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San Francisco Performances kicks off season

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Opera star: Leah Crocetto

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.

After three decades of having Herbst Theatre as its home, San Francisco Performances is beginning to use a variety of venues, in preparation for Herbst’s closure when the War Memorial building undergoes seismic retrofitting in 2013-14. Dance companies continue to perform in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Novellus Theater.

This season’s vocal recital series opens with operatic mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, a regular with such companies as the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera, on Oct. 13. Accompanied by pianist Warren Jones, she will sing an unusual program of lieder and Tin Pan Alley songs, including tunes by Scott Joplin, Victor Herbert and Irving Berlin.

Blythe, known as a champion of contemporary American works, will sing James Legg’s “Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson” and Samuel Barber’s “Three Songs, Op. 10” in the concert’s first half.

San Francisco  Performances’ fundraising season gala on Oct. 14 features soprano Leah Crocetto, Merola and Adler program alumna, at the City Club.

In her 2008 Merola debut, critics called Crocetto an “‘omni-soprano’… one who shifts from dramatic to lyric, from tragic to comic vocal and stage performances seamlessly, amazingly.” Just three years later, she represented the U.S. in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Crocetto, currently singing the role of Liu in San Francisco Opera’s production of Puccini’s “Turandot,” will be accompanied by pianist Tamara Sanikidze, singing show tunes at the gala.

On Oct. 19, she also will appear in a Salon at the Rex recital, singing lieder and torch songs.

San Francisco Performances’ Salon at the Rex series, in the Rex Hotel’s intimate venue, opens today with the Adam Shulman Trio, featuring Shulman on piano, Jack Riordan on guitar and John Wiitala on bass, paying tribute to Nat King Cole and performing from the repertoire of Cole’s Trio (formed in 1937, with guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince).


San Francisco Performances

Adam Shulman Trio

  • Where: Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter St., S.F.
  • When: 6:30 p.m. today
  • Tickets: $20

Stephanie Blythe

  • Where: Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
  • When: 8 p.m. Oct. 13
  • Tickets: $38 to $68

Season Gala

  • Where: City Club, 155 Sansome St., S.F.
  • When: 6 p.m. Oct. 14
  • Tickets: $400 and up

Leah Crocetto

  • Where: Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter St., S.F.
  • When: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19
  • Tickets: $20

For all programs except the gala, call (415) 392-4400 or visit www.cityboxoffice.com; for gala tickets, call (415) 677-0326, or visit www.performances.org.

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