Usually I use this site to alert readers to the need to make choices between overlapping opportunities. However, opera lovers will be happy to know that the first eight days of May will feature two fascinating opera productions. Each will run for multiple days, but there will not be a day on which both operas are being performed at the same time.
The month will begin with the latest production from Opera Parallèle. This is the United States premiere of “Heart of Darkness,” Tarik O’Regan’s operatic interpretation of the novella of the same name by Joseph Conrad. The narrative is now probably best known for having been appropriated by Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now.
Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel has decided to take an immersive approach to staging this opera. Through sets, costumes, installation, and digital technology, he will transform the lobby, performance, and audience areas of Z Space into the equatorial rain forest that is the setting for Conrad’s narrative. In addition, those with seats to the side of the thrust stage will be wearing ponchos onto which digital imagery will be projected. (Those who do not wish to participate should request seats in the main section.)
This production will be given four performances at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, and Sunday, May 3. Z Space is located at 450 Florida Street in NEMIZ (NorthEast Mission Industrial Zone). The performance will run for 70 minutes without intermission. Tickets are priced between $30 (in the poncho-wearing sections) and $85. They may be purchased online through an event page on the Z Space Web site.
The following week will then feature the season finale production by the Conservatory Opera at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). This will be a performance of Benjamin Britten’s three-act comic opera Albert Herring. Britten scored this for a large cast of characters and a chamber orchestra, which will be conducted by interim Director Curt Pajer. Staging will be by Heather Mathews, whose past productions have sparkled with her capacity for wit.
Albert Herring will be given two performances, both at 7:30 p.m., on Wednesday, May 6, and Friday, May 8. They will take place in the SFCM Concert Hall at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station. Admission will be free, but reservations will be required. Tickets may be reserved by calling the Box Office at 415-503-6275. The Box Office may also be visited in the lobby of the SFCM building; and its regular hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Those particularly interested in Britten will also be happy to learn that his music will begin the final program prepared by Scott Sandmeier, who will be conducting the Conservatory Orchestra. The full forces of the ensemble will be displayed through a performance of Britten’s Opus 34, “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” an instrument-by-instrument set of variations, all wrapped up with an elaborate fugue, whose theme comes from incidental music that Henry Purcell composed for Aphra Behn’s play Abdelazer. By way of contrast, Britten’s full-out spectacle will be followed by Pēteris Vasks’ 1979 “Cantabile,” composed only for the string section. The full ensemble will then return after the intermission to perform Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Opus 65 symphony in E minor (the fifth).
This concert will be given two performances, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, in the SFCM Concert Hall. Tickets will be on sale for $20 with the usual special $15 rate for students, seniors, and Friends of the Conservatory. Tickets may be purchased or reserved by calling the Box Office at 415-503-6275. The Box Office may be visited in the lobby of the SFCM building at 50 Oak Street; and its regular hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday through Friday.