Thursday, September 15, 2016

Opera Academy of California will Return to Old First Concerts this Sunday

This Sunday Yefim Maizel’s Opera Academy of California will return to Old First Church to present two one-act operas in the Old First Concerts series. Maizel is a highly imaginative director, who has made excellent use of the limited stage resources of Old First in the past. The first offering is actually excellently suited to such a setting. Francis Poulenc’s “La voix humaine” (the human voice) is an operatic setting of the monodrama by Jean Cocteau of the same title. It involves nothing more than a woman talking on the telephone, and Poulenc wrote the score for his favorite singer, Denise Duval. That role will be sung by Sophie Delphis, accompanied by Louse Costigan-Kerns at the piano.

The second opera will involve more innovative approaches to staging. Maurice Ravel’s “L’heure espagnole” (the Spanish clock) is a farce about a Spanish clockmaker and his lusty wife. Every Thursday (like clockwork) the clockmaker has to go into the village to make sure that all the public clocks are set properly. Left to her own devices, his wife entertains a series of lovers, keeping each concealed from the others and using a grandfather clock as a hiding place. Ravel is, of course, known for his interest in Spanish music; and the antics of this opera are accompanied by a variety of traditional dance forms, including the jota, the habanera, and the Malagueña. Delphis will sing the leading role of the clockmaker's wife. The other vocalists will be tenors Michael Orlinsky, and Taylor Rawley, baritone Spencer Dodd, and bass Richard Burgess Block.

This performance will begin at 4 p.m. this Sunday, September 18. The Old First Church is located at 1751 Sacramento Street on the southeast corner of Van Ness Boulevard. General admission is $25 with a $17 rate for seniors (age 65 or older) and full-time students showing valid identification. Tickets purchased online in advance receive a $2 discount for the general admission and senior rates. There is also a discount available for those parking at the Old First Parking Garage at 1725 Sacramento Street, just up the street for the church.

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