There is a whole lot of Gustav Mahler going on this month. May marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the composer’s death and celebrations are happening everywhere in the world where classical music is a thing. Acclaimed interpreters of Mahler’s work, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony have been invited to perform in Vienna, Prague, Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, and other European music hot spots this spring. In conjunction with all the mad Mahler action, the Symphony’s Grammy-winning Mahler recording project will be released in a box CD set and KQED will broadcast concerts. So if you ever wanted to learn about Mahler, his music, or Michael Tilson Thomas’s interpretations thereof - here's your chance.
In the mood for some classical? Here's what's on tap this month.
Cypress String Quartet
Contemporary music is a natural extension of older works, each one building on what came before. Devoted to adding to the contemporary canon, The Cypress String Quartet is performing its 12th annual Call and Response, featuring a new commissioned work by Jeffrey Cotton that was inspired by the other pieces in the program.
Cotton’s Serenade for String Quartet responds to Bloch’s Landscapes, itself a response to the Nanook of the North craze of the time, and Debussy’s String Quartet, Op. 10, which he composed after hearing the Javanese Gamelan at the Paris Exposition in 1889.
Bask in the presence of Hugh Jackman - also known as Wolverine, People’s Sexiest Man Alive, and award winning...everything. Who wouldn’t want to loll respectfully in the presence of all that? Especially as he’s serenading you with a voice that kills on Broadway - though many of us would be perfectly happy to listen to him read aloud from the phone book.
Possibly best known for his role in X-Men, Jackman has also starred opposite Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann’s epic Australia and Rachel Weisz in The Fountain. He was served up as the object of somewhat irrational hatred on Scrubs and of gay man adoration on Will and Grace.
Tennessee Williams - who brought us Blanche DuBois, and therefore Marlon Brando yelling about Blanche DuBois in a rain-soaked t-shirt (thank you, silver screen) - is celebrating his 100th birthday. Or would be, if he was still alive. Since he's not, Aurora Theatre in Berkeley is doing it for him, by staging a production of The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, a haunting and rarely-produced play about a lonely woman living in pre-World War I Mississippi.
Examining love, marriage, and Prop 8, The Lily's Revenge is more party than play - and when theater people throw a party, they throw it BIG.
Abandoning its usual fare of thoughtful but considerably more sedate programming, Magic Theatre is hosting an enormous, five-hour bash featuring dozens of local artists surrounding the beglittered ringleader - playwright and burlesque performer Taylor Mac. Pulling in vaudeville, feminist theory, circus, dream ballets, and the occasional haiku, The Lily's Revenge is a massive social experiment unlike anything you’ve seen at the theater.
Warning: this play might make you wish your conversation was wittier and your brain was bigger. You may also vow to pick up Lolita again and actually read it this time.
San Francisco playwright Trevor Allen is a master of blending disparate stories into a seamless whole that sticks with you, possibly because the pieces are still falling into place days later. (There was a lot of "Oh, wait, NOW I get it" at breakfast the next morning.) Julia is a Nabokov scholar who comes packed with neuroses and dark secrets. She picks up the hitchhiking young hustler Danny and together they retrace Nabokov's 1941 journey from New York to Stanford.
If you’ve ever idly wondered what post-apocalyptic New Jersey might look like, wonder no more. When the world collapses in on itself and starts to melt into space - literally, like cheese over nachos - plan on monster seahorses and Canadians who’ve decided cannibalism is a good response to the end of life as we know it.
Mika escapes to the moon, in hopes of solving the mystery of her destroyed hands. Her brother Kale pursues her through a surreal world of mutant dogs, cannibals, and giant sea creatures so they can both find forgiveness at the end of the world. Innovative and intriguing, Into the Clear Blue Sky is the second play in a world premiere trilogy by J.C. Lee.
Known for visionary choreography, ground-breaking collaborations, and gorgeously articulated movement, Alonzo King’s Lines is always a must-see, whether you’re a ballet fan or just like awesome things. People who like awesome things, take note.
One of San Francisco's newest dance companies, FACT/SF mixes contemporary ballet, dance-theater, and commentary that hops between snarky and insightful. They can roll with the low-key or grandly virtuosic, and have performed in Hong Kong, Russia, and every single Wal-Mart in California. You wouldn't think a performance group labeled postmodern, bizarre, and mesmerizing would be so at home in a deeply American chain store, but there you have it.
Perched grandly on 16th and Valencia, the Roxie has been the oldest continuously operating theater in San Francisco since 1909. For that, we salute it. Yes, actually salute it - especially after stumbling around the Mission in an Elixir haze at one in the morning and suddenly knowing exactly where you are. Thanks, looming hot pink neon sign.
In early years the Roxie boasted vaudeville-esque variety shows with pratfalls, pretty girls in skimpy outfits, and people juggling weird stuff. Turned into a movie theater in 1933, it went through a brief and tawdry stint with pornography in the late ‘60s before being revived as an arthouse in the ‘70s.
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