22 May 2011

fun stuff I may or may not get to: June

The San Francisco Opera is presenting Der Ring des Nibelungen, and frankly I’m still undecided what to do about it. On the plus side: Donald Runnicles is conducting, and SF Opera has assembled a promising-looking cast. Also: It’s Der Ring des Nibelungen! On the minus side, other than the usual problems with time/money: Francesca Zambello’s production has so far been mostly dull, a general retread of every “Ring as critique of capitalism” staging (which is fine, but I've seen it, and I guess that's the inevitable result when you aim for an "American" Ring, given the nature of American history and society) with the occasional kitschy, baffling, or wrongheaded touch (though unfortunately not baffling or wrongheaded enough to be provocative or illuminating, just irritating). Also: the big pile of money I paid for my ticket to Walkure last year bought me an evening full of vocal wrecks, and though I realize that’s one of the hazards of the game, I’m still annoyed. People I trust who attended other nights were thrilled. Maybe I should do everyone who’s bought a ticket a favor and not go, because then it’s sure to be spectacular. I could just go to Siegfried and Gotterdammerung, but I prefer the first two operas. Oh, what to do! My thoughts on Rheingold, which I saw in both DC and SF, are here, and my thoughts on last year’s Walkure are here, though reading it over I see I was kinder in prose than I feel in memory.

The Wagner Society of Northern California has several Ring-related seminars. They always do an excellent job with those. Check them out here.

As noted last month, Cal Performances presents the Royal Danish Ballet in two different programs from May 31 to June 4, and then closes out its rich season with several concerts from Ojai North! (and let me assure you the cheeseball exclamation point is not mine): Maria Schneider and Orchestra on June 13, Dawn Upshaw and the Australian Chamber Orchestra on June 14, and Upshaw again on June 16 and 18 in George Crumb's The Winds of Destiny, staged by Peter Sellars.

Chorus America is presenting a Community Sing with Chanticleer on Saturday June 11 at 2:15 at the International High School Gymnasium (near the SF Conservatory of Music). This is free but reservations are required and can be made online at http://communitysingwithchanticleer.eventbrite.com/.

The San Francisco Symphony presents a series of “Project San Francisco” performances by the brilliant and poetic young pianist Yuja Wang from June 14 to June 21, and then closes out its season on June 23-26 with Tilson Thomas conducting the fabulous Symphony Chorus and soloists Christine Brewer, Katarina Karneus, Gregory Kunde, and Ain Anger in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, which looks as much like a sure bet as anything on this list.

Ray of Light Theater presents Assassins, by living legend Stephen Sondheim, June 2-25 at the Eureka Theater.

The Aurora Theater presents Kafka’s Metamorphosis, as adapted by David Farr and Gisli Orn Gardarsson and directed by Mark Jackson, starting June 10. This looks promising, and the Aurora generally has plenty of ticket deals and plenty of convenient earlier start times during the week.

Joe Goode Performance Group presents the world premiere of The Rambler at Yerba Buena, June 10-18.

Cutting Ball Theater continues its Risk Is This. . . . series of new play readings, with a “trip-hop” musical version of Ozma of Oz, by Rob Melrose and Dave L, on June 10-11 (I’ve been a big fan of the Oz books since childhood and Ozma of Oz is one of my favorites, but I have no idea what "trip-hop" is, and honestly it doesn't sound like something I'd like, so I guess that’s where the risk part comes in) and Tender Loin by Annie Elias on June 24-25. And on Sunday June 12 at 1:00 Cutting Ball presents the last of this season’s Hidden Classics readings, with Josef and Karel Capek’s The Insect Play. These readings are all free, but you may reserve a seat for Risk Is This. . . with a $20 donation (seats are also reserved for season pass holders).

If I were traveling this month, it would be to Philadelphia to hear Tamara Mumford and William Burden in the American premiere of Hans Werner Henze’s Phaedra at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, June 3-12 (I see they've added performances!), though there is also the temptation of the Boston Early Music Festival from June 12-19.


Sibyl said...

I am really torn about the Ring, also. Well, wishing I could be torn. In actual fact I cannot afford the tix, nor can I muster the oomph to get into SF and back four times in such a short space. But that Assassins is waaay tempting. I was able to take my daughter to see Night Music in NYC and she loved it, so maybe I can talk her into seeing Assassins...perhaps if I throw in a day shopping in Japantown? Anime and Assassins in the same day? Might work.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

I haven't looked really closely at the Ring schedule yet, but I am sure I would need to burn vacation days (unless I just did Saturday/Sunday, which is problematic in a different way), and that would be awkward since I was unexpectedly sick several days this spring. I've seen four complete Ring cycles, which is nothing for most Wagnerians but enough to make me think maybe, given my feelings about the production so far, I should direct my time and money (the little I have of both) somewhere else.

Yeah, Assassins. . . it's the company that did Jerry Springer the Opera this fall, and though I was kind of unhappy with the evening that's mostly because I thought the material was weaker than it should have been and the audience (i.e., the woman behind me) was particularly bad and rude that night. So I'm still pondering that, but hope I can fit it in.

Speaking of anime. . . I've finally started watching a series I bought about five years ago, called Mermaid Forest. I'm loving it. Have you/your daughter seen it?

Sibyl said...

Don't know Mermaid Forest: is it good? My daughter is into the dark/violent supernatural stories, which I blame on my having gotten her hooked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So it's Bleach, Death Note, D-Gray Man, Full Metal Alchemist. I've tried to post a comment on here a few times and been uanble to: let's see if this time works.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

It worked! Sorry you've had problems. Blogger has been a bit flukey lately.

I am enjoying Mermaid Forest very much, and it sounds as if it might be the kind of thing your daughter likes. I've seen some anime but not enough for geekdom expertise, but I feel confident recommending Mermaid Forest to someone who likes dark/violent stories.

I've recently started watching Buffy -- I did see the movie when it came out and loved it, though I know the creator sort of disavowed it. But I still quote, "Does the word 'duh' mean anything to you?" I haven't gotten too far with the TV series yet because it's via Netflix disc (as opposed to owning them and being able to pick them up whenever).

jolene said...

Ah, there's so much on this list I'd like to see, but currently I am pulling 24 hour shifts at a county hospital delivering babies (11 babies all day yesterday and early this morning!). I miss my former life. Will you be seeing the Royal Danish Ballet? Assassins sounds tempting too.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

But delivering babies is good, right? And eventually you'll return to normal shifts? And at least you got to see the Little Mermaid (though I think I liked it better than you did). . . .

It looks as I will get to the Royal Danish Ballet. I hadn't bought a ticket as part of my subscription and then decided I wanted to go only there weren't any seats that I considered acceptable. . . . I happened to mention this to a friend who shares my seating preference and she had one for sale. Lucky, impoverished me! So I'm going to the Bournonville program on Tuesday.

I haven't done anything about Assassins yet because I received a half-off ticket offer from them (I guess for buying a ticket to Jerry Springer the Opera) but it arrived when I was feeling stressed and tired of going out and I let the deadline pass. So now I don't want to pay full price, even though it's not all that expensive, at least compared to what I just shelled out for tomorrow's Siegfried, even with a Wagner Society discount. . . . it's tough trying to live more or less within one's means!

jolene said...

Forgive the rambling - I just got off of two 24 hour shifts at the hospital. Delivering babies is dirty business! And the long shifts aren't very fun. It's also difficult getting used to the "culture" of the hospital - I feel like I've been thrown in the middle of Africa and am asked to do something productive. Anyways, I've been feeling nostalgic about my previous life and the things I used to enjoy. My schedule will be particularly bad this better, better next year, and then hellish for the next 3-5 years, depending on what I want to specialize in.

I'm glad you liked the Little Mermaid - maybe I had high expectations. I know that it's not the fluff that a lot of people expected and it's still really interesting and stunning, but I was a bit puzzled by the choreography and what it was trying to say. Any comments on the Lera Auerbach score?

Please report back on the Royal Danish Ballet if you get a chance, I shall live vicariously through you!

Patrick J. Vaz said...

By all means, ramble away! When I lived in Boston I had a friend who was studying ob/gyn and I know it's incredibly stressful. 24-hour shifts are never going to be easy but maybe they'll be less stressful when you're more familiar with the hospital routines?

It probably did help that I walked into the Little Mermaid with not-so-high expectations. There was much more going on than I thought there would be -- I think you could see it several times and find new things in the choreography (in fact, I spoke to a friend who had done that and she had just noticed a few details this time around). It's kind of like the party scene in The Hard Nut -- there's a lot to take in, all going on at once.

I would listen to Auerbach's score on its own, which is high praise for a dance score. I really liked what she did with it -- the witty satirical edge to the Land scene, and the more shimmery sounds for the Water. I'm always glad when companies commission new scores from what I'll call real composers -- as opposed to using pop songs, which always seems like kind of a sell-out to me.

It looks as if I'm going to the Royal Danish ballet on Tuesday, so I should be able to muster some kind of report by the end of the week!