Arts & Events

Beethoven’s FIDELIO in Concert at San Francisco Symphony

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday June 28, 2015 - 12:00:00 AM

Closing out their 3-week Beethoven festival, San Francisco Symphony gave the first of three concert performances of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, on Thursday evening, June 25, at Davies Hall. With Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas leading the orchestra, this Fidelio featured Swedish soprano Nina Stemme as Leonore, the wife who, disguised as a young man (named Fidelio) saves the life of her unjustly imprisoned husband, Florestan. This opera caused Beethoven much labor. He first presented a Fidelio in three acts in 1805, then he offered a much revised two act version under the title Leonore in 1806, and revised it yet again before eventually settling on a final two act version (once more as Fidelio) in 1814. -more-

A Beethoven Marathon at San Francisco Symphony

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday June 27, 2015 - 11:57:00 PM

On Saturday, June 20, San Francisco Symphony recreated the famous marathon concert given by Beethoven on December 22, 1808, at Vienna’s Theater-an-der-Wien. In this Akademie, or public as opposed to courtly concert, which lasted well over four hours, Beethoven presented the first performances of his 5th and 6th Symphonies, his 4th Piano Concerto, his Fantasy for Piano (Opus 77), and his Choral Fantasy (Opus 80), as well as his previously performed concert aria “Ah! perfido,” plus three movements from his already ill-received C major Mass. As Jacob Reichardt wrote in a letter, “There we sat from 6:30 till 10:30 in the most bitter cold, and found by experience that one might have too much of a good thing.” -more-

Updated: World Première of Marco Tutino’s LA CIOCIARA (TWO WOMEN) at San Francisco Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Thursday June 25, 2015 - 07:04:00 AM

On Saturday evening June 13, San Francisco Opera presented the World Première of a new opera commissioned by General Director David Gockley – Italian composer Marco Tutino’s La Ciociara (Two Women). Based on the 1958 novel of the same title by Alberto Moravia, this opera, with a libretto by Luca Rossi, Marco Tutino, and Fabio Ceresa, recounts the trials and tribulations of a widowed World War II mother and her teenage daughter who flee Rome because of allied bom-bardments but find no haven from the war in the mountain villages of the region known as La Ciociara. From this same novel a 1960 film starring Sophia Loren was directed by Vittorio De Sica with a screenplay by Cesare Zavattini. (Sophia Loren won the Academy’s Best Actress Award in 1962 for her performance in the film known in English as Two Women, thereby becoming the first artist to win an American Oscar for a foreign-language film.) -more-