Author Archives: Sarah Morris

Opera San Jose: Pagliacci

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Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci was written just over 125 years ago, and with a duration of only about 65 minutes, is considered a very short opera. While usually double-billed, the choice to perform it on its own was a nice surprise and perhaps the reason more children were in the audience. 

The resident company and orchestra were on point and did justice to this truncated opera. Baritone Anthony Clark Evans, as Tonio (the fool in the acting troupe) opened the performance stating, ‘I am the prologue’. There were some members of the audience who gave him a standing ovation for his opening dialogue. He was exquisite and completely captivating and it is surely a sad fact that we won’t be seeing him again this season. Setting the scene, the character of Tonio explains the roles of the three men vying for the attention of Nedda, sung by Maria Natale: her husband, Canio(Cooper Nolan), part of the company, Tonio(Evans) and Silvio(Emmett O’Hanlon), her secret lover. Setting the scene, the curtain rises and we watch the scene play out, ‘on the stage’ and ‘off it’. The line between the ‘real life’ lives and the parts they play on the stage are blurred throughout the opera, eventually leading to a blow up in front of the whole town during a performance.  Read full story

Archived in these categories: Opera, Romantic Era


Mozart — The Abduction from the Seraglio

From September, 15-30, Opera San Jose is presenting Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio. First performed in 1782 this opera is still amusing audiences today. When the curtain opened, set designer, Steven C. Kemp’s attention to detail was immediately apparent: a large Turkish palace painted over every inch in intricate paintings, landscaped greenery and fig trees. Decked out in a pith helmet, the lead tenor, Matthew Grills, made his company debut in quite a lively, comical way. Running around hiding from the guards outside sultan Pasha Selim’s palace, he runs into Osim, played by Ashraf Sewailam. Both singers are perfectly suited for these comedic roles and their rapport was wonderful. One slight drawback to the quick banter was that the singers tended to get slightly ahead of the orchestra in the fast recitative sections. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Opera


Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music 2018 — “In the Blue Room with the Kronos Quartet”

“In The Blue Room with the Kronos Quartet”

This annual tradition has really gained quite the following as part of the Cabrillo Festival. David Harrington, the first violinist and typically the speaker for the group, guessed that it was back in 1978 when they first collaborated with the festival. The San Francisco based group has always maintained strong political views and this concert was no different. They opened with a short piece by Egyptian composer, Islam Chipsy. Zaghlala, loosely translated as meaning blurred vision cause by strong light in the eyes, was full of glissandos and fast passages. Perhaps this choice of piece was a nod to the song and dance man in charge at the moment distracting from the real issues at hand. Friend of the festival, Missy Mazzoli, was up next with a piece named ‘Harp and Altar’ for string quartet and recorded sound. The recording began as low vocal intonations and grew stronger into full words, which began to overpower the sound of the quartet and eventually overtook them in prominence. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Chamber music, String quartet


Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music 2018 — ‘After Dixieland’

Christi Macelaru welcomed everyone to the concert by inviting us ‘into the madness’ and ‘Dust Devils’, by Vivian Fung, which opened the concert with a whirl. She captured the swirl of a dust storm and everything the wind would pick up with it. In celebration of William Bolcom’s 80th birthday, the festival programed Bolcom’s ‘Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra’ and his students, Kristin Kuster and Gabriela Lena-Frank pieces as well. Having a teacher and his students all having pieces performed was a wonderful showcase of how the influence of a teacher lasts a lifetime and the progression of the festival. There was also an addition to the program: a piece by Karim Al-Zand, a friend of the festival. The piece is an elegy for the displaced with the title, Luctus Profugis after which Christi asked us not to applaud, but reflect instead on who we are and where we come from. What a difficult, yet poignant way to engage the audience by Christi Macelaru who Lena-Frank termed ‘a gem’.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Cabrillo College


La Traviata – San Jose Opera

On April 14 San Jose Opera’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’ opened on a lively scene: a party in a French salon held by Violetta, a stunning courtesan. Immediately drawing you in, Amanda Kingston returned to San Jose Opera with a bang. ‘The Drinking Song’ delighted the audience young and old alike, making the audience immediately comfortable. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Opera