Arts & Events

New: Rossini’s LA CENERENTOLA Shines in Merola Production

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday August 06, 2017 - 03:27:00 PM

The 2017 crop of Merola singers continues to impress, unveiling seven new young singers in two performances, August 3 & 5, at San Francisco Conservatory of Music of Gioachino Rossini’s musical retelling of the Cinderella story, La Cenerentola. With an artful libretto forged by Jacapo Ferretti, Rossini’s La Cenerentola hinges not on a missing slipper but rather on one of a pair of identical bracelets. If the Prince finds the mate to the bracelet given him by the beautiful but mysterious woman who attends the ball but refuses to tell her name, the Prince will indeed have found his mate. That is, if he can accept the mysterious woman’s lowly status as step-sister and servant in the household of Don Magnifico, who cruelly mistreats his step-daughter in favor of his own two daughters. The only other major change in the Cinderella story is here provided by Alidoro, court philosopher to the Prince, who presides over all events in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, even exercising seemingly mystical cosmic powers to raise up the Cinderella figure, here named Angelina, to her rightful status. -more-

Benjamin Beilman Excels in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday August 04, 2017 - 11:39:00 AM

These days, it seems there is a veritable worldwide explosion of talented young violinists and pianists, all seemingly armed with flawless technique. American-born violinist Benjamin Beilman, age 27, has awesome technique; but Beilman also has something surprising in such a young performer – a wonderful interpretive feel for the delicacy as well as the sheer power of music. As soloist in the San Francisco Symphony’s performances at Davies Hall, July 28-9, of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, Benjamin Beilman sensitively brought out far more delicacy in that familiar work than I have ever heard before. With Guest Conductor Juraj Valčuha leading the way, Beilman was acutely respectful of dynamics in this concerto, with the result that the fiery pyrotechnics of Tchaikovsky’s score were set in sharp contrast to the soft, delicate passages that are too often played as if they too were marked fortissimo or at least forte. Beilman set the tone from the outset, offering a delicate filagree in the first movement’s Allegro moderato section, then redoubling that gossamer touch in the Moderato assai section. Beilman also excelled in the First movement’s cadenza. -more-