The extra excitement of Merola Opera’s performance of Mozart’s Così fan tutte could be felt on both sides of the metaphorical footlights. As the house lights dimmed on Sunday at the outset of the production in Fort Mason’s intimate Cowell Theatre, you could almost hear the anticipatory questions in people’s minds: Were they about to witness one or more major stars in the making?
Whoever thinks that the California scene is too relaxed for the best kind of classical music-making (especially in August, in the suburbs of San Francisco, where the parking is plentiful, the sun shines every day, and the wine flows plentifully) should have been at the [email protected] concert Saturday night, at the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church.Silicon Valley, known for cutting-edge high-tech innovation, is evidently also home to cutting-edge, 19th-century German Romantic passion.
“We are looking for someone who will touch us deeply, in a way that we cannot forget.” These words, spoken by the pianist Menahem Pressler in a documentary about the Van Cliburn competition, came to mind while listening to his solo recital at this summer’s [email protected] Festival.
A cycle of the Mendelssohn string quartets: It sounds like a reasonable programming idea, yet it isn’t done very often. Felix Mendelssohn wrote seven full quartets, plus a small assortment of individual movements, just about the right amount of music for a set of three concerts.
Following what I had expected to be the preconcert lecture for the [email protected] evening presentation of "Midsummer Night Dreams," I found myself listening to an extravagant performance of the Dvořák Terzetto in C Major, followed by a breathtaking presentation of Brahms' Clarinet Trio in A Minor. After that explosion of sound, energy, and undisguised romance, I stumbled dizzily to another venue for the program that I was there to review.
It seemed fitting that the conclusion of the 35th season of the Berkeley-based Midsummer Mozart Festival, coinciding with the number of years of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s life, would include an early symphony from his youth in Salzburg and conclude with his last, the glorious, seemingly unsurpassable “Jupiter.” Friday’s concert was no less a celebration of the masterful presence on the podium of the festival’s f
L’amico Fritz is one of opera’s neglected gems. As the follow-up to his hugely acclaimed Cavalleria rusticana, Pietro Mascagni’s 1891 commedia lirica never quite achieved the popularity of its predecessor. These days, with arts funding at a new low, productions of it are as rare as hen’s teeth. Yet the Merola Opera Program’s revival, presented over the weekend at the Fort Mason Center’s Cowell Theater, suggested that Fritz is well worth revisiting.
In an ideal musical world, there would be a law: Whenever two string quartet ensembles collaborate on a concert, they must perform Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings in E-flat, Op. 20. It’s that good a work. The St. Lawrence and Pacifica quartets obliged this dictum before an enraptured [email protected] festival audience at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church on Friday.