Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Robin Sloan at Arion Press, 11.27.2012 Author Robin Sloan speaking at Arion Press.Tuesday evening I heard local author Robin Sloan read from his 1st novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, in a gallery space at Arion Press in the Presidio. The affable Mr. Sloan described how he was inspired to write the story after reading a friend's tweet mentioning the concept of a 24-hour bookstore. The book seems to be a fun read that is steeped in the cultures of both San Francisco & Silicon Valley. In the Q&A, Mr. Sloan was asked about the accuracy of his portrait of Google, & he characterized it as "affectionate exaggeration." He also proudly verified that Hadoop is a real technology. Mr. Sloan is quite sunny about the publishing business & averred that owners of eReaders buy more books, both digital & print.

Arion Press, 11.27.2012 Gallery at Arion Press.The event was preceded by a wine reception, & the gathering was literate & cultivated. Arion Press board member Kevin King introduced Mr. Sloan. Mr. King pointed out the book's glow-in-the-dark cover & challenged the author to defend his optimistic vision of the compatibility of old & new technologies.

§ Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Robin Sloan

November 27, 2012, 6:00 p.m.
Arion Press

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thielemann Berates Beijing Audience

My Beijing-based correspondent recently witnessed Christian Thielemann scold an audience at the National Centre for the Performing Arts while on tour with the Dresden Staatskapelle:
"...he abruptly cut-off the first solo trumpet note of the Rienzi overture (which was not the first work of the program), turned three-quarters around to the audience, and berated them in English for not taking their seats quietly enough."
Our Man in Beijing goes on to explain that the Rienzi overture was the 3rd Wagner overture on the program & that there was apparently seating of latecomers combined with jockeying for better seats. He reports that the audience was silent after their reprimand & adds, "The audiences in Beijing are noisy by US standards."

§ Dresden Staatskapelle
Christian Thielemann, Conductor

Wagner: Overture to Tannhauser
Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod, from Tristan und Isolde
Wagner: Overture to Rienzi
Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor

3. November 2012
Beijing, National Centre for the Performing Arts

Joyce DiDonato | Drama Queens

Weill Hall, 11.20.2012 Interior of Weill Hall, Sonoma State University, awaiting performance of Drama Queens by Joyce DiDonato.Last week I was fortunate to hear mezzo Joyce DiDonato in a recital of Baroque opera arias, accompanied by Il Complesso Barocco. Ms. DiDonato must be at the top of her game, & she sang with complete control. All the pieces fit her voice comfortably, as if tailored for her, & her sound was always warm, attractive & even. I loved hearing "Disprezzata regina" from Monteverdi's Poppea. It moved restlessly from emotion to emotion, & Ms. DiDonato nailed every dramatic turn. I wanted to hear the rest of the opera.

She sang lovely quiet passages & a beautiful decrescendo in "Piangerò la sorre mia" from Handel's Giulio Cesare, though the audience applauded prematurely at the end of the B section. "Madre diletta, abbracciami" from Porta's Ifigenia was softly plangent, & Ms. DiDonata gave the long opening note a different coloration on the repeat. Her runs & trills were clean & controlled, & "Brilla nell'alma" from Handel's Alessandro sounded like a hoedown. She offered 3 encores & seemed like she could give more. The house lights stayed up during the performance, & she often looked around at the audience. She joked that it was good to be wearing a dress again in San Francisco, & she playfully sang the pitch when the orchestra took a long time tuning before the Scarlatti in the 2nd half.

The young musicians of Il Complesso Barocco were a lively bunch who stood as they played. 1st violin Dmitry Sinkovsky was their leader & an extravagant soloist for a Vivaldi violin concerto. He performed a wild, improvisational cadenza in the 1st movement that was fun & funny. He often looks like he's running in place & frequently plays to his fellow musicians, his back to the audience. There was lots of bowing off the string & a flashy up-bow staccato in the 3rd movement. It was exuberant, & some in the audience gave Mr. Sinkovsky a standing ovation. The men of Il Complesso Barocco wore red socks that matched Ms. DiDonato's elaborate red dress.

Weill Hall, 11.20.2012 Mopping up wet floors at Weill Hall at Sonoma State University, before Drama Queen performance by Joyce DiDonato.The bright wooden interior of Weill Hall at Sonoma State University is inviting, & the acoustic is clear. The facilities staff conscientiously mopped the floor as patrons came in from the rain. It was a pity that there were so many empty seats. It took my concert companion & I nearly 2 hours to drive to Rohnert Park from Oakland, & we were dismayed to find no food available at the hall.

§ Drama Queens
Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano
Dmitry Sinkovsky, violin | director
Il Complesso Barocco

Antonio Cesti (1623-1669)
"Intorno all'idol mio" from Orontea
    Orontea, Queen of Egypt

Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)
Sinfonia (Presto-Grave-Presto) from Tolomeo ed Alessandro

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
"Disprezzata regina" from L'Incoronazione di Poppea
     Ottavia, Empress of Rome

Geminiano Giacomelli (1692-1740)
"Sposa, son disprezzata" from Merope
     Irene, Princess of Tresbisond

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Concerto for violin and strings RV 242, "per Pisendel"

Giuseppe Maria Orlandini (1676-1760)
"Da torbida procella" from Berenice
     Berenice, Queen of Palestine


Johann Adopf Hasse (1699-1783)
"Morte col fiero aspetto" from Antonio e Cleopatra
     Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt

George Frideric Handel (16S5-1759)
"Piangerò la sorre mia" from Giulio Cesare
     Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt

Passacaglia from Radamisto

Giovanni Porta (1675-1755)
"Madre diletta, abbracciami" from Ifigenia in Aulide
     lfigenia, Princess of Mycenae

D. Scarlatti

"Brilla nell'alma" from Alessandro
     Rossane, Princess of Persia


Reinhard Keiser (1674-1739)
"Lasciami piangere" from Fredegunda

Guiseppe Maria Orlandini (1676 - 1760)
"Col versar, barbaro" from Berenice

"Brilla nell'alma" reprise?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 8 p.m.
Weill Hall, Sonoma State University

Thursday, November 22, 2012

An Area 51 Christmas

I'm completely in favor of this Christmas window display in the Marc Jacobs store in Pacific Heights. Apart from presents beneath a saguaro cactus hung with lights, nothing says Christmas in the Southwest like a space alien crash landing in the Nevada desert. His UFO prop looks like it could be an actual working vehicle, though of the terrestrial wheeled kind.

Muni History & Children's Books at SFPL

It's pretty amazing to see this die cut, Halloween-themed Muni fast pass from 1977. That's something you can't do with a Clipper card. It's in a small exhibit about Muni, crammed into a few cases on the 5th floor of the main library. A 1931 map shows a trolley line on my street, so my neighborhood was probably better served back then than it is now. One can easily read the entries in a hand-written accident log, & I really liked seeing an employee publication containing cartoons lampooning Muni riders & workers. They are nicely drawn & actually funny.

Children's Book Illustration, 11.19.2012 Children's book illustration at the SF Public Library.
Also on the same floor is an exhibit of children's book illustrations, displaying both original art & printed books. The selection favors refined artwork. Drawings by Charles Feiffer, Maurice Sendak, & one of the 1st illustrators of Harry Potter are included.

§ Cussed and Discussed: 100 Years of the Municipal Railway in San Francisco
San Francisco History Center
San Francisco Main Library
November 2, 2012 - January 24, 2013

§ Draw Me a Story: A Century of Children’s Book Illustration
Skylight Gallery
San Francisco Main Library
September 15, 2012 - December 2, 2012

Kawaii Lolitas

Even though it was dark & I was waiting for a bus across the street, it was impossible to miss this crowd of ladies (& perhaps one gentleman) in frilly pink & white outfits, forming a line in front of Harajuku Hearts on Kearny Street on Sunday night. Though they were only minding their own business, they attracted quite a bit of attention from passersby. I was told that they were there to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the shop.


Sunday afternoon I visited Jack London Square to check out Patchwork, a fair of DIY arts & crafts for sale. I felt like I'd fallen into etsy. I saw stationery, printed t-shirts, upcycled sport coats, hand-decorated pocket flasks, jewelry made of old maps, things made of felt, things knitted & crocheted, all of it indeed crafty & cute. Chocolates & terrariums were on offer. None of this was necessarily cheap.

Many attendees shopped with their dogs.

The event had a neighborhood atmosphere.

fiftyseven-thirtythree provided free screen printing of their "loakal" logo on attendees' t-shirts, which was a popular service.

The crowd was local, young & hip. The event had its own retro muzak, by a DJ who spun vintage LPs of 1960s lounge music. I kept waiting for an Yma Sumac song. More than one vendor recognized the designer of my hoodie, who turned out to have a booth there as well, even though I had assumed the event would be too cute for him.

§ Patchwork
Indie Arts & Crafts Festival
18 November 2012
Jack London Square Pavilion, Oakland


This Austrian documentary profiles Sven, a young German man in his 20s. Talking directly to the camera, he recounts how as a teenager he recognized his sexual attraction to children. The filmmakers check in with him periodically over a span of 4 years, as he describes his struggle with his unacted desire for sexual contact with young boys. The filmmakers approach the subject dispassionately, almost dryly, & Sven puts his case directly before us without shame. He describes his compulsion to photograph boys in public, & we see how he meets men with similar proclivities on the Web. In a no-nonsense consultation, a sharp-minded Viennese psychiatrist tells Sven that his disorder is something he will have to accommodate himself to his entire life. The doctor then avers that a person becomes dissocial not because he is immoral but only when he has nothing left to lose. We see Sven working as an archaeologist, but he seems socially isolated. He does not want to hurt anyone, but he may be edging closer to having contact with boys. Having laid out Sven's situation, the film simply stops.

I saw Outing at the SF DocFest over the weekend. This was my 1st time being in the Roxie's 2nd theater. It's a tall, narrow space 2 doors down from the main theater. Even sitting in the middle of the auditorium, I felt a bit of neck strain looking up at the screen.

§ Outing (2012)
Documentary by Sebastian Meise & Thomas Reider
76 min., Austria | Germany

§ San Francisco Documentary Festival
Presented by SF IndieFest
Sat, Nov 17, 7:15 PM
Roxie Theater, House A

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph 3D

This week I saw Wreck-It Ralph, Disney's latest CGI feature. Ralph is the likeable bad guy in a low-res video arcade game. He's so hamfisted that his knuckles are the size of his head. He lives in a cyberworld inhabited by the arcade's video game characters, & the fun of the movie is in the interplay of the different game worlds. The low-res characters in Ralph's game comically jerk from pose to pose & are astonished by the high-res characters from a 1st person shooter. The candy-themed environment of Sugar Rush is so over the top that it made my teeth hurt. If you played video games in the 1980s, the movie will make you laugh. The film's dive bar is called Tapper.

Interestingly, the characters are well aware that they are virtual beings. There's even a scene where a character hacks his own game's code, which is depicted as a floating network of interconnected nodes. The movie has several plot strands, & the story line seems over-worked. When Ralph discovers an underground lake of Diet Coke & stalactites made of Mentos hanging over it, you know what's going to happen in the finale. John C. Reilly sounds naturally cartoony as Ralph, but the character & voice of the little heroine Vanellope irritated me.

Wreck-It Ralph was preceded by Paperman, an animated short combining elegant line drawings with CG animation. The black-and-white film stylishly evokes a New York City of the 1940s, & the 3D has an airy feeling.

§ Wreck-It Ralph 3D (2012)
director: Rich Moore
101 min., USA

§ Paperman (2012)
director: John Kahrs

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Real Vocal String Quartet at Rex Salon

Wednesday evening the Real Vocal String Quartet played an hour-long concert in the Salon at the Rex. Today they embark on an international tour, sponsored by the Department of State, to Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Bosnia & Lithuania, so the program featured their arrangements of folk songs from those countries. The quartet incorporates improvisation & elements from classical, jazz & world music. Their performance was toe-tapping & had a sense of fun. The musicians occasionally sing while playing, an effect I found disconcerting. Members of the quartet talked to the audience between pieces, & the atmosphere was sociable & informal.

Due to a melt-down in the Muni Metro, I arrived 5 minutes late & missed the 1st number. The show was well-attended, & SF Performances staff had to bring in more chairs for latecomers. Following the concert, the audience was invited to a reception in the same room. RVSQ has blogged about the event themselves.

§ Real Vocal String Quartet
Salon at the Rex

Irene Sazer, violin and voice
Alisa Rose, vioin and voice
Dina Maccabee, viola and voice
Jessica Ivry, cello and voice

Wednesday, November 14, 6:30pm
Hotel Rex

The Standbys

Tuesday night I saw a screening of The Standbys at the SF DocFest. The film follows 3 standbys covering star roles in big Broadway shows. It's a great idea for a documentary, & I enjoyed the movie even though I know nothing about Broadway musicals. Filmmaker Stephanie Riggs did a good job selecting 3 performers at very different points in their professional & personal lives. I was quickly made to feel that these people were my friends. I like how the film easily accesses those same feelings of yearning, disappointment, & fulfillment that one expects in a typical musical.

We frequently see just how ruthless show business can be. When the endearing Ben Crawford finally gets to take over the title role in Shrek, the film slyly interviews Eric Petersen, Mr. Crawford's bright-voiced standby who has his own aspirations to the part. The DocFest audience is savvy & was clearly not fooled by the ex-boyfriend of performer Aléna Watters when he gave her a shoulder rub during a stressful rehearsal.

§ The Standbys
Director: Stephanie Riggs
75 min. | USA | 2012

San Francisco Documentary Festival
Presented by IndieFest
Tue, Nov 13, 7:15 PM
Roxie Theater

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gimme an L!

Actually, gimme 3 of 'em.

Experimental Belgian Does Shakespeare

For some reason I laughed out loud when I read this capsule preview in The New Yorker:


Nov. 16-18

The experimental Belgian director Ivo van Hove is the artistic director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ largest repertory company. At BAM, van Hove directs “Roman Tragedies,” a continuous performance of Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus,” “Julius Caesar,” and “Antony and Cleopatra,” during which the audience is invited to mingle with the cast onstage.
It's a 5-and-a-half-hour show, with no intermission. If I lived in New York, I would totally pack a couple of sandwiches & be there.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Scrubbed, 11.11.2012 Reading of Dan Hoyle's Scrubbed at SF Playhouse.Sunday evening I was part of the audience for a reading of Scrubbed, a new play by Dan Hoyle commissioned by the San Francisco Playhouse. The reading was held on the set of the SF Playhouse's current production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. 4 actors with binders stood at music stands while a woman off to the side read the stage directions. The rather involved satirical plot concerns a misbehaving lawyer running for congress & incriminating photos circulating in cyberspace. The play is almost entirely bantering conversations. Mr. Hoyle, who looks like he's in high school, was one of the readers, though people told me he would not be in the actual production.

An unusual feature of the play is that the audience needs to see the text messages that the characters constantly send to one another. I assume these will appear as projections, though here the actors simply read the messages out loud. The funniest part of the evening was when actor Charles Dean determinedly pronounced strings of random text representing garbled messages.

There was an audience of perhaps 70 subscribers, who brought their own drinks & snacks to share. They were engaged & enthusiastic & laughed loudly at the jokes. My theater companion pointed out a couple in the front row who had a bottle of wine with them at their seats. We did not stay for the post-reading discussion.

§ Scrubbed
by Dan Hoyle

A play reading featuring Charles Dean, Dan Hoyle, Jomar Tagatac, Cat Thompson

Sunday, November 11, 6pm
San Francisco Playhouse

Salonen & The Philharmonia: Wozzeck

Esa-Pekka Salonen & the Philharmonia Orchestra just completed a brief residency at Cal Performances. Saturday night I heard their concert version of Wozzeck. I was impressed by its clarity & vividness. The singers had their roles memorized & were all completely in character. They all wore black, though small variations in their dress reflected their parts. It was like watching an opera without the sets.

Baritone Johan Reuter was reliably strong & clear as Wozzeck & became convincingly desperate as the story progressed. Soprano Angela Denoke's voice is athletic & steely, & her Marie was emotional, angry, & anguished. I really enjoyed tenor Peter Hoare's scene-stealing acting as the Captain, annoying yet somehow beguiling. He makes a bell-like sound. Bass Tijl Faveyts as the Doctor seemed to have problems making a big sound this evening, though his physical performance was full of animated, angular gestures. He sometimes stood on his toes. Tenor Joshua Ellicott as Andres had a lyrical sound that was distinct from the rest of the cast, & he squeezed out some very high notes in the tavern scene. Mezzo Anna Burford as Margret had an unusual but captivating voice. I was never sure what kind of sound she would make next. Her low notes were cavernous, yet she was focused & almost reedy higher up. Tenor Harry Nicoll made a precise, ethereal sound as the Idiot. Tenor Hubert Francis's Drum Major was suave & sturdy.

Meastro Salonen kept the music in constant fluid motion. He moves his hands gracefully & beat time clearly throughout. His left hand mostly mirrored his right. The orchestra played cleanly, & each of its sections sounded distinct. The interlude after Wozzeck's death was beautiful & flowing. A lot of personnel were involved. There was a large orchestra & a good sized chorus, & we heard off-stage & on-stage bands. About 20 members of the Piedmont Children's Choir filed onstage for the final scene, & soloist Zachary Mamis, standing right next to the conductor, nailed his "Hop, hop!"

The performance was intermissionless, & the audience applauded lightly in the pauses between acts, during which Maestro Salonen rested in a chair onstage. A cell phone went off in the row behind me during a quiet passage, but the audience was otherwise quiet & attentive & gave the performers extended applause & a partial standing ovation.

§ Wozzek, Alban Berg

Philharmonia Orchestra
Esa-Pekka Salonen, Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor
Aidan Oliver, Assistant Conductor

Johan Reuter, Wozzeck
Angela Denoke, Marie
Hubert Francis, Drum Major
Joshua Ellicott, Andres
Peter Hoare, Captain
Tijl Faveyts, Doctor
Henry Waddington, First Apprentice
Eddie Wade, Second Apprentice
Harry Nicoll, Idiot
Anna Burford, Margret
Zachary Mamis, Marie's Child

UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus
Marika Kuzma, Director

Members of the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir
Robert Geary, Artistic Director
Sue Bohlin, Principal Accompanist & Associate Conductor

Members of the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra
David Milnes, Director

Saturday, November 10, 2012, 7pm
Zellerbach Hall

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Flugtag San Francisco

I'm pretty sure that the Red Bull Flugtag was the silliest thing going on in San Franciso on Saturday afternoon. Teams compete to build unlikely human-powered flying machines & launch them into McCovey Cove by pushing them off the end of a high ramp. Scores take into account creativity as well as length of flight, so wacky costumes & dance skits are part of the show. I watched Stanford students, drag queens, & the cast of Scooby Doo, among others, take flying leaps into the water. Some of the most aerodynamic-looking crafts collapsed before making it to the end of the runway, while a shopping cart made up as a banana launched its pilot farther than most.

Flugtag San Francisco 2012, 11.10.2012 Flugtag crowd at San Francisco AT&T Park.I was overwhelmed by the crowds, which were at least 10 deep on both sides of McCovey Cove. There were an inordinate number of tall people, so I gave up trying to see the launches directly & instead watched the video screens in AT&T park, where the field & the stands were full as well. The videos stream was slickly-produced & included excellent instant replays from various angles. Announcers claimed that 100,000 people were in attendance. AT&T Park concession stands were open. Red Bull did not seem to be the most commonly imbibed beverage, however.

§ Red Bull Flugtag San Francisco 2012
McCovey Cove
11 November 2012

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Flat

The Flat, Arnon Goldfinger's documentary about his German-Jewish grandparents, is like an untidy episode of History Detectives. When Mr. Goldfinger's family clears out his grandmother's Tel Aviv apartment following her death, they find an old copy of a Nazi newspaper. The filmmaker uncovers an unlikely friendship between his grandparents & a Nazi official & his wife that was apparently warm & lasted for decades. Mr. Goldfinger, confounded & offended by the relationship, tries to determine what has been unsaid in the family histories. We witness small but charged moments as he delicately questions his mother, journalists, & descendants of both families. It's amusing to see him paying visits with a bouquet of flowers in hand, but there is an accusatory tone to his astonishment at what the older generation doesn't seem to know. I was left with an unsettling feeling. The film takes place in Tel Aviv, Berlin & Wuppertal & is in an earthy stew of Hebrew, German & English.

§ The Flat
director: Arnon Goldfinger
97 min, German, Israel, 2011

Monday, November 05, 2012


I'm glad I got around to seeing the stop-motion Frankenweenie, Tim Burton's sweet hommage to classic monster movies. A little boy named Victor, apparently living in 1960s suburbia, surreptitiously re-animates his beloved pet dog after it is killed by a car. His classmates discover his secret & set about comically resurrecting their own beasts. Mayhem ensues. The film is really about its artful visual design & happily macabre atmosphere. It's even in glorious black & white. Victor's classmates are droll caricatures of horror film freaks, & there's a spectacular finale at a burning windmill. I kept wondering who the audience for this movie is supposed to be. It seems too guiless for adults. If it's for children, it must be for rather odd ones.

§ Frankenweenie (2012)
Tim Burton, director

Sunday, November 04, 2012


Morrison Artists Series, 11.04.2012 McKenna Hall set for ARTefact Quartet, Morrison Artists Series, SF State University.Sunday afternoon the Morrison Artists Series presented the Canadian chamber ensemble ARTefact in a free concert at SF State. The program began with Takemitsu's Quautrain II, for clarinet, violin, cello & piano. It featured many eerie slides for the string players. Next was a serious & astringent quartet by Hindemith for the same combination of instruments. The audience mistakenly clapped halfway through the final movement. Violinist Arianna Warsaw-Fan sounded clean & bright. After intermission we heard the Brahms clarinet trio, & cellist Yegor Dyachkov played more assertively than he had in the 1st half. Tempos were unhurried, & the performance felt a bit arid. It might have been a bad idea for the musicians not to tune on stage.

Morrison Artists Series, 11.04.2012 Refreshment at intermission of Morrison Artists Series.The audience lined up for juice & cookies in another room during the intermission, & there was a drawing for a gift bag of CDs. The audience was a mix of older people & students. During the 1st half, a high-pitched electronic whine, perhaps from a hearing aid, came from the left side of the hall. The printed program had the order of the Takemitsu & the Hindemith reversed, but this was acknowledged only after we had already heard the Takemitsu.

§ ARTefact
Yegor Dyachkov, cello
Arianna Warsaw-Fan, violin
Louise Bessette, piano
David Perreault, clarinet

Takemitsu (1930–1996): Quatrain II (1977)
Hindemith (1895–1963): Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano (1938)
Brahms (1833–1897): Trio in A minor for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 114 (1891)

Morrison Artists Series
Sunday, November 4, 2012  3:00pm
McKenna Theatre, San Francisco State University

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Lauritz Melchior in Context

Saturday afternoon Lisa Hirsch addressed members of the Wagner Society of Northern California on Wagner tenors represented on early 20th century recordings. She gave capsule biographies of over a dozen singers, played recordings from her CD collection, & provided circumspect commentary. Lauritz Melchior is of course unrivaled, but it was interesting to hear nearly comparable singers also born in the 19th century & trained before there was Wagner specialization & the Bayreuth Bark. The attendees were sometimes taken aback to hear Wagner sung in Italian, French & Russian. Desider Matray's awkward Tannhäuser made some of us wince, & people laughed when Leo Slezak flubbed Siegfried's forging song. I liked Georges Thill's French-speaking Lohengrin.

Lisa Hirsch at the Wagner Society, 11.03.2012 Lisa Hirsch speaking to the Wagner Society.The Wagner Society weirdly convenes at the Jewish Community Center. The meeting began with news that the Bayreuth Festival will resume allocation of tickets to Wagner Societies in 2013. There was a headcount of those who had seen SF Opera's current Lohengrin more than once already. Ms. Hirsch received a Stephen Fry DVD & a Valkyrie floaty pen at the end of her talk, & the Q&A was still going when I left the event over 2 and a half hours after it began.

§ Lauritz Melchior in Context
Lisa Hirsch
Lauritz Melchior: Sui Generis or the Best of a Good Bunch?

Wagner Society of Northern California
Nov 3 2012 1:00 pm
JCC-San Francisco

§ Singers discussed: Lauritz Melchior, Paul Franz, Jacques Urlus, Giuseppe Borgatti, Isadoro Fagoaga, Ivan Ershov, Francisco Viñas, Leo Slezak, Hermann Winkelmann, César Vezzani, Walter Widdop, Georges Thill, Miguel Fleta, Desider Matray, Alberto Remedios

Friday, November 02, 2012

Bandaloop in Mint Plaza

At Thursday lunchtime, the aerial dance company Bandaloop gave a half-hour show, rapelling down the facade of an 8-story building in Mint Plaza. 6 dancers performed 4 pieces, accompanied by mellow recorded music. The dancers are usually at a right angle to the face of the building, & I started to perceive them as standing on a flat surface, so when they pushed away from the building, they appeared to fly, float, & tumble in the air. They moved gracefully & obviously enjoyed themselves up there. The performance felt exuberant & fearless.

The small but enthusiastic crowd watching was young & hip. Several recorded the performance with iPads. Bandaloop's Artistic Director Amelia Rudolph addressed us between dances & encouraged us to check out the company's workshops, claiming, "You can all do this!" Afterward, I was interviewed by a woman with a video camera who asked how the performance made me feel.

Bandaloop gives a longer performance on the Great Wall of Oakland this Saturday at 1p.

§ Touching Up
Thursday, November 1 - 12:30 Pm
Mint Plaza