Friday, September 05, 2008

San Francisco Symphony Gala 1: Before The Concert

A royal blue carpet was laid down on the Polk Street side of City Hall Wednesday afternoon... preparation for one of the rich people's dinners and cocktail parties that precede the opening night gala of the San Francisco Symphony.

The decorating scheme had something to do with large spheres which rather reminded me of "The Prisoner" television show.

Outside, in front of one of the globes that have been erected proclaiming the usefulness of alternative power, an expensive car was being staged for an ad that was "Fueled by Fanfare," which I assume is still petrochemical in nature.

We were invited to cover the concert and parties as press, and my favorite part of the evening was the free wine and hors d'oeuvres in the press room, which was being presided over by Louisa Spier, looking fab in her toreador skirt.

It was also fun talking up the music journalists such as the fine writer Janos Gereben, although I did have to make a quick exit after a woman introduced herself as being from a local TV station which produces a Chinese New Year's Spectacular at the Opera House. Was I interested in writing about it? I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'd already covered the Falun Gong propaganda theatrical a couple of years ago with Sid Chen, and that our piece had set off a firestorm on the internet.

Also joining the press gang party was former Adler Fellow, recent winner of the Wagner Competition in Seattle, and all-around awesome soprano Elza van den Heever with a slimmed down figure and startling red dress.

The actual concert sounded a lot better on paper than in reality. As Kosman noted in the San Francisco Chronicle (click here), the best piece was the first, a short excerpt from Delibes' ballet "Sylvia," which made me want to see the Mark Morris production at the San Francisco Ballet all over again.

This was followed by Bernstein's arrangement of dance music from "West Side Story," which was fairly boring except for the orchestra snapping their fingers and shouting "Mambo" which they did quite well. Patrick Vaz claims that everyone is either a "West Side Story" person or a "Candide" person in a funny post at his "Reverberate Hills" blog (click here), and I think I'm going to have to call myself a "Candide" dude. After seeing the movie, Jerome Robbins' ballet, and now the "Symphonic Dances," I realize the only time I ever want to see "West Side Story" again in any form is if it's being performed by a high school or college theatrical troupe.

The second half of the program had Yefim Bronfman playing the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto while being drowned out half the time by the orchestra. For a nuanced review, check out Jolene (not pictured) at "Saturday Matinee" (click here), who was attending her first gala and who was bursting with excitement.


sfmike said...

My friend Markley wrote:

Hi, Mike. In my view Stephen Sondheim is the only worthy thing that's happened in the American theater in the last half century. Even though Sondheim only did the lyrics, "West Side Story" is one of my favorite musicals. I was glad I saw the original Broadway production - and I agree with you about only going to h.s. or college productions of it nowadays. They did it at City College a couple of years ago, a production so gritty and so moving that I saw it twice.

whabbear said...

Mike and Markley: I'm not sure I agree that the filmed version of WSS isn't a gift that keeps on giving.

Huzbear and I are getting married in October, and we've been trying to figure out what on earth to do for wedding vows. Of all the weird things, last night I was watching YouTube clips of WSS songs, including the scene (and the song) where Tony and Maria marry each other in Maria's dress shop.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED their "impromptu" vows! Now, I'm hoping I can convince Huz to use them!!

Meanwhile, phabulous photo of Tony! He looks mighty fine dressed up!