Bay Area classical concerts are back


The fall season is always a new beginning, but has it ever felt so welcome or so necessary? After a year of cancellations and postponements, the Bay Area’s classical music organizations are back with a wide range of events to suit all interests and comfort levels.

The season has already started: last weekend, Cal Performances presented Yo-Yo Ma’s Not Our First Goat Rodeo tour at the Berkeley Greek Theater, and the San Francisco Opera opened its season with “Tosca” ( soprano Ailyn Pérez is playing the title role of Puccini’s timeless melodrama through September 5.) And there’s plenty more to come as the season continues.

Keep in mind that each presenter has their own protocols – at the time of this writing, masking is universally required; proof of vaccination and / or a negative COVID test is also required at most sites. Be sure to check for updates before attending any in-person events.

Open-air opera: Remember the 2017 San Francisco Opera House at Ballpark Stadium? With a production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” it was a huge success. Now the company is inviting the audience to come back for another free outdoor concert. Broadcast live from the War Memorial Opera House at Giants’ Oracle Park, “Live and In Concert: The Homecoming” features SF Opera Music Director Eun Sun Kim conducting the orchestra and special guests including soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton.

Details: 7:10 p.m. Sep; live broadcast on Oracle Park, San Francisco; free; register at

New work at New Century: Under the direction of Music Director and Principal Violin Daniel Hope, the New Century Chamber Orchestra opens its season with a new violin concerto by English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. Entitled “Lament” for solo violin and string orchestra, it presents Hope as soloist for the American premiere of the work. Music by Josef Suk and Mieczyslaw Weinberg completes the program.

Details: Sep 30-Oct 3 in Berkeley, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Tiburon; single tickets from $ 30 to $ 67.50, available September 7;

Take the plane: Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts a program called “Exotic Birds,” featuring the San Francisco Debut Symphony of Kaija Saariaho’s Flute Concerto, “Aile du Songe” (Dream Wing), with the ever-brilliant flutist Claire Chase as a soloist. The program’s bird theme continues with pianist Jeremy Denk performing “Exotic Birds” by Olivier Messiaen. “La Mer” by Debussy and “Prélude à après-midi d’un Faun” are also included.

Details: October 14-17; Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco; $ 20 to $ 165;

Beethoven at the Opera: The long-awaited cover of “Fidelio” at the San Francisco Opera was supposed to debut last season, but we all know what happened then. Now Beethoven’s only opera is getting the production opera enthusiasts have been waiting for. Directed by Matthew Ozawa – who staged the dazzling Barber of Seville drive-through in San Rafael this summer – this moving work about bogus imprisonment, selfless love and the human quest for freedom presents a dynamite cast led by Elza van den Heever as Leonore and Russell Thomas as Florestan. Eun Sun Kim conducts.

Details: October 14-30; War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco; $ 26 to $ 370;

Koh plays Mazzoli: Jennifer Koh is a sensational violinist and one of the world’s leading advocates for new music. Her new album, titled “Alone Together”, features 39 world premiere recordings, including a new piece by composer Missy Mazzoli. Koh returns to the Bay Area in a duet recital with a program dedicated to the music of Mazzoli, with the composer at the piano; presented as part of the innovative PIVOT festival in San Francisco Performances, their collaboration promises a powerful synergy.

Details: 7:30 p.m. October 23; Herbst Theater, San Francisco; $ 45 to $ 65;

Kaufmann returns: Cal Performances has a fantastic lineup for classical music fans this season, including Harry Bicket conducting The English Concert in Handel’s “Alcina” on November 7th. But the return of German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who wowed large crowds at Zellerbach Hall 10 years ago, promises to be a very special event. He will be accompanied by the excellent pianist Helmut Deutsch.

Details: 3 p.m. on October 24; Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley; $ 50 to $ 175;

“Dido and Aeneas”: Opera San Jose is presenting four operas this season, with a live production of “Dido and Aeneas” in November focusing on fall. With an absolutely magnificent score, Purcell’s opera stages a central episode of the Trojan War; San Jose’s cast includes mezzo-soprano Nikola Printz as Dido, baritone Efraín Solís as Aeneas and soprano Maya Kherani as Belinda. The season opens with a streaming production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Mozart and Salieri”, directed by Donato Cabrera and starring Grammy-nominated baritone Simon Barrad (from September 30); live and in-person productions of Bizet’s “Carmen” and Bernstein’s “West Side Story” will follow in 2022.

Details: “Dido and Aeneas” is played from November 13 to 28; California Theater, San José; $ 55 to $ 195;

Contact Georgia Rowe at


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