December 2016 Performances & Special Events

Ciao, Opera Mavens! Make your days & nights merry & bright with these opera-tunities:

Joshua (Handel) – The story of the Biblical hero is brought to life by tenor Thomas Cooley, countertenor Daniel Taylor, baritone William Berger, sopranos Yulia Van Doren & Gabrielle Haigh, and the Philharmonia Chorale directed by Bruce Lamott; Nicholas McGegan conducting. A free pre-concert talk takes place in the concert hall 45 minutes prior to each performance.

Nicolas McGegan

Nicolas McGegan

Thu Dec 1 at 7pm, Herbst Theatre, Veterans Memorial Bldg, 401 Van Ness Ave, SF
Fri Dec 2 at 7:30pm, First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto
Sat Dec 3 at 7pm, First Presbyterian Church, 2407 Dana St, Berkeley
Sun Dec 4 at 4pm, Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, 49 Knox Dr, Lafayette


SAN FRANCISCO OPERA or 415-864-3330. The Future Is Now: Adler Gala Concert – Join us for an exciting night of unforgettable music featuring the 2016 Adler Fellows in their final concert of the year. Tickets $30-65.

Fri Dec 2 at 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre, Veterans Memorial Bldg, 401 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco.

Joyce DiDonato

Joyce DiDonato

CAL PERFORMANCES or 510-642-9988.
Mezzo Joyce DiDonato (Merola 1997) sings a program of Baroque arias exploring the tensions of discord and harmony in times of war, accompanied by the dynamic young period-instrument ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro. Tickets start at $40.
Sun Dec 4 at 3pm, Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley campus.

FRESNO GRAND OPERA or 559-442-5699 and
TOWNSEND OPERA or 209-523-6426.
Christmas on Van Ness – Celebrate the holiday season with a festive musical performance of your favorite holiday music by the FGO Chorus and Soloists in the acoustic bliss of the Big Red Church. Tickets: $50 Reserved Seating, $35 General Admission: $35 Reserved Seating.
Sun Dec 4 at 2pm & 5pm, First Congregational Church, 2131 Van Ness Ave, Fresno.

Holiday Celebration – Celebrate the holiday season with your friends at the opera!  Enjoy hearty hors d’oeuvres, good wine, and special performances by guest artists. Tickets: $50 per person; proceeds support the educational activities of Townsend & Fresno Grand Operas.
Thu Dec 8 at 6:30pm, Mary Stuart Rogers Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St, Modesto.
Thu Dec 15 at 6:30pm, The Lime Lite Restaurant, 1054 W Shaw Ave, Fresno.

Sheri Greenawald

Sheri Greenawald

FESTIVAL OPERA or 925-944-9610.
Holiday Gala – An evening of merriment and camaraderie in honor of San Francisco Opera Center director Sheri Greenawald. We’ll celebrate with good food, good wine, great company and beautiful music, featuring smezzo Susanne Mentzer and Patrice Houston joined by SFO cellist Emil Miland and pianist Chun Mei Wilson; as a special bonus, our guest of honor will lend her acclaimed voice to the evening’s artistic festivities! Tickets: $200 per person, reservations required.
Tue Dec 8 at 6:30pm, Scott’s Seafood Restaurant, 1333 N California Blvd, Walnut Creek.

VERISMO OPERA or 707-864-5508.
La forza del destino (Verdi) – A stray bullet from Don Alvaro’s gun accidentally kills Leonora’s father, activating an unstoppable chain of fateful misunderstandings for the star-crossed lovers. Tickets: $25 General, $20 Seniors; for more information go to
Sat Dec 10 at 7pm, Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, 1750 29th Ave, SF.

Anthony Ross Costanzo

Anthony Roth Costanzo

Handel’s Messiah with soprano Lauren Snouffer, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, tenor Zachary Wilder, and bass-baritone Christian Van Horn; Patrick Dupre Quiqley conducting.
Thu Dec 15, Fri Dec 16, and Sat Dec 17 at 8pm, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco.
Handel’s Messiah – Performed by the American Bach Soloists and American Bach Choir; Jeffrey Thomas conducting. Tickets start at $40.
Sun Dec 18 at 3pm, Weill Hall, 1801 East Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park.


Workshops, Classes, & Lectures – December 2016

Ciao, Opera Mavens and Happy Holidays!  Here are your educational opera-tunities for December:

First Act: Hansel and Gretel’s Adventure – In this workshop designed for children ages 3–5, you’ll explore music, rhythm, visual arts and movement, designed to foster social-emotional development, increased language and fine-gross motor skills. $10; A limited number of discounted tickets are available for families in need, click on the link above for more info.
Sat Dec 3; 10 – 11am and 11:30am – 12:30pm  Bryan Education Studio – 4th Floor, War Memorial Veterans Building 401 Van Ness Ave., SF

Richard Wagner: Controversial Genius – Led by Speight Jenkins, General Director of Seattle Opera – Emeritus, this course will discuss the personality of the composer, one of the intellectual giants of his century, his friends and foes, and particularly his music. You will not just explore the ten works of his maturity with selections from live performances, but also discuss differences in the style of singing Wagner from his time until ours, the change in productions of his work, and why Tristan und Isolde had a profound effect on the music of the 20th century, and a look at why and how The Ring of the Nibelung has become among the best box-office successes of the 21st century.  Registration opens Nov 28; tuition and more info at the link above.
Monday evenings Jan 9 – Feb 13 from 7 – 8:50pm

The Ballad of Baby Doe: A Study and Performance of the First Great American Opera – With its tuneful, popular style and soaring melodies, Douglas Moore‘s Baby Doe is a brilliant evocation of the mining era in the American West, and a true portrait of life in Leadville, Denver, and even Washington, DC. Strongly based in historical fact, it addresses Populism and the Free Silver movement, boom-and-bust economic cycles, and includes appearances by presidential candidate and orator William Jennings Bryan and President Chester Arthur. With Stanford music lecturer Marie-Louise Catsalis and mezzo-soprano Wendy Hillhouse (Merola 1981) as your instructors, you will study the music, the history of the opera’s composition and production, its historical, economic, and sociological background and also attend a performance and meet with performers and directors afterward to complete the experience.  Registration opens Nov 28; tuition and more info at the link above.
Thursday evenings Jan 12 – Mar 2 from 7 – 8:50pm

Performing Arts Connection: Spring Break for Teens
Applications are now being accepted for this special program taking place March 27 – 31, 2017 at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera.  Fill your spring break with music, poetry, dance, theater, and digital media storytelling! Discover and explore new art forms, hone current skills, and inspire fresh creativity with diverse teen communities from all over the Bay Area. Teens will work with local artists and specialists from SF Opera, SF Ballet, American Conservatory Theatre, Youth Speaks and Citizen Film in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco to craft original works and produce a showcase for their families and the community.


Broadcasts – December 2016

Ciao, Opera Mavens & Happy Holidays! Here are your broadcast opera-tunities for December:

CarTUNE Afternoon – Grab some popcorn and join San Francisco Opera for a FREE afternoon of beloved cartoons filled with classical music. Disney Delights will feature an array of favorites to inspire joy, laughter and enchantment.
Sat Dec 3 from 4 – 5:15pm Bryan Education Studio – 4th Floor, War Memorial Veterans Building 401 Van Ness Ave., SF

Manon Lescaut (Puccini) – Anna Netrebko (Merola 1996) and Marcelo Alvarez star as the ill-fated lovers in Puccini’s passionate adaptation of the classic novel about a free-spirited country girl. With Christopher Maltman as Manon’s cousin, Lescaut, and Brindley Sherratt as Geronte, her wealthy older lover. Marco Armiliato conducts.
Sat Dec 3 at 10am

L’Amour de Loin (Saariaho) – Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki makes her Met debut leading the cast of Eric Owens as Jaufré, the knight on a quest of love, Susanna Phillips as Clémence, his lover on the other side of the sea, and Tamara Mumford as the Pilgrim who carries the messages between them.
Sat Dec 10 at 10am

Salome (R. Strauss) – Patricia Racette (Adler 1990) takes on the tour-de-force title role, part innocent and part sexual predator, for the first time at the Met. Željko Lučić is her prophetic nemesis Jochanaan, John the Baptist. Gerhard Siegel is Herod, and Johannes Debus conducts.
Sat Dec 17 at 10am

Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck) – 2008 archive production conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. Most fairy tales—while charming on the outside—resonate long past bedtime with darker underpinnings. Alice Coote and Christine Schäfer play the siblings lost in a shadowy world of unknown menace, pursued by the Witch, portrayed by tenor Philip Langridge, who seeks to devour them.
Sat Dec 24 at 10am

L’Italiana in Algeri (Rossini) – James Levine conducts this comedy of a feisty Italian girl turning the tables on her bumbling captors via Rossini’s blend of madness and fun. Mezzo-soprano Marianna Pizzolato makes her Met debut in the title role, opposite tenor René Barbera (Merola 2008) and baritone Nicola Alaimo. Bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov plays the pasha who is overcome by love and pasta and Rihab Chaieb (Merola 2013) as Zulma.
Sat Dec 31 at 10am

The Magic Flute (Mozart) – Adults and children alike will be enchanted by the whimsical humor and breathtaking puppetry of Julie Taymor’s hit production, presented in a shortened English-language version. Under the baton of Maestro James Levine, the ensemble cast of Nathan Gunn (Papageno), Ying Huang (Pamina), Matthew Polenzani (Tamino), Erika Miklósa (The Queen of the Night), and René Pape (Sarastro) brings fresh life to Mozart’s timeless fairy tale.
Sat Dec 3 at 12:55pm Sundance Kabuki 1881 Post St., SF

L’Amour de Loin (Saariaho) – After its premiere at the 2000 Salzburg Festival, this yearning medieval romance now finally has its Met Opera premiere. Robert Lepage‘s dazzling new production features glimmering ribbons of LED lights that extend across the length of the stage and over the orchestra pit. Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki makes her Met debut leading the cast of Eric Owens as Jaufré, the knight on a quest of love, Susanna Phillips as Clémence, his lover on the other side of the sea, and Tamara Mumford as the Pilgrim who carries the messages between them.
Sat Dec 10 at 9:55am (live) and Wed Dec 21 at 6:30pm (encore)

Jenůfa (Janacek) – Malin Byström (Jenufa), Karita Mattila (Kostelnicka), William Burden (Merola 1991, Laca Klemen ), Scott Quinn (Merola 2011, Steva Buryja), Jill Grove (Merola 1995, Grandmother Buryjovka), Matthew Stump (Adler 2016, Foreman), Anthony Reed (Adler 2016, Mayor), Julie Adams (Adler 2016, Karolka), Toni Marie Palmertree (Adler 2016, Barena), Zanda Švede (Adler 2016, Mayor’s Wife), Laura Krumm (Adler 2013, Maid), Sarah Tucker (Jano); conducted by Jirí Belohlávek.  Recorded Summer 2016, WMOH.
Sun Dec 4 at 8pm (also available on-demand at for four weeks after airing)

Les Contes D’Hoffmann (Offenbach) – In its final bow, director John Schlesinger‘s sumptuous production brings to life a 19th-century world of romance, comedy, mystery and menace. Tenor Vittorio Grigòlo is the poet Hoffmann with baritone Thomas Hampson (Merola 1980) as the four villains. Sofia Fomina stars as the clockwork doll Olympia, Christine Rice as the courtesan Giulietta and Sonya Yoncheva as Hoffmann’s last love Antonia. Evelino Pidò conducts.
Wed Dec 7 at 1pm and 7pm
Rialto Cinemas Elmwood 2966 College Ave., Berkeley
Mon Dec 12 at 7pm
Clay Theatre 2261 Fillmore St., SF
Nickelodeon Theatre 210 Lincoln St., Santa Cruz

Die Fledermaus (J. Strauss II) – A Viennese tale of lechery, love, revenge and romance, of beautiful wives, juicy maids, amorous husbands, clever friends, a mysterious count and a drunken jailer. This glittering 1983 Royal Opera production has an exceptional cast, led by Kiri Te Kanawa and Hermann Prey with Plácido Domingo conducting the orchestra with panache.
Sat Dec 10 potluck at 12noon followed by DVD presentation at 2pm
10350 Cabrillo Hwy, 3 miles south of Pescadero Road (look for the American flag)

The Abduction from the Seraglio (Mozart) – Abducted by pirates and sold into a Turkish harem, the wily nobelwoman Konstanze and her maid Blondchen plot their escape with the aid of Konstanze’s fiancee Belmonte in this charming comedy, a celebration of fidelity, optimism and liberty. French actress and filmmaker Zabou Breitman’s new interpretation features Erin Morley as Konstanze, Anna Prohaska as Blondchen, Swiss tenor Bernard Richter as Belmonte, Paul Schweinester as Pedrillo, Lars Woldt as Osmin,  and Jürgen Maurer as Selim. Philippe Jordan, Musical Director of Opéra de Paris, conducts.
Sun Dec 11 at 12noon and Tues Dec 13 at 7:15pm
Camera 3 Entertainment, 288 S. Second Street, SJ


Remember That Trump Tower Figaro Back in 1988?

Peter Sellars

Peter Sellars

Ciao, Opera Mavens. The NY Times interviewed Director Peter Sellars about the time, back in 1988, when he set Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in Trump Tower. Remember When Figaro Was Set in Trump Tower?

An OperaBobb Side-bar: On Sunday afternoon Nov 13 we zipped down to Los Angeles to see the famous English National Opera production of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten. Peter Sellars was sitting in our row, about four seats to our right. I had met him a couple of times when he was in San Francisco for Doctor Atomic in 2005, so when he passed us by going to his seat, I said, hi Peter. He gave me one of his legendary hugs and said, nice to see you. I’m sure he didn’t know who I was. I think he just hugs anybody in his path.