Tuesday, June 29, 2021

San Diego Opera's 2021-2022 Season Announcement

Sorry, folks, no time to properly write, so I'll just paste below the San Diego Opera's latest press release.


San Diego Opera Announces 2021-2022 Season


·     Fall Concert Series Featuring Stephanie BlytheMichelle Bradley, and Arturo Chacón-Cruz


·     Return to indoor mainstage performances at the San Diego Civic Theatre with productions of Così fan tutte and Roméo et Juliette


·     Beth Morrison Production’s Aging Magician to make its triumphant debut at San Diego Opera


·     Important and exciting debuts by a number of young singers including Pene PatiGihoon Kim,  Kristina Mkhitaryan, and Reginald Smith, Jr.


·     Soprano Alisa Jordheim makes her welcome return as Despina in Così fan tutte and principal guest conductor Yves Abel returns to lead performances of Roméo et Juliette


·     Fall Concert Series supported by The Conrad Prebys Foundation, our 2021 Season Sponsor


San Diego, CA – San Diego Opera is excited to announce its 2021-2022 season, which returns to theatres indoors, after a reduced 2020-2021 season that saw the Company perform innovative drive-in productions during the global coronavirus pandemic.


The season begins on Saturday, October 23, 2021 at 7:30 PM at The Balboa Theatre with a special concert by mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe. Stephanie will draw from her vast repertoire of opera and Broadway to present a concert of arias and art songs, as well as a few surprises. Stephanie Blythe made her Company debut in 2014’s A Masked Ball as Ulrica, sang in the Company’s Verdi Requiem that same year, and returned in recital later that fall for We’ll Meet Again: The Songs of Kate Smith. She was scheduled to sing the title role of Gianni Schicchi last season, the first time the lead role was to be sung by a mezzo-soprano, but that production has now been postponed to the 2022-2023 season.


The season continues on Saturday, November 20, 2021 at 7:30 PM at The Conrad Performing Arts Center, Baker Baum Recital Hall with a concert by soprano Michelle Bradley. Michelle dazzled audiences in her 2019 Company debut as Aida and will perform a program of soprano arias, spirituals, and art songs in this intimate concert.

San Diego Opera is very excited to welcome the Company debut of Arturo Chacón-Cruz in concert on Friday, December 3, 2021 at 7:30 PM at the California Center for the Performing Arts, Escondido. Arturo Chacón-Cruz has established himself in recent years as a leading tenor with exciting appearances in renowned theaters and concert halls across the globe. He has sung over 60 roles in more than 30 countries. He is the 2005 winner of the Operalia Competition. Audiences can expect an exciting concert of opera favorites, zarzuela, mariachi, and personal favorites of the Mexican tenor.


The San Diego Opera Vocal Concert Series is supported in part by The Conrad Prebys Foundation, our 2021 Season Sponsor.


San Diego Opera’s mainstage series returns to indoor performances at the San Diego Civic Theatre on Saturday, February 12, 2022 at 7:30 PM for the first of four performances of Mozart’s delightful comedy Così fan tutteCosì fan tutte marks the welcome return of soprano Alisa Jordheim, who dazzled local audiences and critics as Gilda in 2019’s production of Rigoletto, as Despina. She is joined by a number of young artists making important house debuts including baritones Reginald Smith, Jr. as Don Alfonso and Gihoon Kim as Guglielmo, who both recently competed in the 2021 Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, which was won by Mr. Kim. They are joined by tenor Konu Kim as Ferrando, and mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey as Dorabella. Così fan tutte tells the story of two young soldiers who disguise their identities to test their lovers’ fidelity. Will the women fall for their "new" suitors as the opera's title ("All women do it") suggests? Filled with humor and keen insight into human nature, this opera features some of Mozart’s most seductive music. Director Tim Nelson makes his Company debut staging the opera and San Diego Opera’s Chorus Master Bruce Stasyna conducts. Così fan tutte was last presented by San Diego Opera in 2005. Additional performances are February 15, 18, and 20 (matinee), 2022. Così fan tutte will be performed in Italian with English translations above the stage.


Gonoud’s heartbreaking tragedy, Roméo et Juliette continues the mainstage season at the San Diego Civic Theatre when it opens on Saturday, March 26, 2022 at 7:30 PM for the first of four performances.  Making important Company debuts for these performances is tenor Pene Pati as Roméo, a role he has sung to critical and popular acclaim. He will be joined by soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan, also in her Company debut, as Juliette. Other House debuts feature baritone Yunpeng Wang as Mercutio and mezzo-soprano Sarah Coit as Stephano. Returning singers include bass Simon Lim, who was last heard as Ramfis in 2019’s Aida, as Friar Laurent; tenor Adrian Kramer, last seen as Don José in 2017’s The Tragedy of Carmen, as Tybalt; and bass Colin Ramsey, last heard as Colline in 2020’s La bohème, as Count Capulet. San Diego Opera’s Principal Guest Conductor, Yves Abel, leads the orchestra for these performances and stage director Matthew Ozawa makes his Company debut staging the operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s most famous play. Roméo et Juliette was last presented by San Diego Opera in 2010. Additional performances are March 29, April 1, and 3 (matinee), 2022. Roméo et Juliette will be performed in French with English translations above the stage.


Paola Prestini’s Aging Magician makes its triumphant San Diego Opera debut as part of the 2021-2022 season. Aging Magician was originally scheduled to be performed in March of 2019 but was cancelled because of COVID-19, making San Diego Opera one of the first professional opera companies to cancel a performance due to the pandemic. San Diego Opera is pleased to be able to move this production to this season as a symbol of perseverance and hope. Produced by Beth Morrison Projects, one of the most influential and innovative taste makers on the forefront of the “indie opera” movement, Aging Magician opens on Friday, May 13, 2022 at 7:30 PM at The Balboa Theatre. Additional performances are Saturday, May 14, 2022 at 2 PM and 7:30 PM. Aging Magician will be performed in English with English text above the stage. Aging Magician tells the story of Harold, an eccentric and aging clockmaker who is nearing the end of his life. He has been working on a children’s book, called The Aging Magician, and is at a critical point in his story. Should Harold kill off the magician? Should he allow him to live? As Harold ponders these decisions he finds himself transported to a magical place where fiction and reality collide. Aging Magician stars Rinde Eckert in his Company debut as Harold. Aging Magician features the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, also in a Company debut. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus have appeared with the New York Philharmonic, The National, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Wye Oak, Shara Nova, International Contemporary Ensemble, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Barbra Streisand, Arcade Fire, Sir Elton John, and Grizzly Bear, among others, in recent seasons. The director is Julian Crouch and the conductor is Dianne Berkun Menaker, both in San Diego Opera debuts. The composer is Paola Prestini. These are the first performances of Aging Magician by San Diego Opera and the West Coast Premiere of the opera. 


Pre-season artwork available at: https://sandiegoopera.smugmug.com/2021-2022-Pre-Season-Artwork/n-VMxXMJ


Only subscriptions to the 2021-2022 season are now on sale. Single tickets will be on sale at a later date. A subscription for the two Main Stage operas begins at a low $70. A subscription for the three vocal concerts starts at $105. Tickets to Aging Magician begin at $35.  Subscriptions start at $210 for a full series including the Main Stage operas (Così fan tutte and Roméo et Juliette), the Vocal Concert Seriesand Aging Magician and goes up to $1,180 for a full-season of prime orchestra level seating on Saturday nights, the Company’s most popular day. Casts, repertoire, and scheduling are subject to change.


At the heart of every reopening plan is the safety and well-being of our audience, artists, and staff. While it is impossible today to know what our safety protocols will look in the future, we will be taking careful steps to ensure the safety of our guests and employees. Additionally, the different theatres we perform in all have different policies that will be enforced. Guests should visit our website at www.sdopera.org for the most up-to-date safety policies. It will take all of us working together to keep each other safe. Before arriving to any in-person San Diego Opera performance, we ask that our staff and patrons perform a self-assessment. If they are feeling unwell or showing any symptoms of COVID-19, we ask they do not attend the performance. Our Patron Services team is happy to exchange tickets for our patrons for another time.


Senior citizen discounts of 15% are available to the Main Stage series on Tuesday and Friday subscription packages. Senior citizen discounts of 15% are available to the dētour Series on Saturday subscription packages.


Military discounts (active and retired) of 50% are available to the Main Stage series on Tuesday and Friday subscription packages. Military discounts of 50% are available to the dētour Series on Saturday subscription packages. 




San Diego Opera 2021-2022 Season Performance Schedule


The Conrad Prebys Foundation – 2021 Season Sponsor


Stephanie Blythe in Concert

The Balboa Theatre

dētour Series 

Saturday              October 23, 2021                             7:30pm


Michelle Bradley in Concert

The Conrad Performing Arts Center, Baker Baum Recital Hall                                    

dētour Series

Saturday                             November 20, 2021          7:30pm


Arturo Chacón-Cruz in Concert

California Center for the Performing Arts, Escondido

dētour Series

Friday                   December 3, 2021             7:30pm


Così fan tutte

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

San Diego Civic Theatre

Main Stage Series

Saturday                             February 12, 2022                            7:30pm

Tuesday                              February 15, 2022                            7:30pm

Friday                   February 18, 2022                            7:30pm

Sunday                 February 20, 2022                            2:00pm


Roméo et Juliette

Charles Gounod

San Diego Civic Theatre

Main Stage Series

Saturday              March 26, 2022                 7:30pm

Tuesday                              March 29, 2022                 7:30pm

Friday                   April 1, 2022                      7:30pm

Sunday                 April 3, 2022                      2:00pm


Aging Magician

The Balboa Theatre

dētour Series

Friday                   May 13, 2022                     7:30pm

Saturday                            May 14, 2022                     2:00pm

Saturday                             May 14, 2022                     7:30pm


Friday, April 24, 2020

April 2020: Month Two of COVID19 in Southern California

Just dropping off some photos from my various essential trips out of the house (we are still under 'Shelter In Place' order, and so are to stay home except for short essential errands or to exercise in the immediate neighborhood).

The last week of March and the first week of April saw us hit with a series of soaking rain. Our road ways have gone quite holey, and the bike lanes full of gravel and other debris. There are a lot of downed trees, and not enough city public works crew around to get them all quickly fixed up.

Social distancing with people staying at least 6 feet away from each other is the rule, so stores are marking their floor with tapes to help people visualize how far a distance 6 feet (or about 2 meters) is. Many stores have also marked their narrow aisles for one-way traffic flow. I'm afraid not a lot of people are paying much attention to it, though, and there are a lot of salmoning against traffic.

It's also curious to observe that a lot of people seem to think that the virus can only go forward or backward, but not sideways, since they aren't staying 6 ft away from the people on their left or right... just in front and behind.

The paper products and the disinfectants shelves are still mostly empty all the time, of course. But now, so are the ones for pasta, rice, flour, and even eggs.

I'm grateful that I had a haircut in March, just before all the salons were shut down. It is now mid-April, and my hair is still short enough to not be too annoying during our first heat-wave of the year. Most of us are growing quite a mop over our head, though. I've really got to remember to beat everyone to the phone to schedule a haircut when salons are allowed to open again. Everybody will be wanting a hair cut at the same time!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

COVID19 time - Southern California

It's been raining on and off the last few days, a late season storm that somehow arrived to town just as I finally stopped coughing after 3 weeks of quarantine.

We are in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic, of course, so when I started having sore throat - the usual first-sign-of-the-flu for me - back on March 20th, I went to the doctor and tested positive for influenza B. COVID19 test wasn't available then, as test kits were in severely short supply, and they were only testing people sick enough to require hospitalization.

It was a very strange 'flu', though. Usually I'd go down hard the first 3 days or so, and then get better once the fever breaks. This one just stayed a sore-throat bug with hardly anything else for 3 days, and then it went boom in my lungs and I became a lean and mean cough-'til-you-drop machine for 14 days. No fever, not much aching, but pretty hypoxic. Somehow, tho, it didn't manage to turn into another pneumonia (I had one from a true flu back in January, so I really wasn't keen on a repeat). I spent the entire 3 weeks mostly in my room and only came out to use the kitchen and the restroom when my roommates weren't in. A few doctor friends were keeping tab of me via email and private messages, though, so I was pretty well looked after.

Paper product and cleaning supply are still flying off the shelves, 3 weeks into CA shelter-in-place.
Anyhow, California seems to be doing quite well in sheltering in place and social distancing early on, so hopefully we'll avoid the sort of medical system overload like those that have been taking place in Italy or Spain or New York. Hopefully the many small businesses that have been mostly shut down (or scaled down more to doing only 30% or so of their normal business volume, like a lot of the restaurants are, can somehow survive the length of the shut down.

Special thank you to all the essential workers that are keeping the rest of us safe and fed and able to survive (the medical professionals, for sure, but also the sanitation workers, public transport operators, delivery folks, etc), and to everyone who are doing their part, and encouraging others to do the same, rather than indulging in paranoid conspiracy theories spreading and politicizing the shut down. It's times like this that we get to see how people act under pressure. I'm very lucky that most of my friends have been wonderful!

Oh, I've been asymptomatic for 3 days now, of course, and finally ventured outside for a short hike today, in between bouts of rain. Will hopefully get COVID19 antibody tested when it becomes available (I sure hope that this 'flu' was it, 'cause I really don't want to get another lung bug in a long long while). In the meanwhile, I'll keep operating as if I'm a carrier until proven otherwise.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Not Coveting the COVID

Well, folks, even if you are super macho, have an impenetrable immune system, and don't care about spreading an infectious disease that can kill others (either because they have compromised immune system, or because they can't get access to life-saving medical procedure because all the ICUs are full and all the ventilators are already being used by critical patients) you still should practice social isolation now if only out of pure self-interest.

See, this is nothing like ebola zaire. Ebola has a hugely higher death rate, yes, but it is far easier to contain ebola than to contain this novel coronavirus. You can walk around with ebola in your system for up to 21 days before you show symptom, but during that period, you are not contagious and can't pass it to others. (I do hope you don't catch ebola, tho, that thing kills anywhere from 25-90% of the people that contracts it, depending on which strain you get). And, once you show symptom of ebola, everybody knows it and don't need to be told to run the heck away from you.

With this new coronovirus we're dealing with, people have had it and are now done with it without even knowing. You can walk around for up to 14 days being very contagious to others while feeling and looking completely normal. But, did you give it to someone who hasn't got the robust immune system to fight it in the meanwhile?

So, the self-interest part has to do with... getting this shut down over with as soon as possible. Because as long as new case of community spread of this thing keeps showing up, they're going to have to keep extending the shut down another two weeks... to be sure there's no asymptomatic coronavirus-thyphoid-mary's still walking around spreading the disease. The longer you keep not being helpful about avoiding contact with others so it can no longer spread and just run out of host, so to speak, the longer the shut down goes on.

We all want to go back to our normal social life. Help us all get it back soon (unless you fancy spending months rather than just a couple of weeks without concert, sport, shows, dine in dinners, bar scene, big wedding, yummy buffet, casino, library, etc).

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving 2019

It's the last Thursday in November, and the one holiday I really quite like in the USA - Thanksgiving Day. Being grateful for what one's got should be a daily rather than an annual thing, of course, but it is nice to have a full day off work to really reflect on how not so empty my glass is, even without comparing it with ones belonging to others.

It wasn't so many years ago that good health was not something I could take for granted. I still remember not being able to walk a city block without stopping to lean on my cane and gasp for air, having all the joints going thermonuclear at all hours of the day, and being so tired that getting to the safety of the opposite sidewalk while crossing the street felt like the last mile of an ultra-marathon in the waterless Sahara.

My health isn't perfect now, and I have to really force myself to exercise when I don't want to (and that is more often than not). But I've finished two consecutive Belgian Wafer Rides, ridden 4 solo rando permanents, commute everywhere almost exclusively by bike, cycled up both the highest and the steepest paved roads in the county, hiked many rugged miles with my buddy, and even given a good impression of an Energizer Bunny at my workplace. It's all a lot of work that isn't always even slightly pleasant, but every bit of it is worth it.

Use it or lose it, my oncologist mom used to say. And, darn if she isn't right. I may bitch about things, still, but at least I do have the energy left to bitch - for which I am very grateful!

Luck, has also been on my side so far. No, I haven't won the lottery or anything. But, to be on foot or on bicycle in traffic almost everyday in the USA for 8 years now and still haven't gotten hit by any car yet takes just about as much luck as it does constant vigilance and skills. 2019 has been a terrible year in my cycling family accident-wise. You can do all the right thing, and still get broadsided by inattentive driver. A few of my friends separately ran out of luck this year. Now one is dead, one paralyzed, and another still recovering from spinal fracture.

When people take their eye off the road while going 55 mph, they cover just over 80 feet every second completely blind to where their car is heading. That's over half a football field every 3 seconds. There isn't much I would be able to do if a driver drifts into me at that speed, even if I see them coming in my helmet-mounted rear-view mirror.

Needless to say, though, being situationally aware and taking all possible caution decreases one's chance of being hit, or hitting something on the road. But sometimes it is just down to luck to not be in the path of a car that isn't being carefully driven, or to not have a suicidal squirrel squirrels into your front wheel and sends you flying off to who-knows-where when it locks up and does an impromptu endo.

There were also a lot of luck involved in running into these lovelies with the camera ready to shoot.
I'm also very grateful for all my friends and family, and even to people I'm not friendly with. The former are amazing support in good and bad times. The latter keep me humble and challenge me to consider different viewpoints, and, in some extreme cases, really increases my appreciation of the more ethical human beings. Contrast is important in life. As Satan/Woland says in one of my all time favorite books;
What would your good do if evil didn't exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared? After all, shadows also come from trees and from living beings. Do you want to strip the earth of all trees and living things just because of your fantasy of enjoying naked light? - Mikhail Bulgakov, Master and Margarita

There are many mundane little things, and many more substantial things that I am grateful of, of course, but who has time to read this when there are turkeys and green beans and stuffing and many other things in the oven and on the stoves to keep an eye on today? This has already gone on long enough, so I'll just stop now and wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving with many things to be grateful of all year long.