Arts & Events

American Bach Soloists Perform Handel’s SEMELE

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday August 18, 2018 - 04:14:00 PM

Ever since its premiere at Covent Garden in 1744, Handel’s Semele has mystified audiences, who can’t decide whether it is fish or fowl, opera or oratorio. As the 20th century musicologist Winton Dean noted, “the public [in 1744] found [Semele’s] tone too close to that of the discredited Italian opera and set it down as an oratorio manqué”…. Like the ‘discredited’ Italian opera seria, Handel’s Semele adheres to the da capo format whose ABA structure of arias many English audience members were beginning to tire of due to the format’s tedious repetition. (I have often said that when one hears a Handel opera, even for the first time, one hears it in fact three times, due to the repetitions of the ABA da capo format.) -more-

An Enigma Inside A Conundrum: PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday August 18, 2018 - 03:58:00 PM

West Edge Opera opened its 2018 summer season with Claude Debussy’s remarkable Pelléas et Mélisande. At its premiere in 1902 at Paris’s Opéra Comique, Pelléas et Mélisande created quite a stir. Some loved it, and some hated it. Unquestionably, it offered opera-goers something entirely new. Here there were no arias, no set numbers at all. Instead, there was an immensely fluid musical current that involved, in almost equal proportion, both orchestra and singers. Moreover, in an opera where every sung word is meant to be heard and understood, what dialogue there is often involves non sequiters. When Golaud, a man of forty-some years already getting some grey hairs, gets lost in the woods while hunting and happens across a beautiful young woman weeping beside a well, among the many questions he asks her is, “Quel âge avez-vous? / “How old are you?” To which the young Mélisande answers, “Je commence à avoir froid./”I’m beginning to feel cold.” -more-

The Berkeley Activist’s Calendar, August19-26

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday August 18, 2018 - 03:30:00 PM

Worth Noting:

The emergency Homeless Shelter which houses 95 people per night at 9th and University closes at the end of the month. There is an emergency meeting Tuesday evening 6:00 pm at the South Berkeley Senior Center.

The 1155 – 1173 Hearst project is back after a year on Thursday evening at the ZAB meeting. This project met with resistance with concerns for displacement of persons in 6 rent-controlled units and inadequate drainage plans. Soil borings have not been done.

The agenda for the LeConte Neighborhood August 29 meeting will include traffic circles and Peoples Park. Look for more information in the next weekly summary. Location will be the Art House.

City Council is on summer recess and most Boards and Commissions do not meet in August. -more-