Local residents, and probably non-local ones, too, are no doubt aware that the Super Bowl is being played in Santa Clara on 7 February; what even some locals haven't realized is how inconvenient this is going to make life in the Bay Area for the next few weeks (and it's going to continue after the game; they need to take down all the corporate-sponsored tents and suchlike that they put up). If you're planning to go to something in San Francisco during the first half of the month, please be aware that some buses have been rerouted, some streets around the Embarcadero are closed, restaurants will be more crowded, car services will be pricier, and so on. Give yourself some extra time and bring some extra patience. Adding to the bitterness of local residents is anger at the 49ers for decamping closer to the riches of Silicon Valley, though of course neither local team was good enough to get anywhere close to the Bowl of All Bowls. So enjoy, everybody!
Cutting Ball Theater presents Ondine by Katherine Sherman, directed by Rob Melrose. It's described as "a mermaid tale for sleepless nights" which sounds good to me, subject as I am to sleepless nights and seduced by the thought of water; it runs 5 February to 6 March.
Custom Made Theater presents the premiere of Sam and Dede: or, My Dinner with Andre the Giant by Gino Dilorio, directed by Leah S. Abrams. The "Sam" in the title is Samuel Beckett, so I'm immediately interested. The play runs from 11 February to 5 March.
The Douglas Morrisson Theatre in Hayward presents Mrs Warren's Profession by Bernard Shaw; the show runs 11 February to 6 March.
Berkeley Rep presents Conleth Hill and Frances McDormand in Macbeth, directed by Daniel Sullivan. This is a surprisingly difficult play to pull off; you can see if they manage from 19 February to 10 April. Click here to refresh your memory with an excerpt from Macbeth, which was Poem of the Week earlier this week.
Shotgun Players is starting something new this month: the Shotgun Blast Theater Festival, a series of shows, each running for just two nights, that together cover the gamut of offbeat theater. You can check out the various offerings here.
The Lamplighters present one of my favorite works by Gilbert & Sullivan, their wonderful parody of gothic horror stories, Ruddygore; or, The Witch's Curse, in Walnut Creek 12 - 14 February, at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco 19 - 21 February, and in Mountain View 27 - 28 February. There are lots of matinees in there, so check here for further details. (Ruddygore is the original spelling of the title; it was changed to the more familiar Ruddigore because it was felt that otherwise it was too close to bloody, which at the time was used as a strangely powerful vulgarity; Gilbert is said to have retorted to someone who said the words were the same, "Not at all; for that would mean that if I said that I admired your ruddy countenance, which I do, I would be saying that I liked your bloody cheek, which I don't.")
Opera Parallèle presents Terence Blanchard's jazz-based opera Champion, based on the life of boxer Emile Griffiths (libretto by Michael Cristofer). Nicole Paiement conducts and Brian Staufenbiel stages the work at the SF Jazz Center on 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, and 28 (matinee) February.
West Edge Opera continues its intriguing and offbeat programming with a "Doppelgänger Season" of Opera Medium Rare, a series of semi-staged performances concentrating this season, as the overall title suggests, on lesser known versions of familiar stories. First up is Paisiello's Barber of Seville (to be followed in March by Leoncavallo's La Bohème). There are two performances: a matinee on 7 February at Lisser Theater at Mills College in Oakland and an evening performance on 9 February at Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. I'm disappointed to see that West Edge is also continuing its disregard for non-drivers and working people; the Oakland location is difficult to get to without a car and the Berkeley performance doesn't even begin until 8:00 on a Tuesday night.
Dianne Reeves appears at the SF Jazz Center from 11 to 14 February.
The Schwabacher Debut Recitals will take place at the San Francisco Opera's new Wilsey Center; the first one is 28 February and features soprano Amina Edris, baritone Edward Nelson, bass-baritone Brad Walker, and pianist Steven Blier.
Violinist Daniel Hope joins the New Century Chamber Orchestra as guest concertmaster to pay tribute to his mentor, Yehudi Menuhin, with an eclectic program featuring works by Bach, Pärt, Glass, Mendelssohn, Vivaldi, El-Khoury, Takemitsu, and Bartók. There's an open rehearsal at the Kanbar Performing Arts Center in San Francisco on the morning of 3 February and evening performances on the 4th at First Congregational in Berkeley, the 5th at First United in Palo Alto, the 6th at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and the 7th at the Osher Main JCC in San Rafael.
The Berkeley Symphony will be led by Joana Carneiro on 4 February in Zellerbach Hall in a program featuring Lutosławski's Concerto for Orchestra and Beethoven's "Emperor" Piano Concerto with soloist Conrad Tao.
Michael Morgan leads the Oakland Symphony in a program of Dvořák's Carnival Overture, Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra with narrator Michael Urie, and the world premiere of Vân-Ánh Võ's Lullaby for a Country; that's 12 February at the Paramount.
At the San Francisco Symphony, Stéphane Denève leads a performance of Nielsen's Violin Concerto with soloist Nikolaj Znaider along with selections from Prokofiev's Cinderella and Guillaume Connesson's A Glimmer in an Age of Darkness; that's 18 - 20 February. Herbert Blomstedt returns at the end of the month with the Bruckner 3 and Beethoven's Piano Concerto 3, with soloist Maria João Pires; that's 25 - 27 February.
The Russian National Orchestra arrives under the auspices of the San Francisco Symphony; there are two different programs, one on the 21st and the other on the 22nd; both feature superb pianist Yuja Wang and are conducted by Mikhail Pletnev.
Early / Baroque Music
American Bach Soloists present an all-Handel program. Jeffrey Thomas leads the group in Alexander's Feast with soloists Anna Gorbachyova (soprano), Aaron Sheehan (tenor), and William Sharp (baritone) as well as the Concerto Grosso in C Major and the Harp Concerto in B Flat Major with soloist Maria Christina Cleary. The performances are 26 February at St Stephen's in Belvedere, 27 February at First Congregational in Berkeley, 28 February at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, and (leap year!) 29 February at Davis Community Church in Davis.
Modern / Contemporary Music
Cal Performances presents new music ensemble eighth blackbird on 14 February performing works by Timo Andres, Christopher Cerrone, Jacob Cooper, Ted Hearne, Robert Honstein, and Andrew Norman.
The Kronos Quartet presents a festival of international music, featuring many new works and special collaborators, including Wu Man, Ritva Koistinen, Mariana Sadovska, KITKA, David Coulter, Fodé Lassana Diabaté, and Vân-Ánh Võ. There are seven concerts over four days (4 - 7 February), all at the SF Jazz Center.
See Regina Carter under Violin, Dianne Reeves under Vocalists, and Terence Blanchard's Champion under Operatic.
Fabulous jazz violinist Regina Carter appears at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco on 27 February. The concert is a benefit for the Homeless Prenatal Program.
San Francisco Performances presents the San Francisco recital debut of Igor Levit on 11 February at the Conservatory of Music, with a program featuring Bach, Schubert, Beethoven, and Prokofiev.
San Francisco Performances presents Richard Goode in an all-Bach program on 25 February in Herbst Theater.
See also Yuja Wang's appearances with the Russian National Orchestra under Orchestral.
Earplay opens its season on 1 February with a concert in Herbst Theater featuring works by Stefan Wolpe, Shulamit Ran, Eric Sawyer, and Andrew Imbrie.
San Francisco Performances presents the Pacifica Quartet on 12 February at Herbst Theater in a program of Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Shulamit Ran.
San Francisco Performances presents the San Francisco debut of the Tetzlaff Trio on 20 February at Herbst Theater in a program featuring Schumann, Dvořák, and Brahms.
Cal Performances presents the Takács Quartet in the west coast premiere of a work by Timo Andres, along with works by Haydn and Brahms, on 21 February in Hertz Hall.
Cal Performances presents the Danish String Quartet in works by Per Nørgård, Janáček, and Beethoven, on 28 February in Hertz Hall.
Cal Performances presents Shiva by the Chitresh Das Dance Company on 27 and 28 February in Zellerbach Hall.
The San Francisco Ballet presents Helgi Tomasson's version of Swan Lake from 19 to 28 February.