According to my records, this is not the first time that I have had to deal with the need to make choices during the third weekend in November. This may be because it is followed by the extended Thanksgiving weekend, a time of a concerted effort to draw listeners away from the concert halls and into the shopping malls (or at least sitting in front of Web servers connected to shopping sites). Whatever the cause may be, the third weekend will be offering some fascinating variety, best dealt with in order of occurrence as follows:
The earliest event on Saturday, November 21, will be the second performance by the San Francisco Opera (SFO) of Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (the master-singers of Nuremberg). Details of this production were reported at the beginning of this month, including the replacement of Greer Grimsley with British baritone James Rutherford in the leading role of Hans Sachs. This opera, which is expected to last for five hours and fifteen minutes, is only being given six performances. Due to the length, the November 21 performance will begin at 6 p.m., as will three of the remaining performances on Tuesday, November 24, Friday, November 27, and Wednesday, December 2. The final performance will be the matinee on Sunday, December 6, which will begin at 1 p.m.
Tickets are priced from $26 to $381 (subject to change) and may be purchased online through the opera’s event page on the SFO Web site. Tickets may also be purchased at the SFO Box Office in the War Memorial Opera House, the venue for the performance. This is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue at the northwest corner of Grove Street. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 415-864-3330. The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. It is open for telephone orders only on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Standing Room tickets go on sale for $10 (cash only) at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance.
Later in the evening the International Orange Chorale of San Francisco (IOCSF) will give the San Francisco performance of their latest program, Musica Sacra: Sacred Texts in Modern Settings. IOCSF is an all-volunteer chamber choir devoted to the performance of music composed during this century and its predecessor. The group has given 25 world premieres and many regional premieres of music by composers as diverse as Milton Babbitt (“Music for the Mass”) and Jake Heggie (“Faith Disquiet”).
Musica Sacra will feature the latest world premiere, a Missa Brevis setting by the Swedish composer Frederik Sixten. This will also be the inaugural concert for Composer-in-Residence Nicholas Weininger. His contribution will be “De profundis (A Song of Ascents),” a setting of verses from Psalm 130 in English, Latin, and Hebrew. Other composers represented on the program will include Jeremy Faust, with a chorale based on the Medieval song “Adam lay i-bowndyn,” Joshua Stoddard (a tenor in IOCSF), with a setting of Psalm 23, and Jon Washburn, who has composed a 5/4 variation on the “Lo, how a Rose” carol. In addition, Krassen Karagiozov, a resident principal artist at Opera San Jose will appear as baritone soloist.
The San Francisco performance of this concert will take place on Saturday, November 21, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The venue will be St. Mark’s Lutheran Church at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the southwest corner with Franklin Street. Admission will be free, but all donations will be most welcome.
For opera lovers on a tighter budget, that same evening will also see the first performance by the students in the Opera Department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), now under its new Director Jose Maria Condemi. Saturday, November 21, will offer the first of three programs of semi-staged opera scenes performed with piano accompaniment. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a second scenes program that will take place in April. This one will be given two performances in the SFCM Concert Hall, the first at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, and the second at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 24. All three of these concerts are free, and no reservations are required.
There will also be three fully staged performances during the 2015–16 SFCM season. The first of these will be La tragédie de Carmen, Peter Brook’s condensed adaptation of Georges Bizet’s Carmen with music provided by a chamber orchestra. This will be given two performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 4, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 6. The annual spring production will be Condemi’s staging of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 527 Don Giovanni. This will also be given two performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 1, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 3. Finally, Jonathan Dove’s operatic setting of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, fully staged and scored for four-hand piano accompaniment, will receive its West Coast premiere. This will again be given two performances, both at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4, and Friday, May 6.
All three of these productions will take place in the SFCM Concert Hall and will require tickets. General admission for Don Giovanni will be $20 with a $15 rate for students, seniors, and Conservatory members. The other two productions will be free, but reservations will be required. SFCM is located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station. The Box Office is in the lobby and may be reached by calling 415-503-6275.
Finally, as previously mentioned, November 21 will be the date of the second evening of duets in Pamela Z’s ROOM Series. The four participating musicians will be Pamela herself, Crystal Pascucci on cello, vocalist Ken Ueno, and Tim Perkis with electronic gear. The four of them will perform duets in every combination. They will then finish the evening with an improvised quartet.
This performance will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 21. The venue will again be the Royce Gallery, located at 2901 Mariposa Street, between Harrison Street and Alabama Street in NEMIZ (the North East Mission Industrial Zone). Tickets will $10. Because of the size of the space, seating will be limited; so advance purchase is highly recommended. Tickets may be acquired online through a Brown Paper Tickets event page, which has been set up also to allow the purchase of a “True Cost Ticket” for $15, a price that more closely represents the true cost of presenting this event.
Sunday activities will all take place in the afternoon. The earliest of these will be the first concert of the 2015–2016 season by Symphony Parnassus. The guest artist will be soprano Hope Briggs, who will sing Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” setting prose for James Agee’s A Death in the Family. The program will begin with Gioachino Rossini’s overture for his opera William Tell. The second half of the program will consist entirely of Béla Bartók’s “Concerto for Orchestra.”
This concert will take place on Sunday, November 22, at 3 p.m. The venue will be Herbst Theatre at 401 Van Ness Avenue, on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Single tickets are $25 for general admission, with $20 tickets available for seniors aged 65 and older and $10 for those under 26. All seats are unreserved. Tickets can be purchased online through a City Box Office event page. Further information may be obtained from the Symphony Parnassus Web site.
One hour later the San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS) will present the next concert in their 40th anniversary season. This will feature the Baltimore Consort, founded in 1980 to perform the instrumental music of Shakespeare’s time. The title of their program will be The Food of Love: Songs, Dances and Fancies for Shakespeare. The selections will be compositions likely to be performed as part of productions of As You Like It, Twelfth Night (the inspiration for the program title), Romeo and Juliet, Henry IV, Part II, A Winter’s Tale, Hamlet, The Tempest, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Othello, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
This performance will begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 22, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just off the southwest corner of Franklin Street. Single tickets are $40 for general admission, $36 for seniors, and $34 for SFEMS members. In addition, three-concert “flex” subscriptions are on sale for $108 with a $96 rate for members. Those choosing this three-concert option from its Web page will be contacted by SFEMS about selecting the concerts they wish to attend. Finally, there is a separate Web page for purchasing tickets for this concert only. There will also be a pre-concert talk by Dr. Philippa Kelly at 3:30 p.m.
Half an hour later the Bay Choral Guild (BCG) will launch its 2015–16 season with a performance of Carl Orff’s secular cantata Carmina Burana. This will be performed in the composer’s “chamber” version with two pianos and four percussionists for instrumentation, baritone and soprano soloists, and boys chorus. The latter will be provided by the Ragazzi Boys Chorus, the pianists will be Tim Getz and Duane Soubirous, and the percussionists will be Kent Reed, Henry Reed, Patrick McCaffrey, and Connor Carroll. Carmina Burana will be preceded by a setting of the Gloria portion of the Mass by the late Peter Hallock, formerly choirmaster at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Seattle. Hallock scored his setting for chorus, piano, and soprano and alto soloists.
The San Francisco performance of this program will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 22. The venue will be St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church at 500 De Haro Street, at the foot of Potrero Hill. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $20 for seniors, and $5 for students. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online.