29 November 2010

fun stuff I may or may not get to: December

It’s sugarplum month, but we don’t need to let that stop us. There will be Christmas-tinged items on this list, but that’s hardly avoidable, even if I wanted to. I will proceed along my usual arbitrary and personal lines (no Nutcrackers, but the Hard Nut would be listed if it was being staged this year in these parts, which it isn’t being). There will be Messiahs! I know it’s one of the ultimate holiday chestnuts, but this is the season for chestnuts, and even though I should be tired of it I’m not. In fact I’m listening to it right now. Because I probably won’t make any of the live performances, due to conflicts beyond my control.

Thursday, December 2, the Pacific Film Archive, Paramount Theatre, and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival unite to present Carl Theodor Dreyer’s astounding 1928 film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, accompanied by a live performance of Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light, an oratorio inspired by the film. Information here. Go and marvel!

John Adams and El Nino return to the San Francisco Symphony December 2-4. Later in the month there’s a little more Adams and a lot more Messiah.

Philharmonia Baroque presents Messiah on December 3, 4, 5, and 7, in various locales as is their wont. And American Bach Soloists presents Messiah on December 16, 17, and 18. If the calendar or location don’t decide for you, you can compare casts and other relevant information: here for Philharmonia Baroque, here for American Bach Soloists, and here for the San Francisco Symphony.

Magnificat mixes it up by presenting Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit, which uses old French carols as its basis, along with other seasonal music. December 17-19 in various locales; details here.

Berkeley Rep revives Mary Zimmerman’s fun production of The Arabian Nights, December 11-30.

Cutting Ball Theater extends its production of The Tempest to December 19 (my thoughts here, but in case you don't want to click through, it's a recommendation). And if you want more of the Elizabethans, Cutting Ball’s Hidden Classics Reading Series (which is free), has Ben Jonson’s Epicoene, or The Silent Woman, on December 5. (Opera fans may know the play as the source for Richard Strauss’s Die Schweigsame Frau, though the opera is possibly done even less often than the play. I have actually seen the play staged, but never the opera.) By the way, can anyone explain to me why there is no good (that means affordable and scholarly yet meant for the public) complete edition of Jonson’s plays and masques? He must be fuming over how his rival Shakespeare has outstripped him.

I would be at Epicoene on the 5th if I didn’t already have a ticket for Elza van den Heever’s solo recital, presented by San Francisco Performances, part of their always worthwhile Young Masters series.

And Cal Performances has a full slate, including Christian Tetzlaff playing Bach’s complete sonatas and partitas for solo violin on December 4, and Nicholas Hodges on the 12th, with the Hammerklavier and Stockhausen’s Klavierstuck X.


Civic Center said...

Well, aren't you the Sugar Plum fairy? Here in the Civic Center this December we're surrounded by The Nutscratcher audiences, every day in every way. And if that's not enough, there are the Many Cultural Niche Groups of Christmas at Davies Hall every evening. It's enough to make one go all bah, humbug, but really, why bother? As Emilia Marty says, in response to a question about what's really important in life, "Nothing...absolutely nothing."

Sibyl said...

I attended the world premiere of Einhorn's oratorio for/with The Passion of Joan of Arc in Northampton, MA, and I agree totally: go and marvel, indeed! (We have the Criterion collection dvd with the soundtrack, if you ever need to borrow it.).

Patrick J. Vaz said...

SFMike: No, I am the Nutcracker, so watch yourself! Many thanks for Many Cultural Niche Groups of Christmas -- though that may actually be the official Symphony name for them. Yes, EM represents the true spirit of Christmas -- perhaps Makropulos Case could become a holiday tradition in these parts?

Sibyl: Many thanks for the DVD offer, but I kind of have a thing for silent movies, Dreyer, and Joan of Arc, so I do own the Criterion DVD -- I could hardly resist under the circumstances, not that I do much resisting when it comes to my cultural purchases. Have you seen Dreyer's Ordet? It's amazing. Years ago on my one trip to France I went up to Rouen for a day, mostly to see Joan-related sites. It was raining and I was the only person visiting the tower which is all that remains of the castle where she was imprisoned. One of my favorite afternoons.

I was going to mention the DVD in the listing, but thought it would sort of undercut the live experience. But I'm glad you brought it up because anyone interested who misses the show on Thursday could at least watch the DVD.

Unknown said...

Did you get offered tickets to all of these? ;)

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Maura, I almost never get offered tickets to anything (when I do, I note it when I write something up). I believe you did offer me a ticket to the ABS Messiah, but those performances are on days when (kill me, please) I have work obligations.

I never ask for tickets, partly because I can't guarantee a speedy write-up (such is life) and partly because it's just not in my nature. I have accepted them when they're offered if I could make the program and was interested, so it's not that I have any principled opposition to accepting tickets. It just doesn't usually come up.

The only actual ticket I have from this list is for Elza van den Heever, because I subscribe to SF Performances. And I could go see The Tempest again because I bought a Cutting Ball membership. The rest is stuff that I would go to (and might end up going to) if I had world enough and time.

So, yeah, I actually pay for all this stuff! (with, let me say again, the occasional exception, which I note)

John Marcher said...

You forgot Heidi Melton at the Rex on 12/1. That should be fun.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

JM, indeed I did forget! Mostly because I have a conflict and can't go. But it meets my criterion for inclusion (that is, it's something I would go to) so thanks for the reminder. Anyone who wants info can go to the San Francisco Performances website and look for the "Salon at the Rex" series. Tell Heidi I said hello!