27 August 2013

fun stuff I may or may not get to: September 2013

A respectable San Francisco matron heads off to the after-party, having endured the official opening of the opera or, possibly, the symphony, how is she to know which
Off we go into the fall season, though two of the major local presenters, San Francisco Performances and Cal Performances, don't really unleash the awesomeness until October, though Cal does have Placido Domingo & Associates up at the Greek Theater on 7 September, and their annual Fall-Free-for-All performance sampler is 29 September.

At the Ashby Stage, First Person Singular and Shotgun Cabaret present Stealing the Leads: Women Read Glengarry Glen Ross, which sounds potentially awesome (sorry, I have to use a form of that word twice in two paragraphs). Unfortunately it's only for two nights; the 2 September performance is sold out but there are still tickets available for the added performance on 9 September. Both performances start at 8:00, which ironically makes them inconveniently timed for anyone who actually has to work in an office.

Old First Concerts has several evenings of interest to fans of contemporary music: the Aleron Trio premieres Shahab Paranj's Piano Trio No. 1, "A Bitter Letter" along with piano trios by Beethoven and Dvorak, on 13 September; sfSound presents an Elliott Carter memorial concert, with works dating from 1939 to 2011, on 20 September; and contemporary chamber ensemble Wild Rumpus lets the wild rumpus begin on 27 September. It's too bad that Old First Concerts are usually Fridays at 8:00, which I think might be the worst concert time possible for working people, but I may try to ignore reality (my reality, that is) and make it to some of these.

To add to your new music enjoyment this month, head to the Conservatory of Music on 6 September to hear works from six alumni composers: Frank Wallace, Kevin Villalta, Mark Ackerley, Mario Godoy, Joseph Stillwell, and Ian Dicke.

At Berkeley Rep, Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which won the 2013 Tony for Best Play, opens 20 September and runs until 20 October. As the title might tell you, it is a contemporary twist on some themes from Chekhov. Richard E.T. White is the director.

The New Century Chamber Orchestra opens its season with a concert celebrating this season's featured composer, Michael Daugherty. I don't know a whole lot about his music, but he certainly has a knack for naming; the program includes pieces called Viva, Strut, Viola Zombie, Regrets Only, and Elvis Everywhere. The evening includes one non-Daugherty piece, Josef Suk's Serenade for string orchestra. That's 26 - 29 September in their usual variety of venues, only this year, since Herbst is closed, the San Francisco venue is the Yerba Buena Center.

San Francisco Opera opens its fall season with two interesting works: first is Boito's Mefistofele (which the Opera very helpfully refers to as Mephistopheles, because otherwise you couldn't figure that out, and though of course you'd balk at buying a ticket to something with a weird foreign name like Mefistofele, you're A-OK with Mephistopheles), in the lively production last seen here in 1994, with Nicola Luisotti conducting and Ildar Abdrazakov, Patricia Racette, and Ramon Vargas singing (check here for specific dates, though if you're actually interested in, you know, music and theater, skip opening night, 6 September); and second is the world premiere of Tobias Picker's Dolores Claiborne, which as of yesterday afternoon, when Dolora Zajick officially dropped out for health reasons, stars the Unsinkable Pat Racette (soprano) for the first four performances and the always appealing Catherine Cook (mezzo-soprano) for the remaining two (check here for specific dates). I liked Picker's American Tragedy quite a bit, so there's that going for it, at least in my opinion.

By the way, in case you're already wondering what the Merola folks will be performing in summer 2014, it's Don Giovanni and A Streetcar Named Desire (which of course had its premiere here in 1998). See what you learn from scanning the ads in Opera News?

If you're looking for more opera, West Edge Opera will perform a semi-staged production of Barber's Vanessa. This time they will be at Berkeley Rep's thrust stage instead of up in El Cerritto; 21 - 22 September.

The San Francisco Symphony has a fine assortment of concerts, but nothing really jumps out at me, though I might easily have a different reaction another day, since I always enjoy An American in Paris and Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev and the Mahler 9. There's also the magnificent Audra McDonald, but she's being wasted on the opening night party. Check out the full month here, but keep in mind that often the most interesting items on the symphony's programs are kept out of sight, tucked a mouse-click away under the standards.


Michael Strickland said...

I shall remember your Reverse Snobbism towards Opening Nights as I attend both of them, Symphony and Opera, this year. In fact, while emulating Quentin Crisp among the hors d'oeuvres and champagne offerings, I will be thinking only of you. And of course since I'm living an irresponsible life of utter poverty and unemployment, I could care less about 8:00 PM starting times, but I do worry about your missing out on so many fun things, Patrick.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

I worry about it too, Michael! Have a canape and chat up a dowager for me, won't you? I will continue toiling with the other Nibelungs deep in the clammy earth, whilst you sport among the glittering gods above.

Does it seem odd to you, by the way, that the opening night opera is a three and a half hour epic based on Goethe's philisophical drama? In some ways that seems even odder than opening the season with The Mother of Us All, as Rosenberg did several years ago.

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Patrick: There have been plenty of unsuitable Opening Nights at the San Francisco Opera over the years. "The Mother of Us All" was at least short. I think the most difficult for the tipsy, glittering Gods was the five-hour "Don Carlo" in French one year in that very dark production with all the mummies on the wall. At least this is an "up" version of Goethe's "Faust," and there's lots of color, nudity and pretty tunes so the dowagers should be fine.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

The Mother of Us All is not only short, it's in English and it's Gertrude Stein, which frankly is a guarantee of a good time. Though I am thrilled to hear that no dowagers will be harmed in the opening of the Opera, I still think it's odd that in a season widely greeted with yawns at all the same-old-same-old they're opening with this particular piece instead of Traviata or Barbiere.

A friend of mine once went to the opera to see one of those things that people like to claim don't sell tickets, and he said to me later, "Patrick, why is there a doctor's office in the lower level?" I had to explain that sometimes dissonant chords or even updated stagings are involved, and medical attention may be necessary.