November Rain

Actually there is no rain- it's an incredibly warm and clear evening in San Francisco as I write this but the Guns 'n' Roses song seemed like the most apt title for the post. It's the kind of night which reminds me of summers long past spent in the San Fernando Valley when I was a teenager. There's a full Harvest Moon in the sky and after having dinner at the Ferry Building with my mother, watching the moon rise over the Bay Bridge, things seem hopeful and yet nostalgic at the same time.

There's no real point to this post other than that I wanted to note there may not be much on this blog for the next couple of weeks and then there's going to be so much to write about I wonder how I'll actually get it all done.

Friday I'm going to the San Francisco Symphony for an all-Rachmaninoff program conducted by Simon Bychkov featuring the Second Symphony and The Bells. Talk about romantic overload, but I think this concert is going to be one of the highlights of the SFS's season. I'm going to ask a fellow blogger to accompany me because the romance will just have to wait another week, when MG and I go to New York. It will be the first time I've gone back since I went to see Cristo's Gates. I've really missed these annual trips and I'm pleased to have resurrected this tradition of seeing at least a couple of things a year at the Met.

We're going to see the LePage production of La Damnation of Faust with Borodina and her hubby, conducted by Conlon. I was actually a bit dismayed to see Idlar was part of the cast because in my one encounter with both of them, SFO's terrible production L'Italiana a few years back, I walked away thinking if he hadn't been in it Olga would have been as great in the role as she was when I saw her perform it at the Met some seven or so years ago. That's probably wrong and ridiculous, but once you formulate a prejudice they can be unreasonable things to let go of. Still I think it will be worthwhile and it will be MG's first Met experience, which I'm pleased to partake in.

The next night we are going to see what is likely to be the buzz production for the entire year. Almost every opera geek I know on the West Coast is making a trip all the way to the Met in November or December primarily to see Janacek's 100-minute opera From the House of the Dead. The highly-acclaimed Chereau production, originally done at the Aix-en-Provence festival and conducted by Salonen in his Met debut, is available on DVD but I haven't watched it. Instead I've been listening to the Mackerras recording to prepare for it. It sounds like The Cunning Little Vixen, but inverted, with that score's joy and naturalism replaced by equal amounts of despair and human frailty. It's mesmerizing and I have high hopes surrounding it. Kudos to Peter Gelb for bringing something special like this to the States that at one time would have made sense for SFO to stage but we no longer have that kind of opera company in this City.

Then MG and I are going Broadway-bound to see the Bill T. Jones directed Fela! about the life and music of the only musician who can be said to be an equal to James Brown: Nigeria's father of Afrofunk, Fela Kuti. We're seeing a preview because of the timing, but this too promises to be an evening of solid grooves and amazing dancing.

Friday we return home and the following night we are off to see Johan Botha in Verdi's Otello, conducted by Luisotti. If this production is any good (and there really is no possible way it can be worse than the last Otello to grace the War Memorial stage, which was Pamela Rosenberg's only admitted artistic regret), then I'm afraid I'll have to admit Mr. Gockley's plans for this season have been a resounding success despite my initial deep skepticism and ridicule. That's going to be a very untasty bit of crow to eat, but the play's the thing, and so far the Gock has had a winning fall season way beyond anyone's (except perhaps his own) expectations.

Sunday night is the other big event besides the Janacek opera: KISS's Alive! 35 tour rolls into the Oakland Arena. I was at the first Alive! tour when it hit LA in 1976 (yes, I know the math is off) and was present for the recording of Kiss Alive II at the LA Forum a couple of years later. That was my first concert and if you can't understand how someone goes from being a teenage KISS fan to an opera geek, well, my goal is to make you "get it" by the time it finally rains in November.