Arts & Events

Merola Opera’s 2015 Grand Finale

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Wednesday August 26, 2015 - 02:18:00 PM

The War Memorial Opera House was host on Saturday, August 22, to the 2015 Grand Finale of the Merola Opera Program, this country’s foremost training program for aspiring singers, coaches/accompanists, and stage directors. Conductor Antony Walker led the orchestra, and Mo Zhou from China was the director responsible for staging the mixed program of arias, duets, and ensembles from various Italian, French, German, Russian, and American operas. -more-

AROUND & ABOUT THEATER: "Free" 'King Lear' at Hinkel Park

Ken Bullock
Friday August 21, 2015 - 03:33:00 PM

Once again, Actor's Ensemble and Inferno Theatre are collaborating on free outdoor theater at the amphitheater at Hinkel Park--the old Berkeley Shakespeare venue--for the final weekends of summer and Labor Day. Last year's stripped-down version of Kleist's 'Penthesilea' was fascinating--and this year, Inferno's founder and artistic director, Giulio Perrone, who adapted and directed 'Penthesilea,' about the tragic love of Achilles and the Queen of the Amazons on the killing fields before Troy, has come up with a condensed recounting of 'King Lear,' rich in movement theater and design, with an intriguing cast, many familiar to East Bay theatergoers. -more-

New Esterházy Quartet Plays Beethoven’s Late Quartets at Berkeley’s Hillside Club

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday August 28, 2015 - 04:23:00 PM

Locally based, The New Esterházy Quartet offered on Wednesday, August 26, at Berkeley’s Hillside Club the first of three concerts dedicated to Beethoven’s Late String Quartets. This series of concerts presents a wonderful opportunity for Bay Area listeners to hear an internationally acclaimed string quartet perform the monumental late quartets of Beethoven’s mature musical genius. Moreover, Berkeley’s Hillside Club, now nearly 100 years old in its present form, having been rebuilt in 1924 after the disastrous fire of 1923, is a small, 100-seat concert hall with excellent acoustics, and it offers the best possible venue for listening to chamber music. I cannot insist strongly enough on this point. Chamber music should not be played in cavernous auditoriums such as Zellerbach Hall, where I happened to hear the Takács Quartet play Beethoven’s Quartet in B-flat, Op. 130 last December. That experience was less than satisfying. (See my review of Dec. 14, 2014 in these pages.) -more-