Bryn Terfel stars in San Francisco Opera’s ‘Falstaff’ online

Bryn Terfel in San Francisco Opera’s production of ‘Falstaff’
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Lovers of Shakespeare and Verdi, and fans of Bryn Terfel are in for a treat this weekend as the Welsh bass-baritone stars in one of his most successful roles to date – the title role of Verdi’s comic-opera Falstaff – to be streamed by San Francisco Opera.

A production from Lyric Opera of Chicago, this 2013 performance Falstaff is directed for the stage by Olivier Tambosi – whose engagements for San Francisco Opera include Puccini’s Manon Lescaut in both 2006 and 2019 – and for the screen by Frank Zamacoma – who has been filming operas for the Company since 2007.

Led by San Francisco Opera’s then Music Director Nicola Luisotti, this production of Falstaff features an international cast including Spanish soprano Ainhoa Arteta as Alice, Italian baritone Fabio Capitanucci as her husband Ford, and American soprano Heidi Stober as their daughter Nannetta.

Verdi began composing Falstaff – the last of his 28 operas – in the final week of July 1889, setting the opera to a libretto by Arrigo Boito who had adapted his story from two works by Shakespeare – The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from the first two parts of Henry IV. The premiere took place at La Scala, Milan, on February 9th, 1893.

The plot of the opera revolves around the larger-than-life and ageing knight, Sir John Falstaff, whose funds are running low. He plans to seduce two women at the same time, both of whom are wives of prosperous Windsor citizens, and the self-deluded Falstaff hopes that in this way, he can lay hands on their husbands’ money.

A scene from San Francisco Opera’s production of ‘Falstaff’
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

When Alice Ford and Meg Page (a role sung by Adler Fellow Renée Rapier), realise that they’ve been sent identical letters by Falstaff, they set out to thwart his plans. Alice’s husband becomes involved in the plot and the farcical sequence of events which follow include Falstaff being hidden in a laundry basket and tossed into the River Thames. The denouement takes place at midnight in Windsor Forest, to which Falstaff has been lured, with Alice, Meg, Nannetta, and their friend Mistress Quickly (Meredith Arwady) dressed as fairies, goblins and wood sprites. They torment Falstaff until he begs for mercy, and when everyone is unmasked, Falstaff takes the consequences of his actions in good sport. All is forgiven as he declares that “the world is but a jest”.

Sir Bryn Terfel – he received a knighthood for services to music in 2017 – is “the definitive Falstaff of our day” according to the Chicago Tribune. The New York Times wrote that he is “… so irascible, nimble on his feet and altogether charming that he almost makes you forget how splendidly he sings the music”. The Guardian – following a 2018 performance at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden – referred to him as “magnificent”, while the Express wrote: “His is a Falstaff of boundless chutzpah, greedy and self-deluding, yet with an underlying twinkle”.

Recipient of numerous honors and accolades, and combining her opera performances with recitals and concerts, Ainhoa Arteta made her debut performance with San Francisco Opera as Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème during the 1999-2000 season, and returned to the Company to sing the “vocally alluring” Roxane (San Francisco Chronicle) in the Company’s 2010 production of Cyrano de Bergerac with Placido Domingo.

Fabio Capitanucci makes his debut performance with San Francisco Opera in the role of Ford – which he has also sung at Vienna State Opera, Dresdenʼs Saxon State Opera, and Bavarian State Opera in Munich. He returned to San Francisco Opera the following season to sing Dandini in Rossini’s Cinderella, with his “robust, warm voice and impressive Italianate lyricism” (the New York Times).

Heidi Stober’s collaboration with San Francisco Opera goes back to 2010, when she made her debut with the Company as Sophie in Massenet’s Werther and appeared as Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Since then she has appeared on a further eleven occasions for the Company, in roles as diverse as Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, as Magnolia Hawkes in Jerome Kern’s Show Boat, Johanna in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and Angelica in Handel’s Orlando – to which she “brought her signature gleam”, said Seen and Heard International.

Also in the cast are Greg Fedderly as Bardolfo, Andrea Silvestrelli as Pistola and Francesco Demuro as Fenton.

Scenery and costumes for this production are by Frank Philipp Schlossman whose other engagements for San Francisco Opera include Janáček’s The Makropulos Case in 2010, and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut in 2019, with Olivier Tambosi.

Lighting is by Christine Binder who designed the lighting for San Francisco Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly during the 2010-11 season, and for the original staging of this production for Lyric Opera of Chicago.

San Francisco Opera’s production of Verdi’s Falstaff is available to view free of charge on Saturday, February 27th from 10.00 am (Pacific) until 11.59 pm on Sunday, February 28th – sung in Italian with English supertitles. Visit the San Francisco Opera website for more information.

Information sourced from:
San Francisco Opera program notes
Metropolitan Opera program notes

ArtsPreview home page

Metropolitan Opera streams a week of Hvorostovsky performances

Dmitri Hvorostovsky at the curtain call for the performance on September 25th, 2015 of Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’ Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera continues its nightly free opera streams this week with a series of operas which featured performances by the late Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky – a beloved figure at the Met and acknowledged as one of the world’s most extraordinary operatic artists – who died of brain cancer in 2017 at the tragically young age of 55.

This charismatic star – he of the “richly burnished baritone” (The Guardian) – made his Met debut in the role of Yeletsky in the Elijah Moshinsky production of Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades in 1995, six years after winning the 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World competition. A hugely popular performer, Hvorostosky went on to win numerous accolades during his wide-ranging career, making more than 180 appearances for the Met over 20 years, and appearing on the stages of some of the world’s major opera companies – La Scala, Milan, Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Paris Opéra and Lyric Opera of Chicago. He specialised not only in the repertoire of his native Russia, but also in Verdi roles.

Hvorostovsky regularly appeared in concert as well, working with conductors of the calibre of Claudio Abbado, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Yuri Temirkanov, and in recital with pianist Ivari Ilja. His recordings included CDs of Russian songs, and he appeared on DVD with Renée Fleming in Il trovatore, and with Anna Netrebko in the Live from Red Square concert in Moscow.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky was described by Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Met, as “…. one of opera’s all-time greats”, with “…. an electrifying stage presence and a charisma that won over both his adoring audiences and his devoted colleagues”.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count di Luna and Sondra Radvanovsky as Leonora in Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.” Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera Taken during the final dress rehearsal on Febraury 13, 2009 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky Week at the Met opens on Monday, February 22nd, with Verdi’s Il trovatore from April 30th, 2011. Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, Marcelo Álvarez, this production by Sir David McVicar was conducted by Marco Armiliato.

Tuesday’s opera is Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades – a telecast streamed for the first time by the Met – starring Galina Gorchakova, Elisabeth Söderström, Plácido Domingo and Nikolai Putilin. Conducted by Valery Gergiev, this performance from April 15th, 1999, was produced by Elijah Moshinsky.

Hvorostovosky stars in another Tchaikovsky opera on Wednesday – Eugene Onegin – with Renée Fleming and Ramón Vargas. Also conducted by Valery Gergiev, this performance – from February 24th, 2007 – was produced by Robert Carsen.

A scene from Verdi’s “Ernani” with Ferruccio Furlanetto as de Silva, Angela Meade as Elvira, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Don Carlo. Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera Taken at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on January 30, 2012

Thursday, February 25th sees the transmission of the first of four Verdi operas – Ernani – which was recorded on this day in 2012. Hvorostovsky starred alongside Angela Meade, Marcello Giordani and Ferruccio Furlanetto. Produced by Pier Luigi Samaritani, the performance was conducted by Marco Armiliato.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Germont and Natalie Dessay as Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata.” Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera Taken March 30, 2012 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Verdi’s La traviata will be streamed on Friday, February 26th. This performance – from April 14th, 2012 – starred Hvorostovsky with Natalie Dessay and Matthew Polenzani.  It was conducted by Fabio Luisi, with production by Willy Decker.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count Anckarström and Marcelo Álvarez as Gustavo III in Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera.”
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Taken November 5, 2012 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City

Saturday’s production is Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, in which Hvorostovsky starred alongside Sondra Radvanovsky, Kathleen Kim, Stephanie Blythe and Marcelo Álvarez. Conducted by Fabio Luisi, this performance was produced by David Alden, and recorded on December 8th, 2012.

 The final performance in this week-long tribute to Dmitri Hvorostovsky, on Sunday, February 28th, is another performance of Verdi’s Il trovatore – this time recorded on October 3rd, 2015. Starring Anna Netrebko, Dolora Zajick and Yonghoon Lee, it was conducted by Marco Armiliato, with production by Sir David McVicar.

The Nightly Metropolitan Opera Streams are available to watch, free of charge, on the Metropolitan Opera website. Each stream becomes available at 7:30 pm (ET) and remains accessible for on-demand viewing until 6:30 pm (ET) the following day, with the exception of the February 26th stream of La traviata, which will be available until February 27 at 12.00 pm (ET). The February 27th stream of Un ballo in maschera will begin at the normally scheduled time of 7:30 pm ET.

Information sourced from:

Metropolitan Opera programme notes

Opera News

Royal Opera House programme notes

ArtsPreview home page

Angela Gheorghiu stars in San Francisco Opera’s online performance of ‘La Rondine’

A scene from San Francisco Opera’s production of Puccini’s ‘La Rondine’
© Terrence McCarthy/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera continues its season of online productions this weekend with Giacomo Puccini’s La Rondine. Starring Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu, this production is set in 1920s Paris and on the Riviera, and was filmed at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House in 2007.

Angela Gheorghiu is the courtesan Magda de Civry who falls in love with Ruggero Lestouc – sung by Ukranian tenor Misha Didyk – an old schoolfriend of Magda’s wealthy patron, Rambaldo Fernandez – sung by bass-baritone Philip Skinner.

This staging, by the late Nicolas Joël, and directed by Stephen Barlow, also features Anna Christy as Magda’s maid Lisette, and Gerard Powers is Prunier, the artist who guides Magda’s decisions on matters of the heart.

Puccini set his three-act opera to an Italian libretto by Giuseppe Adami, based on the German libretto Die Schwalbe by Alfred Maria Willner and Heinz Reichert. Originally commissioned for the Carltheater in Vienna, the production was postponed due to the outbreak of the First World War, and wasn’t premiered until March 27th, 1917, at the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo (also known as the Théâtre du Casino).

The title of the opera – which translates as The Swallow – comes from the artist Prunier who prides himself on reading palms, and tells Magda that, like the swallow, she will fly south for love. Magda, posing as a shop girl, falls for Ruggero – a young man from a respectable family – and does indeed head south, to the Riviera, to live with Ruggero, parting ways with her patron Rambaldo. She faces a dilemma though – when and how should she tell Ruggero the truth about her past? Her dilemma is compounded by the fact that Ruggero manages to persuade his family to accept her as his wife, and Magda realises that the time has come to be honest with him.

Angela Gheorghiu – described by The Sunday Times as “…… the most instantly recognisable and interesting soprano voice of our time ….” makes her Company debut in the role of Magda. Since making her operatic debut as Mimi in Puccini’s La bohème at London’s Royal Opera House in 1992, Ms Gheorghiu has been in constant demand, appeared on the stages of the world’s major opera houses, and been the recipient of numerous honors and awards.

Misha Didyk made his debut with San Francisco Opera as Gherman in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades in 2005 – the same year in which he sang the role in his debut performance with Teatro alla Scala, Milan. He returned to San Francisco the following year to appear as Charles VII in Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans, and as des Grieux in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut with Karita Mattila.

Philip Skinner was a graduate of San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program in 1985, and a member of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship Program in 1986 and 1987. Since then, he has made appearances for the Company in a number of roles – as Baron Douphol in La Traviata, King Priam in Les Troyens, Edgar Ray Killen in Philip Glass’ Appomattox, The Speaker in Die Zauberflöte, The Water Spirit in Rusalka, Escamillo in Carmen, Ferrando in Il Trovatore, Colline in La bohème, Lorenzo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, The Duke of Verona in Romeo and Juliet, Dansker in Billy Budd and Geronte di Ravoir in Manon Lescaut.

The set design for this performance is by Italian art director Ezio Frigerio, costumes are by Italian designer Franca Squarciapino, and lighting design is by Duane Schuler.

Sung in Italian with English subtitles, this performance of La Rondine, a co-production with Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, is led by Romanian-Austrian conductor Ion Marin, a regular guest at the world’s major opera houses, who has also conducted nearly all the great European orchestras, and toured with virtuoso jazz pianist, the late Chick Corea. Since the 2014/15 season, Maestro Marin has held the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the Hamburger Symphoniker – resident orchestra of the Elbphilharmonie.

La Rondine can be viewed free of charge on the San Francisco Opera website from 10.00 am (Pacific) on Saturday, February 20th, until 11.59 pm on February 21st.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Opera program notes

Universal Edition

Artists’ websites

ArtsPreview home page

Zakir Hussain features in San Francisco Symphony’s latest CURRENTS stream

Behind the scenes during filming of CURRENTS Indian Classical Music episode, curated by Zakir Hussain

Rhythm Spirits – the latest in San Francisco Symphony’s series of CURRENTS video performances – brings together tabla master Zakir Hussain, Indian classical violinist Kala Ramnath and musicians of the San Francisco Symphony, in a colorful and elegant blend of Indian folk tradition and classical music.

Performer, composer, recording artist and educator, Zakir Hussain – the curator of this program – is acknowledged as one of the world’s most influential musicians, and is the recipient of a number of honors and awards – including a Grammy. Well known in the world of jazz, he has been voted “Best Percussionist” by both the Downbeat Critics’ Poll and Modern Drummer Reader’s Poll over several years. He was resident artistic director at SFJazz from 2013 until 2016, and honored with the SF Jazz Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2017, in recognition of his “unparalleled contribution to the world of music”. The following year, Hussain was presented with the Montreal Jazz Festival’s Antonio Carlos Jobim Award.

Behind the scenes during filming of CURRENTS Indian Classical Music episode, curated by Zakir Hussain

Not only has Hussain composed scores for a number of feature films, major events and productions, but he has also written classical works. His third concerto – the first-ever for tabla and orchestra – was premiered by the Symphony Orchestra of India in September 2015, in the United Kingdom the following year, and by the National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center in 2017. He has been named a Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellow and received honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music and the Indira Kala Sangit University in Khairagarh, India. Zakir Hussain is the founder and president of Moment Records, an independent record label presenting rare live concert recordings of Indian classical and world music.

Indian classical violinist Kala Ramnath, behind the scenes during filming of CURRENTS Indian Classical Music episode, curated by Zakir Hussain

Kala Ramnath, with her ‘Singing Violin’, is regarded as one of the world’s most inspirational instrumentalists. The first Indian violinist to be featured in The Strad, she has appeared at the Sydney Opera House, Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, Singapore’s Esplanade, Carnegie Hall, the Rudolstadt Festival in Germany and the Edinburgh Music Festival. Her compositions featured on the Grammy-winning album In 27 Pieces, also on the Kronos Quartet’s 50 For the Future, her playing was featured on the Grammy-nominated Miles from India project, and she has contributed to Hollywood soundtracks such as the Oscar-nominated Blood Diamond. In 2017, Kala Ramnath was honored with the Sangeet Natak Academy Puraskar for her contribution to Hindustani Classical Music.

In the three pieces featured in this SFSymphony+ transmission, Zakir Hussain and Kala Ramnath are joined by SF Symphony cellist Barbara Bogatin, bassist Scott Pingel and harpist Douglas Roth for the first, by percussionists Jacob Nissly, Bryce Leafman, James Lee Wyatt III and Stan Muncy for the second, and by violinists In Sun Jang and Raushan Akhmedyarova, violists Katie Kadarauch and Christina King, cellist Amos Yang and bassist Daniel G Smith for the final work.

The performance can be viewed on the San Francisco Symphony website from 10.00 am (Pacific) on Thursday, February 18th, and will be available indefinitely.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Symphony program notes

Artists’ websites

ArtsPreview home page

‘Opera is ON’ – San Francisco Opera streams Mozart’s ‘Così fan tutte’

San Francisco Opera’s production of ‘Così fan tutte’ © Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera presents Mozart’s delightful opera buffa, Così fan tutte, this weekend – but not quite the period piece that most of us know. This co-production with Opéra de Monte-Carlo, staged by Jose Maria Condemi, and based on a concept by John Cox, brings the opera forward from 18th century Naples to a Mediterranean beach town on the eve of World War I.

The libretto of Mozart’s opera was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, the composer’s third and final collaboration with the librettist responsible for both Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni. The opera was first performed on 26th January, 1790, at the Burgtheater in Vienna, Austria.

In this performance, filmed at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco in 2013, the artists are all making their role debuts. French-Canadian bass-baritone Philippe Sly sings Guglielmo, and Italian tenor Francesco Demuro takes the role of Ferrando, while American soprano Ellie Dehn sings the role of Fiordiligi – betrothed to Guglielmo – and German mezzo-soprano Christel Loetzsch is her sister Dorabella – the fiancée of Ferrando.

The action of Così fan tutte – which translates loosely as “Women are like that” – revolves around the joys and heartaches of young love. The cynical philosopher Don Alfonso – sung by Italian bass Marco Vinco – suggests to Guglielmo and Ferrando that, in their absence, their fiancées would betray them. The two servicemen protest vehemently, so Don Alfonso proposes a wager with them, to prove how fickle women can be, which results in the young men – aided and abetted by Despina, the sisters’ feisty maid (sung by American soprano Susannah Biller) – disguising themselves as potential suitors and paying a visit to Fiordiligi and Dorabella to flirt with them, and to find out whether or not their fidelity can be guaranteed.

With Mozart’s sparkling score, Così fan tutte is a lighthearted work of love and laughter.

Nicola Luisotti – Music Director of SF Opera at the time of the recording – leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, on Saturday and Sunday, February 13th and 14th. The opera is performed in Italian with English subtitles.

Free opera streams are viewable on demand with registration at, beginning at 10.00 am (Pacific) on the first streaming date through 11:59 pm the following day. For more information, visit the San Francisco Opera website.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Opera program notes

ArtsPreview home page

Bychkov & Royal Concertgebouw play Tchaikovsky’s Fifth

Semyon Bychkov © Umberto Nicoletti

Continuing its new programme of online concert streams, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is led this week by Semyon Bychkov in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5, recorded at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on 19th June, 2020.

Semyon Bychkov, Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic, is equally in demand for both his symphonic and operatic repertoire. He has long-standing and successful relationships with many of the major orchestras and opera houses of London, Paris, Vienna, Milan, Berlin, Chicago, New York and San Francisco, as well as with the Concertgebouw. Having made his debut with the Orchestra in 1984, he has been a regular guest since then.

Maestro Bychkov holds the Klemperer Chair at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Guther Wand Chair with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and now, in his second season with the Czech Philharmonic, he is engaged in a programme of online concerts, the most recent of which was the Orchestra’s first performance of Bryce Dessner’s Concerto for Two Pianos, with guest artists Katia and Marielle Labèque.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra © Peter Tollenaar

Born in St Petersburg, Semyon Bychkov has loved the music of Tchaikovsky, he says, ever since he can remember, and, “Like all first loves this one never died”. In 2015 Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic embarked on an extensive exploration of the symphonic music of the great Russian composer – The Tchaikovsky Project. By the culmination of this project in 2019, they had recorded together all of the composer’s symphonies, his three piano concertos (with pianist Kirill Gerstein), his Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, the Serenade for Strings and Francesca da Rimini.

Tchaikovsky, bereft of inspiration, and frequently wondering whether he was “played out”, started writing his Fifth Symphony in May 1888, struggling to settle down to his project. After much procrastination and doubt about his ongoing capability to write, he managed to finish the composition and orchestration of the symphony during the month of August, triumphantly declaring: “My symphony is ready, and I think that I have not miscalculated, that it has turned out well”.

Following the premiere performances of the Symphony in St Petersburg and Prague in November of that year, Tchaikovsky was troubled. In a letter to his patron Nadezhda von Meck, he wrote: “I am convinced that this symphony is not a success.” It was well received by the composer’s friends after its first performance in Moscow in December 1888, however, and by the time that the work was performed in Hamburg in March 1889, Tchaikovsky once again felt satisfied with it. “The Fifth Symphony was again performed magnificently, and I have started to love it again; my earlier judgement was undeservedly harsh…”. Would that he could have known just how popular his Fifth Symphony has remained to this day.

Semyon Bychkov leads the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in an online performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5 on Friday, 12th February. It can be viewed free of charge on the Concertgebouw website, on the Orchestra’s Facebook page and on its Youtube channel. The streams will start at 8.00 pm CET. Following this transmission, the video will remain accessible via

Information sourced from:
Concertgebouw Orchestra programme notes
Semyon Bychkov
Tchaikovsky Research

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Three contemporary works in San Francisco Ballet’s first triple bill of the season

San Francisco Ballet in Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet // © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet’s 2021 Digital Season features three contemporary ballets – Dwight Rhoden’s Let’s Begin at the End, the World Premier of Colorforms by Myles Thatcher, and Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet.

Frances Chung and Angelo Greco in Rhoden’s LET’S BEGIN AT THE END // © Erik Tomasson

Dwight Rhoden – Founding Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of the Complexions Contemporary Dance Company – created Let’s Begin at the End for San Francisco Ballet’s Unbound Festival in 2018, his first for the Company. Rhoden considers himself to be a contemporary choreographer, without “putting limits on myself as a creative person”. Let’s Begin at the End has no actual storyline, but represents aspects of love, its ups and downs, and the way in which we connect and disconnect with each other as relationships progress. The ballet is set to an unusual combination of pieces – by J S Bach, Philip Glass and Michael Nyman. Costume design is by Christine Darch, with lighting by James F Ingalls.

Jennifer Stahl and Ulrik Birkkjaer in Rhoden’s LET’S BEGIN AT THE END // © Erik Tomasson

As a dancer, Rhoden has performed as a principal dancer with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Les Ballet Jazz De Montreal, and with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and has created over 80 ballets for his Complexions Company, and others including Alvin Ailey, The Dance Theater of Harlem, New York City Ballet/Diamond Project and the Mariinsky Ballet.

Cavan Conley and Esteban Hernandez in Thatcher’s COLORFORMS // © San Francisco Ballet

Myles Thatcher, now a San Francisco Ballet soloist, has had a fascination for choreography from his early years. He has already created four ballets for San Francisco Ballet – Ghost in the Machine, Manifesto, In the Passerine’s Clutch and Otherness, as well as works for Charlotte Ballet,The International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize, the Rolex Arts Weekend in Mexico City, for New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Canada’s National Ballet School and four works for the San Francisco Ballet School.

Frances Chung in Thatcher’s COLORFORMS // © San Francisco Ballet

Thatcher’s new ballet, Colorforms, is set in San Francisco, in locations which include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Heroes Grove at Golden Gate Park, in Yerba Buena Gardens and the stage of the War Memorial Opera House, the Company’s performance home. With an emphasis on color, and on creating and appreciating art, it celebrates “…. the joy that art of all kinds has afforded me in my life”, he says. The work is set to Steve Reich’s Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings, and directed for film by Ezra Hurwitz. Costumes are by Susan Roemer, with lighting design by Jim French.

Mark Morris – founder of his own modern dance troupe, Mark Morris Dance Group – has, since his early years, created works which reflect his own character as far as musicality and structure are concerned, works that are often witty and sometimes outrageous, as well. Sandpaper Ballet, which he created for San Francisco Ballet in 1999, was his third for the Company – he’s since choreographed a further seven new works, including the full-length ballet Sylvia.

Morris wanted to set a ballet to a big orchestral work, and (according to Tina Fehland who staged Sandpaper Ballet for the Company) since he has always loved the music of 20th century American composer Leroy Anderson, he’s used 11 pieces of Anderson’s music, including Sleigh Ride, The Typewriter and The Syncopated Clock. Morris’ inspiration came from Anderson’s piece entitled Sandpaper Ballet, a tribute to vaudeville soft-shoe dancing which features the sound of sandpaper being used, hence the choice of title for this work. The costumes were designed by fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, with lighting by James F Ingalls.

This triple bill runs from February 11th to March 3rd, and tickets can be purchased online at the San Francisco Ballet website for $29 for 72-hour access. For access to all seven programs in this 2021 Digital Season, the Premium Plus Digital Package can be purchased from the Company website, with additional bonus content, for $289.

Information sourced from:
San Francisco Ballet program notes
Artists’ websites

ArtsPreview home page

Anna Netrebko features in ‘Met Stars Live in Concert’ online

Soprano Anna Netrebko rehearsing for her live performance at Vienna’s historic Spanish Riding School, part of the Metropolitan Opera’s ‘Met Stars Live’ series. She is accompanied by pianist Pavel Nebolsin. Photo Jürgen Hausmann / Met Opera

Russian soprano Anna Netrebko is the featured artist in the latest Met Stars Live in Concert performance, and tomorrow evening Ms Netrebko appears in an online recital from the famed Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

Singing Russian songs by Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky, as well as selections by Debussy, Dvořák, Fauré and Strauss, Ms Netrebko is accompanied by pianist Pavel Nebolsin whom she describes as an “Incredible, beautiful musician ….”. She will also perform duets from Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, with Russian mezzo-soprano Elena Maximova.

Soprano Anna Netrebko rehearsing for her live performance at Vienna’s historic Spanish Riding School, with mezzo-soprano Elena Maximova, accompanied by pianist Pavel Nebolsin,
part of the Metropolitan Opera’s ‘Met Stars Live’ series. Photo Jürgen Hausmann / Met Opera

Anna Netrebko made her operatic debut with the Metropolitan Opera as Natasha Rostova in Prokofiev’s War and Peace in 2002, having debuted at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in the same role two years previously. Since her Met debut, she has appeared there in the title roles of Iolanta, Manon, Anna Bolena, Lucia di Lammermoor and Tosca, and in roles such as Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, Leonora in Il Trovatore, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, Gilda in Rigoletto, and Musetta and Mimì in La Bohème.

No other principal Met artist has starred in more Live in HD transmissions since the inception of the series in 2006.

In November last year, Ms Netrebko was announced as a laureate for the 25th annual International Stanislavsky Prize, alongside several other notable Russian artists, for their for “outstanding contribution to the development of world theatrical art”.

Soprano Anna Netrebko rehearsing for her live performance at Vienna’s historic Spanish Riding School, part of the Metropolitan Opera’s ‘Met Stars Live’ series. She is accompanied by pianist Pavel Nebolsin. Photo Jürgen Hausmann / Met Opera

The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is the home of the internationally renowned Lippizaner stallions, a breed which dates back to 1580 and Archduke Karl von Habsburg’s Imperial Stud Farm. The Spanish Riding School is the only institution in the world which has practised for more than 450 years, cultivating classical equitation in the Renaissance tradition of the Haute Ecole – which can also be found on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. The white stone balustrades, galleries and columns which dominate the architecture of the riding arena, softly lit by chandeliers, create a majestic environment is for this recital, and for the world’s oldest working riding school still practising the classical art of renaissance dressage.

Anna Netrebko appears in the Met Stars Live in Concert recital, streamed live via the Metropolitan Opera website on Saturday, 6th February at 6:00pm UK time (1.00 pm ET). Tickets for this pay-per-view performance, priced at $20, are now on sale on the Met’s website. The recital will be available on demand for 14 days.

Information sourced from:
Metropolitan Opera programme notes
Anna Netrebko’s website
The Royal Opera House

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February’s ‘Fridays at Five’ line-up from SFJAZZ

The SFJAZZ Collective © Don Dixon – courtesy SFJAZZ

SFJAZZ has yet another month of top-flight concerts for jazz lovers to enjoy online, featuring Christian McBride, the SFJAZZ Collective, Kenny Barron – in duos with Regina Carter, Eddie Henderson and Terri Lyne Carrington – and Paula West.

On February 5th, SFJAZZ features a concert by six-time GRAMMY- winner, and former SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director, Christian McBride – “One of the premier musicians of his generation …” according to Downbeat. The performance, recorded at SFJAZZ in September 2016, marked the West Coast debut of McBride’s New Jawn project – ‘New Jawn’ being a slang expression used in Philadelphia to describe “a person, place, or thing imbued with undeniable hipness and soul” (SFJAZZ). Comprising some of the most forward-thinking jazz artists of the time, the quartet features versatile bassist McBride, trumpeter Josh Evans, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, and drummer Nasheet Waits. They perform music from their triple GRAMMY-nominated 2018 release Christian McBride’s New Jawn.

The Fridays at Five session to be streamed on February 12th features a performance recorded at SFJAZZ in November 2019, at which the SFJAZZ Collective celebrated the 50th anniversary of the release of two hugely significant albums – Sly and the Family Stone’s million-selling hit Stand! and Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way. Not only did these albums represent what SFJAZZ terms “a beacon of hope during a turbulent time in American history”, but they were instrumental in pointing jazz, funk and soul music in new directions. With a guest appearance by original Sly and the Family Stone drummer Greg Errico, the concert also featured two new Collective artists – vocalist Martin Luther McCoy, and guitarist Adam Rogers – who joined David Sánchez on tenor saxophone, trumpeter Etienne Charles, Warren Wolf on vibraphone, pianist Edward Simon, Matt Brewer on bass and Obed Calvaire on drums.

Kenny Barron – “One of the top jazz pianists in the world”, says the LA Times, and “The most lyrical piano player of our time” according to Jazz Weekly – heads the bill on February 19th. He was a 2010 NEA Jazz Master, and eleven-time GRAMMY nominee who has helped to define and extend the jazz tradition during his impressive career, which includes a long association with SFJAZZ. For this performance he duets with three master musicians – violinist Regina Carter, who “brings a fresh and thrilling creative edge to her respect for jazz and classical traditions” says the Guardian; veteran trumpeter Eddie Henderson who plays “with tremendous assurance, vitality and a glorious warm tone” (London Jazz News); and GRAMMY Award-winning drummer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington, a 2021 NEA Jazz Master and SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director. 

The February 26th Fridays at Five session features San Francisco-based vocalist Paula West – “the finest jazz-cabaret singer around”, according to Jazz Times. In a performance recorded at SFJAZZ in April 2018, Paula – with her quartet – explores the political moods of America through the years, focusing on the songs of Simon and Garfunkel, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Woody Guthrie. Aside from Bay Area performances, she is a regular visitor to Manhattan, and a frequent recipient of New York Nightlife Awards for ‘Outstanding Female Jazz Vocalist’. In 2013 she sang the lead role in the reprise of Wynton Marsalis’ Pulitzer Prize-winning work Blood on the Fields.

The Fridays at Five sessions are streamed online between 5.00 and 6.00 pm (Pacific) for $5 per performance to SFJAZZ members. Visit the SFJAZZ website for details, and benefits of membership.

Information sourced from:

SFJAZZ program notes

Artists’ websites

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Trevor Pinnock leads Concertgebouw ensemble in Mozart’s ‘Gran Partita’ Serenade

Trevor Pinnock © Gerard Collett

This week’s online concert from Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra features an ensemble of the Orchestra’s musicians in a performance of Mozart’s Serenade in B flat major, K 361 ‘Gran Partita’, under the direction of Trevor Pinnock.

Renowned world-wide as a harpsichordist and conductor, Trevor Pinnock is credited with pioneering the modern revival of the performance of early music. In 1972 he founded the English Concert, a London-based baroque orchestra with a reputation for innovative performances, played on period instruments. He served as Artistic Director of the ensemble until 2003, since when he has devoted his time to conducting, solo and chamber music engagements and educational projects at the Royal Academy of Music where he is Principal Guest Conductor of the Chamber Orchestra.

Trevor Pinnock is a frequent guest of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphiharmonie in Bremen and the Mozarteum Orchester in Salzburg. Among the honours he has received are a CBE in 1992, and in 1998 he was made an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is also a patron of Jessie’s Fund which helps children with complex needs or serious illness to communicate through music.

The ‘Gran Partita’ Serenade is described by Gramophone magazine as Mozart’s “most ambitious, longest and most technically complex wind serenade”, and although there is no certainty about the date of its composition, it would appear that Mozart might have written it for a benefit concert for Austrian clarinet and basset horn player, Anton Stadler – regarded as one of Vienna’s most gifted wind players. This performance was given in the Burgtheater in Vienna on 23 March 1784. Whatever the truth, the Concertgebouw’s description of the Serenade as “… chamber music of symphonic proportions ….” is valid.

Trevor Pinnock leads an ensemble of musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in an online performance of Mozart’s ‘Gran Partita’ Serenade. Recorded in the Main Hall of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the performance can be viewed free of charge from 20h00 (CET) on Friday, 5th February, on the Concertgebouw website or on its Facebook and YouTube channels. The performance will be available to watch for a week after the initial stream.

Information sourced from:

Concertgebouw Orchestra programme notes

Gramophone interview with Trevor Pinnock

Hyperion Records

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