31 July 2017

fun stuff I may or may not get to: August 2017

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.

Haiku 2017/212

a cat stares at me
he only wants some time off
from being a cat

30 July 2017

Haiku 2017/211

glimpse through a doorway
an old man watching TV
the sound turned way up

29 July 2017

Haiku 2017/210

heads bowed together
voices dropped to a whisper
the news is exchanged

28 July 2017

27 July 2017

Haiku 2017/208

a circle of light
coming through the morning clouds
how dry the grass is

26 July 2017

Haiku 2017/207

instead of a nap
another cup of black tea
and a sense of loss

25 July 2017

Haiku 2017/206

ants swarm in the sink
a few swipes with a wet sponge
and all have perished

24 July 2017

Haiku 2017/205

I don't mean to brag
but today's fortune cookie
thought highly of me

23 July 2017

Haiku 2017/204

hazy in the heat
algae on a stagnant pool
a thick green blanket

22 July 2017

Haiku 2017/203

where have the birds gone?
hiding in leafy darkness,
waiting for morning

20 July 2017

Haiku 2017/201

filigreed tower:
a fat slice of wedding cake
on blue satin skies

19 July 2017

Haiku 2017/200

the tall grass rustles
unexpectedly the light
breezes bend shadows

18 July 2017

Haiku 2017/199

seagull where are you
calling on these city streets
I don't see the sea

17 July 2017

Haiku 2017/198

plucking the bedspread
ever-moving anxious hand
fretful curved fingers

16 July 2017

Haiku 2017/197

that white butterfly –
does it know this summer day
will soon be over

15 July 2017

Haiku 2017/196

the pitcher pauses
the game hangs in the balance
then he hurls the ball

14 July 2017

Haiku 2017/195

the warmth of the sun
the coolness under the shade
divided pleasures

Friday photo 2017/28

a seagull realizing his picture was being taken, on the banks of the Charles River, Boston, June 2017

13 July 2017

Haiku 2017/194

somewhere a river
curves, drying up in the sun,
while I'm at the bank

12 July 2017

11 July 2017

10 July 2017

Haiku 2017/191

this grey morning sky:
when will this quiet return?
when light goes, maybe

09 July 2017

Haiku 2017/190

hummingbird hovers
sparkling against the green leaves
bright flying jewel

08 July 2017

Haiku 2017/189

baking in the sun
dry spouts on a dead fountain
a trash-filled basin

07 July 2017

Haiku 2017/188

in the summer heat
staring at the sea and sky
nothing came to me

Friday photo 2017/27

reading room at the Boston Public Library, Copley Square, June 2017

06 July 2017

Haiku 2017/187

silver light shining
from the low-set summer moon
where were you all day

05 July 2017

Haiku 2017/186

the digital clock
glowing green through blurry gloom:
waking at midnight

04 July 2017

Haiku 2017/185

dumbass holiday
the explosions we get are
never ones we need

What can you say about a holiday whose greeting is "have a safe & sane fourth"? I wish my country were anywhere near safe & sane.

03 July 2017

Haiku 2017/184

more than a flower –
just a single soft petal –
and worlds bloom for you

02 July 2017

Haiku 2017/183

as the days slip by
a museum of sunsets
collects in our vaults

01 July 2017

fun stuff I may or may not get to: July 2017

July is usually a fairly slow month for performances but of course there are always a few interesting things going on. In addition, some of the plays and exhibits mentioned last month are still around.

San Francisco Playhouse presents La Cage aux Folles, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and book by Harvey Fierstein, from 12 July to 16 September.

The young artists at San Francisco Opera's Merola program will be performing an intriguing triple-bill of one-act rarities: Pergolesi's La serva padrona, Holst's Sävitri, and Walton's The Bear; you can experience all three at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on 20 or 22 (matinee) July. You can also hear the Merolini playing scenes from Cavalleria rusticana, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Thaïs, Der Freischütz, and Lucrezia Borgia on 6 July at the Conservatory. Though tickets are available on-line, they do not have a choose-your-own seat option so if you're like me and refuse to buy a seat you don't get to choose, you can call the very helpful folks at the Opera box office at 415/864-3330.

Opera Theater Unlimited presents a new opera, Hunter, with music by Joseph Colombo and a libretto by Caitlin Mullan, on 14 - 15 and 21 - 22 July at the Exit Theater in San Francisco.

Modern / Contemporary Music
Pianist Sarah Cahill will perform works by Luciano Chessa, Ricky Crews, Lou Harrison, Kyle Hovatter, and Ann Southam at Old First Concerts on 7 July.

The Friction Quartet will perform the US premiere of Piers Hellawell's The Still Dancers along with other works at Old First Concerts on 21 July.

Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, and James McAlister will perform a live version of their new album Planetarium on 21 July at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

The SF Jazz Center presents a John Luther Adams festival from 26 - 30 July; the composer himself will be in residence, with the JACK Quartet performing several works, including a world premiere, over several evenings. Most performances are at the Jazz Center but there will be a performance of Inuksuit at Sutro Baths and a sound installation at Grace Cathedral. You can check out the full schedule here.

Ali Paris plays flamenco on his Qanun, a Middle Eastern 76-string zither that dates back to the fourteenth century, at Old First Concerts on 28 July.

Chamber Music
Old First Concerts presents Le Due Muse in a program of Rachmaninoff, Myaskovsky, and Shostakovich on 23 July.

Haiku 2017/182

the bushes rustle
a cautious shape emerges
cat follows kitten