The Cutting Ball Theater opens its season with Andrew Saito's new translation of Pedro Calderón de la Barca's Life is a Dream, directed by Paige Rogers. The show runs from 2 October to 1 November.
Shotgun Players presents The Rover by Aphra Behn, directed by M Graham Smith, from 15 October to 15 November. Behn was featured in Poem of the Week last year; you can check it out here, so that if anyone asks you if you've read anything by her other than Oroonoko you can roll your eyes and say, "Yes, of course!"
Early / Baroque Music
Philharmonia Baroque presents an exciting rediscovery: La gloria di primavera / The Glory of Spring, a long-lost (three centuries is long) serenata by Alessandro Scarlatti, written to celebrate the birth of a royal infant who died shortly afterward, whereupon the work was shelved and forgotten. Nicholas McGegan conducts the revival, with soloists Suzana Ograjenšek (soprano), Diana Moore (mezzo-soprano), Clint van der Linde (countertenor), Nicholas Phan (tenor), and Douglas Williams (baritone), along with members of the Philharmonia Chorale. That's 4 October at First Congregational in Berkeley, 7 October at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford, 9 October at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, and 10 October back at First Congregational in Berkeley.
The Lacuna Arts Chorale performs Victoria's Missa Ave maris stella and other hymns to the Virgin Mary by Villette, Górecki, and Pärt; appropriately enough that will be at Star of the Sea (4420 Geary Boulevard at 8th Avenue in San Francisco). That's 23 and 25 (matinee) October.
The California Bach Society led by Paul Flight presents Zelenka's Missa Votiva on October 16 (St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco), 17 (All Saint's Episcopal in Palo Alto), and 18 (First Congregational in Berkeley).
Cal Performances presents the Bach Collegium Japan, led by Masaaki Suzuki, in an all-Bach program on 24 October at First Congregational Church.
Modern / Contemporary Music
San Francisco Performances presents Thomas Adès and Gloria Cheng in a program of music for four hands on two pianos by Ligeti, Nancarrow (arranged by Adès), Messiaen, and Adès himself. That's on 30 October, and it marks SFP's return to the Herbst Theater, which is re-opening after two years of renovations.
The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players have a couple of events this month: on 21 October at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music the group will perform Death Speaks by David Lang, We Speak Etruscan by Lee Hyla, an improvisation by Kyle Bruckmann and Ken Ueno, and Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil (Four songs to cross the threshold) by Gérard Grisey (there is also a preview concert on 20 October with just the Grisey).
Then on 24 October at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco they will perform Six Japanese gardens by Kaija Saariaho, Violance by Jean-Baptiste Barrière (preceded by an on-stage interview with Barrière). During the intermission there will be an on-stage interview with Saariaho, which basically means there is no intermission, because why would you mill around the lobby when you could listen to the composer? That is followed by Saariaho's NoaNoa and then Barrière's Time Dust.
Cal Performances presents the eco ensemble and cellist Anssi Karttunen led by David Milnes in three pieces by Kaija Saariaho: Notes on Light, Tempest Songbook, and Sept Papillons. That's 23 October at Hertz Hall.
There's a wide variety of concerts at the Center for New Music so take a look at their calendar here. A couple of things jump out at me: live accompaniment to Fritz Lang's Metropolis on 14 October and the Del Sol Quartet playing Terry Riley on 29 October.
In October the San Francisco Opera offers a revival of Jun Kaneko's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute and a new production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. We haven't lacked opportunities to see either one of these works but these revivals do have various enticements (and of course if you've never seen them, this is a good chance to do so!). In the Donizetti Nadine Sierra (replacing Diana Damrau) is the tragic bride and Piotr Beczala is her lover: Nicola Luisotti conducts. That's on 8, 11 (matinee), 13, 16, 21, 24, and 28 October. Please note that the Mozart is, for reasons unclear to me, sung in English, presumably in the same overly jokey version prepared by David Gockley that we had last time. I liked the production design quite a bit; you can read my thoughts here. Last time it was the casting of Papageno that persuaded me to attend yet another Flute, and this time as well it's a major enticement that the talented Efraín Solís is playing the bird-catcher. You can catch him and the rest of the cast on 20, 25 (matinee), 27, 29 October and 4, 8 (matinee), 12, 14, 17, and 20 November.
The Berkeley Symphony opens its season on 14 October with Music Director Joana Carneiro conducting the west coast premiere of Kaija Saariaho's Laterna Magica, along with Berlioz's Les nuits d'été (with soprano Simone Osborne) and Ravel's Bolero. The concert is at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley (where Saariaho is a visiting professor this fall) and it starts at 7:00 rather than the usual 8:00, due to the Opening Night Dinner, though I feel that starting all of their concerts at that hour would be sensible.
The Oakland Symphony (formerly the Oakland / East Bay Symphony) opens its season on 2 October at the Paramount with Music Director Michael Morgan conducting the west coast premiere of Devil's Radio by Mason Bates, along with the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No 2 with soloist Kenneth Renshaw, selections from the Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes (led by Choral Director Lynne Morrow), and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances.
The San Francisco Symphony has Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the Tchaikovsky Pathétique along with Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 (soprano Susanna Phillips is the soloist) and Ted Hearne's Dispatches. The latter is conducted by Christian Reif and is a Symphony co-commission. You can hear this program 30 September and 1 (matinee), 2, and 3 October. I have mixed feelings about this program. I do like the Tchaikovsky and the Barber. I've heard other work by Hearne and I liked it. But I've heard the Tchaikovsky and the Barber recently and frequently, and the Hearne is approximately fifteen minutes long. Do I want to go to the trouble and expense of an evening at the Symphony for approximately fifteen minutes of new music? I'm glad that they don't segregate new music, but considering the proportionate amount of time scheduled for it, I can't help feeling that the Symphony is sticking it in there the way you might swaddle a pill in wads of cheese before feeding it to a sick dog. I am just frustrated by their lack of commitment to new, long orchestral pieces. The Berkeley Symphony usually has half of each program devoted to something contemporary – I wish the San Francisco Symphony would follow their lead.
Also at the San Francisco Symphony: Susanna Mälkki leads them in a Russian program featuring Shostakovich's arrangement of Dawn on the Moscow River from Mussorgsky's opera Khovanshchina, Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No 1 with soloist Christian Tetzlaff, and the Prokofiev 5; that's 15 - 18 October (the 18th is a matinee).
The week after, Mälkki leads a program featuring the San Francisco premiere of Alma III: Soma by Jukka Tiensuu, along with the Sibelius 5 and the Chopin Piano Concerto No 1 with soloist Simon Trpčeski; that's 22 - 24 October.
And the week after that, Andrey Boreyko leads the orchestra in Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijé Suite, the Tchaikovsky Suite No 3, and Bartók's Violin Concerto No 1 with soloist Gidon Kremer. That's 28 - 30 October (the Thursday performance is a matinee).
Bay Area Cabaret presents Stephanie Blythe in an evening of songs associated with Kate Smith. If you've ever heard Blythe sing this repertory you know she'll be a knockout. That's 4 October at the Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill.
Famed a capella quartet Anonymous 4 stops by as part of their farewell tour, under the auspices of San Francisco Performances. They will perform a variety of ancient and modern works on 18 October at St Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco (they will return to the same venue on 15 November with a program of music associated with the Civil War).
San Francisco Performance's Salon at the Hotel Rex series opens on 21 October with baritone Efraín Solís (who will also be performing Papageno in the San Francisco Opera's Magic Flute). These "Salon" shows start at 6:30 and are shorter than the usual concert. I have not been to them because Wednesdays are usually booked for me, but I hear great things about them. Solís will be performing works by Strauss, Poulenc, and Sondheim, as well as some new settings of poetry by Lorca, written for Solís by Jose Gonzales Granero.
At the San Francisco Symphony, soprano Christine Brewer joins organist Paul Jacobs for a wide-ranging recital on 18 October.
Cal Performances presents the Takács Quartet on 11 October in a program of Haydn, Shostakovich, and Schubert (Death and the Maiden).
San Francisco Performances presents the powerful young Pavel Haas Quartet in works by Prokofiev, Beethoven, and Bartók; that's 12 October at the SF Jazz Center.
San Francisco Performances and the San Francisco Symphony present Sir András Schiff, playing final sonatas by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. Unfortunately the performance is in cavernous Davies Hall; that's 4 October.
See also the Adès / Cheng recital presented by San Francisco Performances and listed under Modern / Contemporary Music.
Cal Performances presents the Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra in Cinderella, with Prokofiev's score and choreography by Alexei Ratmansky; that's 1 - 4 October (with two performances on 3 October) in Zellerbach Hall.
San Francisco Performances and the Yerba Buena Center present Sankai Juku, the famous butoh dance troupe from Japan. in Umusuna – Memories Before History. That's 9 - 11 October at the YBCA Theater.
Cal Performances presents Twyla Tharp's 50th Anniversary Tour on 16 - 18 October.
The blogosphere's own Opera Tattler has an exhibit of opera- and pastry-themed paintings at the Borderlands Cafe, at 870 Valencia, running from 1 October to 30 November.