As usual November is (potentially, at least) a very busy month for performances. But this month in particular Cal Performances is really a star, with a wide range of great stuff (and I didn't even list it all – check out the whole month here).
Cal Performances presents the Théâtre de la Ville in Pirandello's modernist classic, Six Characters in Search of an Author. As with their production of Rhinoceros two years ago, the play will be performed in French, with English surtitles. That's 7 - 8 November in Zellerbach Hall. More information here.
Cal Performances also presents the return of Robert Wilson, and this time he has Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe with him in The Old Woman, by Daniil Kharms, adapted by Darryl Pinckney. That's 21 - 23 November in Zellerbach; more info here.
The Aurora Theater presents the west coast premiere of Breakfast with Mugabe, written by Fraser Grace and directed by Jon Tracy, which was "inspired by newspaper reports that [former president of Zimbabwe] Robert Mugabe . . . sought treatment from a white psychiatrist." That's 7 November to 7 December; more information here.
The San Francisco Playhouse presents Promises, Promises, with music and lyrics by Hal David and Burt Bacharach and book by Neil Simon, directed by Bill English. It's a musical version of the film The Apartment. We are promised "swinging energy"; if you've seen the movie, you will also be expecting, or hoping for, a sour edge. You can find out 18 November to 10 January; more information here.
Cutting Ball Theater presents the world premiere of Superheroes, written and directed by Sean San José, produced in association with Campo Santo. It's about a journalist investigating the crack epidemic. That's 21 November to 21 December; more information here.
The annual Olympians Festival runs 5 - 22 November at the Exit Theater. The Festival consists of readings of new plays based on a theme from Greek mythology. This year's topic is Monsters. I have searched for a useful website for the festival and haven't really come up with one, which is a little too loosey-goosey for me, but there's this from the Exit Theater and this on Facebook. I haven't made it to the Festival yet, but at least one play I really liked (Pleiades by Marissa Skudlarek; my write-up is here) has come out of it, so there's that. I also saw somewhere that Andrew Saito, playwright-in-residence at Cutting Ball, is also involved, and I really liked the play I saw by him, so there's also that.
Novelist Marilynne Robinson appears at City Arts & Lectures in conversation with Isabel Duffy on 4 November; more information here.
New & Modern Music
At the SF Jazz Center, the Calder Quartet completes its survey of the Bartók string quartets by performing Nos. 5 and 6, along with Korrespondenz by Péter Eötvös; that's on 11 November; more information here.
Cal Performances in association with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players presents the first concert of four this season in Project TenFourteen, which involves ten world premieres from ten different composers, each of whom was – and I hesitate to quote this part, because it sounds like the most ridiculous boilerplate, but then it's also broad enough to signal anything goes! while being filled with enough meaningless uplift to get funding from responsible sources – "challenged to reflect upon and address the human condition, common to us all." Well, at least we don't have to hear about the "community." In any case: new music! Exciting! The premieres are "interspersed with modern masterpieces," so, once again: Exciting! (In case anyone is misreading this: I am not being snide or ironic. New music really is exciting to me.) This first concert features Crumb, Aperghis, Ortíz, and Ruehr. That's 16 November; more information here.
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music presents the second BluePrint concert of the season; Nicole Paiement leads the ensemble in works by John Glover, Conrad Susa, Lou Harrison, and Kaija Saariaho. That's 15 November; more info here.
San Francisco Performances presents the Hagen Quartet in works by Mozart, Shostakovich, and Brahms; that's 1 November at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco; more information here.
At the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook sings Schumann's Frauenliebe und leben and Jake Heggie's The Deepest Desire; that's 17 November; details are here.
San Francisco Performances presents Dan Tepfer playing Bach's Goldberg Variations, with his own jazz variations inserted after each of Bach's; that's on 8 November; details here.
The Wagner Society of Northern California presents pianist Stephan Möller playing transcriptions of Wagner, as well as the occasional piano piece by Wagner himself. That's at the beautiful St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco on 16 November; more information here.
Philharmonia Baroque presents marvelous countertenor Andreas Scholl singing arias from Handel's Giulio Cesare along with Bach's Cantata 170, Vergnugte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust. Conductor Julian Wachner will also lead the band in the Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 and Telemann's Concerto in F major for Violin, Oboe, and Two Horns. That's 5 - 9 November, in their usual varied locations; check here for more information.
Cal Performances presents Apollo's Fire, led by Jeannette Sorrell, in Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers for the Blessed Virgin; that's 13 November; other information here.
Cal Performances also presents The Academy of Ancient Music, led by Richard Egarr, in Bach's Orchestral Suites, 15 November; details here.
Cal Performances presents Britten's Curlew River, an amalgam of Japanese Noh theater and medieval mystery drama, featuring Ian Bostridge as the Mad Woman; there are only two performances, 14 - 15 November (note that the 15th is a matinee performance); more information here.
San Francisco Opera is running until early December, when The Nutcracker moves into the War Memorial. Of the three operas remaining in the fall season, I'm most likely to end up at La Cenerentola, having already seen Tosca and Bohème more often than I really needed to. I am hearing, though, that the Tosca is good, and there are some interesting singers in Bohème, particularly Michael Fabiano, so check here if you're interested.
Cal Performances presents the Czech Philharmonic in Dvorák's Stabat Mater, conducted by Jirí Belohlávek, in Zellerbach on 9 November; more information here.
The San Francisco Symphony is mostly touring in November, but there's an interesting-looking concert at the end of the month: conductor Susanna Mälkki leads the Brahms 2, The White Peacock by Griffes, and the Bartók Piano Concerto No. 3, with Jeremy Denk as soloist. That's on 29 - 30 November; more information is available here.
The Oakland/East Bay Symphony opens its season with Music Director Michael Morgan leading the Tchaikovsky 5 and the west coast premiere of Brothers in Arts, a new work for jazz quintet and orchestra by Chris Brubeck and Guillaume Saint-James, commemorating D-Day (both their fathers were in France during World War II; Brubeck's father was in Patton's army and Saint-James's was a teenager). That's 7 November in the beautiful Paramount Theater in Oakland; more information here.