San Francisco is one of those cities in which, on most nights, the serious listener can choose among several alternatives where to spend an evening likely to appear to his or her tastes. Every now and then, however, two events from major institutions end up colliding on the same night; and sometimes the nature of the coincidence itself can be fascinating. Tonight, for example, offers two important opening nights:
- In Herbst Theatre the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra will present the first performance of their final season offering, a concert presentation of George Frideric Handel's Orlando with the original cast from the Göttingen Handel Festival and Drottningholm Theatre productions.
- Somewhat further to the north, in the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center, the Conservatory Opera Theatre of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music will have the opening night of the annual spring opera, which this year is The Rake's Progress by Igor Stravinsky.
Since there are any number of allusions to Handel in Stravinsky's score, these two operas actually make for excellent companions; and it would be particularly fortuitous to find them sharing a single opera company season. Fortunately, in my case the choice is an easy one. Tonight is the only San Francisco performance by Philharmonia Baroque, after which they move on to Berkeley and Palo Alto. That means I go to Stravinsky tomorrow night, and my guess is that going to Stravinsky with Handel still ringing in my ears will be preferable to that opposite alternative!