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Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four dist...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
Chamber
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
Symphony
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahms’ monu...
OPERA REVIEW

Rossini Opera Cast Curtain Call July 19 at Festival

ROSSINI'S FROTHY FARCE AN AUDIENCE HIT AT MENDO FESTIVAL

by Terry McNeill
Monday, July 22, 2013

Mendocino Music Festival’s Alan Pollack usually has some musical surprises up his conductor’s sleeve, and at the July 19 Festival opera production he produced a unique coupling of lecture and music, set against the framework of a rarely-mounted 1813 opera.

As a way of extending Rossini’s frothy farce “Il Signor Bruschino” (the accidental son) Mr. Pollack preceded the one-act opera by speaking about enjoying opera to the audience from the stage, spotlighting Rossini and the composer’s famous quips and gourmet triumphs, and finally speculating why the Rossini didn’t compose much in his final 30 years. It was an enlightening speech but almost totally unrelated to the opera, which came after a short intermission.

Well, this opera and its inane plot really didn’t need much description. The common operatic switching of personages and people hiding behind the sofa prevailed, though unique moments were enjoyed when a motorized golf cart made several appearances on stage, driving in and out of a black curtain separating the singers and minimal sets from the small orchestra at the rear of the tent. I heard Erin Neff’s voice amplified at times, but the rest of eight-person cast was “au natural” and the orchestra’s volume and balances were excellent in the tent. Singing was in Italian and supertitles were projected on a drape above the stage. Recitatives (in English) were stylishly accompanied by an electric harpsichord

Baritone Eugene Brancoveanu and bass baritone Paul Thompson both sang convoluted parts with conviction, as did tenor Sergio R. Gonzalez and soprano Kelly Britt in the roles of young lovers Florville and Sofia. Michael Jankosky sang briefly as the long incarcerated Bruschino Jr., and doubled as a comic gendarme in short pants who tries to unravel the several impersonations. There was local interest as the setting was announced as the nearby Little River Inn. Locals were pleased.

Most of the Festival’s 27 seasons have featured an opera, though last year was dark, and the bantamweight Bruschino’s warm reception from the audience of 500 invites a stage work of more dramatic heft and musical interest in 2014.