Sicily’s Festival dei Teatri di Pietra opens with ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’

The Ancient Theatre of Taormina, Sicily – courtesy Coro Lirico Siciliano

The 2020 summer programme of the Festival dei Teatri di Pietra (Opera Festival of Stone Theatres) opens in Sicily this week with a production of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana at the Ancient Theatre of Taormina.

Promoted by Coro Lirico Siciliano (the Sicilian Opera Choir), the Festival presents a series of classical performances at the three architectural jewels of the island of Sicily – the Ancient Theatre of Taormina, the Greek Theatre of Syracuse and the Greek Theatre of Tindari.

Pietro Mascagni is probably best known for his role in introducing the concept of verismo to the world of opera, in the latter part of the 19th century. Already popular in theatre, verismo reflected the lives and passions, violence and honour of everyday people – as opposed to the somewhat distant existences of royalty and the gods – and it accentuated the importance of emotion over beautiful sound.

Cavalleria Rusticana, with a libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti, is based on a Sicilian melodrama by Giovanni Verga, and tells of the soldier Turiddu who returns from military service, to find that his fiancée, Lola, has married Alfio, a well-to-do wagon owner and driver. In an act of revenge, Turiddu seduces Santuzza, a peasant girl, and Lola becomes so jealous that she starts an adulterous affair with Turiddu. Santuzza publicly betrays the pair, Alfio challenges Turiddu to a duel, and Turiddu pays for his actions with his life.

This one-act opera – which was composed for a competition held by the music publisher Sonzogno – was written in a hurry, and Mascagni was ultimately too nervous to submit it, but his wife did so on the last day of the competition. Although Cavalleria Rusticana opened to a half-empty house at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome, on 17th May, 1890, it was rapturously received, and has retained its popularity ever since, often being performed in tandem with Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Mascagni went on to succeed Arturo Toscanini at La Scala Milan, in 1929.

The role of Santuzza in this production of Cavalleria Rusticana is sung by soprano Elena Lo Forte who has appeared on the stages of major Italian theatres including the Arena di Verona, Teatro Communale di Bologna, Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Teatro San Carlo, Naples, and La Scala, Milan. She also played the role of Santuzza in Francis Ford Coppola’s film The Godfather Part III.

The Greek Theatre of Syracuse, Sicily – courtesy Coro Lirico Siciliano

Tenor Angelo Villari takes the role of Turiddu – a role which he has sung at venues such as the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Mr Villari’s recent engagements include appearances in Madama Butterfly in Astana, Rome and Palermo, Un Ballo in maschera at Rome Opera, and he also appeared in the European premiere of Marco Tutino’s La Ciociara in Cagliari.

The role of the jealous and passionate Alfio is taken by baritone Alberto Mastromarino, who has sung this role at Deutsche Oper Berlin, at Wiener Staatsoper and also at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Mr Mastromarino has most recently been seen as Michonnet in Adriana Lecouvreur for Opera di Genova at Teatro Carlo Felice.

This production of Cavalleria Rusticana is directed by rising young Sicilian Salvo Dolce, with design by David Brancato and lighting by Gabriele Circo. The Sicilian Symphony Orchestra and Coro Lirico Siciliano (directed by Francesco Costa) are led by Lorenzo Tazzieri. This performance takes place on Saturday, 1st August at the Ancient Theatre of Taormina.

The Festival continues at the Ancient Theatre of Taormina on 2nd August with the Guiseppe di Stefano International Award.

Giuseppe Di Stefano (24 July 1921 – 3 March 2008) was an Italian operatic tenor who sang professionally from the mid 1940s until the early 1990s. Known as the “Golden voice” or “The most beautiful voice”, he was regarded as the true successor of Beniamino Gigli, and inspired both Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras. “Di Stefano is my idol,” said Pavarotti in an interview. “There is a solar voice… It was the most incredible, open voice you could hear. The musicality of di Stefano is as natural and beautiful as the voice is phenomenal.“

This year, once again, some of the greatest artists of the lyrical and cultural world will honour the great Sicilian tenor and receive the Giuseppe Di Stefano International Award. The performance will be directed by Francesco Costa, with Ruben Micieli (piano), and the voices of Coro Lirico Sicilano.

The Greek Theatre of Tindari, Sicily – courtesy Coro Lirico Siciliano

The Ancient Theatre of Taormina also hosts two gala evenings of operatic song. The Puccini & Verdi Opera Gala takes place on 20th August, and Opera Made in Sicily on 26th August features Stars of Sicilian Opera.

Appearing in these galas is Italian bass-baritone Simone Alaimo – well known for his performances in the bel canto repertoire, such as his portrayal of Mustafa in L’italiana in Algeri at Teatro Massimo di Palermo. Also appearing is Sicilian tenor Pietro Ballo whose appearances include the role of Rodolfo in La Bohème at Glyndebourne, and Jessica Nuccio, winner of a number of international awards and opera competitions, and who has appeared in many of the major opera houses in Italy, as well as in Munich, Berlin, with Welsh Opera and Opera Australia.

Two concerts are to be held at the Greek Theatre of Syracuse. Italian Love Songs on 9th August features Italian singer-songwriter, musician and record producer Mario Venuti who presents some of the most beautiful love songs of all time in a programme which combines pop and opera.
Nessun Dorma …. Three Tenors in Concert takes place on 24th August. In this performance Angelo Villari appears with Dave Monaco – who has appeared a number of times at Fondazione del Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Firenze, most recently as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore for children – and Antonino Interisano – whose performances include Manrico in Il trovatore, Radames in Aida and Lt Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly.

There are three concerts planned for the Greek Theatre of Tindari. Mario Venuti presents another evening of Italian Love Songs on 13th August, a Puccini Opera Gala takes place on 23rd August, and on 30th August there’s another opportunity to see Nessun Dorma …. Three Tenors in Concert.

In line with current regulations, audiences will experience a few changes in the seating areas of the amphitheatres, where social distancing will be observed and all safety rules will be guaranteed, and ultimately – with reduced numbers – the experience promises to be tranquil and highly enjoyable.

For further information on all performances of the Festival dei Teatri di Pietra, please visit the Facebook page of the Coro Lirico Siciliano.

This article first appeared in Riviera Buzz.

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The Royal Ballet streams ‘The Sleeping Beauty’

Continuing the Royal Opera House’s #OurHouseToYourHouse series, The Royal Ballet this week presents the online premiere of its beautiful production of The Sleeping Beauty – Marius Petipa’s classic ballet of the triumph of good over evil – set to Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous score.

The Sleeping Beauty is of particular historical importance to The Royal Ballet, since it was a performance of this classic, staged by Ninette De Valois, with Margot Fonteyn and Robert Helpmann in the leading roles, which marked the reopening of Covent Garden as a lyric theatre on 20th February 1946, after its closure during the War.

A revival of the ballet (after Ninette De Valois and Nicholas Sergeyev) was staged in 2006 by Monica Mason – then Director of The Royal Ballet – and Christopher Newton, who added to the original choreography sections created for the Company by Frederick Ashton, Anthony Dowell and Christopher Wheeldon. Oliver Messel’s designs for set and costumes were retained, with additional designs by Peter Farmer – and this is the production which will be screened online this week.

Tchaikovsky completed the score for The Sleeping Beauty in 1889. It was the second of his three ballets – Swan Lake having been the first, in 1876, with The Nutcracker following in 1892. The original scenario was conceived by Ivan Vsevolozhsky then Director of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg, and based on Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant, with choreography by Marius Petipa, Ballet Master at the Mariinsky. The ballet premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre on 15th January, 1890, and although its reception was warm but somewhat muted, The Sleeping Beauty is now regarded as one of Tchaikovsky’s finest works and has become one of the most famous and popular ballets in the classical repertoire.


The role of Princess Aurora in this week’s transmission is danced by Fumi Kaneko, and Prince Florimund by Federico Bonelli. The dancers of The Royal Ballet are accompanied by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.

Watch the Friday Premiere of The Sleeping Beauty free of charge on the Royal Opera House Facebook and YouTube channels from 7.00 pm BST on Friday 24 July – available for the following 14 days. You can share your reactions online using #OurHouseToYourHouse.


Information sourced from:
The Royal Ballet programme notes
Tchaikovsky by Anthony Holden

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San Francisco Opera streams Janáček’s ‘The Makropulos Case’

Karita Mattila in San Francisco Opera’s production of ‘The Makropulos Case’
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The intriguing case of a woman who has lived for over 300 years, and her search for a missing formula to extend her lifespan even further, provide the backdrop to Leoš Janáček’s dramatic opera Věc Makropulos (The Makropulos Case) to be streamed by San Francisco Opera this weekend. This 2010 co-production between San Francisco Opera and Finnish National Opera is the latest transmission of the San Francisco company’s Opera is ON initiative – whereby productions from its archives are streamed online to audiences around the world during the coronavirus pandemic.

Scene from Janáček’s ‘The Makropolus Case’ © Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Directed by Olivier Tambosi, with design by Frank Philipp Schlössmann and lighting by Duane Schuler, The Makropulos Case features Finnish soprano Karita Mattila in her role debut as the beguiling diva Emilia Marty, Slovak tenor Miro Dvorsky as her son Albert Gregor, the late German bass-baritone Gerd Grochowski as Baron Jaroslav Prus – a relative of Albert’s late father – and American bass-baritone Dale Travis as barrister Dr Kolenatý. The San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus are led by the late Czech maestro Jiří Bělohlávek, and direction for the screen is by Frank Zamacona.

Leoš Janáček’s penultimate opera, for which he also wrote the libretto, is set in Prague in the early part of the 20th century, and based on a play of the same name by the Czech author – and pioneer of science fiction – Karel Čapek. In Čapek’s 1922 play, the origins of the story go back more than 300 years, when Hieronymus Makropulos, the court alchemist to the Bohemian monarch Rudolf II, concocted an elixir of youth for the king. Rudolf ordered that it first be tested on Makropulos’ daughter, Elina, and the dose appeared to be fatal, but Elina did not die. She recovered and escaped, with a lifespan of 300 years ahead of her. During the following three centuries, she took on various identities, had many affairs, never aged beyond 30 years, and always assumed names which would enable her to retain the initials E M.

The opera takes up Elina’s story at a time when Gregor – the illegitimate son of her 19th century persona – is engaged in a battle with his late father’s family over the estate to which he believes he is the rightful heir. Enter the beautiful, cold and cynical diva Emilia Marty (the most recent identity of Elina Makropulos), who knows the whereabouts of the documents which would clear up the dispute about the estate, as well as the formula for the elixir which would prolong her life further, and it’s against this background that the action of the opera takes place.

The Makropulos Case is performed in Czech with English subtitles and is available for free online viewing on Saturday, July 25 from 10.00 am PDT until 11.59 pm PDT on Sunday, July 26. More information can be found on the San Francisco Opera website.

SFJAZZ streams Cécile McLorin Salvant & Sullivan Fortner

This week’s Fridays at Five session from SFJAZZ features jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant and virtuoso pianist Sullivan Fortner performing music from their award-winning album The Window – a performance recorded live at the JAZZ Center in San Francisco in September 2018.

This was the release which won the GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album at the 2019 ceremony, and from which they perform a selection which includes early 20th century French cabaret hits, songs by Stevie Wonder and Stephen Sondheim, as well as some original compositions. It was McLorin Salvant’s third GRAMMY win, and Fortner was internationally acclaimed as both key player and producer for his collaborative work on the album.

Many Bay Area jazz lovers were bitterly disappointed when McLorin Salvant’s performance of her song cycle Ogresse in early March was the first SFJAZZ concert to be canceled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, so SFJAZZ is delighted to devote this week’s Fridays at Five session to the vocalist whom the New York Times calls “The finest jazz singer to emerge in the last decade”, and the pianist who was awarded the Cole Porter Fellowship by the American Pianists Association and a Leonore Annenberg Arts Fellowship in 2015, and the 2016 Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists.

Mostly influenced by Sarah Vaughan, Cécile McLorin Salvant has also been inspired by vocalists like Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith and Betty Carter, describing her style as jazz and blues with elements of folk and musical theatre. At the age of 21 she won first prize in the 2010 Thelonius Monk International Jazz Competition, and has toured with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – directed by Wynton Marsalis.

Marsalis is also one of the artists with whom pianist, composer and band leader Sullivan Fortner has had associations, others being Paul Simon, Diane Reeves, Etienne Charles and John Schofield. Longtime collaborators include Ambrose Akinmusire, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stefon Harris, Kassa Overall, Tivon Pennicott, Peter Bernstein, Nicholas Payton, Billy Hart, Gary Bartz, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Fred Hersch and Roy Hargrove. In this past year, Fortner – regarded as one of the top jazz pianists of his generation – won first place in the DownBeat Critics Poll categories Rising Star Piano and Rising Star Jazz Artist.

The Fridays at Five sessions are available to SFJAZZ members and digital members (the latter category costing just $5 per month), and Cécile McLorin Salvant will join this week’s chat.

The Tip Jar for this transmission will be split 50/50 between SFJAZZ and the two performers.

The broadcast takes place on Friday, July 24, at 5.00 pm Pacific, 7.00 pm New Orleans, and 8.00 pm NYC and Miami. Viewers in London can watch at 1.00 am on July 25, and in Paris at 2.00 am. Visit the SFJAZZ website for details.

San Francisco Opera streams Rossini’s ‘La Cenerentola’

Karine Deshayes and René Barbera in San Francisco Opera’s production of Rossini’s
‘La Cenerentola’ © Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

To ensure that opera-loving audiences aren’t missing out during the current enforced shut-down, San Francisco Opera continues its Opera is ON initiative – the latest online presentation being the Company’s acclaimed production of Gioachino Rossini’s witty and lighthearted interpretation of one of the world’s best loved fairy tales – La Cenerentola.

Filmed live in HD at the War Memorial Opera House in 2014, La Cenerentola – described by Bachtrack as “delightful and enduring”, and by Theatrestorm as “a wonder in every respect” – features four Company debuts. French mezzo-soprano Karine Deshayes stars as Angelina (Cinderella). Ms Deshayes was named a Laureate in the Lyrical Artist category at the 2020 Les Victoires de la Musique Classique – the annual French award ceremony that recognizes outstanding achievement in the classical music industry. American tenor René Barbera – a graduate of the Merola Opera Program – is the prince Don Ramiro, and Spanish baritone Carlos Chausson sings the role of Angelina’s stepfather, Don Magnifico. Mexican-American baritone Efraín Solís appears as the prince’s valet Dandini in a role debut, and bass-baritone Christian Van Horn is Alidoro. Soprano Maria Valdes and mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde take the roles Angelica’s stepsisters, Clorinda and Tisbe, respectively. Both artists were, at the time, Adler Fellows of the Merola Opera Program.

San Francisco Opera’s production of Rossini’s ‘La Cenerentola’
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Direction is by Gregory Fortner in another Company debut – with production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, and Jesús López-Cobos – in his final engagement with the Company – leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Director Ian Robertson). The Spanish maestro passed away in 2018.

The libretto for La Cenerentola was written by Italian writer, poet and opera librettist, Jacopo (Giacomo) Ferretti, and based on Charles Perrault’s fairy tale, Cendrillon. The opera, which was first performed in Rome’s Teatro Valle on January 25th, 1817, differs from Perrault’s traditional story, due, apparently, to Rossini’s concern about the ‘special effects’ necessary to portray the ‘magical’ elements in the tale.

Performed in Italian with English surtitles, La Cenerentola will be available for free online viewing at as of Saturday, July 18 at 10.00 am (PDT), until 11.59 pm on Sunday, July 19.

Information sourced from San Francisco Opera program notes

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Met Opera streams Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’

The Metropolitan Opera presents yet another superb performance from its amazing repertoire of around 700 productions – Tchaikovsky’s interpretation of Pushkin’s romantic tragedy, Eugene Onegin.

The illustrious line-up of stars includes soprano Anna Netrebko as the heroine Tatiana, with baritone Mariusz Kwiecień in the title role. Tenor Piotr Beczała is the poet Lenski, Tatiana’s sister Olga is sung by Oksana Volkova, Elena Zaremba is Madame Larina, and bass Alexei Tanovitski is Prince Gremin.

Russian maestro Valery Gergiev, general and artistic director of St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre, conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chorus and Ballet in this production by Deborah Warner. Directed by Fiona Shaw, it opened the Met’s 2013-14 season, and was recorded during a live performance on October 5, 2013.

Eugene Onegin was Tchaikovsky’s fifth completed opera. It was written and orchestrated, by the composer, between May 1877 and January 1878, and underwent four further revisions between March 1879 and June-July 1891. The libretto – after Alexandr Pushkin’s 1837 novel in verse – was devised by Tchaikovsky, assisted by Konstantin Shilovsky. The opera had its world premiere at the Maly Theatre in Moscow in 1879, performed by students from the Moscow Conservatory, directed by Ivan Samarin and conducted by Tchaikovsky’s close friend Nikolai Rubinstein.

Tchaikovsky’s opera is a classic portrayal of the drama, passion and humanity which characterise great Russian music and literature. When Lenski introduces his friend, the dashing and handsome Onegin, to the Larin household, the young and naïve Tatiana falls in love with him, but is rather coolly spurned. She ultimately marries Prince Gremin, and – having grown into an elegant and aristocratic woman – meets up with Onegin again at a ball in St Petersburg. Despite the strength of feeling that they discover between the two of them, she remains faithful to her husband, and when Onegin insults Lenski by flirting with Olga, Lenski challenges him to a duel – with tragic results.

The Metropolitan Opera’s performance of Eugene Onegin is sung in Russian, with English titles, and can be viewed on from 7.30 pm EDT on Friday evening, July 10, and will be available to view until 6.30 pm EDT the following day.

Information sourced from:

Metropolitan Opera program notes – Reprinted courtesy of English National Opera

Tchaikovsky Research 

See also:

Anna Netrebko

Marius Kwiecień

Piotr Beczala

Alexei Tanovitski

English National Ballet streams Wheeldon’s ‘Cinderella’ in-the-round

Alina Cojocaru in Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Cinderella’ © Ian Gavan

Known for its magnificent productions at the Royal Albert Hall, English National Ballet streams the final performance in its Wednesday Watch Party series this week – Christopher Wheeldon’s spectacular production of Cinderella in-the-round, set to Sergei Prokofiev’s glorious score.

Wheeldon – regarded as the most successful choreographer of his generation – has created a number of highly acclaimed choreographic works for some of the world’s finest ballet companies. As director and choreographer of the 2014 revival of An American in Paris on Broadway – for which he won a Tony Award – he showed the world of entertainment that his talents aren’t limited to classical ballet, either.

Alina Cojocaru and Isaac Hernández in Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Cinderella’
© Laurent Liotardo

Wheeldon’s Cinderella was originally created simultaneously for Dutch National Ballet and San Francisco Ballet in 2012. It’s not a simple retelling of the traditional fairytale, but his interpretation – drawing on both the Perrault and Brothers Grimm versions of the story – doesn’t deviate too far from it, and features some fascinating innovations.

English National Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Cinderella’ © Ian Gavan

The focus for Cinderella, following her mother’s death, is a ‘living’ tree which rises from the earth, watered by the young girl’s falling tears, and providing a backdrop to the antics of a selection of weird and wonderful woodland creatures and elegant fairies. To guide and protect Cinderella, Four ‘Fates’ replace the fairy godmother of the original story, her sisters are portrayed as young girls – splendidly retaining the comedy aspects of their characters – and the coach and horses which whisk Cinderella to the ball are magical.

Katja Khaniukova, Tamara Rojo and Emma Hawes in Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Cinderella’
© Laurent Liotardo

Cinderella is the result of a collaboration between some wonderfully creative artists. The libretto is by Tony and Pulitzer Prize nominee Craig Lucas, the stunning sets and exquisite costumes are by Julian Crouch (Metropolitan Opera and Broadway) special effects – among which are the tree and the coach – are by Obie Award winner and MacArthur Foundation Fellow Basil Twist, with lighting by Natasha Katz, and projection design by Daniel Brodie.

English National Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Cinderella’
© Laurent Liotardo

Prokofiev’s gorgeous score is retained, with its sumptuous melodies and traditional variations. He started writing the score in 1940 – a work initially intended for the then Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky) – but due to the intervention of World War II, he moved it aside and didn’t return to it for two years. When it was finally completed, operational problems caused by the War prevented the Kirov from mounting the production, and it was premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet instead, in November 1945. The ballet was a tremendous success, and the score was one of Prokofiev’s works named when he was awarded a Stalin State Prize shortly afterwards.

The English National Ballet Philharmonic is led by Music Director, Gavin Sutherland, who refers to Cinderella as “a great score, because it grabs the attention from the first note and it holds you until the end”.

Alina Cojocaru and Isaac Hernández in English National Ballet’s ‘Cinderella’
© Laurent Liotardo

Dancing the leads in this performance are Alina Cojocaru and Isaac Hernández, and it can be viewed on Facebook or Youtube on Wednesday 8th Jul at 7.00pm BST. Cinderella will be available to view for a further 48 hours afterwards.

More information can be found on the English National Ballet website.

Information sourced from:
English National Ballet programme notes
Christopher Wheeldon

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Metropolitan Opera streams Zeffirelli’s staging of ‘La Bohème’

Trailer for the 2018 production of ‘La Bohème’

Giacomo Puccini’s gorgeous La Bohème opens this week’s Metropolitan Opera selection of online transmissions. This passionate and heartbreaking portrayal of love, friendship and loss in the bohemian quarter of 19th century Paris, has been performed more than any other work at the Met, and brings to its stage some of the most beautiful music ever written for opera.

Recorded during a live performance on February 24, 2018, this production is the much-loved creation of Italian director, designer and producer, the late Franco Zeffirelli. Well known for the scale of his operatic productions, and their authenticity of detail, Zeffirelli said of Puccini’s music that it “has such an extraordinary, convincing, irresistible fire that you cannot go wrong if you respect him completely”.

Led by Italian conductor Marco Armiliato – who first led a production of La Bohème at the Met in 1998 – this performance stars Sonya Yoncheva as Mimi, Susanna Phillips as Musetta and Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo, with Lucas Meachem, Alexey Lavrov and Matthew Rose.

Puccini’s opera – with libretto by Luigi Illica and Guiseppe Giacosa – was written in 1895, and first performed in Turin on February 1, 1896. It was based on a novel by French novelist and poet, Henri Murger – Scènes de la vie de bohème – in which he wrote about a lifestyle which he new intimately. He himself figured as Rodolfo in the book, and the other characters were all friends of his – students who were fun-loving, and witty, with a healthy disregard for authority, but whose lives were also tempered with sadness.

The Metropolitan Opera’s performance of Puccini’s La Bohème can be viewed on from 7.30 pm EDT this evening, July 6, and will be available to view until 6.30 pm EDT tomorrow.

This production will be followed by:

Verdi’s Il Trovatore – July 7

Mozart’s Così fan tutte – July 8

Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini – July 9

Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin – July 10

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly – July 11

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde – July 12

Information sourced from Metropolitan Opera program notes

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Allen Toussaint & Preservation Hall Jazz Band on SFJAZZ ‘Fridays at Five’

Allen Toussaint – courtesy SFJAZZ

The Fridays at Five sessions from SFJAZZ continue to delight enthusiasts. This series of weekly pre-recorded concerts aims to keep jazz alive during the current pandemic, and connect jazz lovers to the music and musicians who continue to draw them to SFJAZZ.

This Friday’s concert is an exclusive, world premiere broadcast of a concert filmed at the JAZZ Center in November 2014, featuring previously unseen footage of the late Allen Toussaint, with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Allen Toussaint and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band – courtesy SFJAZZ

Toussaint – award-winning solo artist, writer, singer, producer, songwriter, arranger and session pianist – is regarded as a legend of the New Orleans R&B sound, having played an important part in many of the greatest hits to emerge from the Crescent City from the 1950s onwards. As a musician he collaborated with artists such as Dr John, The Meters, The Pointer Sisters, The Neville Brothers and Elvis Costello, and as a composer he produced a number of works which have since become R&B standards, earning him an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 in the non-performer category.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band – which takes its name from the venue on St Peter Street, known as ‘the cornerstone of New Orleans music and culture’ in the heart of the French Quarter of the city – plays host to ensembles from a current collective of more than 50 local master musicians, on more than 350 nights a year, keeping the tradition of New Orleans jazz alive. Rolling Stone refers to the group as “The past and promise of American music”, and it’s considered to be the ensemble which defines the tradition of Crescent City music.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band also has a philanthropic mission, the group’s Foundation engaging with educational and social programming in New Orleans. It also supports local institutions through disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, and continues to do so during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Contributions to the Fridays at Five Tip-Jar this week will be split 50/50 by SFJAZZ and the Preservation Hall Foundation.

The Allen Toussaint and Preservation Hall Jazz Band concert can be viewed online tomorrow, July 3, at 5.00 pm PT. It costs just $5 a month to subscribe to these sessions – well worth it when you look at the line-up. More information, and the link, can be found on the SFJAZZ website.

Information sourced from:

SFJAZZ program notes

Allen Toussaint

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

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