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Marginally Mozart, Masterfully Mark Morris

Marginally Mozart, Masterfully Mark Morris

BY ELI JACOBSON | Handel’s pastoral masterpiece “Acis and Galatea” started out in 1718 as an English masque based on a theme from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” and evolved into a bilingual “serenata” (a semi-staged concert opera in costume) in 1732 and was expanded into a two-act “little opera” in 1739. It was incredibly popular during Handel’s […]

Nellie’s Billy

Nellie’s Billy

BY DAVID NOH | One of the great enigmas in the music world, William Lee “Billy” Tipton (1914 – 1989) was an American jazz musician and bandleader, who, it was discovered after his death, was born a woman. Named Dorothy Louise Tipton at birth in Oklahoma, he took his father’s name, “Billy,” when he started his […]

Operatic Game-Changers

Operatic Game-Changers

BY ELI JACOBSON | Throughout the 19th century, opera composers strived to break away from the “number opera” format — a series of separate musical pieces in conventional forms interspersed with recitative or dialogue that moved the action forward. Through-composed operas created set pieces that carried the dramatic action forward without stopping the orchestra or […]

Big Gifts in Big Packages

Big Gifts in Big Packages

BY ELI JACOBSON | Larger framed singers with equally grand voices win vocal competitions but often find the doors of the world’s opera houses closed to them. Thinner, photogenic singers with less unique imposing voices are preferred by visually oriented opera directors and publicity minded impresarios. A press firestorm erupted in May over British opera […]

Pride Week Opera 

Pride Week Opera 

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | San Francisco Opera presented three works during its summer season, smartly timed to overlap with Pride Day and Frameline’s Film Festival. Volunteering duties at the Castro kept me from seeing Patricia Racette in the beautiful Jun Kaneko’s beautiful “Madama Butterfly” production. But Racette — who sang both Margherita and Elena in […]

A Complete Cole Porter Find 

A Complete Cole Porter Find 

BY DAVID NOH | No one brings the intensity to confabs that lovers of musical theater manage when they get together. And my recent meet-up with essential bandleader Vince Giordano and director/ producer/ historian Ken Bloom proved an absolute Broadway nerd-fest. The two guys have collaborated to revive Cole Porter’s 1928 “The Ambassador Revue” at […]

Opera in Odd Spaces 

Opera in Odd Spaces 

BY ELI JACOBSON | With the mid-May end of the Metropolitan Opera’s season, opera is on the move throughout the city, springing up in museums, churches, concert halls, and parks. On Site Opera specializes in performing small-scale works in site-specific locations. For Jean-Philippe Rameau’s 1748 one-act opéra-ballet “Pygmalion,” performances took place in two locations — […]

Unspoken Challenges

Unspoken Challenges

BY GARY M. KRAMER | Set in 1985 San Francisco, the low-budget “Test” is a compelling drama about the onset of the AIDS crisis. Frankie (Scott Marlowe) is a dancer whose unease about the epidemic is palpable. His concerns are contrasted with those of his fellow dancer, Todd (the magnetic Matthew Risch), who has a more unconstrained […]

A Trial in Words and Music 

A Trial in Words and Music 

BY RYAN HOWE | Before landing the lead role in “The Trial of Oscar Wilde,” Michael Halling didn’t know much about Wilde’s story or about his prosecution for “gross indecency” — that is, homosexual conduct. Halling had just begun reading Wilde’s plays when a friend suggested he audition for the role in the Ensemble for […]

From the Continental to the Carlyle

From the Continental to the Carlyle

BY DAVID NOH | Singer-songwriter Melissa Manchester is making her Café Carlyle debut (through June 21), and I grabbed the chance to chat with one of the artists from the 1970s who shone particularly brightly. I am forever grateful for her ravishing song “Midnight Blue,” which, on a cross-country drive from Los Angeles to New […]

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