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Fall Lecture Series

Fall lecture Series begins August 30

Fall Lecture Series by Steve Zilles

 It is once again time to begin thinking about Opera in the Fall. This fall we have four opera lectures beginning on Wednesday, August 30 with a lecture on Puccini’s Turandot by Jonathan Khuner. Turandot has an oriental setting; the name is a corruption of Turandokt, daughter of Turan. Turan, the traditional enemy of the Iranians, is the area to the Northeast of Iran, about where Uzbekistan is today. This is the story of a powerful woman being confronted by the power of a sincere love and how she handles it. It was Giacomo Puccini’s final opera. In fact, he died prior to completing the opera, but it has some of his very best music. Everyone familiar with the Three Tenors concerts knows “Nessun Dorma” (No one sleeps) and there are other spectacular arias as well. Our speaker, Jonathan Khuner has been Artistic and Musical Director of West Edge Opera since 1993. He earns his living as Assistant Conductor and prompter for San Francisco Opera. He last spoke to us on Verdi’s A Masked Ball in 2014.

 We then follow that presentation, on Wednesday September 6, with a talk by Derek Katz on Richard Strauss Elektra. Elektra is Strauss retelling of the classical Greek story of Agamemnon returning from the Trojan war and being killed by his wife’s lover. It is his daughter Elektra that seeks (successfully) to avenge this travesty. Straus’ music, especially the orchestra, is a chilling (and thrilling) accompaniment to the verbal duels between Elektra and her mother Clytemnestra. Derek Katz is an Associate Professor of Music History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His specialty is Czech music, but he is well versed in 20th century music as well. He has recently spoken to us on Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg and Susannah (by Carlyle Floyd).

 There is now a long hiatus in lectures because the upcoming opera is one with which we are likely to be familiar so there will be no lecture: La Traviata by Verdi. Our next presentation is on Wednesday, November 8 and it is Manon by Jules Massenet. Manon is the story of a young girl about to enter a convent who, instead, runs off with a young gentleman to Paris. She soon sees greater opportunities and he, dejected, enters the church. Only later when she realizes what she lost does she seek out her lover, but what follows, I cannot say. Our speaker is Timothy Flynn who has his Masters and Ph.D. in musicology from Northwestern University. He is currently Chair of Performing Arts at Olivet College and has spoken to us on many occasions, most recently: La Chute de la Maison Usher, The Trojans and the Tales of Hoffmann.

 Our final lecture of the fall, on Wednesday, 15 November, is on Girls of the Golden West. No, this is not the Puccini opera, but a brand new opera by John Adams with a libretto by Peter Sellars who is also directing the production. This is based on the memoirs of Louise Amelia Knapp Smith who went by “Dame Shirley” when she was in Gold Country (in California). This is a story of what life was like for the various 49ers of both sexes and all races. It is an opera with a local affiliation, if only the Sierra Nevada. Our speaker is the Dramaturg of the San Francisco Opera, Kip Cranna. Kip is both an excellent speaker and a member of the San Francisco Opera staff with a particular assignment to help with the creation of new operas. As such, he is able to bring particular insight into new works, such as Girls of the Golden West.

 A date for West Bay Opera's season preview will be announcef later.

 As has been our custom, all the lectures will be a 10am at the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center at 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos, CA 95032. This location is just off Lark Avenue between the entrance/exit to/from Highway 17 and Winchester Boulevard. Coffee is served prior to the lecture and at the break in the middle of the lecture.

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SJOG Fall 2017
Lecture Series

JCC of Silicon Valley
14855 Oka Road (cross street Lark Ave)
Los Gatos
10 AM to Noon
Members: free
Non-members: $10
May 19
Opera San Jose
Season Overview
Larry Hancock with OSJ Resident Artists
August 30
Giacomo Puccini
Jonathan Khuner
September 6
Richard Strauss
Derek Katz
West Bay Opera
Season Overview
José Luis Moscovich
with singers
November 8
Jules Massenet
Timothy Flynn
November 15
John Adams
Peter Sellars
Girls of the Golden West
Kip Cranna

The San José Opera Guild
P. O. Box 33025, Los Gatos, CA 95031-3025
Banner photos by Bob Shomler
©San José Opera Guild   2017