Monday, March 05, 2007

From Sleeping Beauty to Spider-Man

The Civic Center neighborhood was hopping with Culture Vultures all weekend, and I happily joined in the fun.

The opera house was hosting the San Francisco Ballet all week in their revival of Tchaikowsky's three-act "Sleeping Beauty." Friday night featured the "A" cast with Yuan Yuan Tan as Princess Aurora and Tiit Helimets as The Prince, and the level of dancing by the entire cast was very high, with special shoutouts to Muriel Maffre as an imperious Lilac Fairy and David Arce as the Cutest Corps de Ballet Dude. The sets and costumes were also just the right degree of lavish.

Traditional ballet still gives me a slight case of the creeps, though. Dancing en pointe has an element of Chinese foot-binding to it, and the many exposed ribs and collarbones on the ballerinas hints unpleasantly at anorexia. However, I'm in the minority, and the sold-out house looked to be having a marvelous time.

On Saturday evening, the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall continued with its final performance of "A Flowering Tree," conducted by its composer John Adams, and a second hearing confirmed the beauty and wonder of the piece. Two favorite moments were the rhythmic opening of the second act where the great bass Eric Owens as The Narrator was dancing along to the music in improvised pleasure, and the Fourth Transformation finale for orchestra and chorus which sounds like some wonderful fusion of Prokofiev, Sibelius, and Ravel while being pure John Adams.

On the same evening, as part of the week-long NoisePop festival, there were rock concerts galore at small clubs in the neighborhood like The Rickshaw Lounge on Fell Street.

Further up Fell Street there was a party being held at the Isotope comic book lounge (click here) for WonderCon attendees. "We're going to be packing the shop wall to wall with sexy nerds and nerdettes for one of our six hours post-convention celebrations that are the stuff of comic industry legend," their website promised.

And they weren't exaggerating, as the place was packed with sexy young nerds and nerdettes.

The guest of honor was the legendary comic book writer J.M. DeMatteis (pictured below) whose fascinating career can be digested over at Wikipedia (click here to get there).

My favorite detail in the Wikipedia bio is that DeMatteis is a follower of the late guru Meher Baba whose "Don't Worry, Be Happy" billboard in San Francisco in the late 1960s was one of my favorite pieces of public art. For a fascinating bio of this avatar of God, click here.


Rosie said...

Aw man, I'm really bummed I missed that party! I went to ComicCon all day Saturday, and had lots of fun (bought lots of artists' books and got some great artist autographs).

I can't wait to go to one of these things again - and this time, I'll be going to the party!

Anonymous said...

You have been busy as a bee in Spring -- and the mix of events, critiques and political action has been so enjoyable. Your review of the Flowering Tree was out before the one in the LA Times. You've got some backyard!