Literary Hijinks and "Lady Gaga of Opera"

ZYZZYVA, San Francisco's acclaimed literary journal that has been publishing since 1985, is now out with its 2018 fall edition, featuring a number of new and veteran contributors.


Published: October, 2018


ZYZZYVA, San Francisco’s acclaimed literary journal that has been publishing since 1985, is now out with its 2018 fall edition, featuring a number of new and veteran contributors.


Managing Editor Oscar Villalon served as the emcee at a publishing party staged at the fabled Mechanics Institute late last month, introducing a few of the issue’s contributors. These included Rebecca Foust, whose most recent book of poetry is Paradise Drive (Press 53).  She is Poet Laureate of Marin County.


David Paul lives in San Francisco, and his story “Barbed Wire,” which appears in the Fall Issue, is his first fiction in print. Emily Pinkerton, who lives in Berkeley, is the author of the chapbooks Natural Disasters (Hermeneutic Chaos), Bloom (Alley Cat Press), and Adaptations, published last month by Nomadic Press.


Also on hand was Paul Wilner, a Bay Area journalist, writer and critic whose poetry was recently published in ZYZZYVA issue 109. And finally, Louis B. Jones, the author of several novels, most recently Radiance (Counterpoint) and Innocence (Counterpoint), was also there.


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Dreamy Italian Opera Book

Ferry readers should also make note of a forthcoming book coming out of the storied University of California Press next month.


Dreaming with Open Eyes examines visual symbolism in late 17th-century Italian opera, contextualizing the genre amid the broad “ocularcentric” debates emerging at the crossroads of the early modern period and the Enlightenment.


Ayana O. Smith re-evaluates significant aspects of the Arcadian reform aesthetic, and establishes a historically informed method of opera criticism for modern scholars and interpreters. Unfolding in a narrative fashion, the text explores facets of the philosophical and literary background, and concludes with close readings of text and music, using visual symbolism to create readings of gender and character in two operas: Alessandro Scarlatti’s La Statira (Rome, 1690), and Carlo Francesco Pollarolo’s La forza della virtù (Venice, 1693).


Smith’s interdisciplinary approach enhances our modern perception of this rich and underexplored repertory, and will appeal to students and scholars not only of opera, but also of literature, philosophy and visual and intellectual cultures.


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New Tosca at San Francisco Opera

Meanwhile, San Francisco Opera unveils a new production of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca on Wednesday, October 3, with a cast led by Italian soprano Carmen Giannattasio in her company and role debuts as Tosca, tenor Brian Jagde as Cavaradossi and baritone Scott Hendricks as Baron Scarpia. Conductor Leo Hussain leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in his first performances with the Company.


Puccini’s monumental work, which has a distinguished history at San Francisco Opera, will be staged by American director Shawna Lucey with new sets and costumes designed by Robert Innes Hopkins and built entirely in San Francisco Opera’s scenic and costume shops.


One of opera’s most popular and frequently performed works, Puccini’s tragedy follows the patriotic artist Mario Cavaradossi and his beloved Floria Tosca, an opera singer, as they attempt to evade the corrupt authorities in Napoleonic-era Rome. The opera’s themes of love, lust and murder inspired Puccini to compose some of his most memorable and dramatic music, including Tosca’s aria “Vissi d’arte” and the thrilling Te Deum that concludes the first act.


Since earning first prize at Plácido Domingo’s World Opera Competition in 2002, Carmen Giannattasio has won critical and popular acclaim on the world’s leading opera stages, including Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, London’s Royal Opera, Covent Garden and New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Praised for her “melting tone” (Financial Times) and “ravishing” (Independent) performances in the works of Bellini, Donizetti, Leoncavallo, Puccini and Verdi, the Italian soprano adds Tosca to her gallery of portrayals in this highly-anticipated San Francisco Opera debut engagement.


As a special friend of the fine jewelry house Bulgari and Milanese couture designer Antonio Riva, Giannattasio melds artistry and glamour. She has been affectionately called the “Lady Gaga of opera” by Plácido Domingo for her bold and evolving artistry and style.


At the same time, San Francisco Opera celebrates the extraordinary artists who have brought Tosca to life for generations of music lovers with a new exhibition in the foyer of the Opera House featuring artifacts and rare photographs from the company’s archives of artists Claudia Muzio, Maria Jeritza, Dorothy Kirsten, Renata Tebaldi, Carol Vaness; Beniamino Gigli, Jussi Björling, Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti; Lawrence Tibbett and James Morris. The exhibition is open to San Francisco Opera ticket holders at all performances and through San Francisco Opera Guild tours of the War Memorial Opera House through October 30.


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