Weekly Magazine

NEW THIS WEEK

SMUIN CONTEMPORARY BALLET announces the next installment of its Hump Day Ballets series, brightening mid-week spirits with free video streaming of a hit ballet from Smuin’s archives. This week’s release, offered beginning Wednesday, April 22, 2020, will feature acclaimed choreographer Garrett Ammon’s Serenade for Strings (photo above by Keith Sutter). The release will be accompanied by a video introduction by former Smuin dancer (and current Smuin teacher) Valerie Harmon. The recorded performance will be available for 48 hours only, with streaming through Facebook (facebook.com/SmuinBallet), and Instagram (instagram.com/smuinballet). For more information, click HERE

A MESSAGE FROM OUR ASSOCIATE EDITOR

AT PERFORMING ARTS MONTEREY BAY we think it is important to provide our regular Weekly Magazine, not only for news of local performing arts—good or bad—and entertainment—good or bad depending on your taste—but to stay connected in a time of isolation. As you know, we look outside our regional precincts into the larger world, even history, in the hope of finding germane contexts larger than our own. And it’s personal; if you have experiences that seem to fit those parameters we would like to hear from you and, if possible, share your stories with our subscribers and visiting readers. Many of us are likely to lose friends and loved ones to COVID-19. If we are ‘alone together,’ then let us be together while alone. Some of you already seem to agree. ~ Rebecca Brooks

“KEEPING THE PERFORMINGS ARTS alive through your coverage makes total sense—in fact it’s indispensable—and we are all indebted to Performing Arts Monterey Bay for making it happen.” Rowland and Pat Rebele, Santa Cruz

 

“PAMB IS THE MONTEREY BAY AREA’S place to hang out and hear the latest scuttlebutt on who’s doing what with whom in the arts. It’s a very convenient, diverse, illuminating, and enticing source of info on the cultural life in this very diverse part of California. From Zayante to Soledad, Carmel to Brookdale, if there’s a significant cultural event going on, the chances are that Scott MacClelland and Rebecca Brooks and their cohorts will know about it and alert you to when and where. The reviews are thoughtful, the previews are perceptive, and the digital magazine in which they appear is a gift to all who value the role of culture in our region.” Tandy Beal and Jon Scoville, Felton/Santa Cruz

COVID-19

THE MONTEREY SYMPHONY has made the decision to call off its May 16 and 17 concerts, which were to have been music director Max Bragado-Darman’s farewell performances. The choice was made due to the ongoing pandemic. Related activities have also been canceled.

IN ORDERING SHELTER-IN-PLACE for all Californians, Governor Gavin Newsom has laid out six criteria before that order can be relaxed. The statewide order will remain in effect “until further notice.” Many major summer festivals have reluctantly canceled, including the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Santa Cruz Shakespeare and the Cabrillo Stage, The closures of such important performance venues as Carmel’s Sunset Center and Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium has, or soon will, force the matter. The Santa Cruz Symphony canceled its one remaining event of the season, their annual Pops Concert which was set for June 6 at SC Civic. The Carmel Bach Festival is still hoping to open on schedule at Sunset on July 13.

COVID-19 VICTIMS

NOW INCLUDE American soprano Arlene Saunders, age 89; New York clarinet professor Paul Shelden, 79; harpsichordist James Weaver, 82; pianist Thom Carr, 67;  Somali oud master Ahmed Ismail Hussein, known as Hudeidi, 91; and American jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, 92.

 

CARMEL MUSIC SHARES ITS BOUNTY

CMS PRESIDENT Peter Thorp reaches out to fellow music lovers. Click HERE

L.A. MAYOR SEES NO LARGE CROWDS TILL 2021

LOS ANGELES MAYOR Eric Garcetti has told CNN that gatherings for sport and music may not resume before 2021. He said it’s difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands anytime soon, so I think we should be prepared for that this year. ‘Until there’s either a vaccine, some sort of pharmaceutical intervention, or herd immunity, the science is the science. And public health officials have made very clear we have miles and miles to walk before we can be back in those environments.’

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

ANDREA BOCELLI’S concert recital at Milan’s Duomo on Easter Sunday

 

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH 

NOTHING SHORT OF A REVELATION is Isabel Bayrakdarian’s new CD on Delos label. Her first sung note made me jump to a wrong conclusion: a new—to me—contralto had burst on the scene. But no. Bayrakdarian is a full-blown coloratura soprano who just happens to be able to reach deep into the mezzo-soprano range, and who has likewise delved into historic scholarship for this rare repertoire (and is also a biomedical engineer). Bayrakdarian, at the suggestion of conductor Constantine Orbelian, has excerpted three operas on the same subject by 18th century composers Johann Adolf Hasse, Antonio Vivaldi and Christoph Gluck—in first recordings of the Hasse and Gluck. (She cites “at least twenty-four operas” in Il Tigrane, Tigranes the Great, king of the Armenian Empire, c 95-55 BCE, based on the libretto by Abate Silvani (1660-1728). Cleopatra of Pontus was the daughter of King Mithridates VI and became consort to Tigranes, made famous and powerful with her by his side. Of course, this being opera in the Italian style and language, it’s a love triangle with a happy ending. But since Bayrakdarian chose to focus on Cleopatra, considered is a minor character in the operas, I won’t bore you with the other characters and their power-grabbing shenanigans. The tone is set in all of these excerpts between Cleopatra and her rival, Apamia, and her unwanted suiter, Orentes, in the opening aria of the Hasse, “Do you want me to hear you out? Do you want me to listen? Say, you fools, that you’re worthy of my scorn and disdain and then I will listen to you both.” Then to Apamia “I despise you” and to Orontes “I do not love you. I will hate you both.” Plenty of fireworks here, and brilliant composed by Hasse, whose music bears a strong resemblance to the Italian operatic style George Frideric Handel. In fact, for my taste, Hasse’s is the best music on the CD, and with lots more of it than in the briefer Vivaldi and Gluck excerpts. All the arias are da capo, A-B-A, a practice that would quickly fade from popular taste after Gluck. Meanwhile, there is lots of tone painting by all three composers, storms, gently rocking boats on the water, etc. And it turns out that this Cleopatra is as haughty and ambitious as the Ptolemaic one, ready to take it out on her lover in wild mood swings that usually end in remorse. Hasse’s opera premiered in Naples in 1729, Vivaldi’s in Rome in 1724 and Gluck’s in Crema in 1743. Orbelian conducts members of the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra in Lithuania, with harpsichord played by Jory Vinikour, in stylish Baroque playing. But the star remains Bayrakdarian and her new CD a keeper. SM

WHAT THE HECK IS A THEORBO?

YOU’VE SEEN and heard it at the Carmel Bach Festival. Lutenist Elizabeth Kenny explains how and why the theorbo was developed in the 17th century, what was its purpose, and what it’s like to carry it around on a train.

 

LOSS, GRIEF AND BRAHMS

ALEX ROSS reflecting on the death of his mother. Click HERE

NIV ASHKENAZI: VIOLINS OF HOPE

 

YOU MIGHT BE A COMPOSER

AT LEAST there’s more music in you than you may have thought. Click HERE

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

FULL CONCERT VERSION, from Denmark

 

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor