February 1, 2010
One opera, two concerts, and a drag review. Just your average San Francisco weekend.
1. Pearls Over Shanghai at the Hypnodrome: San Francisco's current obsession with all things to do with Shanghai in light of the city's twin-city relationship with the Chinese port town and the upcoming Shanghai Expo this summer in which San Francisco will feature prominently, finds its antidote with the Thrillpeddlers' zany, gender-bending homage to misplaced Chinoiserie. There's nothing politically correct about Pearls over Shanghai, a show which originally premiered in 1970 under the auspices of the legendary drag performance group The Cockettes. Just a lot of drag kings and queens wearing glitter and singing about opium. This latest version even features some original members of the Cockettes troupe. The show has just been extended as is well worth catching.
2. Sharon Knight at the Noe Valley Ministry: I would have liked to stay at the Glass House music event on Saturday evening to catch Voicestra alumni Dave Worm's Sovoso ensemble performing. But I had to get to a friend's party so only caught the singer Sharon Knight performing a bunch of Celtic, pirate and other bits of folk music. I love this repertoire, but I didn't feel very inspired by Knight's performance. She and her guitarist were out of tune for the first song and I generally found the musical arrangements to be lacking in originality.
3. Wozzeck at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts: Ensemble Parallele's production of John Rea's chamber orchestration of Alban Berg's hard-hitting opera based on a real-life murder is packed with vivid visual images and rich singing. Baritone Bojan Knezevic brings the perfect combination of manly softness to the title role. And I love Rea's orchestration. Its intimacy increases the compact tension of Wozzack fraught work.
4. Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 at St. Mark's Lutheran Church: American Bach Soloists assembled a remarkable trio of soloists (tenor Derek Chester and sopranos Jennifer Ellis and Abigail Haynes Lennox) for this crisp, dancing and warm performance of Monteverdi's great work. The venue was sold out. Apparently all four of ABS' concerts are also at capacity, which is well-deserved.