All the holiday feels in SF Opera’s wonderful Life

Nov 18

All the holiday feels in SF Opera’s wonderful <i>Life</i>

Not being an opera aficionado, I was interested in San Francisco Opera's adaptation of It's a Wonderful Life for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the power of the original 1946 Frank Capra movie, a durable staple of the holiday season right up there with Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Read More

SF Symphony scales Bluebeard’s Castle

Jun 20

SF Symphony scales <i>Bluebeard’s Castle</i>

There are seven locked rooms in Duke Bluebeard's castle, and Nick Hillel knows what's in each one. From blood to torture to tears, the contents of the room were originally devised in French folklore and then formalized by the writer Béla Balázs for his friend, the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, for the short opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle. But it was up to Hillel, who helms a London-based digital media company called Yeast Culture, to bring those mysterious chambers into the 21st century.

Hillel is the director of an acclaimed new production of Duke Bluebeard, which had its premiere last October with the Philharmonia Orchestra under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen. After a tour through Europe, the production comes to Davies Hall for three performances by the San Francisco Symphony.

As conceived by Hillel, who has worked with artists as diverse as the Beastie Boys and Cirque du Soleil, the symphony hall is transformed by a stage-engulfing set that is 24 feet high onto which he projects all sorts of wild video projections. And hovering over the orchestra itself is what Hillel calls "the sails," a sculptural origami-like structure that also provides projections surfaces as it unfolds over the course of the hour-long opera.

Read More

A night at the opera with funny Freischütz

Feb 28

Opera’s not really my bag, but I had a fantastic time reviewing West Bay Opera’s Der Freischütz for the Palo Alto Weekly. The short run ended today (Sunday, Feb. 28), but the review lives on forever. Read it here and please enjoy this photo from the production. Eric Coyne is Kuno, the head forester, and those are the masked townspeople behind him....

Read More