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Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at janosg@gmail.com.

Articles by this Author

Archive Review
August 26, 2008

David Sloss and the Fremont Symphony proved last weekend that the rave review for the Fremont Opera's inaugural production of La Bohème last year was not the result of a fluke. This time, the fledgling but impressively talented company took on Rossini's Barber of Seville, also one of the most popular — and therefore "transparent" — operas, singing it in Italian, with English subtitles.

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Archive Review
August 26, 2008

Musiciens Sans Frontières have arrived, musicians without regard to genre frontiers, courtesy of the Wordless Music Series, which premiered at Herbst Theatre on Thursday.

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Feature Article
August 19, 2008

The wistful lyrics from West Side Story must have had a special meaning for David Gockley as he contemplated the lack of appropriate performance venues in the city. It was a couple of years ago, and Gockley had just arrived as the new general director of San Francisco Opera. Among the first questions asked of him was whether he'd be interested in reviving the company's old Spring Opera Theater. The answer was an instant "yes," clearly indicating that Gockley is among the many fans of the low-cost series featuring young talent in the 1960s and '70s.

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Archive Review
August 12, 2008

There are few plays as firmly in charge of their own stage destiny as Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. It's all in the text, of course, but also in the style of the piece, with its shimmering, playful way of intermingling spirits and mortals. Significant alteration is not really feasible, so writers and composers must follow Master William's playbook.

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Archive Review
August 5, 2008

Music@Menlo's survey of music history arrived triumphantly at 20th Century Unlimited over the weekend. Program IV, "The Rise of Modernism," shone with rousing performances of Debussy, Stravinsky, Gruenberg, Ives, Britten, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. The sold-out house in St. Mark's Episcopal Church was hot not only in the wake of an unusual 90-degree day in Palo Alto, but also from the heat of creative juices flowing freely all evening long.

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Archive Review
July 22, 2008

Few rock concerts are as eventful as the Wagner-Mozart-Bach presentation at Festival del Sole last Thursday turned out to be. The news included the disruptive effects of a Presidental visit and roadblock, a serious injury to the conductor/violinist the day before the concert, and a near-catastrophic memory lapse by the pianist.

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Archive Review
July 15, 2008

Unusual as it may be to mention the economy and other seemingly extraneous items right at the top of a concert review, the unusual nature of said economy (and its relationship to the arts) well warrants doing so here.

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Archive Review
June 3, 2008

The Ring of Richard Wagner's four-opera, 15-hour Der Ring des Nibelungen"is an instrument of pure evil. It represents extreme greed and the drive for absolute power. This Ring corrupts and destroys its owners, be they dwarfs, giants, heroes, gods or, at the end, in the flames of The Twilight of the Gods, the old world order itself.

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Feature Article
June 3, 2008

I had to look up the date, but the scene itself is still clear in my mind after so many years. In 1982, Calvin Simmons — about to go on stage to conduct his orchestra, the Oakland Symphony — ended an interview in the wings of the Paramount Theatre by saying, "I am here because of Madi."

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Archive Review
May 27, 2008

How do you produce a Wagner opera on a stage not much bigger than a living room?
How do you present a "Wagnerian" (in fact and in size) score with an orchestra whose string section consists of six violins, two violas, two cellos, and a double bass?

The expected response of "very carefully" doesn't apply in the case of West Bay Opera's production of Der fliegende Holländer; the correct description is "amazingly well."

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Archive Review
May 6, 2008

Another huge feather — Cyrano's famed plume, even — in Berkeley Opera's tiny cap, the double-bill of Béla Bartók's 1918 A Kékszakállú Herceg Vára (Bluebeard's Castle) and Maurice Ravel's 1925 L'Enfant et les sortilèges (The child and the magic spells) opened Saturday night at the Julia Morgan Theatre with a fabulous production and some kind of prestidigitation.

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Feature Article
May 6, 2008

Leif Ove Andsnes is a pianist with an enormous repertory, ranging from classics to many contemporary composers, so you might presume that performing the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major Op. 83, is just "part of the job." You would be wrong.

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Archive Review
April 15, 2008

San Francisco Conservatory of Music's young artists went way back in time to present an opera three-and-a-half centuries old, last weekend in Fort Mason Center's Cowell Theater. Richard Harrell, director of the Conservatory's Opera Theater, has bravely (and judging by the results, wisely) selected Francesco Cavalli's 1643 L'Egisto, a sensation in its time, but virtually impossible to find performed today.

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Archive Review
April 8, 2008

Mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack comes from Buenos Aires, and her home is now in San Francisco, but her future is in the great opera houses and recital halls of the world. Her Schwabacher Debut Recital Sunday only confirmed what her Merola Program appearances last year — especially in the title role of La cenerentola — clearly indicated: She is a phenomenon.

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Archive Review
March 25, 2008

It doesn't matter how much hype is swirling around conductor Gustavo Dudamel. He is the real deal, a great all-around young talent, who consistently delivers the goods, as his debut concerts with the San Francisco Symphony last week proved.

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Archive Review
March 18, 2008

L'elisir d'amore (The elixir of love) is not only one of most melodious and rhythmically exciting works in all opera, it also testifies to its composer's defiant humanity. Gaetano Donizetti endured many personal tragedies, including the loss of his wife in a cholera epidemic in 1837, the deaths of all three of his children shortly after their births, and a horrible, debilitating disease, which caused his mental deterioration and death in 1848.

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Archive Review
March 11, 2008

When Jacques Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld was first performed in Paris, in 1858, the famed critic Jules Noriac, of mighty Le Figaro, stammered with delight: "Unheard-of. Splendid. Outrageous. Graceful. Charming. Witty. Amusing. Successful. Perfect ..."

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Archive Review
February 19, 2008

West Bay Opera's current production of Così fan tutte stands tall on the twin ramparts of Barbara Day Turner's rock-solid conducting of a fair-to-middling orchestra, and Douglas Nagel's vital, if risky, staging. Combined, they made for fine musical theater, if not quite dramma per musica.

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Archive Review
February 5, 2008

Schubert’s song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin may be the richest treatment of a simple story in all music. Young man loves the miller's daughter, she prefers a hunter, young man drowns himself in the brook — and that's all there is.

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Archive Review
December 18, 2007

If noble titles were given as rewards for excellence, the FOG Trio would be royalty. While "FOG" also indicates the trio's connections with San Francisco, the name is formed by the players' last names: F is for violinist Jorja Fleezanis (former San Francisco Symphony associate concertmaster), O is for world traveler/San Francisco resident pianist Garrick Ohlsson, G is for San Francisco Symphony principal cellist Michael Grebanier. W is for Wow.

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