Sunday, November 28, 2021

Cosi fan tutte in San Francisco


Conductor: Henrik Nánási 
Director: Michael Cavanagh 

Ferrando: Ben Bliss*
Guglielmo: John Brancy
Don Alfonso: Ferruccio Furlanetto
Fiordiligi: Nicole Cabell
Dorabella: Irene Roberts
Despina: Nicole Heaston 

The San Francisco Opera is currently showing Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte.  Starting this season if you do not want to go into a crowded opera house, you can for a fee watch the opera at home on live stream.  I would like to suggest that it should be possible to make this available to play later for the same fee.  This would allow friends in Europe to watch it.  It's the middle of the night there.

This production began in 2019 with Figaro as part of a Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy and will continue to its conclusion later this season in Don Giovanni.  All three operas are set in the same basic house structure.  In this opera the house is now a country club with sports, dining, and other facilities.  I felt that the concept worked very well.  In the picture above the guys are in the men's locker room.  I liked the look of it and felt that it served very well to clarify the story.  The singers were expected to be rather more athletic than is generally a good idea. 

My only problem with it was with the music.  The music sounded very much like a performance of a Mozart symphony--intense and dramatic.  It wasn't exactly bad, but didn't make me feel like I was seeing a comedy.  My overall take is positive.  This opera is often hated, and I overcame my tendency in this direction.  It was good to see Ferruccio Furlanetto.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Stephen Sondheim 1930-2021

Stephen Sondheim has died.  I was not a connoisseur.  He was responsible for the lyrics to Bernstein's West Side Story, for me the greatest of all American musicals.  A new movie version of this is coming out on December 10 which I must see.

West Side Story  [lyrics only]

  • I loved the original movie of this with Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno.  It was done at the Sacramento Music Circus in 2015 where I saw it live.  I seem to have complained about the production.

Sweeney Todd   Since I began blogging I have seen three different versions of this show.

  • In 2008 came the incredible movie starring Johnny Depp as the demon barber,  Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett and Sacha Baron Cohen.  I seem to have enjoyed it rather more than expected.
  • In 2014 the New York Philharmonic put on a semi-staged version with an amazing cast:  Bryn Terfel as Todd, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Lovett, Erin Mackey as Johanna and Audra McDonald as The Beggar Woman.  They made this work and made a fantastic group.
  • In 2015 the San Francisco Opera presented it as an opera which I saw live.  It didn't fill the seats.  The cast:  Sweeney Todd: Brian Mulligan, Mrs. Lovett: Stephanie Blythe, Johanna: Heidi Stober and Beggar Woman: Elizabeth Futral.  Stephanie is great in anything she does.  I feel like I've done this, but nothing erases the Mrs Lovett of Angela Lansbury.

Sunday in the Park with George   I tried to see this in London, but couldn't get a ticket.

  • So instead I saw it live on Broadway in 2008.  It set me to thinking about art.

Into the Woods It's a mash up of fairy tale stories.

  • In 2013 I saw this live presented by the Sacramento Light Opera theater.   I enjoyed it.
  • Then in 2015 came the movie with Meryl Streep.  I called it an excellent film adaptation.

It is strange to realize that there are no hit tunes from any of these where the music is by Sondheim.  I haven't seen A Little Night Music.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Classical Grammy Nominees for 2022


  • Archetypes, Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad & Third Coast Percussion
  • Beethoven: Cello Sonatas – Hope Amid Tears, Yo-Yo Ma & Emanuel Ax
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, Manfred Honeck, Mendelssohn Choir Of Pittsburgh & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
  • Chanticleer Sings Christmas, Chanticleer
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 8, ‘Symphony of a Thousand,’ Gustavo Dudamel, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Luke McEndarfer, Robert Istad, Grant Gershon, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus, Pacific Chorale & Los Angeles Philharmonic


  • Blanton Alspaugh
  • Steven Epstein
  • David Frost
  • Elaine Martone
  • Judith Sherman


  • Adams: My Father Knew Charles Ives; Harmonielehre, Nashville Symphony Orchestra
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
  • Muhly: Throughline, San Francisco Symphony
  • Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3, Philadelphia Orchestra, cond. Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra; Scriabin: The Poem Of Ecstasy, Seattle Symphony Orchestra


  • "Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle,” Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
  • “Glass: Akhnaten,” The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
  • “Janáček: Cunning Little Vixen,” London Symphony Orchestra; London Symphony Chorus & LSO Discovery Voices
  • “Little: Soldier Songs,” The Opera Philadelphia Orchestra
  • “Poulenc: Dialogues Des Carmélites,” The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus, cond. Yannick Nézet-Séguin


  • It’s a Long Way, Jonas Budris, Carrie Cheron, Fiona Gillespie, Nathan Hodgson, Helen Karloski, Enrico Lagasca, Megan Roth, Alissa Ruth Suver & Dana Whiteside; Skylark Vocal Ensemble
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 8, ‘Symphony of a Thousand,’ Leah Crocetto, Mihoko Fujimura, Ryan McKinny, Erin Morley, Tamara Mumford, Simon O’Neill, Morris Robinson & Tamara Wilson; Los Angeles Philharmonic; Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus & Pacific Chorale
  • Rising w/ The Crossing, International Contemporary Ensemble & Quicksilver; The Crossing
  • Schnittke: Choir Concerto; Three Sacred Hymns; Pärt: Seven Magnificat-antiphons, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
  • Sheehan: Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom, Michael Hawes, Timothy Parsons & Jason Thoms; The Saint Tikhon Choir
  • The Singing Guitar, Estelí Gomez; Austin Guitar Quartet, Douglas Harvey, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet & Texas Guitar Quartet; Conspirare


  • Adams, John Luther: Lines Made By Walking, Jack Quartet
  • Akiho: Seven Pillars, Sandbox Percussion
  • Archetypes, Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad & Third Coast Percussion
  • Beethoven: Cello Sonatas – Hope Amid Tears, Yo-Yo Ma & Emanuel Ax
  • Bruits, Imani Winds


  • “Alone Together,” Jennifer Koh
  • “An American Mosaic,” Simone Dinnerstein
  • “Bach: Sonatas & Partitas,” Augustin Hadelich
  • “Beethoven & Brahms: Violin Concertos,” The Knights
  • “Mak Bach,” Mak Grgić
  • “Of Power,” Curtis Stewart


  • Confessions, Laura Strickling; Joy Schreier
  • Dreams Of A New Day – Songs By Black Composers, Will Liverman; Paul Sánchez
  • Mythologies, Sangeeta Kaur & Hila Plitmann (Virginie D’avezac De Castera, Lili Haydn, Wouter Kellerman, Nadeem Majdalany, Eru Matsumoto & Emilio D. Miler)
  • Schubert: Winterreise, Joyce Didonato; Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Unexpected Shadows, Jamie Barton; Jake Heggie (Matt Haimovitz)


  • American Originals – A New World, A New Canon, Agave & Reginald L. Mobley; Geoffrey Silver, producer
  • Berg: Violin Concerto; Seven Early Songs & Three Pieces for Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor; Jack Vad, producer
  • Cerrone: The Arching Path, Timo Andres & Ian Rosenbaum; Mike Tierney, producer
  • Plays, Chick Corea; Chick Corea & Birnie Kirsh, producers
  • Women Warriors – The Voices Of Change, Amy Andersson, Conductor; Amy Andersson, Mark Mattson & Lolita Ritmanis, producers


  • Akiho: Seven Pillars, Andy Akiho, composer (Sandbox Percussion)
  • Andriessen: The Only One, Louis Andriessen, composer (Esa-pekka Salonen, Nora Fischer & Los Angeles Philharmonic)
  • Assad, Clarice & Sérgio, Connors, Dillon, Martin & Skidmore: Archetypes, Clarice Assad, Sérgio Assad, Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin & David Skidmore, composers (Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad & Third Coast Percussion)
  • Batiste: Movement 11′, Jon Batiste, composer (Jon Batiste)
  • Shaw: Narrow Sea, Caroline Shaw, composer (Dawn Upshaw, Gilbert Kalish & Sō Percussion)

Monday, November 22, 2021

SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center is Back


The Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera gave their first performance of this season in the recently refurbished  SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center.  The program consisted of:

Beethoven "The Consecration of the House" Overture, Op. 124

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, K. 453.

Sibelius Symphony No 2 in D minor, Op 43.

Jeffrey Kahane both conducted and played the piano in the Mozart.  This is something going on now.  Instead of hiring both a conductor and a pianist, one hires someone who can do both at the same time, thus getting two for the price of one.  This is, of course, what would have happened in Mozart's day.  The concert was good but not very exciting.

The picture above is the only one I could find that shows the new configuration of the seats in the reconstructed center.  Previously the seats extended all the way across with aisles only at the ends. Now we have a more conventional configuration.  There is an orchestra pit, but it was covered for our performance.  

They told us the sound was amplified.  It had a kind of flat sound which diminished the expected and desired dynamic range.  Classical music is not normally amplified, and if you are amplifying it, it is considered a sign that you have failed in any kind acoustic design. People came down from the balcony and said they could hear nothing up there.  We'll see.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Barbara Hannigan's Lulu


Barbara Hannigan returned to Brussels to repeat her famous Lulu performance.  She does a lot of en point dancing.  I reviewed it the first time around and found it complete fascinating.  I believe this performance made her career.



 I have added some new labels to the singer section.

Charles Castronovo

Asmik Grigorian

Elza van den Heever

I didn't realize I'd seen Asmik so many times.  I'm afraid she hasn't made much of an impression on me.  I've liked Charles for quite some time.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Santa Fe Opera 2022 Season


The Santa Fe Opera has announced their season for the summer of 2022.  This looks like a full season to me.  With works by Rossini, Verdi and Wagner it looks like a very ambitious season to me.  The casts include some wonderful American singers.

Carmen by Bizet  July 1 - August 27

Isabel Leonard, Mezzo-soprano, Carmen; Bryan Hymel, Tenor, Don José (July); Michael Fabiano, Tenor, Don José (August); Michael Sumuel, Bass-baritone, Escamillo; Sylvia D'Eramo, Soprano, Micaëla; Santa Fe Opera Music Director Harry Bicket conducts.

The Barber of Seville by Rossini July 2 - August 26  

Emily Fons, Mezzo-soprano, Rosina; Jack Swanson, Tenor, Count Almaviva; Joshua Hopkins, Baritone, Figaro; Kevin Burdette, Bass, Dr. Bartolo; Ryan Speedo Green, Bass-baritone, Don Basilio (August); Iván López-Reynoso conducts.

Falstaff by Verdi   July 16 - August 25 

Quinn Kelsey, Baritone, Falstaff; Alexandra LoBianco, Soprano, Alice Ford;  Roland Wood, Baritone, Ford;  Elena Villalón, Soprano, Nannetta; Eric Ferring, Tenor, Fenton; Ann McMahon Quintero, Mezzo-Soprano, Dame Quickly; Paul Daniel conducts. 

Tristan und Isolde by Wagner  July 23 -  August 22

Simon O'Neill, Tenor, Tristan; Tamara Wilson, Soprano, Isolde; Jamie Barton, Mezzo-soprano, Brangäne; Nicholas Brownlee, Bass-baritone, Kurwenal; Eric Owens, Bass-baritone, King Marke; David Leigh, Bass, King Marke (August 11); James Gaffigan conducts.

M. Butterfly by Huang Ruo  July 30 -  August 24  

Kangmin Justin Kim, Countertenor, Song Liling; Mark Stone, Baritone, René Gallimard; Hongni Wu, Mezzo-soprano, Comrade Chin | Shu Fung; Kevin Burdette, Bass, Manuel Toulon | Judge; Joshua Dennis, Tenor, Marc; Carolyn Kuan conducts.