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Bay Area classical scene heats up as new seasons take form

Bay Area classical scene heats up as new seasons take form

The fall season is always an exhilarating time for classical music fans, and this week’s calendar brings events for every interest: thrilling symphonic works, opera, and chamber music are among the highlights.

Salonen conducts: San Francisco Symphony music director Esa-Pekka Salonen is back in Davies Symphony Hall, with three excellent programs to launch the 2022-23 season. First on the schedule is the Symphony’s Opening Night Gala on September 23; Salonen gets the season off to an enchanting start with Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The performance features members of the African-American Shakespeare Company, along with sopranos Anne-Marie MacIntosh and Elisa Sunshine, and members of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.

Opening weekend continues with Salonen conducting the Symphony’s first-ever performance of Florence Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2; featuring American violinist Randall Goosby, in his S.F. Symphony Orchestral Series debut. Also on the program: Richard Strauss’ mighty tone poem, “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” and Mozart’s Overture to “The Impresario.” This is a one-night-only performance, 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The next program, with performances Sept. 29 and Oct. 1-2, features Mahler’s Second Symphony, also known as the “Resurrection Symphony.” Salonen conducted the work to great acclaim this summer in a staged production by Romeo Castellucci at France’s Aix-en-Provence Festival; for these performances, he’ll be joined by two top-flight vocal soloists, soprano Golda Schultz, and mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung. The program opens with the world premiere of “Push” by Emerging Black Composers Project winner Trevor Weston.

Details: Opening Night Gala, 7 p.m. Friday; tickets $225-$360; “Also Sprach Zarathustra” 7:30 p.m. Saturday; tickets $20-$165; Mahler’s Second Symphony, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, 2 p.m. Oct. 2; $20-$165;

From Russia with love: Following an astonishing absence of 14 years, “Eugene Onegin” is finally back at San Francisco Opera this week with a new protagonist in the title role of Tchaikovsky’s beloved opera based on Pushkin’s moving story of love and loss. Bass-baritone Gordon Bintner, who has in recent years made Onegin one of his signature roles, returns to the opera in Robert Carsen’s acclaimed production for the Canadian Opera Company. The production is conducted by Vassilis Christopoulos and co-stars Russian soprano Evgenia Muraveva in her U.S. debut as Tatyana. The cast also includes Evan LeRoy Johnson as Lensky, Aigul Akhmetshina as Olga, and the great bass Ferruccio Furlanetto as Prince Gremin.

Details: Sunday through Oct. 14; War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco; $26-$445;

A Golden Opportunity: Under violist Pamela Freund-Striplen, the Gold Coast Chamber Players continue what has been a thrilling series of deep dives into the chamber repertoire. This weekend, the ensemble launches its 2022-23 season in Lafayette with “Brahms Reunion,” featuring two of the composer’s compelling chamber works — the Op. 99 Cello Sonata No. 2 in F Major, featuring Luigi Piovano as soloist, and Brahms Op. 34 Piano Quintet in F minor, with pianist Bernadene Blaha joined by violinist Grazia Raimondi, Livia Sohn, Luigi Piovano,  and Freund-Striplen on viola.

Details: Concert is Friday, lpre-concert talk at 7 p.m., concert at 7:30 p.m.; Don Tatzin Community Hall, Lafayette; $15-$45;

Peninsula Ballet Theatre presents an adaptation of “Carmina Burana” Sept. 24-25. (Peninsula Ballet Theatre) 

‘Carmina Burana’ at Peninsula Ballet: “Carmina Burana” is always a big undertaking, but Peninsula Ballet Theatre is taking it on. An adaptation of the famed cantata is on the schedule this weekend as the San Mateo dance company launches its 55th season with two performances of Carl Orff’s large-scale work. Artistic director Gregory Amato stages a full production of the work, featuring accompaniment by the Masterworks Chorale, the Ragazzi Boys Chorus, Pacific Sticks Percussion Ensemble, and pianists Inara Morgenstern and Paul McCurdy. The vocal soloists are soprano Shawnette Sulker, tenor Corey Head, and baritone Zachary Gordin. The program begins with a selection of mixed repertory dances by Amato, and new works by Bay Area choreographers Marika Brussel and Aline Carili.

Details: 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; San Mateo Performing Arts Center; $30-$65;

The Dovers Return: Back during the 20-21 season, when so much music was being cancelled due to pandemic concerns, the Dover Quartet made an online-only appearance for Cal Performances; in a program of works by Haydn, Ligeti and Dvorak, their performance left viewers reaching for superlatives. Now the celebrated foursome — ensemble in residence at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia — comes to Berkeley for an in-person event. Their program ranges from Haydn’s “Emperor” Quartet to Mendelssohn’s Third Quartet from his Opus 44 set. Amy Beach’s 1929 “Quartet” — which incorporates Alaskan Inuit melodies — completes the lineup.

Details: 3 p.m. Sunday; Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley; $36-$72;

Dancing with Mozart: If you haven’t yet seen Opera San Jose’s new production of “The Marriage of Figaro,” there’s still time. This exhilarating staging  sets Mozart’s comedy in colonial India, with thrilling Bollywood flair. The final performances are Friday and Sunday.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Sunday; California Theatre, San Jose; $20-$195;

Contact Georgia Rowe at

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