Arts & Events

New: Jeffrey Thomas Finds Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers Challenging

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Tuesday April 10, 2018 - 12:41:00 PM

Over the weekend of April 6-9, American Bach Soloists performed Claudio Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers, also known as Vespro della Beata Vergine, at various locations in the Bay Area. However, due to the fact that Jeffrey Thomas, founder and music director of American Bach Soloists, maintains that it is almost impossible to reconstruct an ‘authentic’ version of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers, what ABS performed this weekend was a jerry-rigged program of selections from Monteverdi combined with material by Giovanni Gabrieli. Of course, Monteverdi and Gabrieli are linked by the fact that Giovanni Gabrieli was Monteverdi’s predecessor as maestro di cappella at Venice’s Basilica of San Marco. Moreover, it is quite likely that Monteverdi’s decision to publish his 1610 Mass and Vespers at the Venetian press of Ricciardo Amadino, and to dedicate it to Pope Paul V, marked an ambitious move by Monteverdi in hopes of finding more lucrative employment in either Venice or Rome than he currently held at the Gonzaga court in Mantua, where he was poorly paid and overworked. -more-

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee at Herbst Theatre

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday April 06, 2018 - 04:19:00 PM

On Saturday, March 31, tenor Lawrence Brownlee gave a recital at Herbst Theatre accompanied by pianist Myra Huang. Already acclaimed as a leading interpreter of the operas of Rossini and Donizetti, Lawrence Brownlee introduced himself Saturday evening to the Herbst Theatre audience by saying that he also aspires to become a leading interpreter of German lieder, and he cited tenor Fritz Wunderlich and baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as his models. Tonight’s recital, Brownlee noted, might be thought of as his first step on a long voyage. -more-

National Ballet of Canada’s NIJINSKY A Wild Ride

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday April 06, 2018 - 02:34:00 PM

Attempting to do justice to the complex, charismatic dancer-choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, whose own diary chronicled his slide into madness as well as his probing metaphysical ideas, is a tall order for anyone. Not long ago, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Robert Wilson grappled with this task and failed miserably, creating only a vacuous vanity show entitled Letters to a Man. However, veteran choreographer John Neumeier’s Nijinsky offers as good an overview of Nijinsky’s career and troubled life as one is likely to get. Neumeier’s Nijinsky premiered in 2000 with The Hamburg Ballet, then was reprised by The National Ballet of Canada in 2013, and came to San Francisco with the Hamburg company in 2013. Now it has reappeared at the War Memorial Opera House for a weeklong run by The National Ballet of Canada. -more-

Alexander Quartet Performs Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday April 06, 2018 - 02:32:00 PM

In 1785-86, Joseph Haydn received a commission from the Cathedral of Cadiz in Spain to compose music to accompany the reading – on Good Friday, 1787 – of the seven last words of Christ on the cross. Haydn completed an orchestral score that was performed on Good Friday, 1787, in the grotto Chapel of Santa Cueva beneath the Cathedral of Cadiz. Haydn’s score was also performed almost simultaneously in Vienna and Bonn. Shortly thereafter, wishing to give his score expanded accessibility, Haydn transcribed it for string quartet; and this version is the one most frequently heard today. On Good Friday, March 30, the Alexander Quartet performed Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. The Alexander Quartet is comprised of Zakarias Grafilo, violin, Frederick Lifsitz, violin, Paul Yarborough, viola, and Sandy Wilson, cello. -more-

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, April 8-15

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday April 07, 2018 - 10:53:00 AM

City Council is on spring recess. Next Council meeting April 24, 2018.

Worth Noting

  • The proposed agenda for April 24 City Council meeting deserves review and is posted with Monday’s Agenda Committee. For comment email:
  • The Police Review Commission, Homeless Commission and Parks and Waterfront Commission all meet Wednesday evening at the same time.
  • The Loan Administration Board (loans to local Berkeley small businesses) meets Thursday.
  • The Zoning Adjustment Board on Thursday lists 3 projects within the Hillside overlay.

The meeting list is also posted on the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition website. -more-