MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

John Adams’s Antony and Cleopatra at San Francisco Opera

Gabrielle Beteag as Iras, Amina Edris as Cleopatra, Taylor Raven as
Charmian, and Gerald Finley as Antony

I wrote about John Adams’s latest opera for Musical America:

Filed under: John Adams, review, San Francisco Opera

John Adams’s Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra, the latest opera by John Adams, is receiving its world premiere this month at San Francisco Opera. Tomorrow is opening night and the start of the company’s centennial season.

Here’s a preview I wrote for Opera Now‘s September issue, in which the composer discusses his decision to set Shakespeare’s love tragedy.

[San Francisco Opera will livestream the performance of 18 September at 2pm PST. Tickets are $27.50.  

Filed under: John Adams, San Francisco Opera, Shakespeare

Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? Comes to San Francisco Symphony

Quite looking forward to tonight’s San Francisco Symphony concert, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, which brings John Adams’s most-recent piano concerto to Davies Hall. Vikingur Ólafsson is the soloist, and on the basis of this morning’s open rehearsal, this should be a performance to remember.

We had a good one in January with the Seattle Symphony and Jeremy Denk, Adams himself guest conducting.

The rest of the program includes a beautiful work by the late Steven Stucky, Radical Light (also an SFS premiere), and Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony.

Filed under: Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Adams, San Francisco Symphony

Happy Birthday, John Adams!

A spirited toast to the matchless John Coolidge Adams, who celebrates his 75th birthday today. This is an especially busy year for the composer: San Francisco Opera will launch its centenary season in September with the world premiere of Adams’s latest opera, Antony and Cleopatra.

Filed under: John Adams, music news

San Francisco Opera’s 100th Anniversary Season

So it’s now official: San Francisco Opera will launch its centennial season with the world premiere of a new John Adams opera: Antony and Cleopatra, set to the composer’s own libretto culled from Shakespeare’s tragedy and various classical sources (Virgil, Plutarch, etc.). Music Director Eun Sun Kim will conduct the production directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer; the cast will be led by Julia Bullock and Gerald Finley as the lovers, with Paul Appleby, as the young Caesar, Octavius, Alfred Walker as Antony’s confidante Enobarbus, and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong as Octavia (Octavius’ sister and the wife of Antony).

But there’s much more that promises to make this an extraordinary season, with a return to eight mainstage offerings. SFO will present the local premiere of El último sueño de Frida y Diego by Gabriela Lena Frank, an SFO co-commission that will receive its first performances at San Diego Opera in October 2022 before coming to the War Memorial Opera House in June 2023.

There will be new SFO productions of La Traviata directed by Opera San José’s incoming general director Shawna Lucey, Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice featuring countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński in a new production by Matthew Ozawa, and Madame Butterfly directed by Amon Miyamoto and starring Karah Son and Michael Fabiano.

Two operas that received their American premieres in the 1950s are also being featured: Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites and the Richard Strauss masterpiece Die Frau ohne Schatten in a David Hockney production. Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is also part of the lineup, in the Bay Area premiere of the Robert Carsen production. On 16 June 2023, there will additionally be a gala 100th Anniversary Concert.

Complete press release here.

Bookmark for the latest news and updates.

Filed under: John Adams, music news, San Francisco Opera, Uncategorized

John Adams Returns to Seattle

Composer and conductor John Adams returns to Seattle Jan. 6 and 8, his fourth round with Seattle Symphony since making his podium debut here in 2004.  (Musacchio-Ianniello-Pasqualini)
Composer and conductor John Adams returns to Seattle Jan. 6 and 8, his fourth round with Seattle Symphony since making his podium debut here in 2004. (Musacchio-Ianniello-Pasqualini)

Here’s my latest Seattle Times story, about John Adams as composer and conductor:

Seattle Symphony audiences have another reason to be proud of their band…


Filed under: John Adams, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times

John Adams: Live Score Reading and Chat

This Thursday at 3pm EST, join John Adams and conductor David Robertson for a real-time discussion of Doctor Atomic Symphony. They’ll give a close reading of the score, using a recording by the Juilliard Orchestra conducted by Adams himself. This is part of the live-score chat series hosted by Boosey & Hawkes.

Filed under: John Adams

Happy Birthday, John Adams

A very happy birthday to John Coolidge Adams, who turns 73 today. The clip above, City Noir, is one of the pieces on the program when Adams guest conducts the Seattle Symphony in April. He’ll also present Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes, his brilliant new piano concerto, with Jeremy Denk as the fiendish soloist.

(I haven’t noticed yet whether Sony Classical has sent out a message celebrating “the composer of Become Ocean.”)

Filed under: John Adams

New from John Adams: I Still Dance

John Adams’s latest composition was recently given its world premiere by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. Here’s my program note introducing I Still Dance:

The unique creative exchange between John Adams and the San Francisco Symphony spans four decades and represents one of the most significant success stories in the collaboration among contemporary American composers, orchestras, and audiences.


Filed under: John Adams, Michael Tilson Thomas, program notes, San Francisco Symphony

John Adams on the Yin and Yang of His Musical Life

My story for the Juilliard Journal on John Adams as he returns to conduct the Juilliard Orchestra next week at Alice Tully Hall. Program details here.

“What does it take to move us from our customary place?” John Adams asked in his commencement speech to the Juilliard class of 2011. “That is what we want when we confront a work of art, whether it’s a completely new creation or an impassioned performance of a masterwork from the past.” The acclaimed composer returns to Juilliard December 10—this time to conduct the Juilliard Orchestra in a program that pairs the Brahms Fourth Symphony with two 21st-century pieces: Ciel d’hiver by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and Adams’ own Doctor Atomic Symphony.


Filed under: Brahms, conductors, John Adams

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