Next month mezzo Susan Graham will return to San Francisco, this time visiting Davies Symphony Hall. Last February she was in Herbst Theatre appearing as guest soloist with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra at the special concert celebrating Nicholas McGegan’s 30 years of service as Music Director. Next month she will be the featured soloist in a subscription concert by the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT). Her last Davies appearance was in January of 2013, when she gave a duo recital of French music with soprano Renée Fleming.
For next month’s appearance Graham will be the soloist in Hector Berlioz’ dramatic cantata “La Mort de Cléopâtre” (the death of Cleopatra). Berlioz set the text by Pierre-Ange Vieillard as an extended monologue, rather than following the conventional cantata structure of arias introduced by recitative passages. Berlioz submitted the competition for the Prix de Rome, but failed to win. The work was never published publically in his lifetime. It was last performed in Davies in 1996.
The program will also feature the men of the SFS Chorus presenting seldom-performed music by Franz Schubert. Their selection will be the D. 913 “Nachtgesang im Walde” (night-song in the woods). Schubert scored this setting of a poem by Johann Gabriel Seidl as a quartet (two tenor and two bass parts) accompanied by four horns.
The instrumental selections will be by Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann. The program will begin with Brahms Opus 56a, the orchestral version of his set of variations on a chorale theme that he attributed to Joseph Haydn. The concluding work will be Schumann’s Opus 120 symphony in D minor, the last of his four symphonies. This will bring MTT’s traversal of those four symphonies this season to a conclusion. All four symphony performances will be released on SFS Media in the future.
This program will receive four performances in Davies Symphony Hall. These will be given at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, Friday, May 20, and Saturday, May 21, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 22. Ticket prices range from $35 to $170. Tickets may be purchased through an event page on the SFS Web site. They may also be purchased at the Davies Box Office on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street or by calling 415-864-6000.
The Inside Music pre-concert talk will be given by Alexandra Amati-Camperi. It will take place one hour prior to each concert. This event is free to all ticket-holders; and the doors open fifteen minutes before the talk begins. Finally, a free “Program Notes” podcast about Schumann’s symphony hosted by KDFC’s Rik Malone will be available for downloading or streaming from the Program Note Podcasts Web page.
This program will also be given a Katharine Hanrahan Open Rehearsal. This will take place in Davies at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 19. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. for coffee and complimentary donuts, followed by a half-hour talk at 9 a.m. Tickets are $30 for unreserved general admission and $40 for reserved seating in the Loge, Side Boxes, Rear Boxes, and Premiere Orchestra sections. This rehearsal has its own event page with its own hyperlink for the advance sale of tickets, which may also be purchased by phone or by visiting the Box Office.