Former Globe artistic chief O'Brien directs a 'Great' opera
by CHARLENE BALDRIDGE
Published - 11/19/15 - 09:24 AM | 3728 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
San Diego trumpet man Gilbert Castellanos has curated a leonine San Diego Symphony jazz series.
San Diego trumpet man Gilbert Castellanos has curated a leonine San Diego Symphony jazz series.
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Opera lovers: I guarantee you will love Jake Heggie’s new work, “Great Scott,” which will play San Diego Opera in May and which I attended at its premiere on Friday, Oct. 30, amid a Texas-size deluge at Winspear Opera House in Dallas. The entirely fictional libretto is by opera-loving, Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally and directed by former Old Globe Artistic Director Jack O’Brien, who also knows his way around an opera house and also has a statuette or two on his mantelpiece.

Arden Scott, the heroine, looks into the mirror Marschallin-like, takes a gander at her aging self and wonders if the personal sacrifice necessary for a career like hers is worth the effort. She is starring in a long-lost Rossini-like opera titled “Rosa Dolorosa, figlia di Pompeii,” in which she throws herself into Mt. Vesuvius to save her beloved city. As the hero points out, it didn’t work.

Meanwhile, the composer and I played catch-up on the phone this week, and he recounted the perils of his own popularity. Following the new opera’s opening night, Heggie flew to Los Angeles, where his five-year-old “Moby-Dick” (premiered in Dallas in June of 2000) had its L.A. Opera debut Saturday, Oct. 31. Then he flew back to Dallas in time for the Sunday matinee of “Great Scott.” He and McNally are currently fine-tuning the acclaimed new work, which plays here May 7, 10, 13 and 15.

New Jazz Series

San Diego Symphony will inaugurate a new series, Jazz @ the Jacobs, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21. Curated by San Diego trumpet virtuoso Gilbert Castellanos, the first concert is titled “Living Jazz Legends + The Young Lions” and features Castellanos, alto saxophonist Charles McPerson, vocalist Barbra Morrison and pianist Mike Wofford, along with tenor/alto saxophonist Tom Scott, drummer Roy McCurdy and bassist Henry (The Skipper) Franklin. The concert begins with a set played by The Young Lions, a group of outstanding high school jazz musicians. Additional Jazz @ the Jacobs concerts are scheduled as follows: “Jazz Piano Masters: A Tribute to Thelonious Monk, Art Tatum and Bud Powell,” Saturday, Jan. 23; Dianne Reeves, Friday, Feb. 19; and Gregory Porter, Saturday, May 7.

On Nov. 6, San Diego Repertory Theatre’s production of “Honky” inaugurated PBS-TV’s new series, “On Stage in America,” quite a feather in the Rep's and the City of San Diego’s caps. Greg Kallerres’s send-up of racism and post-racial attitudes played very well on TV for which it was filmed during its run last season. All should be lauded, especially director Sam Woodhouse. In case you’d forgotten, the Rep is celebrating its 40th season this year. Currently playing through Dec. 6 is Sarah Ruhl’s “The Oldest Boy.” In the adjacent Lyceum Space, you can catch Intrepid Theatre’s production of “The End of the Rainbow” through Nov. 29.

Other Live Plays, by George

One of the best things on the boards currently is InnerMission Productions’ “Precious Little,” playing in Diversionary Theatre’s new Black Box through Nov. 21 only. It’s a most unusual play by Madeleine George, author of “The (strange case of the) Watson Intelligence,” currently playing at MOXIE Theatre. One of the major characters in “Precious Little” is a simpatico great ape played by Kathi Copeland, who also plays an aged Eastern European woman who is one of the last living speakers of her language, usurped when her country was subsumed by Russia many years ago. Others in the company, directed by Karla Nell, are Jennie Olson Six as a pregnant lesbian past her prime childbearing years and Jyl Kaneshiro, who plays multiple roles. George’s plays pack a wallop. innermissionproductions.org or (619) 324-8980.

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