Soprano Leah Crocetto was the featured artist this evening at the Salon put on by San Francisco Performances at the Rex Hotel. On my way to the hotel I espied Axel Feldheim, and we were soon joined by the Opera Tattler and seated in the third row of the low-ceilinged, acoustically challenging anteroom with marvelous portraits of writers surrounding us and a sizable, eager crowd.
Crocetto entered the room with her accompanist on piano (and good friend) Tamara Sanikidze, warmly greeted us, and let us know she intended to sing her favorite songs for us, which included arias by Floyd, Rachmaninov, Strauss, Puccini. Of these, I enjoyed the Strauss (beautifully played by Sanikidze) and the Rachmaninov works the most. There was also a gorgeous composition by a member of Chanticleer, who was present in the audience but whose name and title I didn't catch (if you have this information please comment- though I'm sure Axel and the OT, who were taking notes, will have that information in their posts- I didn't want to take notes because I thought the idea of the three of us seated up front taking notes would be too much in such close quarters).
Crocetto charmingly related the influence her father's eclectic musical taste left on her, leaving the arias behind to make the second half of the performance all about jazz. Martin and Blane's "The Boy Next Door," Arlen and Gershwin's "The Man that Got Away," "Fly Me to the Moon," The Girl in 14G," and other tunes from the American songbook really displayed range in Crocetto's voice. No one will likely agree with me, but I preferred her jazz voice- it seems like her natural idiom and as a self pronounced "musical-theater geek" Crocetto interprets these songs with greater emotional investment that the operatic material. The fact that she can do both well is a strong testament to her talent.
Afterward there was a brief Q & A, where she was complimented profusely and Sanikidze told some endearing anecdotes. One gentleman made quite the hyperbolic statement who apparently has never heard Sondra Radvanovsky sing Verdi before. Afterwards, the OT introduced me to her and I said I hoped to hear her at Martuni's one Sunday evening, which she indicated may happen one day.
Penelope then joined us and we retreated to the bar, where the worst bartender in the world holds court. Really, what is wrong with the management of the Rex that this woman still has a job? This is the second time in a month I've encountered the exact same terrible attitude and poor service from this bartender, who without a single soul seated at the bar, requested we come over to her to order our drinks. When I went up with our order, there was a lone man blathering on about something. No eye contact, no acknowledgement of my presence nothing. Eventually I asked her to let me know when she was ready and sat back down at the table, which was maybe six feet from the bar. Finally, she was ready. But I had to give her the simple order twice.
When Axel and I walked in I saw her and said to him, "Oh, she's still here- the worst bartender in the City." Initially he thought my statement to be hyperbole on my part but he soon agreed this was really ridiculous service, as did everyone at the table, who found the humor in it, but since this was my second go round I was just annoyed. Even though we were seated very close to the bar she asked us for a credit card before serving our drinks (she did this last time too), in effect giving us the impression we were going to do what? Run out on our $30 tab? This all would have been fine and understandable had the place been busy, but there were less than a dozen people there. We only had one round, and the only reason I would ever order another drink in this place would be for the convenience of doing so before or after a show there, and only with reluctance. Which is too bad, because it's a nice room with a warm, inviting ambiance- but there are plenty of bars like that downtown staffed by people who understand the service industry.
Axel related his experience over the weekend attending the 1000 minute performance of Longplayer, which I was sorry to miss after hearing about it and I explained the illogical motivation behind my recent rant at San Francisco Opera (now removed) which the OT explained to me was probably not the best use of my time for myriad reasons.
After our beverages we went to have sushi over at Sakana on Post at Taylor. The food and service were excellent. Try the mackerel selections, which come from Japan. They also have very good sea urchin- normally a dish I'm not too fond of. Their kitchen is open until at least 11:30 every night and it's much cheaper and quieter than the nearby Ryoko's- we all found it a good place to dine and converse.