Early music fans will find a feast at the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, 1 - 8 June; check out all the performers, exhibits, and fringe events here.
Cal Performances once again brings us Ojai North; the artistic director for this year's edition is pianist Jeremy Denk. That's 19 - 21 June on the Berkeley campus. Check out the details here; as usual, it all looks good, but some likely highlights are The Classical Style: An Opera (of Sorts) by Denk and Steven Stucky, based on Charles Rosen's celebrated book; the Uri Caine Ensemble performing Mahler Re-Imagined, on a bill with Denk performing Janacek's On an Overgrown Path and short works by Schubert; and . . . well, I see I'm going to end up just listing everything. There's also a concert featuring works by Timo Andres, Charles Ives, Morton Feldman, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Kurt Weill; and one with Denk playing the Ligeti Piano Etudes, Books I and II. The whole schedule, and other information, is available here.
ACT presents The Orphan of Zhao, in a new adaptation by poet James Fenton, directed by Carey Perloff and starring BD Wong, 4 - 29 June. More information here. This meets the criterion for things I list here – it's something I'd like to see – but I find myself baffled and annoyed by ACT and generally end up skipping their productions. They are, as far as I know, the only major local theater that still doggedly insists on an 8:00 start time for every night of the work week (they usually have exactly one 7:00 work night start time per play, for a "talk back"; most theaters here have one or two nights per week on which they acknowledge that some of us have to get up the next morning and go to work). And their ticket costs are much higher than any other theater around. I think of them as "theater for the Peninsula, only in San Francisco" – you drive into the city, you have a nice dinner at a semi-fancy restaurant, you get home around midnight, you stroll in to your tech job whenever. I guess it works for some people. Last year, on a Stoppard high after the second fabulous installment by the Shotgun Players of The Coast of Utopia, I decided to get a ticket to Arcadia at ACT. My calendar was clear on the one day with a 7:00 start, and there was a seat that was nearly perfect (front row center – "nearly" perfect because it was one in from the aisle instead of right on the aisle). Then I noticed the price, which was approximately what I'd paid for an entire season's subscription at Shotgun. And frankly, I've had better experiences at Shotgun than at ACT. I still haven't seen Arcadia. (The current show at Shotgun Players was mentioned last month: Daylighting, which runs until 22 June.)
Aurora Theater revives David Mamet's American Buffalo, directed by Barbara Damashek, 13 June - 13 July; details here.
San Francisco Playhouse revives the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine fairy-tale musical, Into the Woods, 24 June to 6 September; details here.
Opera Parallèle presents the American premiere of Anya17, a new work examining human trafficking. The music is by Adam Gorb and libretto by Ben Kaye, conducted by Nicole Paiement and staged by Brian Staufenbiel. That's 20 - 22 June at the Marines' Memorial Theater on Sutter Street in San Francisco; more information here. I don't know a whole lot about this one, but everything Opera Parallèle does is worth seeing.
The San Francisco Symphony presents a semi-staged Peter Grimes, with an excellent cast including Stuart Skelton and Elza van den Heever, on 26, 27, and 29 June; details here.
San Francisco Opera returns for the second half of its season. I'm very excited about the American classic from Kern and Hammerstein, Show Boat, directed by Francesca Zambello, with a fine cast including Heidi Stober, Michael Todd Simpson (in place of the previously announced Nathan Gunn), Bill Irwin, Patricia Racette, Angela Renée Simpson, Harriet Harris, and Morris Robinson; more details here.
They are also presenting La Traviata (details here) and Madama Butterfly (details here) – both beloved masterpieces, which are revived too frequently for anyone's good. Butterfly is a new production, designed by Jun Kaneko (I very much enjoyed his designs for The Magic Flute a couple of years ago).
At the San Francisco Symphony, Charles Dutoit conducts Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 2 (with soloist Kirill Gerstein) and the Shostakovich 10, 4 - 7 June; then Michael Tilson Thomas leads them into a bit of a Benjamin Britten festival, featuring works not only by Britten but by his contemporaries and influences: on 12 - 15 June there are excerpts from The Prince of the Pagodas, along with traditional music from Gamelan Sekar Jaya and also Gil Shaham playing the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No 2; then on 19 - 21 June they perform Copland's Danzón Cubano, the Shostakovich 15, and Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, with soloists Toby Spence (tenor) and Robert Ward (French horn); then there are three performances of Peter Grimes, as mentioned above (under Operatic); then, on 28 June, there is a single performance of the Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, with video by Tal Rosner, along with a repeat of the excerpts from The Prince of the Pagodas.