"I will aggravate my voice so that I will roar you as gently as any
A lifelong crossover enthusiast, I was looking forward to Elvis Costello's
appearance with the San Francisco Symphony tonight in Davies Hall,
especially eager to hear his ballet suite, "Il Sogno." Written for
Aterballetto in 2000, the 30-minute piece consists of incidental music
for 18 scenes of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." It has been recorded by
Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra; I wish I heard
it before venturing out into the rain tonight.
The evening started promisingly, as Costello addressed the house
packed to the rafters. He thanked (the absent) MTT for his support and
participation in the project, encouraged the audience to applaud whenever
it feels right, and perhaps, "this being San Francisco, take your clothes
off." He then invited Alan Broadbent "to the mike," meaning, in fact,
to the podium, to conduct the full orchestra.
And that's when the shock came, almost immediately, and followed by a
deadly crescendo of irrefutable calamity. Puck, Oberon, Titania, Bottom,
and all the characters and scenes marched by with numbing sameness, with
music uniformly lame, clumsy, ridiculously primitive, quite without
imagination, spark, originality. Mediocrity would have been welcome;
this was well beneath that.
The second half of the event is "Costello in Concert." A word to the
wise at this beginning of a national tour: if you're a Costello fan,
go 30 minutes late, and you'll be safe.
Otherwise, "You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring."
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