Nicola Luisotti answers interview questions quickly, enthusiastically and completely — except one.Where do he and his wife Rita find porcini in the wild on their mushroom hunts in and around The City? Known for his generosity to colleagues and audiences, the maestro draws the line at giving away that secret.When the San Francisco Opera music director — conducting Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” opening Saturday — arrived here three years ago, he spoke glowingly about The City, which reminds him of his native Tuscany. Read More
“It’s not ‘Leave it to Beaver,’” Joshua Bell says, somewhat ruefully, when asked about his schedule and family.
One of the most famous violinists in the world — he performs this week with the San Francisco Symphony — Bell plays as many as 120 concerts a year, according to his own reckoning.
Taking travel time into account, he’s away from his New York City home dangerously close to a year, and that’s the problem. Bell has three sons: a 4-year-old and 1½-year-old twins. How does he spend time with them? Read More
Performing arts organizations often open their fall seasons in September, but there are some exceptions. In The City, a prominent example of a late start — avoiding heavy traffic — is San Francisco Performances.Yet the group’s 32nd season’s offerings during its October-to-May run — dozens of piano, vocal and guitar recitals, chamber music, dance and jazz concerts — are worth the wait. San Francisco Performances, founded by Ruth Felt, also offers lower ticket prices than some of its competitors. Read More
Images commonly associated with Buddhism are of monks, meditation and saffron robes. But works on view in “Here/Not Here: Buddha Presence” at the Asian Art Museum wouldn’t be out of place at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.Coinciding with the museum’s recent announcement of a new logo and new direction, eight recent works in the exhibition include contemporary surprises such as Thai artist Jakkai Siributr’s “Recession,” a 2010 sculpture of safety pins, thread and found objects. Read More
In marketing circles, it’s called “rebranding.” Organizations often refer to it as a new look or a new direction.At a news conference today, Asian Art Museum Director Jay Xu announced results of a two-year effort to introduce “a new vision and new brand promise, reinventing ourselves to engage a broader audience.”The major sign of reinvention, unveiled today at the museum in San Francisco, is a new corporate logo designed by Wolff Olins, a firm with 500 clients around the world and best known for creating the logo for the 2012 London Olympics. Read More
A few strange things happened to Donizetti's "Lucrezia Borgia" on the way to its first performance Friday at the San Francisco Opera, a mere 178 years after its La Scala premiere.
First is that Renée Fleming in the title role of this star vehicle picked up a dozen hitchhikers, who sang gloriously. Costumed sensationally, La Fleming looked gorgeous and sang in a range from fine to diva-great. Yet she had lots of company in that department. Read More
When music director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg calls her New Century Chamber Orchestra “the best string orchestra in the country,” it’s hard to disagree.
Celebrating its 20th season with opening concerts this week featuring Bloch’s Concerto Grosso No. 1, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in D minor and Shchedrin’s “Carmen Suite,” NCCO is among The City’s explosive musical success stories. Read More
Appearing in the same opera with Renée Fleming is both an honor and a challenge. For tenor Michael Fabiano, it’s a career milestone opportunity.One of the world’s top divas, Fleming is the San Francisco Opera season’s main attraction, singing the title role of Donizetti’s “Lucrezia Borgia,” which opens Friday at the War Memoial Opera House. Fabiano, 27, at the explosive beginning of what’s already a big career, is confident and secure in performing next to such a big star. Read More
Korean ceramics called buncheong have a unique beauty, simplicity and ageless quality. It’s difficult to distinguish these amazing 15th- and 16th-century works of art from modern creations.Sixty-four masterworks from the Leeum Collection of the Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, along with several vases owned by the Asian Art Museum, are part of “Poetry in Clay,” an exhibition opening Friday at the museum. Read More
"Heart of a Soldier" is a mighty effort to do the impossible.The new San Francisco Opera production has been dubbed the "9/11 opera," but the team creating it did its best to focus on characters against the background of the destruction of the World Trade Center instead of producing a musical documentary or homage.Circumstances surrounding Saturday's world premiere at the War Memorial Opera House, on the eve of the event's tenth anniversary, didn’t mitigate difficulties arising from the challenge of distilling history into drama. Read More
If it be “Turandot,” let there be a surfeit of it. Strangely, there was a sense of continuity between the San Francisco Opera’s summer-season “Ring” cycle and the fall season opening’s “Turandot” Friday night. Both times, the walls of the War Memorial Opera House shook with the power, not excessive volume — then it was Wagner, now Puccini. This San Francisco Opera Orchestra was whipped into a frenzy, then under the baton of Donald Runnicles, on Friday by Nicola Luisotti. Read More
San Francisco Symphony opened its 100th season (101 minus the canceled season in 1935) in Davies Symphony Hall on Wednesday at splendid, festive event, but with some music that didn’t quite live up to the occasion.It was only in the program’s closing work and encore that the orchestra, under the baton of Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas — beginning his 17th season as music director — was heard in all its splendor. Read More
In addition to welcoming six major American orchestras during its centennial, the San Francisco Symphony is hosting a larger-than-ever group of guest conductors and famed soloists. Read More
The San Francisco Symphony’s centennial season, opening this week, is an important story in itself, but there is more to it than another celebration focused on the number 100.
Click on the photo at right to see more on the history of the San Francisco Symphony.Going back to the orchestra’s first concert, on Dec. 8, 1911, there is the utter devastation of The City just five years before. Read More
Here’s a closer look at some of the world-class musicians of the San Francisco Symphony. Read More