TheatreStorm’s Weekend Recommendations for September 29-30: Opera in the East Bay + Cabaret in The City

by Charles Kruger

East Bay (Saturday Night)

This reviewer is a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

East Bay opera fans may want to attend a one-off concert performance on Saturday night benefitting Vallejo’s Verismo opera, featuring the company’s founder and artistic director, tenor Frederick Winthrop, and soprano Cecilia X. Cai. Verismo opera has recently received rave notices for their remarkable production of the classics of verismo opera, “Cavaleria Rusticana” and “I Paglacci.” (This reviewer feels that the company’s production of “I Paglacci” was superior, in significant ways, to San Francisco Opera’s recent revival.)

Frederick Winthrop. Photo Credit: Daily Republic.

Winthrop, an artist “of a certain age” who maintains a powerful stage presence and strong voice, could well be designated a living artistic treasure. Besides founding the Verismo Opera in 2004 (already on the far side of 60), Winthrop has sung more than 100 roles for companies in Northern and Southern California, as well as the tile role in Faust for the Honolulu Opera Company. Another proud achievement was performing the lead role of B. F. Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly for the Long Beach Opera.  Additionally, Winthrop was a full time member of the San Francisco Opera course (and previous to that, the Los Angeles Opera Course) for many years.

Cecelia X. Cai’s recent performance with Verismo as Santuzza in “Cavaleria Rusticana” was described as “Met-worthy” on San Francisco Classical Voice. Ms. Cai is currently affiliated with both Verismo Opera and Opera San Jose, and her operatic roles include Fiordiligi/Dorabella from “Cosi fan tutte,” Adalgisa from “Norma,” La Contessa/Cherubino from “Le Nozze di Figaro,”Donna Elvira from “Don Giovanni,” Nedda from “I Pagliacci,” Liu from “Turandot,” Santuzza from “Cavalleria Rusticana, Maria from “Maria di Rohan,” and Mimi from “La Boheme.”

For further information, click here.

San Francisco (Sunday Night)

On Sunday, Bay Area Cabaret presents the gala opening of its 15th Cabaret season featuring a one-night only solo turn by Matthew Morrison, at the Venetian Room in the Fairmont Hotel—you really can’t get more elegant than that! TheatreStorm is a great fan of cabaret performance and urges you to support BAC!

When Bay Area Cabaret claims to present “legends,” they are not fooling around! Performers who have been featured in the Venetian room series include (and I’m naming only a few)  Barbara Cook, Chita Rivera, Judy Collins, Stephen Schwartz, Elaine Paige, Tommy Tune, and Leslie Uggams. Is your heart beating faster yet?

Matthew Morrison. (Photo Credit: Brian Bowen Smith.)

Morrison was already a Broadway success when he went to Hollywood to star in the Fox TV’s mega-hit “Glee.” The Tony-nominated Mr. Morrison will be making his San Francisco debut as a solo performer, and we expect him to have his game ON.

And if you should go, when you walk into the Venetian Room, take a moment to imagine this: it was here that Tony Bennett introduced the classic song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

A visit to the Fairmont is highly recommended for tourists and locals who want to create a lasting memory of a special evening.

For further information, click here.

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