Arts & Events

New: American Bach Soloists Perform Bach’s B-Minor Mass

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday August 08, 2016 - 01:52:00 PM

Johann Sebastian Bach’s monumental B-Minor Mass was a product of the last years of his life, though its origins lie in various earlier periods of his career. As Jeffrey Thomas, Musical Director of American Bach Soloists, observes in program notes for these performances, “The genesis of the Mass in B Minor – so admired for its colossal dimensions and encyclopedic stylistic variety – is actually a long history of separable parts. Although Bach compiled the music for this work in the last years of his life (1748-1749), most of the movements had been composed long before or were reworked from earlier pieces.” There is no evidence that the B-Minor Mass was ever performed in Bach’s lifetime, and it is assumed that in creating this work Bach was offering a sort of valedictory compilation of what he could do in the realm of the Latin Mass. -more-

Merola Opera Stages COSÌ FAN TUTTE in a Hospital Ward

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday August 05, 2016 - 01:45:00 PM

When the audience took their seats in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall for the first of two performances of Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte on Thursday, August 4, they were greeted by a bare stage with only a long table and a few chairs. It seemed a very austere, basically modern setting for this 18th century opera by Mozart. During the overture, conducted robustly by Mark Morash, the five principals – Don Alfonso, Ferrando, Guglielmo, Fiordiligi, and Dorabella, walked onstage through a rear door and sat down to have a drink. The men were all in military uniforms, with Don Alfonso as the superior officer. The two women wore identical white pin-striped dresses. As the overture concluded, Don Alfonso pulled a long beige curtain to close off the whole stage, while a scene change was effected behind the curtain. Meanwhile Ferrando and Guglielmo joined Don Alfonso in front of the drawn curtain, and Alfonso challenged the two men about the faithfulness of their fiancées. A wager was made: if the two men agreed to do whatever Don Alfonso asked them to do, he would prove that their fiancées were not the paragons of fidelity the men imagined them to be. -more-