion of Honor. But hers was far from the only positive contribution of the evening. This is a well-tuned show, amply repaying its bargain-basement ticket price.

More »
Archive Review
May 15, 2007

Chamber music, by definition, should be intimate and personal for both the musicians and the audience. And few Bay Area groups have mastered the art of intimate, welcoming entertainment like the Gold Coast Chamber Players, as they again proved on Saturday in "Magic Flute," the second of their three-concert 2007 season. Playing in the compact auditorium of the Bentley School in Lafayette, the group unwrapped a full bouquet of a program for an appreciative audience, which included, happily, a sprinkling of younger faces, all of them looking pleased to be there.

More »
Archive Review
May 8, 2007

Berkeley Opera boasts that its new Romeo and Juliet, which opened on Saturday night at the Julia Morgan Theatre, is by William Shakespeare and Charles Gounod. And while that’s not entirely true, Artistic Director Jonathan Khuner and his fellow Bardolaters, Lyricist Amanda Moody and Stage Director John McMullen, have succeeded in shoving the work of the 16th-century English poet-dramatist and the 19th-century French musician onto the stage at the same time.

More »
Archive Review
May 1, 2007

The end of the concert season always brings a spate of big, symphonic showpieces, as orchestras go into summer with a bang (and goose their audiences into subscriptions for next year). The Marin Symphony chose Strauss' symphonic poem Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life, Op. 40) as its grand finale, and you don't get much showier than that. The score has more audition excerpts per square inch than almost any piece in the repertory, and it packs a wallop.

More »
Archive Review
April 17, 2007

Those of us in the Bay Area with travel budgets in the high two figures are particularly grateful to Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque for their floating Handel festival. We don't have to make the scene at Göttingen or Halle, or even London, to hear vivid, world-class performances of that great composer. To this marvelous group I owe my introduction to Susanna and Theodora — and now, my first live performance of Belshazzar.

More »

Pages