Arts Listings

Duykers, Frasconi at Bucci's Cafe

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday October 01, 2009 - 01:11:00 PM

Opera tenor John Duykers, no stranger to unconventional performance, will join forces with musician and composer Miguel Frasconi, founder of the Glass Orchestra, in a “sneak preview” and dinner to show excerpts from (and to benefit) Hand to Mouth, the work-in-progress song-play they’re developing together with director Missy Weaver, including additional songs by Charles Shere and artwork by sculptor John Watrous. 

The show starts at 7:30 p. m. this Saturday at Bucci’s Cafe, 6121 Hollis St. in Emeryville ($60 for dinner and performance; reservations: 547-4725), followed by two dinner “sneak previews” on Sunday at the French Garden Restaurant in Sebastopol. Information: 

Duykers and Weaver spoke with reflectiveness and wit of the traveling they both do to performances and educational events in other cities—and how they’ve balanced being constantly in motion by living on a farm in Sebastopol with friends, the proprietors of the French Garden Restaurant, raising produce that’s cooked at home or in the restaurant, or taken to farmers markets.  

Duykers mentioned in particular the veritable ragout of this performance, drawing on a wide array of ingredients to “celebrate the journey of the seed from soil to plate and ... the inner thoughts of a farmer as he ponders the meaning of his life’s work": a song from a poem by James Whitcomb Riley ("Little Brook,” from “Brook Song,” a lovesong from a seed to a brook); the instruments and media Frasconi and Duykers will play—and play with—(glass goblets and bowls, toy piano, kalimbas, cooking and eating utensils, farm implements, electronic keyboards, video and audio playback,computer); the songs by composer Charles Shere, whose music and writing is familiar to Berkeley listeners; Watrous’ artwork and sculture, which often include installation of lights; the element of improvisation Duykers, Frasconi and Weaver are committed to—and writings by Duykers, including reflections on his life, on growing up in Butte, Montana, the copper-mining “richest hill on earth,” then making a career in music and performance that has taken him around the world—and down on the farm. “I share the genesis of my passion for farming and singing, and the trials and triumphs related to these passions,” Duykers wrote of the song-play, adding he’d sing “of culinary addictions and delights, and the wonders of the earth.”  

Duykers and Weaver have worked together many times, including on Berkeley Symphony’s premiere of Kurt Rohlde and Amanda Moody’s oratorio, Bitter Harvest, about farmers battling with agricultural genetic engineering by Monsanto. Frasconi has collaborated with the other two, notably on an opera, Trespass Knot, with libretto by Weaver, as well as “spontaneous compositions” for events like the San Francisco Song Festival. 

John Duykers has sung major roles for 40 years in opera houses all over the world, has premiered new works by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson, and created the role of Chairman Mao in Peter Sellars’ original production of John Adams’ Nixon in China, as well as with performance artist George Coates. Miguel Frasconi, living in New York, but long a Bay Area resident, has scored many dance performances, including work by Alonzo King and Anna Halprin, shadowplay theater pieces by Larry Reed’s Shadowlight Productions and has performed with Morton Subotnick. Missy (Melissa) Weaver has designed and staged works for the Paul Dresher Ensemble, performanceartist Rinde Eckart and composer Clark Suprynowicz.