One of the highlights of the recently-concluded David Gockley era at San Francisco was the 2010 production of Leoš Janáček's Vec Makropulos (The Makropulos Case). The combination of Karita Mattila's mind-blowing, sexually-charged portrayal of the 300-year old Emilia Marty, Jiří Bělohlávek's taut conducting, and Olivier Tambosi's smart staging resulted in one of the most talked-about and admired productions the War Memorial Opera House had seen in a long time. On the other hand, for many people one of the low points came the season before, in a Salome conducted by Nicola Luisotti starring Nadja Michael in the title role. This week marks the return of both Makropulos and Michael, who has the daunting task of stepping into Mattila's shoes.
I loved both of those productions, and thought Michael's completely unhinged portrayal of Salome was mesmerizing, a stunning dramatic performance that more than made up for the deficiencies others found in her voice. I don't envy any singer having to follow Mattila in a signature role, and it feels a bit too soon to bring Tambosi's Makropulos back, especially when the company has yet to stage the composer's From the House of the Dead and it's been more than ten years since we've seen The Cunning Little Vixen or Katya Kabanova, but pairing Michael's bold dramatic abilities with this particular role has the potential to make this SF Opera revival the most interesting production on their fall calendar. Mikhail Tatarnikov makes his company debut in the pit. Opening night is Friday.
San Francisco Performances presents the Brentano Quartet, pianist Jonathan Biss, and violist Hsin-Yun Huang in an all-late-Beethoven program Saturday night at the Herbst Theatre.
The Takács Quartet begins their six-concert, chronological delve into Beethoven's complete string quartets Saturday and Sunday at Cal Performances' Hertz Hall.
Musicians from the San Francisco Symphony and pianist Anton Nel perform chamber music from Haydn, Debussy, and Dvořák in the Florence Gould Theatre at the Palace of the Legion of Honor this Sunday.
Also on Sunday afternoon, soprano Ann Moss celebrates the release of second album, Love Life, at Piedmont Piano. Joined by Steven Bailey, Emil Miland, Isaac Allen and Justin Ouellet, Moss will perform selections from the album, which features new music by Jake Heggie and Liam Wade, as well as new arrangements of songs by Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and the Beatles. Expect Heggie and Wade to be on hand for the meet & greet and CD-signing after the concert, which begins at 4:00 pm. Tickets include the CD -- get them here.
Volti was scheduled to perform with the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble at Berkeley's First Congregational Church on Saturday. Check their website to see if the concert has been rescheduled due to the recent fire at the church.
NewYork's Honey Ear Trio stops by Piedmont Piano on Tuesday night in support of their upcoming 2nd album. Their publicist says the combo "grabs listeners by the neck riding on a muscular, fuzzed-out bass line and a heavy backbeat that could momentarily convince listeners that they’ve popped in a CD from a stoner rock band instead of a nimble saxophone trio." That kind of works for me.
The Last Tiger in Haiti, Jeff Augustin's new play about a reunion of two young Haitians who revisit their past after fifteen years, opens at Berkeley Rep on Friday.
Shotgun Players adds Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to their extraordinary repertory season, with previews beginning Wednesday.
Stand Ground from EchoTheaterSuitcase features an all-female cast of veteran and non-veteran women "sharing their own stories of life on the front lines: in battle, against sexism, racism, and for everyday survival" in an interactive performance with the audience. At CounterPulse October 13 -15, and 20 - 22.
A staged reading of Bottle Shock the Musical, from FOGG Theatre and the 959 Group, takes place Friday and Sunday at ZSpace.
For more theater listings, see last week's post.
The San Francisco Symphony provides live accompaniment to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey Thursday - Saturday at Davies Symphony Hall.
The Castro is pairing Hitchcock's Vertigo (in 70mm) with a series of Brian DePalma films Thursday - Sunday, which is kind of a kinkfest. On Monday they have Gene Wilder in Blazing Saddles and Stir Crazy.
The Balboa has Sabrina, starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and William Holden on Thursday.
BAM/PFA screens the classic Harold Lloyd silent comedy Safety Last! on Saturday, as well as Anna Magnani in Alberto Lattuada's The Bandit and Yasujiro Ozu's Late Autumn. On Sunday there's more Magnani in Luigi Zampa's Angelina, and Wolf Gremm's Kamizake '89.
YBCA presents a series of rare Andy Warhol films Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Top photo: Nadja Michael. Photo © G. Geller.
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See you next week.