Shotgun Players presents The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence by Madeleine George, directed by Nancy Carlin, from 3 August to 3 September.
West Edge Opera has been rightly acclaimed the last few years for its bold programming and inventive staging; this year's festival includes: (1) Ambrose Thomas's Hamlet, which as a version of Shakespeare's great play is not worth bothering with but which as a fairly rare example of French grand opera holds some interest, particularly with baritone Edward Nelson in the title role and Emma McNairy as Ophelia, and that's 5, 13, and 19 August; (2) The Chastity Tree by Vicente Martín y Soler, who is now mostly familiar for the bit of his music that Mozart quotes in the banquet scene in Don Giovanni (bravi, Cosa rara) – speaking of which, the libretto for this work, which sounds enjoyably weird and wild (it features a judgmental plant), is also by Lorenzo da Ponte – so this is a wonderful chance to see a work by someone who rivaled Mozart in popularity in his own day, and that will be 6, 12, and 19 August; and (3) Frankenstein, a new opera by Libby Larsen, based of course on Mary Shelley's novel, which like Hamlet is one of the endlessly fructifying works of English literature, and that's on 12, 17, and 20 August. I was not a big fan of the abandoned train station in Oakland where West Edge has performed the last few years – I thought it was too inaccessible to public transportation, with poor sightlines, poor acoustics, and substandard facilities – but I was sorry to hear that the city of Oakland decided just a few months before their summer festival to boot West Edge out of there. All performances will now be at the empty Pacific Pipe factory at 1391 W Grand Avenue in Oakland. I suspect it has all of the disadvantages of the train station without its necrotic charms. There will fortunately be a shuttle from the West Oakland BART station starting two hours before curtain time.
Opera on the Spot presents Barber's A Hand of Bridge and Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief at the Center for New Music on 4 August and at the Caffe delle Stelle on Hayes Street on 7 August.
San Francisco Opera's Merola program presents Rossini's La Cenerentola on 3 and 5 August at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. You can also hear their summer season climax at the annual Grand Finale on 19 August at the Opera House.
The Lamplighters present one of Gilbert & Sullivan's finest works, The Yeomen of the Guard, on 4 - 6 August at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, 12 - 13 August at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 18 - 20 August at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, and 26 - 27 August at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.
Robert Geary leads the San Francisco Choral Society in Mendelssohn's Elijah on 18 - 19 August at Davies Hall.
Gaude sings choral music from the Renaissance "and beyond" at Old First Concerts on 27 August.
Early / Baroque Music
American Bach Soloists is having its annual summer festival from 4 to 13 August; the theme this year is English Majesty, so in addition to their traditional performances of Bach's B Minor Mass on 6 and 13 August, Jeffrey Thomas will be leading Water Music by Handel and water music by Telemann on 4 August, a program on 5 August called Orpheus in Britannia featuring a dazzling array of composers prominent in baroque-period England, Purcell's King Arthur on 10 and 11 August, and (another Bach-related departure from the festival's main theme) a concert on 12 August exploring the music of JS Bach and his sons. The performances are mostly at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, with a few at nearby and lovely St Mark's Lutheran. Most of the evening concerts (except on Sunday night) start at 8:00, which is a real shame, particularly for something like King Arthur, which only has weeknight performances. There are also some free public colloquia, master classes, and concerts including a baroque marathon; you can check out the whole schedule here.
Baritone Sven Edward Olbash and pianist Kevin Korth present works by Caccini, Monteverdi, and Britten on 28 August at the Center for New Music. The program is a benefit for Lacuna Arts, the choral program run by Olbash.
Modern / New Music
The Sun Ra Arkestra is appearing at the SF Jazz Center from 3 to 6 August.
Pianist Michael Tan plays works by Messiaen, Boulez, Michael Finnissy, and Salvatore Sciarrino on 6 August at the Center for New Music.
BAM/PFA is presenting Novyi Vavilon (The New Babylon), a 1929 Soviet film by Grigori Kozintsey and Leonid Trauberg with its original score by Dmitri Shostakovich on 6 and 10 August. Based (I assume somewhat loosely) on Zola's department store novel Au bonheur des dames, the PFA describes the film as "an energetic avant-garde extravaganza" which is really all I need to hear.