The Fall of the House of Usher, SF Opera

An opera based on a Poe short story had its American premiere at the War Memorial Opera House recently. With great expectations it was born and, four performances later, mercifully it died. Whatever prompted San Francisco Opera to present Gordon  ...

The Magic Flute, SF Opera

To the many interpretations of “The Magic Flute,” San Francisco Opera has added one with the distinction of looking like an animated cartoon. The company’s current production, which debuted in 2012, appears by turns Disney, Looney Tunes, and Hanna-Barbera; it  ...

Luisa Miller, SF Opera

In an irony that surely makes the god Momus snicker, San Francisco Opera bestowed its Opera Medal for Artistic Excellence upon director/designer Francesca Zambello in the same week that her production of "Luisa Miller" limped in as the opener of  ...

Swimmer, SF Ballet

“Swimmer,” the latest work by Yuri Possokhov, San Francisco Ballet’s choreographer in residence, looks more like dance theater than true ballet. In the style of Martha Clarke, the piece draws on the panoply of modern stage technology — projections, lighting  ...

Shostakovich Trilogy, SF Ballet

When San Francisco Ballet undertook “Shostakovich Trilogy” in 2014, many observers held their breath. Could the company pull off this evening-length work by in-demand choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, the artist-in-residence at American Ballet Theater (which got to premiere the piece, even  ...

Program 3, SF Ballet

There’s something of a puppeteer at play in “Manifesto,” Myles Thatcher’s impressive new work for San Francisco Ballet. Dancers emerge airily from the wings, as if suspended from invisible strings, gliding in and out in patterns symmetrical or not, their  ...

Two Debuts in One ‘Giselle,’ SF Ballet

Like Odette/Odile in “Swan Lake,” the title role in “Giselle” requires not only technical mastery but also (and more crucially) the ability to create two distinct visions onstage. In “Giselle,” the duty is even more burdensome: unlike Odette/Odile in “Swan  ...

The Rise of ISIS, PBS Frontline

Sometimes a good documentary merely confirms what is generally feared to be true. But as any government official (or journalist) will acknowledge, confirmation is not an easy task. Layers of nuance and obfuscation have to be scrubbed away before the  ...

Partenope, SF Opera

Near the end of Act I of this decidedly comic British production of “Partenope,” in its company premiere at San Francisco Opera, a breeze wafts through an open window, billowing the diaphanous curtain in seductive swirls. That undulating fabric is  ...

The Trouble with Antibiotics, PBS Frontline

While America frets over a potential Ebola outbreak in Texas, another crisis already plagues the country's health-care system: bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics are cropping up in hospitals nationwide. These superbugs infect more than 2 million patients annually,  ...