Arts & Events

Wagner’s DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG at San Francisco Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday November 23, 2015 - 10:03:00 AM

If, as the saying goes, brevity is the soul of wit, then how astonishing is it that Richard Wagner’s comic-opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg somehow manages to be witty in spite of a running-time of over five hours. Of brevity, of succinctness, Wagner knew nothing. As in all his operas, here Wagner rambles on as if he had all the time in the world – and his audience’s world --at his beck and call. He belabors every dramatic issue and even manages to belabor some of the admittedly beautiful musical issues he explores in Die Meistersinger. Yet, somehow, Wagner brings it off admirably in this opera. To this day, Die Meistersinger remains Wagner’s most accessible and most popularly acclaimed opera. -more-

Harpsichordist Richard Eggar and Philharmonia Baroque in Bach’s Brandenburgs

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 20, 2015 - 03:51:00 PM

Noted harpsichordist Richard Eggar led the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in four of the six Brandenburg Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach. I attended the Saturday evening concert, November 14, at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church. Before the concert began, Richard Eggar provided droll commentary, noting that these concertos were finished in 1721 and immediately sent off to the nobleman who had commissioned them, Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg. Apparently, the Margrave did not think highly of them, if indeed he even looked at the scores, which he filed away in his library. Upon the Margrave’s death in 1734, Bach’s scores were sold off in a job lot with a miscellaneous collection of music. Bach’s sons were not aware that their father’s Brandenburg Concertos even existed. -more-

Youssou N’Dour at Zellerbach

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 20, 2015 - 03:50:00 PM

African music’s superstar Youssou N’Dour came to a packed Zellerbach Hall with his band, Super Étoile de Dakar, on Saturday, November 7. Now 56 years old, Youssou N’Dour began performing at the age of 12 and became one of Africa’s most popular musicians in the 1970s, subsequently achieving international recognition as a musician and cultural ambassador of his native Senegal. Singing in Wolof, Senegal’s principal language, as well as French, and English, Youssou N’Dour draws on the West African griot tradition of praise singing and oral history. His music is a fusion of mbalax (a polyrhythmic West African dance music,) Cuban rumba, jazz, reggae, and soul. With his powerful, high-pitched griot voice and his charismatic stage-presence, Youssou N’Dour was named by Rolling Stone magazine as « the world’s most famous singer. » He was the subject of the filmed documentary Youssou N’Dour : I Bring What I Love, about Senegal’s divided reaction to his Grammy Award-winning album Egypt, a deeply spiritual album dedicated to a more tolerant view of Islam. In 2012, Youusou N’Dour assumed the office of Senegal’s Minister of Tourism and Culture. -more-

Theater Review: An Evening of Harold Pinter (Landscape & The Dumb Waiter)

Ken Bullock
Friday November 20, 2015 - 07:51:00 AM

"I'd like to stand by the sea ... " -more-