Sunday, May 7, 2023

Music of Remembrance to Return to San Francisco

Unless I am mistaken, the Seattle-based musicians of Music of Remembrance (MOR) will be returning to San Francisco for the first time since the onset of the COVID pandemic. During the early months of lockdown conditions, the organization presented a streamed video of Hans Krása’s one-act children’s opera “Brundibár.” The video was captured in a performance with the Seattle Children’s Theater in 2014, which included a “guest appearance” by Ela Stein Weissberger, who sang the original role of the cat in Theresienstadt. (Weissberger died in 2018 at the age of 87.) According to my records, their most recent streamed offering involved the world premiere of Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope, composed by Jake Heggie with a libretto prepared by Gene Scheer, which was launched at the beginning of August in 2021.

Laura DeLuca, Ryan McKinny, and Curt Branom in “For a Look or a Touch” (courtesy of Verismo Communications)

This month the MOR spring tour will begin at the organization’s “home base” in Seattle on Sunday, May 21, which will be followed a few days later by a performance here in San Francisco. The program will present two-one act chamber operas, both created by Heggie and Scheer. The first of these is the monodrama “Another Sunrise,” whose only character, Krystyna (sung by soprano Caitlin Lynch), is an Auschwitz survivor struggling to find words capable of describing her harrowing experiences to those who were not there. The second opera, “For a Look or a Touch,” involves two characters, Manfred (sung by baritone Ryan McKinny) and Gad (performed by actor Curt Branom). They portray two idealistic young men in love, who are torn apart under Nazi rule.

Instrumentation will be provided by a sextet, whose members are DeMarre McGill (flute), Laura DeLuca (clarinet), Mikhail Shmidt (violin), Walter Gray (cello), Jonathan Green (bass), and Jessica Choe (piano). The conductor will be Joseph Mechavich, and the staging will be created by director Erich Parce, working with media designer Peter Crompton. Both of the operas will be the latest works to pursue the MOR mission to explore the consequences of intolerance toward “the other.”

There will be only one performance of this production in San Francisco. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24. The venue will be the Presidio Theatre, located on Presidio grounds at 99 Moraga Avenue. The entire performance will run for about 110 minutes including an intermission. Ticket prices are $30, $50, $70, and $90. A Web page has been created for online purchases. This includes a floor plan showing which seats are currently available at what prices. There are also seats set aside for those with wheelchairs and their accompanying guests.

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