August is as usual a fairly slow month, but there’s a surprising amount of opera on offer:
This year’s Merola singers, by all accounts a very promising bunch, are performing Rossini’s evergreen Il barbiere di Siviglia at Herbst Theater at 8:00 August 4 and 5 and 2:00 August 6 and 7. The opera is doublecast, with each cast performing twice.
OK, the Merola Program offered me tickets to this, for which I am grateful, since I don't get these offers very often, but: we are “strongly urged” to attend on both the 4th and 5th, and those who do get “seating priority”; tickets will be “extremely limited” for those who can only go once, or to the later performances. That's fine; it makes sense to have reviewers hear both casts, and I was starting to look forward to doing so, this being an instance in which hearing something twice might be more interesting than hearing it once (I like Barbiere but don’t really feel much urgency about hearing it again, but it would be fun to compare the different casts).
Then I checked the calendar. I had assumed we were talking about Friday and Saturday: no, it’s Thursday and Friday. So this is apparently how this is supposed to go: I get up early and work all day Thursday, then I have to kill three hours until the show starts at 8:00; the show runs about three hours, so I don’t get home until around midnight; then, after five hours or less of sleep, I have to get up early, go work another full day, then waste another three hours waiting for 8:00 to roll around, and then I get home around midnight, presumably to rise early the next morning to be first out of the gate with something cogent and quotable.
8:00 start times on Thursday and Friday night for a three-hour work, two nights in a row? Look, I say this with sincere love in my heart, and mucho gratitude for the offer, and every good wish for the success of these swell young singers, but: these people are simply not dealing in reality. Does someone over Opera-House Way realize that most of us bloggers actually have to have jobs? Ones that, you know, pay? Where we need to be productive, or at least semi-conscious, and no one cares that we’d really rather be at the opera?
Well, if you’re retired, unemployed or self-employed, or a student, please enjoy the show!
The Merola Grand Finale will take place on Saturday, August 20, at 7:30, in the Opera House.
Berkeley/West Edge Opera offers the world premiere of Caliban Dreams; the final two performances are Friday August 5 and Sunday August 7.
The fabulous and adventurous Ensemble Parallele offers one of my all-time favorite operas (thank you!), the Virgil Thomson/Gertrude Stein collaboration 4 Saints in 3 Acts, at Yerba Buena on August 18-21. This is billed as an “opera installation” with additional music by Luciano Chessa. I personally have never felt the need for additional music to 4 Saints, but considering Ensemble Parallele’s track record I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.
If you’re tired of singing (or, rather, of listening to singers), Old First Concerts has some interesting programs; the one that is catching my eye is Sunday, August 28, at 4:00: Robert Howard on cello and Elizabeth Dorman on piano, performing Orion by Takemitsu, Louange a l’Eternite de Jesus by Messiaen, Suite Italienne by Stravinsky, and the Sonata in F major by Brahms.
And speaking of Gertrude Stein, SFMOMA’s showing of the reassembled Stein collection will be there for only about another month. This is arguably the artistic event of the year, and it almost doesn’t matter which year you’re referring to.