Founded in 1992 by Artistic Director Sylvia Anderson, former mezzo and dramatic soprano and currently Professor of Voice at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute (BASOTI) is an intensive program designed to establish where singers are in their careers and take them to the next level. This summer is the 21st anniversary season of the program; and, as in the past, activities involve a generous number of public performances all taking place at SFCM and all but one using the intimate setting of the Recital Hall. This summer’s events will include one master class, two aria recitals, four programs of opera scenes, and four full-length productions. To honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten on November 22, 1913, two of the full-length productions will be Britten operas.
The master class will be given by mezzo Catherine Cook at 7:30 p.m. on June 29.
The aria recitals will be given on two successive Sunday afternoons at 4 p.m. on July 14 and 21.
All opera scenes performances will be given at 7:30 p.m. One of the programs will recognize another major anniversary being celebrated this year. In celebration of the 200th birthday of Richard Wagner, which took place on May 22, 1813, there will be a presentation of the opening scene from Das Rheingold, involving Alberich’s theft of the gold guarded by the Rhine Maidens, thus triggering the plot that will unfold over the course of the four operas of Wagner’s Ring cycle. This performance will take place on July 21. The other scenes programs, whose content has yet to be decided, will take place on June 28, July 14, and July 29.
Benjamin Britten will be honored with performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and his chamber opera The Turn of the Screw. Both of these represent Britten’s consummate skill in working with literature, the former drawing upon the text of William Shakespeare, while the libretto for the latter is an adaptation of the novella of the same title by Henry James prepared for Britten by Myfanwy Piper. Each of these operas will receive two performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. A Midsummer Night’s Dream will take place on July 3 and 6, and The Turn of the Screw will be given on July 19 and 20.
The remaining two operas involve Italian librettos from different periods of music history. The first will be the West Coast premiere of George Frideric Handel’s Admeto (HWV 22), loosely based on Euripides’ play Alcestis. This will be given two performances on July 12 and 13. The season will then conclude with the other major bicentennial celebration of the year, the birth of Giuseppe Verdi on October 10, 1813. This will be recognized with four performances of Falstaff on July 26, 27, 30, and 31. Unlike all other BASOTI events, these will take place in the SFCM Concert Hall. Both operas will be sung in Italian with English supertitles, and all performances will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for all BASOTI events are $25 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors. Reservations may be made by sending electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Muni Van Ness Station.