I've just returned from a Sunday morning visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, not only a fascinating building designed by Mario Botta, but also a stunning collection, at the moment a lot of photography from the 1870s to today. Eadweard Muybridge's late 19th-century photographs of the Yosemite National Park were especially captivating to me.
The last two evenings I spent at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley where Cal Performances (the performing arts arm of the University of California in Berkeley) presented Benjamin Britten's chamber operas The Rape of Lucretia and Albert Herring. Matías Tarnopolsky, the new director of Cal Performances had worked with the great conductor Lorin Maazel at the New York Philharmonic and took advantage of this connection to invite the Maestro's Castleton Festival productions to Berkeley. Castleton is Lorin Maazel's farm in Virginia and every summer young artists gather there for a wide range of activities, from symphonic concerts, master classes and recitals to opera. At a dinner after the performance Maazel spoke about the importance of passing the torch to a younger generation of artists and keeping classical music and opera vibrant and relevant. At 81, he's as energetic as ever and got intense performances from the Berkeley Symphony and his cast of mostly young singers, among them two Canadians in the cast of Albert Herring, our own Ensemble Studio baritone Adrian Kramer as a fabulous Sid and Ashleigh Semkiw as the hilariously didactic school teacher Miss Wordsworth.
This afternoon, I have a few more meetings here in San Francisco and tomorrow morning at 6:30am I'll be off to New York for the opening of Capriccio at the Met.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (0) / permalink
If I ever had to choose a desert island disc, George Szell's Mozart recordings with the Cleveland Orchestra would be a very strong contender. Even after more than 50 years these recordings don't sound dated to me at all and it really was a special treat to be in Cleveland yesterday and hear the orchestra perform Don Giovanni (with Simon Keenlyside as the Don!) at Severance Hall, their magnificent early-20th century home. This was my first visit to Cleveland and also the first time I heard the orchestra live with Mozart.
What else to say that I'm happy I made the trip even though the orchestra's Music Director Franz Welser-Möst had to pull out of the performance at short notice and had to be replaced by the assistant conductor James Feddeck. But the show went on and very well.
I am writing this from San Francisco where I will spend the weekend with Britten chamber operas, meetings and auditions. Don't think I fled the snow!
I'm just about to return to Toronto after two days in Seattle. The major reason for me to come here was to see Seattle Opera's new production of Massenet's Don Quichotte (as you know, a piece that we will present in a future season) with John Relyea, but also to hear the talented members of the Young Artists Program (which one of our current Ensemble Studio members will join next season) and, finally, meet with my wonderful colleague Speight Jenkins who treated me to a fabulous Speerhead lunch (Speerhead is a fish, something between a trout and a salmon, not unlike our Arctic Char, delicious).
As always when I go west, it was raining almost all the time, but I'm sure one day I'll see the mountains.
This afternoon, I'll be back in Toronto, just in time to attend Tapestry's Oksana G in the Distillery District.
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