“Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien” – At Davies Symphony Hall, Featuring Damian Smith of SF Ballet, January 12th–14th

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) will lead the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus in Claude Debussy’s rarely performed complete original music for Le martyre de Saint Sébastien January 12th–14th at Davies Symphony Hall. The concerts will feature performances by soprano Karina Gauvin, mezzo-sopranos Sasha Cooke and Leah Wool, and Frederica von Stade as narrator. For this production, the SFS’s performance of Debussy’s sweeping score will be accompanied by a newly created multi-media treatment by imaginative, critically acclaimed director-designer Anne Patterson that features projected visuals and staged elements meant to bring the pageant-like, gothic, nature of the work to life. The featured vocalists will perform in costumes of Patterson’s design. Janáček’s Sinfonietta, last performed by MTT and the SFS in 1999, opens the concerts.

saint-sebastian-e28093-detail-mantegna-1457e2809359
SAINT SÉBASTIEN. Andrea Mantegna (1457–59)

Debussy composed the music for Le martyre de Saint Sébastien in 1911, the same year as the San Francisco Symphony’s founding.  At the debut, the music accompanied a five-act play depicting the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. For the SFS concerts the orchestra will perform the music in a presentation specifically designed for concert performances and sanctioned by the play’s author, Gabriele D’Annunzio, and composer Claude Debussy. The orchestra will perform Debussy’s score with selected passages from the play recited by narrator Frederica von Stade.

Click here to order tickets on-line: MTT Conducts Debussy

Le martyre de Saint Sébastien was written as a vehicle for the Russian ballerina and Belle Époque figure Ida Rubinstein, a colorful member of the Ballet Russe and the muse of numerous visual artists and musicians. In the spirit of the original ballet, for MTT and the SFS’ performances, video of a dancer performing new original choreography will be projected onto custom-made screens of a special, string-like material above the Davies Symphony Hall stage. Choreography for the pre-recorded projection will be created by Myles Thatcher, a member of the San Francisco Ballet Corps de Ballet and choreographer known for the experimental silent-film comedy The Glitter Emergency.

damian-smith-photo-davis-allen
DAMIAN SMITH. Photo, Davis Allen

It will be danced by San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Damian Smith. MTT conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in a highly-acclaimed recording of Debussy’s complete work in 1993, and led the last SFS performances during his first season as Music Director in 1995. Saint Sebastian, a Christian martyr venerated in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, is said to have been killed during Roman emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. Sebastian was a head archer who was shot to death by his own troop of archers, an image often represented in Renaissance paintings many of which depict his piercing with an erotic charge.

MTT shares his enthusiasm for the music and the story of Debussy’s Le martyre de Saint Sébastien:

“The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian is one of my favorite pieces,” says Michael Tilson Thomas.  “It’s an incredible mixture of beautiful harmonies, soaring voices, lush orchestral landscapes, and the spoken word…Every time I come back to this piece, I feel hypnotized being inside of it again. It is somehow touching, heartbreaking, haunting, and uses very simple ideas in the orchestra with a kind of glowing hue to take you from the quiet prelude to a dazzling climax when the saint enters into heaven. What could be better?”

Soprano Karina Gauvin made her SFS debut in May 2011 in performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke is a frequent collaborator with the SFS who last appeared with the orchestra in Mozart’s Requiem and Feldman’s Rothko Chapel in February 2011.  Mezzo-soprano Leah Wool makes her debut with MTT and the Orchestra in these performances. She was soloist in the SFS Chorus’ performances of Duruflé’s Requiem in May 2011. Narrator Frederica von Stade has had a storied career as a mezzo-soprano, appearing many times with the SFS Orchestra since her debut in 1975.

karina-gauvin-and-sasha-cooke
KARINA GAUVIN and SASHA COOKE

leah-wool-and-frederica-von-stade
LEAH WOOL and FREDERICA VON STADE

Anne Patterson is a visual artist, designer and director based in New York City.  Her innovative strategy of integrating scenic, lighting, and projection elements within the traditional symphonic hall is revolutionizing the concert experience. Her creations have been seen by audiences at Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Halls at Lincoln Center, the Juilliard School, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, and Arena Stage. She has designed fourteen operas, including one world premiere and three US premieres for the Aspen Music Festival. Patterson’s sculptures and paintings are in public and private collections in the United States and London. In 2006 she collaborated with composer Mason Bates to create Mercury Soul, first performances held in San Francisco in February 2008 and May 2009 featuring musicians from the San Francisco Symphony. This is her first artistic partnership with MTT.

Projections are created by New York-based Adam Larsen who has designed images for Hal Prince’s LoveMusik (Broadway), The Gospel at Colonus (Herod Atticus, Athens), world premieres of The Women of Brewster Place (Alliance/Arena Stage) and Christmas Carol 1941 (Arena Stage) and recently The Wind Up Bird Chronicle (Ohio Theater) and Love Lies Bleeding, a ballet based on the life of Elton John (Alberta Ballet).  Lighting design is by Brooklyn-based Matthew Frey. He has created lighting designs for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, New York Theatre Workshop and Berkeley Repertory Theater.

SEE RELATED ARTICLES

The Sentinel’s own editor Sean Martinfield is interviewed by David Perry on Comcast. Catch the Action!

NEW YEAR’S EVE MASQUERADE BALL – Violinist Nicola Benedetti with the San Francisco Symphony
CD, JAKE SCHEPPS – An Evening in the Village: The Music of Béla Bartók
“XANADU THE MUSICAL” – Now at the New Conservatory Theatre Center
JAN WAHL – Joins “The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes” – Live At The Victoria Theatre, 12/23
‘TWAS THE NIGHT – Celebrate Christmas with the San Francisco Symphony
DEANNA DURBIN – The Leading Lady of NOIR CITY XMAS, Wednesday at The Castro Theatre
CD Review – A STEINWAY CHRISTMAS ALBUM ★★★★
MELODY MOORE – Opera Star to Appear with San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in Holiday Concerts
CHITA RIVERA – Narrates “Peter and the Wolf” with the San Francisco Symphony
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=166581
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=166587
SF Opera Center Announces the 2012 Adler Fellows
CALIFORNIA DREAMING – At the Contemporary Jewish Museum
SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY – 100th Anniversary Concert, December 8th, at Davies Hall
BERNINI’S MEDUSA – Now at the Legion of Honor through February 12th
“THE ARTIST” – Silents, please! – A masterpiece in B&W, starring Jean Dujardin
THOMAS JANE – An interview with the star of HBO’s “Hung” and 3D Thriller “Dark Country”
THE TEMPERAMENTALS – A Must-See at New Conservatory Theatre Center
MICHAEL CORBETT – SF historian to speak at The Presidio, “The Creation of the Port and the Development of the City
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL – Best Show In Town, Now Through December 18th at AT&T Park
CARMEN – Closing the season at San Francisco Opera
PISSARRO’S PEOPLE – Stunning exhibit now at the Legion of Honor, through 1/22
THE PRESIDIO’S HIDDEN PAST – SF’s Oldest Building Reveals Original Adobe Walls
MAHARAJA – The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts, at the Asian Art Museum
KYLE KETELSEN and JANE ARCHIBALD – Featured Soloists in SF Symphony’s Presentation of the Brahms Requiem
“XERXES” – A Royally Entertaining Production at SF Opera
BEVAN DUFTY – A Conversation with The City’s Most Effective Candidate for Mayor
“REAL STEEL” – Reels of money-making crap starring Hugh Jackman
DAVID LOMELI – Performs at Día de los Muertos Community Concert with SF Symphony, Saturday, 11/5
“XERXES” – At San Francisco Opera
RICHARD SERRA DRAWING – At the SF Museum of Modern Art through January 16th
CD Release: “Feels Like Home”, The Celtic Tenors ★★★★
DON GIOVANNI – It’s smart and new at San Francisco Opera
“HOUDINI: Art and Magic” – At the Contemporary Jewish Museum
LEANNE BORGHESI – SF Bay Area Star on the Rise
“REAL STEEL” – Reels of money-making crap starring Hugh Jackman
LUCAS MEACHEM – Former Adler Fellow to sing “Don Giovanni” at San Francisco Opera
CAMERON CARPENTER – International Superstar Organist plays “Phantom of the Opera” at Davies Symphony Hall, Friday, October 30th
“THE MILL & THE CROSS” – Film director Lech Majewski brings 16th Century masterpiece to life
“ONCE IN A LIFETIME” – A Charming Comedy at A.C.T.
“LUCREZIA BORGIA” – A Hard Act To Swallow at San Francisco Opera
THE “DOUBLE PLATINUM” GOES TO: The California Academy of Sciences!
EDDIE MULLER and “Fear Over Frisco” – An Interview with the Czar of Noir
LEAH CROCETTO – An Interview with “Liu” in SF Opera’s TURANDOT
CD Release – Jacques Loussier Trio – “Schumann: Kinderszenen”
HENRY PHIPPS – A Conversation with Featured Boy Soprano in SF Opera’s “Heart of a Soldier”
HBO Premieres “The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – Midnight, 9/20
“HEART OF A SOLDIER” – A Rapturous World Premiere At San Francisco Opera
MEET MAESTRO NICOLA LUISOTTI – San Francisco Opera opens 2011/12 season with Puccini’s “Turandot”
“The Glory of Love” – A Salute to Jacqueline Fontaine
“MOZART’S SISTER” – Third string cinema
SHN Presents – STOMP and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Musical
“HEART OF A SOLDIER” – SFOpera Presents World Premiere September 10th
THE MOURNERS: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy
MEROLA OPERA’S GRAND FINALE – Meet Daniel Curran and Mark Diamond
100th BIRTHDAY – San Francisco Symphony throws free concert bash in Civic Center Plaza, September 8th
“CASABLANCA” – The SF Symphony accompanies screening tonight, 7/22
“HE WHO GETS SLAPPED” – A conversation with composer and pianist Matti Bye
ABEL GANCE’S “NAPOLEON” – San Francisco Silent Film Festival to present complete restoration by Kevin Brownlow in 2012
“BILLY ELLIOT” – A high flying hit at the Orpheum
HEIDI MELTON – An Interview with “Sieglinde” in San Francisco Opera’s DIE WALKÜRE
MARY GIBBONEY – An Interview with the star of “ABSOLUTELY SAN FRANCISCO”
“DAS RHEINGOLD” – The slippery steps to Valhalla
SONDHEIM’S “ASSASSINS” – Ray of Light Theatre is right-on target
“TALES OF THE CITY” – Totally Sensational, Totally San Francisco
TIIT HELIMETS – An Interview with “Prince Edvard” of SF Ballet’s THE LITTLE MERMAID
NEW CENTURY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA – Presents “Mastery of Schubert”, Featuring Soprano Melody Moore, 3/24–27
ZHENG CAO – A Conversation with A Miracle Artist
MELODY MOORE – Soprano shines in SF Ballet’s “Nanna’s Lied”
MARNIE BRECKENRIDGE – An Interview with “La Princesse” of Philip Glass’ Orphée
EDITORIAL – A confession about ballerina Lorena Feijóo
GISELLE – And the Legend of the Wilis
A Conversation with Elza van den Heever
CLUB FOOT ORCHESTRA – A Conversation with Richard Marriot
WEST SIDE STORY – Most of it, anyway
PLÁCIDO DOMINGO – An Interview with the Tenor turned Baritone for “Cyrano”
Dr. ELISA STEPHENS – A Visit with the President of the Academy of Art University
CUBAN BALLET – An Interview with Octavio Roca
A Look At “Giselle” with Ballerina Lorena Feijóo
SABINA ALLEMANN – Former SF Ballet Ballerina Returns In A.C.T.’s “The Tosca Project”
AMANDA McBROOM – A conversation on her recording of songs by Jacques Brel
CAMERON CARPENTER – An interview with Grammy-nominated organist
HANDEL’S “ORLANDO” – An Interview with Conductor Nicholas McGagen
PIANIST MISHA DICHTER – A Conversation
ZUILL BAILEY – A Conversation
DAVID PERRY – On the “Dos and Don’ts of Social Media”
NATHAN GUNN – Sings Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin
CAMINOS FLAMENCOS – A Conversation with Yaelisa
JANE MONHEIT – An Interview
DIANE BAKER – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
CAMERON CARPENTER – An Interview with Seán Martinfield
AT LAST! – ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY – An Interview with Seán Martinfield
A Conversation with Ruben Martin Cintas, Principal Dancer with SF Ballet
THIS GUN FOR HIRE, 1942 – Looking at “Now you see it, now you don’t” sung by Veronica Lake
“My Silver Dollar Man” – from MARKED WOMAN (starring Bette Davis, 1937)
“Would You Like A Souvenir?” – Sean Martinfield and Janet Roitz explore a song from Film Noir classic NORA PRENTISS (1947)

Comments are closed.