Book Club – Film Review

3stars
BC2The time has finally come where Hollywood is embracing and making movies that older actresses can star in and that audiences want to see on screen. In Bill Holderman’s new film, Book Club, the story centers on four lifelong friends in their 60’s, who decide to read Fifty Shades of Grey for their monthly book club selection and how the book ends up changing their lives. The film stars power house actresses, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, and Candice Bergen, and together they play off each other with charisma and sass that can’t be beat by any other actors.

All four women are in different phases in their love and sex lives, Vivian (Fonda) is single and loving it, Carol (Steenburgen) and her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) have been married so long that their sex life has gone stale, Diane’s (Keaton) husband just passed away and she is grappling with the idea of dating, and (Sharon) Bergen has been divorced for years and finally decides she wants to date. The women take to the book like bees to honey and can’t put it down. After they finish reading it, they all start to see their lives a little differently. It makes them realize that they do have a sexual appetite and even in their 60’s, they haven’t lost it at all.

BC4Opposite the women, the men come to terms with their sexuality as well. Arthur (Don Johnson) is an old friend of Vivian’s and he pursues her in a comedic fashion and makes her realize that she doesn’t always have to just rely on herself. While Mitchell (Andy Garcia), the debonair pilot makes a play for Diane and shows his softer side. We see that the men are just as vulnerable and yearning for a good time, just as much as the women. What they all have in common though is that they want to build relationships with one another and it shows that it is never too late in life to start a new relationship or friendship with someone.

I enjoyed watching some of my favorite actresses of all time together, they are all funny and played off each other perfectly. Keaton has the same sensibility that we have loved from her since Annie Hall, and Bergen, for example still projects that tough as nails, yet sweet character that her fans have grown to love. Fonda is hilarious and witty, and Steenburgen rounded out the cast perfectly with her romantic charm. I enjoyed that the women were portrayed as strong and independent, and that they didn’t necessarily need a man to make them happy.

The movie has its rom-com corny moments, but they were all done in good fun and with taste. I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it as one to watch with friends or even the mom in your life. Overall, it’s a fun movie that both men and women of all ages can enjoy. If you are in the mood for a light and funny film, this is one to watch.

BC1Starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Alicia Silverstone, Richard Dreyfuss

Directed by: Bill Holderman

Written by: Erin Simms, Bill Holderman

MPAA rating: PG-13

Running time: 104 Minutes

Rating: 3

‘Head Over Heels’ Has Got the Beat!

Taylor Iman Jones and company (Joan Marcus)Bay Area the Go-Go’s fans won’t want to miss the new musical ‘Head Over Heels’ playing until May 6 at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre. The show comes to the Bay stage with an impressive team including Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Hedwig and the Angry InchSpring Awakening) as director. After its short run in San Francisco it will head to New York for its Broadway debut at the Hudson Theatre.

The musical is based on a long-form poem/play by Sir Philip Sidney called ‘The Arcadia’. The story revolves around a royal family in which an oracle has predicted a prophecy of doom. The patriarch of the family tries to prevent these by re-locating the family. The audience is then taken on a campy journey full of sexual innuendos and gender non-conformity. The drama unfolds with mistaken identities, jealous lovers, sexual awakenings, scandal and self-discovery. Interwoven throughout are the iconic hit songs “We Got the Beat,” “Get Up and Go,” “Cool Jerk,” “Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Lust to Love,” “Head Over Heels” and Belinda Carlisle’s solo hits “Mad About You” and “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”

Peppermint as Pythio - (Joan Marcus)Not only does the musical feature tunes from one of the most successful all-female rock bands but it also includes the debut of Peppermint (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”), set to become the first transgender woman to perform in a principle role on Broadway. Peppermint plays the character of Pythio who’s preferred pronoun is “they”. It was great to see a non-binary role played by someone from the LGBT community.

There are plenty of toe tapping moments as well as those that lead to mini-burst of laughter. It’s a great show for a light –hearted night out on the town but can’t promise that it will be everyone’s cup of tea. The references to pop-culture and the innuendos are what make the show enjoyable and may go over the heads of some.

headoverheelsWhen: Catch Head Over Heels until May 6.
Where: Curran Theater, 445 Geary St., San Francisco
Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes, one intermission
Tickets: $29–$175

Season subscriptions are also available. Packages range from $116–$744, SFCURRAN.com or calling 415-358-1220.
headoverheelsthemusical.com  


 

Cirque Du Soleil Brings Its First Ice Show, CRYSTAL, to San Jose’s SAP Center

CRYSTAL—Cirque du Soleil’s 42nd production and first-ever experience on ice—has arrived in San Jose’s SAP Center until April 1, 2018.

COURTSHIPIn typical Cirque fashion, the show is innovative, visually stunning, funny, and full of imaginative scenarios that only a Cirque show can take you through. Artists and skaters perform acrobatics on the ice and in the air, seamlessly combining multiple disciplines to take the audience into the dream world conjured up by the show’s main character, Crystal (Nobahar Dadui).

Crystal finds herself feeling the weight of the mundane life and dreaming of breaking away, “I don’t belong here, I want to live in a book…”. She tells herself, “skate away from them all, find the one inside”, and then begins a magical world of synchronized skating, freestyle, figure, and extreme skating combined with swinging trapeze, aerial straps and hand to hand acts. She goes through a self-reflection that leads her to a feeling of freedom and empowerment. The acrobats push their limits and fly through the air demonstrating a weightlessness one can only feel when open to taking risks.

01_TEMPETE-0265The show has something for everyone. There are little amusements like fake falls to make people laugh, incredible stunts for the thrill seekers, and the colorful and musical representations for the artists and dreamers. In the end Crystal breaks through the ice and resurfaces, “everythng feels real until you realize you’re dreaming.”

Another key feature of Cirque shows is their dedication to warming up the audience. Prior to show time they take a more creative approach to getting your attention than just blinking the house lights on and off. For Crystal, this warm up included snow ball fights on stage and within the audience. This is what makes Cirque enjoyable by many. Their creative approach caters to their specific audience, in this production it’s inclusive to all ages and tastes.

13_BALLROOM-3587Want to get your first choice at seats at future shows? Sign Up for a complimentary membership. Cirque Club members receive advance access to the best seats, deals and discounts for tickets, promotions with their partners and a chance to experience never before seen exclusive Cirque du Soleil content.

For more information, visit: www.cirquedusoleil.com/crystal
 

Update: Cirque has done it again, all shows at the San Jose location are sold out. 

 

CRYSTAL – A Breakthrough Ice Experience | Cirque du Soleil


 

Vietgone at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater – A Story of Love and Loss

The American Conservatory Theater is presenting Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone,” at the Strand Theater until April 22. The story revolves around how two Vietnamese refugees fall in love, one is a fighter pilot, Quang (James Seol) and the other a U.S. Embassy worker, Tong (Jenelle Chu). In the beginning, Nguyen slyly alludes to the characters being based on his parents, “Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. That especially goes for any person or persons who could be related to the playwright. Specifically, his parents. Who this play is absolutely not about”.

VTG_215Tong is given the opportunity to escape the violence and politics caused by the Vietnam War via her job at the embassy, she’s allowed to take one other person with her. She chooses her mother (Cindy Im), forcing her to leave her brother behind. Quang has two children and a wife he’s barely seen as his pilot duty calls, but he intends to be with them as soon as he can. Unfortunately, his plane is discarded and they force him to stay in the U.S. Tong and him both end up at the same refugee camp and that’s where the emotional rollercoaster begins.

The story is told through a mix of humor, intermittent musical set changes, and rap numbers. The dialogue is also sprinkled with a little bit of “shade” towards racist tropes and the fake “woke”. No matter what one believes about a situation or history, there’s nothing more important than having the perspective of a person who’s directly affected by it.  Our parents, and how they tell their story becomes our history.

VTG_171Quang first meets Tongs mother who relentlessly flirts with him and lies about her age, one of the more comedic parts of the show. They establish a friendly relationship and while looking for her, Quang meets Tong. Tong likes to pretend she’s unaffected by emotions and lives as detached as possible, and immediately has a fling with Quang. Her mother walks in conveniently after they’re done and Quang is gone in a flash. And that’s how their love story begins.

VTG_014However, Quang is on a mission to go back to his family in Vietnam and exposes this truth right when Tong is starting to have feelings for him. The story then takes us to the motorcycle adventures of Quang and his friend Nhan (Stephen Hu) on their way to California to catch a flight back “home”. Nhan questions that belief, is it still home after all it’s been through, all that’s been lost? After all they’ve been through, and all they’ve lost?

Although, the story centers around commonalties that we share as humans like love and friendship, the main crux of the story is to not assume that you know what someone feels about their history and experience. This is pointed out when Quang and Nhan meet a couple of hippies on the road and when Quang is being questioned by his son.  

VTG_047People don’t choose to be in a country torn by war. It happens to them not because of them. This harsh reality is one people don’t seem to quite understand. Two people fall in love in this story but two people also have great losses in this story. They were torn apart from their families, their home, everything they’ve ever known.

In situations like this, people are left behind and the only way one can move forward is by accepting the choices that one was able to make regardless of how hard they were, and the ones forced upon you. Through humor, Nguyen explores romance, family, tragedy, regret, abandonment, guilt, and pain. Vietnam was not a “mistake,” Quang tells his son, it is a country. Catch it while you can as this is not a perspective you’ll read in your history books.  

Tickets and Info: 

A.C.T.’s Strand Theater (1127 Market St., San Francisco)
$25–$90

415.749.2228 | act-sf.org
Tuesdays–Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Sundays at 2 p.m.
*Ticket prices are subject to change without notice


 

 

 

 

 

WalkOut at SDLFF

walkout 1Walkout first premiered in 2006 on HBO and is directed by Edward James Olmos, considering the current struggles the world is facing today and in commemoration of the landmark event, it was added as part of the films shown for the 25th anniversary of the San Diego Latin Film Festival. Walkout is about the 1968 high school walk out that occurred in East Los Angeles, helping propel education in the Chicano community and the Chicano civil rights movement forward.

Honor student Paula Crisostomo (Alex Vega) becomes outraged when she begins to realize after attending a Chicano leadership camp and upon seeing other schools in Los Angeles, that the poor conditions, treatment, and education offered to Chicanos was sub-par to the rest. She gets involved in the activist community and along with her fellow Mexican-American friends, teacher Sal Castro (Michael Pena) and activist leader Moctesuma Esparza (Bodie Olmos), they begin a campaign, and demand changes are made to the educational system for Chicanos. 

walkout 3 1968 picThe students form a set of 3 walk outs, which end up attracting the attention of law enforcement and the news. The students are beaten and treated like dogs on the street, but what ends up being shown on national television is nothing of the sort. Instead the event was painted as being peaceful and as if nothing significant happened. Eventually the walk outs gain so much attention, that the leaders of the groups and some of the brown berets, get taken to court and charged with conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, and if convicted a 60-year jail sentence. 

The film was provocative and entertaining, and I felt ashamed that I had never heard about this story. It made me realize how much none of this is taught in our schools and how it is hidden from history. It was a wonderful movie to watch and I hope that this film can be shown in schools to inspire all students to stand up for their beliefs.

walkout 2Executive Producer Moctesuma Esparza opened the screening by providing a brief history of the film. He mentioned that over 20 thousand students participated in the walk out and how after the protests there was a huge increase from only 2 students in LA attending college to over 1,000 Mexican-Americas. At the time, Chicanos were discouraged to attend college, and instead were told to become mechanics or secretaries, and for those numbers to increase was phenomenal and shows that what they did make a difference to the world. Esparza built much of his career on telling the history of others, from Roosevelt to Gettysburg, but once he was settled as a producer, he was able to finally tell his story. He told audiences that being an activist is a lifetime commitment and said, “a singular moment does not change things, but years of commitment.” In today’s ever-changing political landscape and upheaval, especially against immigrants and Mexicans, his words resonate deeply. 

The San Diego Latino Film Festival runs from March 15 – 25.

For more info and tickets go to: 2018.sdlatinofilm.com


 

Bamboozled – Kicks off Central Works 2018 Season

Central Works opening production of its 2018 season, Bamboozled by award-winning playwright Patricia Milton, has been extended through March 25th (originally scheduled to close March 18). Milton is a Resident Playwright for Central Works and a long-term member of the Central Works Writers Workshop. Bamboozled is Central Works 58th world premiere.

Jeunée Simon as Abby

Jeunée Simon as Abby

Bamboozled tells the story of Abby (Jeunée Simon), a black appraiser from Los Angeles who’s touring with the show “Antiques Roadtrip.” While traveling in the south – Shelby County, Tennessee, she becomes involved with a man who’s Aunt, Opal Anne (Susan Jackson), accuses her of defrauding the family by appraising her family heirlooms (Confederate artifacts) at 60,000 and then selling them for a million to a museum.

Opal Anne, manages Civil War reenactments and sees the Confederacy and her family’s involvement as a positive legacy. She justifies her family history of slave ownership by claiming they were treated nicely and were simply “field hands” who were provided with food and clothing. In her mind, they were the ones that suffered during the war and are being attacked in current times.

Abby is looking to trace her roots and ends up meeting Savannah (Chelsea Bearce) at an archive library. When Savannah is made aware of Abby’s lawsuit she refers her to her place of work where she ends up with Rochelle (Stacy Ross) as her lawyer. Savannah does minimal tasks for Rochelle due to her being barred after being a target of racism at a nightclub that Rochelle represented her and her partner in.

Stacy Ross as Rochelle & Chelsea Bearce as Savannah

Stacy Ross as Rochelle &
Chelsea Bearce as Savannah

Rochelle is interested in gaining a public personae a la Gloria Allred and makes excuses for the negative results of her approach to Savannah’s case. Rochelle faces prejudices of her own as a lesbian but it was nice to see the fact pointed out that white gay women may face prejudice but it’s not the same prejudice that a person of color faces, even worse for gay women of color, you can’t take off or cover up your skin. For instance, there’s a protest outside by white supremacists and it would be a risk for Abby to get to her car however, Rochelle can get it for her without incident.

Another topic not often touched upon is how black women from different regions deal with racism. The two black characters in the play have different views of what is and isn’t important. Abby believes historical items should be preserved and Savannah thinks they should be taken to the trash and forgotten. Savannah has less expectations of white people than Abby seems to. There’s several microaggressions realistically infused into the show and Abby’s reaction is one of shock but Savannah’s reaction is one of no surprise at all. 

Susan Jackson as Opal Anne

Susan Jackson as Opal Anne

There are many things touched upon on this show in addition to racial bigotry in the United States, the legacy of slavery, and prejudice against gay women. There’s a moral component that touches upon self-interest and how each person rights a wrong. “Most of my plays deal with what we value, and what it costs us,” says playwright Milton. “The premise of Bamboozled is simple: we live in a country haunted by slavery and the Civil War. The nation emerged from conflict burdened with trauma and resentments. We have, in the generations since, continued to sustain unjust systems directly traceable to the institution of slavery. I wanted to write a play that challenged stereotypes we hold of the South, North, and West. I wanted to write a play about Southern women that didn’t erase women of color. I wanted to write a play that might start a conversation about our nation’s systemic economic injustice, stemming from our cotton slavery past.”

The cast was great but Chelsea Bearce and Stacy Ross really made the show. Their characters were also fleshed out more than the others as we learned about their past, their struggles, their various viewpoints and their sense of humor. The play is a perfect conversation piece about where we are today. It’s funny without devaluing the countries current truth, racism is alive and kicking, not in the past. Don’t miss it!

 

BAMBOOZLED

A new comedy about family valuables

written by Patricia Milton and directed by Gary Graves

Feb 17 – Mar 25  EXTENDED Central Works opening production of its 2018 season

(originally scheduled to close March 18).

At: The Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley.

Performances: Thurs, Fri & Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 5 pm

Ticket prices: $30-$35 online at centralworks.org, $35–$15 sliding scale at the door.

Previews and Thursdays: available seats are pay-what-you-can at the door.

Tickets & info:  510.558.1381 or centralworks.org


 

SDLFF Kicks Off 25 Years

The annual Media Arts Center San Diego Latino Film Festival (SDLFF) kicked off this year’s event with their opening media party on February 22nd. Rich in culture and history, the SDLFF has been delighting and engaging fans for 25 years, and the media party did not disappoint. Hosted at One Bunk in Barrio Logan, the festivities featured legendary actors such as Pepe Serna, tequila infused cocktails, delicious food from Cocina 35, live music, and silk-screeners making festival shirts on site.

SDLFF

The 2018 film festival will run from March 15-25, 2018 and will feature movies at both AMC Fashion Valley and North Park’s Digital Gym Cinema. This year’s celebrations will include tributes to filmmakers and actors, a Virtual Reality Lounge, and live performances at the Sonido Latino stage. The Sabor Latino, food, beer, and wine festival, will also be returning with celebrated Latino chefs cooking up traditional and new Latin food, along with craft beers on tap, and Latin wines to sip on. All proceeds from Sabor Latino go to the Media Art Center San Diego’s youth education and outreach programs.

SDLFFThere were many filmmakers and actors in attendance at the party and I had the opportunity to speak with Patricia Chica. She directed the LGBTQ-centered film Morning After, which will be featured at the festival. The film is a coming of age drama about sexual fluidity and depicts a group of millennials who refuse to define themselves with the labels that society has put on them. As Patricia mentioned, this film is important in the environment we are living in now and is especially important for Latinos who may have traditional upbringings to understand that labels do not have to define them as a person. The film sounds exciting and an important one to watch, get your tickets and check this one out.

Festival passes are now on sale, along with a special edition 25th Anniversary VIP Pass for $325. Regular single tickets can be purchased starting March 1st, either on-site at the theaters or online. This is an enlightening and fun experience not to miss.

http://2018.sdlatinofilm.com/tickets/

SDLFF

 

Ragtime – The Berkeley Playhouse

The Berkeley Playhouse has brought one of the most acclaimed American musicals of the last twenty years to their stage, Ragtime, based on the celebrated novel by E. L. Doctorow. The story includes a multitude of perspectives all looking for the same thing, the American dream. America is changing at the turn of the 20th century and many are fearful of their privilege being diminished. Unwelcoming to Immigrants and/or trying to take advantage of them and continued racism and violence towards African-Americans. You’d think the story was based on today.

BP's_Ragtime_2We’re presented with three evolving stories on the East Coast that interconnect in time, although it ends in song and dance one story still ends somberly.  We meet an affluent white family led by “Mother” (Mindy Lym)  from suburban New Rochelle, New York; an African American musician, Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Dave J. Abrams) part of the Renaissance in Harlem; and Jewish immigrants, Tateh (Mischa Stephens) and his daughter (Molly Graham) who initially start out in the tenements of Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

BP's_Ragtime_3Mother (her character has no name) in New Rochelle begins to understand a little bit of her privilege after finding an abandoned baby. She finds the mom, Sarah (Marissa Rudd), who’s about to be imprisoned and promises to take responsibility for her and her child. Sarah ends up being the love of Coalhouse Walker Jr. and he desperately tries to convince her to come back to him each week. We never find out what happened between them prior. Tateh finds a new way to tell stories and ends up becoming successful. He eventually ends up meeting Mother after her family ends up in Atlantic City, New Jersey due to racist tensions at her New Rochelle home. They end up being the only two who move towards the American dream of infinite possibilities. 

BP's_Ragtime_4Interwoven into the story is the innocence of the children. We see the young boy (Elijah Cooper) observing the adults but not understanding their issues, he’s still open and honest with his observations. It’s interesting to think about where adults lose that innocence. Adults often admire it in young people as if they had not been that young once. When and where is that acceptance lost?

The Berkeley Playhouse does a great job bringing this to the small stage. We continue to be impressed by their casting, lighting, sound and show choices. They are inclusive, timely, and well executed. 

Ragtime boasts Tony Award-winning music and lyrics by the Broadway powerhouse duo, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens(Once on This Island, Anastasia, Seussical), book by four-time Tony Award-winner Terrence McNally (The Full Monty, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Master Class).

Details: 

February 16 – March 18
Book by Terrence McNally
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Based on the novel Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
Director William Hodgson
Music Director Daniel Feyer
Choreographer Alex Rodriguez

Get Tickets


 

Just Between Us – Book Review

Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake tells the story of four friends, Alison Riordan, Julie Phelps, Sarah Walker, and Heather Lysenko. They live in the town of Sewickley in Pittsburg, Pa. and seem to have stable lives where their basic needs are more than just met. They have nice houses, cars, good schools, and friendship.

During school days they get together at a small cafe called Crazy Mocha to catch up with each other after dropping their kids off. Their lives change from simple conversations to a whirlwind of terrible choices after Alison spots a bruise on Heather’s wrist while handing her a cup of coffee. TFinal Cover. Just Between Ushis one incident unravels a mountain of uncomfortable truths testing their friendship and confronting their own troubled pasts. It also leads to a deadly night that all enabled in small ways.

Sarah is a former lawyer who is now a stay at home mom. She struggles with this choice from time to time, one of what could’ve been. Julie is a top realtor and often the decisive one. Heather is married to a top plastic surgeon and as the others like to point out often, is beautiful especially in comparison to themselves. She comes from humble beginnings, doesn’t have any viable skills but is continuously envied because of her looks. She also had a stint as a model during her younger years that’s often referenced. Alison is the last mom to join the group and can’t believe she has them as friends once accepted. She goes through a bunch of “what if I hadn’t” scenarios in her head as if she can’t believe her life is hers.

The story is told from each characters perspective which at times is a bit confusing as the voices were often undistinguishable. Luckily, the chapters are named after the characters. Their distinct personalities only show when they interact with each other but when talking about their everyday lives they sometimes dwell on things that don’t necessarily move the plot forward or affects them personally. It does display how concern over another person can creep up into your daily routine, it just gets to the point of fanatical in certain parts. Sadly, the concern for Heather is greater than the concern the others have for each other. For instance, Heather is treated as fragile which gets the friends to a “we must help her, even if she rejects us” motto. Yet, Sarah’s character has a drinking problem that seems to be met with anger more than compassion. Some of their “secrets” seem like open secrets that others just didn’t notice.     

The book is a good read but not consistent in its intensity. There are parts that are page turners and parts that you might want to fast forward through. However, the intense parts are enough to make you want to finish the book. If you take a break or two you will inevitably want to go back to close the loopholes thrown in here and there especially the one at the end. Skipping to the last chapter won’t suffice.   

It may get you thinking about your own life and personal relationships. How far would you go to help a friend? How often do you believe the gaps you fill in other people’s stories without knowing the whole truth? How does this change your everyday decisions and judgments? How blindly do you trust your friends and how much of yourself do you reveal? As each friend gets to know another’s secret it’s met with “why didn’t I know that” shock, even though they themselves have a secret too. People often expect those around them to be what they think they are. It’s a good casual read and would be an interesting book club choice among friends who believe they’re as close as the characters believe themselves to be.  

About the Author

Photo: Joseph Mertz

Photo: Joseph Mertz

 

Rebecca Drake is the author of the novels Don’t Be Afraid, The Next Killing, The Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir. A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program. Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children.

 

 


 

KDFC to Air Richard Strauss’ ARABELLA on February 4

On February 4 at 8 p.m., the Bay Area’s Classical KDFC will broadcast a 1980 San Francisco Opera performance of Richard Strauss’ romantic opera Arabella starring soprano Kiri Te Kanawa in the title role, soprano Barbara Daniels as Zdenka, tenor William Lewis as Matteo and baritone Ingvar Wixell as Mandryka, with German conductor Wolfgang Rennert. This performance from the Company’s archives will be hosted by KDFC radio announcer Dianne Nicolini.

17-18-01-MC-D-856 - Claire de Sévigné as the Fiakermilli and Tomasz Konieczny as Mandryka in the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Arabella, 2017. Conductor Patrick Lange, director Tim Albery, set and costume designer Tobias Hoheisel, and lighting designer David Finn. Photo: Michael Cooper

Photo: Michael Cooper

The capstone of the artistic partnership between Strauss and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arabellapremiered in 1933 and quickly joined the artists’ other collaborations including ElektraDer Rosenkavalierand Die Frau ohne Schatten in the repertories of opera companies around the world. Set in Vienna’s golden age, the opera follows Arabella, a beautiful young woman who is expected to marry for wealth to save her family from financial ruin, but she yearns for a soulmate. The opera, which features one of Strauss’ most lush and refulgent scores, premiered at San Francisco Opera on October 29, 1980.

New Zealand soprano Kiri Te Kanawa sings Arabella, one of her most celebrated portrayals, for which theSan Francisco Chronicle praised her “voice which spins lines of precious tone, soaring softly or arching out to you, always in a living, dynamic state.” A few months after her critical and popular success in Arabella at San Francisco Opera, Te Kanawa’s fame grew to unprecedented proportions when she sang at the royal wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales, a televised event seen by an estimated 750 million people. American soprano Barbara Daniels portrays Arabella’s lovesick sister, Zdenka. Swedish baritone Ingvar Wixell, a San Francisco Opera favorite since making his American debut with the Company in 1967, portrays Mandryka and William Lewis sings the role of Matteo. German conductor Wolfgang Rennert leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in this classic performance. 

17-18-01-MC-D-919 – (l-r) Claire de Sévigné as the Fiakermilli, Tomasz Konieczny as Mandryka, John Fanning as Count Waldner and Gundula Hintz as Adelaide in the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Arabella, 2017. Conductor Patrick Lange, director Tim Albery, set and costume designer Tobias Hoheisel, and lighting designer David Finn. Photo: Michael Cooper

Photo: Michael Cooper

Classical KDFC can be heard on the FM dial at 90.3 (San Francisco), 89.9 (Wine Country), 92.5 (Ukiah-Lakeport), 104.9 (Silicon Valley), 103.9 (Santa Cruz and Monterey); on Comcast Cable 981; or online at kdfc.com.  The historic Arabella performance from 1980 may also be streamed on demand at kdfc.com up to four weeks following the February 4 broadcast. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018 at 8 p.m. – Richard Strauss’ Arabella (1980)

Kiri Te Kanawa (Arabella), Barbara Daniels (Zdenka), William Lewis (Matteo), Ingvar Wixell (Mandryka), Alexander Malta (Count Waldner), Sona Cervena (Countess Waldner), Michael Ballam (Count Elemer), John Brandstetter (Count Dominik), Kevin Langan (Count Lamoral), Erie Mills (Fiakermilli), Rebecca Cook (Fortune-Teller), Lee Woodriff (Djura), Karl Saarni (Jankel); conducted by Wolfgang Rennert. Recorded November 1980.