About a month ago this site observed that the concert season was ramping into high gear, projecting that March would come in like a lion and go out like an even hungrier lion. Those of us who begin to weary over making too many hard choices for any given evening’s entertainment will be happy to know that March actually seems to be going out like the proverbial lamb. Indeed, during the first weekend in April, the “action,” at least in San Francisco, is concentrated primarily on Saturday. Even on that day the choices are limited; but they involve some of the widest diversity on a single evening that this column has encountered, including the conclusion of the Bridge to Beethoven “journey” with the performance of its final program, as has already been announced on this site.
The earliest of these events will actually take place in the late afternoon. It will be the next concert in the series offered by the New Esterházy Quartet. The title of the program is Viola Quintets from Haydn’s Circle. As one might guess, it will involve a guest artist, who will be Robert Mealy as the second violist. Mealy directs the Historical Performance Program at the Julliard School. However, he is a Bay Area native and returns to San Francisco every summer to serve on the faculty of the American Bach Soloists Academy.
This program has been designed to cover more than the usual number of composers by performing selected movements from individual compositions. Thus, things will begin with a “composite quintet” bringing together the efforts of three different composers. The opening Allegro moderato is actually the second movement of Joseph Haydn’s Hoboken II/2 divertimento in G major, which is actually in six movements. This will be followed by the Adagio cantabile and Menuetto movements from a notturno in C major by Haydn’s younger brother Michael. The Allegro Finale will then be taken from the 1786 quintet in F minor by Ignaz Pleyel. The first half of the program will then conclude with the Allegretto scherzando movement from a “dramatic” quintet by Sigismund Neukomm, an early example of program music depicting a festive celebration in a Swiss village. The second half of the program will then consist entirely of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 614 quintet in E-flat major.
The San Francisco performance of this program will take place on Saturday, April 2, at 4 p.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the intersection with Franklin Street). Tickets are $25 at the door with discounts for seniors and students with proper identification. They may also be purchased in advance from a Brown Paper Tickets event page. Further information is available from the New Esterházy Quartet either from their Web site or by calling 415-520-0611.
Later that evening San Francisco Opera (SFO) will begin the next production in the SF Opera Lab series. This will be a performance of “Svadba-Wedding,” an a cappella opera for six female singers by Ana Sokolović being given the premiere of a new staging by Michael Cavanagh. The piece was originally commissioned and produced by Dáirine Ní Mheadhra (who will come to San Francisco to conduct the new production) and John Hess of Toronto’s Queen of Puddings Music Theatre in 2011. However, Cavanagh has reconceived the presentation for the flexibility of the Taube Atrium Theatre. The audience will be seated at café tables while the opera unfolds on stages throughout the remaining space. The approximate running time will be one hour with no intermission; and admission will include a “wedding feast” in the form of a post-show after-party with DJ @TedSF, champagne and croquembouche wedding cake from Chef Yigit Pura’s Tout Sweet Pâtisserie.
This production will be given seven performances, the first of which will take place on Saturday night. The 8 p.m. performances will be on April 2, 5, 6, 8, and 9; and there will be Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. on April 3 and 10. In addition, Sokolović will participate in pre-show discussions at the first two performances, beginning at 7 p.m. on April 2 and 2 p.m. on April 3. The Taube Atrium Theater is part of the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera, located on the fourth floor of the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. All tickets will be $75 for general admission seating. Tickets may be purchased online from an event page on the SFO Web site, which has hyperlinks for each of the performance, or by calling the SFO Box Office at 415-864-3330. Tickets will also be available at the door one hour before each show begins.
Finally, Second Act will again host an encore performance of Electric Shadow Theater: Film Truth + Surreal Sound by Fushigi Kenkyūkai’s latest offering. This is the production that was first performed at PianoFight on February 23. Like the first production it involves live improvised accompaniment of three silent films. The main feature will be Jean Cocteau’s 55-minute film The Blood of a Poet, preceded by two shorts, Fernand Léger’s “Ballet Mécanique” and Maya Deren’s “Meshes of the Afternoon.” The performers will be somewhat different from those at the February screening. They will be Steve Adams (electronics), Jorge Bachmann (electronics), Bryan Day (invented instruments), Tom Djll (prepared trumpet), Joe Lasqo (keyboards, laptop, and objects), John McCowen (prepared clarinet and drum resonator), and David Michalak (lap steel guitar and Skatchbox).
This performance will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 2. The performance is expected to last 90 minutes. Second Act is located at 1727 Haight Street in the building that used to house the Red Vic Movie House. Tickets will be $15 at the door but $10 if purchased in advance online through Brown Paper Tickets event page.