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Friday, August 01, 2014
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 Recent Reviews
RECITAL
UNHURRIED COMMAND IN MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Pianist Robert Schwartz opened Mendocino Music Festival’s piano series July 17 with a set of works in a recital made for keyboard connoisseurs. His success was doubly gratifying for the artist as he had played on the same stage at last year’s Festival, but had to cancel most of the recital due to il...
SYMPHONY
A MUSIC OFFERING IN A SONIC MIXTURE
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Bach’s iconic D Minor Clavier Concerto was the centerpiece in the fourth day of Mendocino Music Festival events July 16 in the big tent concert hall, with San Francisco-based Stephen Prutsman the featured artist. Conducting a chamber orchestra of ten from a lidless piano, Mr. Prutsman took fast te...
CHORAL AND VOCAL
A CAPAPELLA FEVER AHH
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Choral singing, especially unaccompanied by piano or orchestra, seldom gets exposure at a summer music festival. So it was a surprise July 16 to find the Mendocino Music Festival featuring a full program of a capella singing in downtown Mendocino’s Preston Hall. Perhaps due to the local performers...
SYMPHONY
DRAMATIC SUMMER MUSICAL FARE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, July 14, 2014
Napa’s Festival Del Sole’s summer resident orchestra, Sphinx, made a dramatic Weill Hall appearance July 15 with three star performers and a curious mix of pungent repertoire. Violinist Pinchas Zuckerman received the biggest adulation from the audience, closing the first half playing Bruch’s G Mino...
CHAMBER
SUMMER SCHUBERT SUNSHINE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 27, 2014
Though not as well known as the formidable Trio Navarro, the Amaryllis Trio has had an increasing chamber music presence since 2012 with manifold Sonoma and Marin County concerts. Sebastopol’s St. Stephen's Church and the Numina Center for the Arts hosted them June 27 in a sparkling concert of four ...
CHAMBER
A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME BRASS CONCERT
by Philip Beard
Thursday, June 12, 2014
"I think I just died and went to heaven" is a stock phrase for times of unusual bliss. On June 12 at SSU's Green Music Center, I didn't in fact die, but the 2½ hours spent listening to the National Brass Ensemble came as close to a brass player's heaven as I can imagine. The hall was all but sold o...
OPERA
HILARIOUS "MARRIAGE OF FIGARO" AT CINNABAR
by Nicki Bell
Friday, May 30, 2014
The Cinnabar Theater mounted a delightful, madcap, rambunctious, completely charming, extremely funny, very classy production of Mozartʼs opera "The Marriage of Figaro" from May 30 to June 15. With the feel of a 1920s Upstairs/Downstairs farce, it was sung in English and easily understood. Tho...
SYMPHONY
BENEFIT FOR CHILDREN, BOON FOR MUSIC LOVERS
by Steve Osborn
Thursday, May 22, 2014
For its postseason concert on May 22, the Santa Rosa Symphony--together with piano soloist Jeffrey Kahane and conductor Bruno Ferrandis--played for free. The money they would otherwise have earned will be used to benefit more than 20,000 children served by the Symphony's extensive outreach efforts, ...
SYMPHONY
POWERFUL SHOSTAKOVICH WORKS CLOSE USO'S SEASON
by Earl Dixon
Sunday, May 18, 2014
The Ukiah Symphony Orchestra concluded its current season on the May 17 weekend with a focus on Shostakovich. The featured works in Mendocino College’s Center Theater were the second Piano Concerto in F major, Op. 102 and Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47. Pianist Aaron Ames played the concerto an...
RECITAL
ELEGANCE AND INTROSPECTION
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, May 18, 2014
A May 18 Weill Hall audience was led by the hands and heart of Richard Goode to a quiet realm of the sublime with a performance of the masterful last three Beethoven Piano Sonatas. The program was billed as the first time the artist has toured with the Op. 109, 110 and 111 pieces, and these weighty...
Local Concerts  
OPERA REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Friday, July 18, 2014
Festival Orchestra, Allan Pollack, Conductor. Singers TBA

Baritone Eugene Brancoveanu

A PROVOCATIVE DON GIOVANNI AT MENDOCINO FESTIVAL

by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 18, 2014

At each Mendocino Music Festival a key evening is given over to a staged opera in the big tent, and last year Rossini’s frothy “Il Signor Bruschino” was an audience hit but hardly comprehensive operatic fare.

Times change. Mozart’s weighty opera Don Giovanni was given a propulsive but often confusing single performance July 18 before a sold out audience in the Festival tent.

Confusion began early with masked black-robed faces roaming the semi-bare stage and Dennis Rupp, performing the wonderful Leporello role, arriving in a costume akin to the Ballet Russe impresario Serge Diaghilev: swallow white shirt, red-colored glasses, tails and huge top hat. The Don, played by Eugene Brancoveanu, appeared to be a Jack Nicholson knockoff with sunglasses, open shirt and swagger. But there was not an aristocratic swagger in sight, just jumping about the stage and sporadically running up and down the aisle. It went on from there with the first scene death of the Commandatore caused not by the rapier thrust (as it said in the ill-timed and often wrong supertitles) but by the Don ripping away the oxygen cylinder and mask from the old man that arrived through the curtain in a wheel chair.

Many in the audience presumably loved the director ‘s vision of the cutesy and titillatingly long performance, but perhaps now it’s best to turn to the meat of any operatic experience, the orchestra and the singing.

The singing, though forceful and playing to the director’s concepts, was never convincingly compelling. Tenor Sergio Gonzales, underpowered in the large space, was the most lyrical as Don Ottavio, and Masetto (unidentified in the program, and a baritone as is the Don) had vocal heft. Kelly Britt as Donna Anna, the Commandatore’s daughter, presented a character of palpable sympathy for the lecherous Don, mixed with vengeful hatred.

Success in this great opera stands or falls on the greatness of the Don’s singing and his exciting repartee with his long-suffering servant Leparello. Mr. Brancoveanu’s singing had excellent Italian diction, admirable athleticism and just a bit of the sinister. His voice was smooth in all registers but continually monochromatic and never gave this listener any notion of sly charm beneath the surface of his sexual license. The same role sung recently in the local Cinnabar Theater and Met HD Cast productions was compelling and made the Don almost likeable. Almost.

As in previous tent concerts the amplification was helpful for vocal volume and clarity of language, but it hampered sonic differentiation and made the voices of sopranos Zerlina (Adina Dorband) and a first act Donna Elvira (Youn Ryu) take on a brittle and shouting character.

Behind the minimal set Festival co-director Allan Pollack conducted with authority and generated a lively and balanced sound, though too often the playing lacked polish and tight ensemble. But it is a dramatic opera inside a busy festival and there was just a sole performance.

The evening’s program did not mention the names of the costume, lighting, choreography and set designers, and most crucially the name of the opera’s director. The woman playing continuo for recitatives was also unidentified.

Events Calendar

SYMPHONY
National Youth Orchestra of the USA
Saturday, August 02, 2014
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
David Robertson, conductor. Gil Shaham, violin
Britten: Violin Concerto, Op. 15; Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story"; Sanuel Carl Adams: Radial Play; Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exibition" (orch. Ravel, 1922) Tickets: $25 (indoor on...
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CHAMBER
Piano Sonoma
Sunday, August 03, 2014
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Performers TBA
Program: TBA...
Details

OPERA
On The Wings of An Angel
Saturday, August 16, 2014
7:30 PM - Sebastopol
Susanna Anselmi, mezzo-soprano
Purcell: Thy hand Belinda; Vivaldi: Vedrò con mio diletto Pergolesi: Se tu m'ami; Rossini: Cruda sorte, amor ti amo; Donizetti: O mio Fernando; St. Saens: Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix; Verdi: Stride la...
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CHAMBER
Church of the Incarnation
Sunday, August 24, 2014
4:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Carol Menke, soprano; Joseph Edelberg, violin;
Laura McLellan, cello; Joey Prather, piano
Program: Piano trios by Mozart and Clara Schumann, vocal selections TBA $20 admission charge includes a wine reception. Tickets available at the door....
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CHAMBER
Redwood Arts Council
Saturday, September 20, 2014
7:30 PM - Occidental
Swensen-LaDeur Duo With Special Guest Brenden Guy
Debussy Sonata for Violin and Piano (1917) Images Book II for Piano( 1907) Bartok Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano (1938) Sonata for Solo Violin (excerpts) (1944) ...
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SYMPHONY
Sonoma County Philharmonic
Saturday, September 27, 2014
8:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Michael d'Arcy, violin
Kabalevsky: Overture to Colas Breugnon; Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 i G Minor, Op.63; Tchaikovsky: Synphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 ("Patétique")...
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SYMPHONY
Marin Symphony
Sunday, September 28, 2014
3:00 PM - San Rafael
Alasdair Neale,conductor. Zuill Bailey, cello
Bernstein: Overture to the opera "Candide"; Saint Saëns: Concerto For Cello No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33; Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique...
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SYMPHONY
Sonoma County Philharmonic
Sunday, September 28, 2014
2:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Michael d'Arcy, violin
Kabalevsky: Overture to Colas Breugnon; Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63; Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 ("Pathétique")...
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SYMPHONY
Marin Symphony
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
7:30 PM - San Rafael
Alasdair Neale, conductor. Zuill Bailey, cello
Bernstein: Overture to the opera "Candide"; St. Saëns: Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33; Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique...
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RECITAL
Sonoma State University Department of Music
Saturday, October 04, 2014
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
Pandit Laxmi Tewari, North Indian Classical singer. Other musicians TBA
Program TBA...
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