Before the Revolution-and After

TOUGH CHOICES: Camerata Pacifica’s February programs — 1 and 8 p.m. Friday, February 17, in Victoria Hall — will feature the luminous talents of pianist Warren Jones and violinist Catherine Leonard, plus the flute-playing of Adrian Spence and new-comer Colin Fleming. In one combination or another, these four musicians will play Franz and Karl Doppler’s Valse Di Bravura for 2 flutes and piano, Opus 33, François Devienne’s Sonata for Flute & Piano in F Major, Franz Liszt’s transcription of the “Liebestod” from Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, Robert Schumann’s Sonata in A Minor for Violin & Piano, Opus 105, and Franz Doppler’s Fantasy on Verdi’s “Rigoletto” for 2 Flutes and Piano, Opus 38.

Devienne and the Doppler boys are both fine composers whose penchant for wind instruments, especially flutes, probably accounts for their relative obscurity. Devienne (1759-1803) wrote particularly fluid melodies. He was the son of a saddlemaker, the youngest of 14 children. He worked for Cardinal de Rohan before the revolution, managed to survive the collapse of noble patronage, wrote very successful operas in 1790s, and died of overwork, aged 44, in a sanatorium at Charenton in the same year that the Marquis de Sade was confined in the asylum there. For tickets call 884-8410.

The Santa Barbara Music Club’s February “Matinee Concert” — 3 p.m. Saturday, February 18, in Faulkner Gallery, Public Library — will open with Franz Josef Haydn’s Flute Trio in G Major, played by Mary Jo Hartle (flute), Carol Roe (cello), and Viva Knight (piano). Then we will hear Ludwig Beethoven’s youthful String Trio in C Minor, Opus 9, No. 3, performed by Elaine Schott (violin), Katie Schaefer (viola), and Teresa Bothman (cello). The concert will conclude with the extraordinarily gifted pianist, Zeynep Ucbasaran playing Wolfgang Mozart’s Sonata in C Major, K. 330, Maurice Ravel’s Sonatine, and Franz Liszt’s — her Liszt is to die for — Réminiscences de “Norma” (after Bellini). Any opportunity to hear Ms. Ucbasaran is not to be passed up, especially since, on this occasion, admission is free.

It should be a cause for rejoicing that Opera Santa Barbara is at last presenting its first real opera of the 2005-06 season on Saturday, February 18, at 7:30 p.m., at the Lobero Theater. The eagerly awaited Puccini Festival opens with the first of four performances of Tosca, with OSB’s Artistic Director Valéry Ryvkin conducting, and James Marvel directing the stage action. Floria Tosca will be sung by soprano Amy Johnson, the hapless revolutionary Mario Cavaradossi, by tenor Michael Hayes, and the villainous Baron Scarpia by baritone Todd Thomas.

For this performance only, there will be at 5:30 p.m. a special Gala opening the Festival, and then at 6:45 p.m., before this and every other opera in the Festival, OSB will offer a presentation explaining the opera about to be performed. For tickets and other information, call OSB at 898-3890; for tickets only, call the Lobero at 963-0761.

Alas for timing — the first performance of Tosca competes directly with the first of two concerts by the Santa Barbara Symphony, conducted by the Australian Conductor, Kynan Johns, with pianist Fabio Bidini. This is, in fact, the last program of the second “Audition Season” — Johns seeks to become Music Director after the departure of Gisele Ben-Dor — and he will lead the orchestra in performances of Leos Janacek’s Suite, Opus 3,

Serge Prokofiev’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 in C Major, Opus 26, and Wolfgang Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551, called the “Jupiter”. Johns will conduct this program twice: at 8 p.m., Saturday, February 18 and at 3 p.m., Sunday, February 19; both performances will be in the Arlington.

Janacek was a Czech nationalist, and he sounds like an edgy Dvorak. The Prokofiev concerto is, as far as I know, the only one of which there is a decent recording with the composer at the piano. It is one of his most popular works, and deservedly so.

For tickets and symphony information, call 898-9626; for tickets, call the Arlington at 963-4408.

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