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“Prenuptial celebrations are rarely as hauntingly musical as they are in Ana Sokolović’s a cappella opera that begins in the ordinary world and ends in a magical realm.” – Now Magazine, Toronto

“Sokolović’s music is dazzlingly inventive, recalling in its vitality and tangy harmonies the kind of folk music popularized by Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares.” – Opera News

“The work’s timeless quality is reinforced by Sokolović’s score. Quirky rhythmic nonsense syllables, vaguely suggestive of pop music beats, blend deftly with ancient-sounding Balkan melodies sung in close harmony.” – The Globe and Mail, Toronto

Composer Ana Sokolović / photo: Donat (SMCQ)
San Francisco (March 22, 2016) –San Francisco Opera’s SF Opera Lab continues its inaugural season of innovative programming that celebrates the power of the human voice theatrically in intimate spaces, including the new Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco Opera’s Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera.

SF Opera Lab presents an exuberant new production of composer Ana Sokolović‘s “compelling and beautifully transparent” (Opera News) chamber opera, Svadba–Wedding, conducted by Dáirine Ní Mheadhra and directed by Michael Cavanagh. The cast features Jacqueline Woodley (as the bride, Milica), Liesbeth Devos (Danica), Laura Albino (Lena), Pauline Sikirdji (Zora), Andrea Ludwig (Nada) and Krisztina Szabó (Ljubica). The seven performances run April 2 through 10, 2016, and audiences are invited to a complimentary post-performance after-party with champagne and wedding cake.

Svadba-Wedding, composed by Montreal-based Ana Sokolović, is a virtuosic a cappella tour de force for six female opera singers. Sung in Serbian, the action takes place the night before a wedding as a bride-to-be and her best friends engage in raucous girl-talk, invoking pagan rituals as they celebrate their last night as unmarried friends while preparing for the impending marriage.

Using existing Slavic/Balkan folk tales and myths as her text source, Sokolović uses a newly invented fantasy language for the opera. What elevates this girl-talk to a supernaturally intoxicating experience is her style of composition. Drawing on her native Balkan folk music as a source of inspiration for her music, the singers have to use all possible variations for the voice—opera singing with Balkan folk voice, overtones, extreme chest voice, heightened nasal voice, whispering and rhythmic riffs, creating a wildly onomatopoeic palette of colors and sounds. The experience is unforgettable, an immersion into a world of ravishing and seductive sensations. Svadba-Wedding was originally commissioned and produced by Dáirine Ní Mheadhra and John Hess of Toronto’s Queen of Puddings Music Theatre in 2011.

Ana Sokolović says of the work: “When Queen of Puddings approached me to write an opera for six female voices, I took this opportunity to explore the wedding theme, especially the night before the ceremony, where we are privy to private and ancient rituals between the bride and her girlfriends.
The text is taken from original Serbian poetry but given a new context for our contemporary culture. The music is derived from traditional folklore. The compositional structure is informed by everyday images and objects – such as hair, cups, and water. The scenes unfold, not in a linear narrative, but in a playful interconnection animated through drama, distilling magic and fantasy from ordinary moments.
A wedding is an important turning point in every woman’s life, usually steeped in tradition and always signifying change and juncture. Milica’s rite of passage is universal, an archetype of human experience. Svadba–Wedding offers a chance to delve deep into the quality and richness of a short but decisive moment in time.”

The new site-specific production created for San Francisco Opera’s new Taube Atrium Theater is conceived by director Michael Cavanagh, whose previous work for the Company includes new productions of Lucia di Lammermoor (2015) and Susannah (2014), and Nixon in China (2012). The audience will be seated at café tables while the opera unfolds on stages throughout the theater. Projection, set and lighting design is by Alexander V. Nichols and costume design is by Kristi Johnson. Dáirine Ní Mheadhra and John Hess are co-music directors of Svadba-Wedding.

Svadba-Wedding is the second offering of SF Opera Lab’s inaugural season, which continues with:
-ChamberWORKS­—Members of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra curate two eclectic and intimate nights of music and song featuring the 2016 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows (April 7 & 20).
-The Triplets of Belleville Cine-Concert—Screenings of the Oscar-nominated French film with live performance of the original score (April 14–23).
-Voigt Lessons—A one-woman show starring soprano Deborah Voigt, developed with Terrence McNally and Francesca Zambello with music direction by Kevin Stites (May 6 & 8).
SF Opera Lab also presents a series of Pop-Up events at diverse venues around the Bay Area; the next Pop-Up takes place on April 1, 2016 at The Chapel in San Francisco’s Mission district.

For more information about SF Opera Lab, visit sfoperalab.com.

“SF Opera Lab programming at the Taube Atrium Theater has one directive—each presentation must combine a theatrical as well as a vocal performance aspect. I wanted the Wilsey Center to offer interesting programs that would appeal to individuals seeking more intimate and non-traditional encounters with opera and the performing arts. I’m hoping this will be an incubator for new ideas to infuse the opera art form and will serve as a gateway for new audiences,” said San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley.

SF Opera Lab at the Taube Atrium Theater opened earlier this month with Franz Schubert’s Winterreise in an acclaimed multimedia collaboration between celebrated visual artist William Kentridge, German baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Markus Hinterhäuser:

“…Schubert’s immortal song cycle came to life in stunning emotional terms. This is a Winterreise that honored lieder tradition even as it expanded it – and what it said about this innovative new wing of the San Francisco Opera was downright tantalizing…Friday’s opening, the first of three sold-out performances through Sunday afternoon, effectively demonstrated the kind of outside-the-box productions SF Opera Lab is poised to present in this intimate theater.” (San Jose Mercury News)

The Taube Atrium Theater “has an inviting intimacy that makes the audience feel like part of a single multipart organism. The interior is at once stately and sleek, with the influence of the building’s original architecture still visible beneath a modern high-tech gloss.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“The space is intimate (299 seats), flexible and acoustically blessed, thanks to the electronic wizardry of Meyer Sound, which has converted an intractable hall into a vibrant sonic environment. The company promises great adventures in its new, experimental SF Opera Lab.” (Financial Times, London)

The new Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater is a state-of-the-art performance venue designed to be configured in multiple ways, providing both performer and audience members with a very personal approach to the concert experience. From traditional theater-style performances and seating, to cabaret settings with café tables and performances in the round, to more experimental configurations, the Taube Atrium Theater will offer intimate and adventurous experiences with its public offerings. The theater is also distinguished by the Constellation® acoustic system from Berkeley-based Meyer Sound. The Constellation® system is an extraordinary innovation in acoustical science enabling artists to customize different acoustic environments for their performances with the press of a button. San Francisco Opera is the first opera company to use this technology, providing a virtually unlimited palette of acoustic possibilities to create the most compelling sound experience.

The Taube Atrium Theater and the John M. Bryan Education Studio are the centerpieces of San Francisco Opera’s new Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera (located on the fourth floor of the Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco). Adjacent to the War Memorial Opera House, the Wilsey Center for Opera opened in late February 2016 and consolidates most of the Company’s operations into a single campus in the vibrant arts district of San Francisco’s Civic Center/Hayes Valley. For more information about the Wilsey Center for Opera, visit sfopera.com/wilseycenter.
# # #  
By Ana Sokolović / New SF Opera Lab Production Premiere
April 2 (8 p.m.), (3 p.m.), (8 p.m.), 6 (8 p.m.), 8 (8 p.m.), 9 (8 p.m.), 10 (3 p.m.), 2016

Taube Atrium Theater
at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera
Veterans Building, Fourth Floor
401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102

Sung in Serbian
Approximate running time:  1 hour with no intermission
First Performance:  Toronto, Berkeley Street Theatre; June 24, 2011

Milica                Jacqueline Woodley
Danica              Liesbeth Devos
Lena                 Laura Albino
Zora                  Pauline Sikirdji
Nada                 Andrea Ludwig
Ljubica              Krisztina Szabó

Stage Direction                                   Michael Cavanagh
Conductor/Co-Music Direction            Dáirine Ní Mheadhra
Co-Music Direction                              John Hess
Projection, Set and Lighting Design    Alexander V. Nichols
Costume Design                                  Kristi Johnson

A Serbian bride-to-be and her friends prepare for her wedding day in this virtuosic a capella opera for six female voices. Michael Cavanagh directs an exuberant new SF Opera Lab production of Ana Sokolović’s “compelling and beautifully transparent” score (Opera News). And you’re invited to the after-party!
April 2 at 7 p.m. – Pre-show discussion with composer Ana Sokolović
-April 3 at 2 p.m. – Pre-show discussion with composer Ana Sokolović
All shows – Complimentary post-show after-party with DJ @TedSF, champagne and croquembouche wedding cake from Chef Yigit Pura’s (season one winner of Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts) Tout Sweet Pâtisserie


$75 (general admission seating); includes complimentary post-show after-party with DJ @TedSF, champagne and wedding cake. Tickets available at sfoperalab.com or by calling the San Francisco Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330. The Box Office at the Taube Atrium Theater will be open starting 60 minutes before each show.    

More about composer ANA SOKOLOVIĆ:
Serbian-born composer Ana Sokolović studied composition at university underDušan Radić and, then completed a master’s degree under the supervision of José Evangelista at the Université de Montréalin the mid-1990s. Her work is suffused with her fascination for different forms of artistic expression. Both rich and playful, hercompositions draw the listener into a vividly imagined world, often inspired by Balkanfolk music and its asymmetrical festive rhythms. The winds of change brought byher work quickly vaulted her to a prominent position on the Quebec, Canadian and international contemporary music scenes.In the winter of 2012, she was recognized as a national treasure by Quebec’s Ministerede la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine.
Over the years, Sokolović has earned a steady stream of commissions and awards. Today, her repertoire includes orchestral, vocal, chamber, operatic and theatrical pieces. In 2005, she wrote her first opera, The Midnight Court, for Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, which was performed at the Royal Opera House,London in June 2006. In 2009, she won the prestigious National Arts Centre Award, which included commissions, residencies and teaching positions over a five-year period. In the summer of 2012, her opera Svadba-Wedding, commissioned and produced by the Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, received six nominations for the Dora Mavor Moore Awards and won for Outstanding New Musical/Opera. The opera then went on tour in Canada and Europe.
The Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) recently marked the 20th anniversary of Sokolović’s arrival in Quebec with a celebration of her body of work. More than 200 events were presented in her honor from coast to coast. Ana Sokolović teaches composition at the Université de Montréal.   For biographies of the Svadba-Wedding cast and creative team, visit sfoperalab.com.  
# # #
San Francisco Opera gratefully acknowledges Dianne and Tad Taube for their support of Svadba-Wedding. Classical KDFC is Media Sponsor of SF Opera Lab.

Support for the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera is made possible by the following individuals and companies:
FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Norby Anderson, Mr. & Mrs. William K. Bowes, Jr., Edward Paul Braby, M.D., Jaquelin Hume Foundation, Leslie & George Hume, Bradford & Dorothy Jeffries, Franklin & Catherine Johnson, Peggy & Boyce Nute, Dianne & Tad Taube, Barbara Moller Ward, in honor of David Gockley, Webcor Builders, Diane B. Wilsey and Anonymous (2).  

BUILDER’S CIRCLE: Jane Bernstein & Bob Ellis, Donna Dubinsky & Leonard Shustek, William & Barbara Edwards, Jennifer Coslett MacCready, Meyer Sound, Mark W. & Mauree Jane Perry, Betty & Jack Schafer, Ann Classen Treadwell, in memory of Zelda Ann Classen, and S. Shariq Yosufzai & Brian E. James.

San Francisco Opera is sponsored, in part, by The Dolby Family, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn, Franklin and Catherine Johnson, Edmund W. and Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Fund, Steven M. Menzies, Bernard and Barbro Osher, Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem, Dianne and Tad Taube, Phyllis C. Wattis Endowment Funds and Diane B. Wilsey. San Francisco Opera is supported, in part, by a grant from Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund.

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