For a Look or a Touch - San Francisco
On May 24, 2021 Music of Remembrance returns to the Bay Area after a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic. Their performance at the newly-renovated Presidio Theatre features a rare double bill of works by the incomparable team of composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer. Heggie and Scheer are among the most prominent figures in new opera today. Their works like Moby-Dick and It’s a Wonderful Life have been presented by San Francisco Opera and by major opera houses around the world. Israel Opera performed Heggie’s Dead Man Walking in December 2019, and the work’s Metropolitan Opera’s 2021 production will be showcased worldwide in an HD broadcast.
MOR’s program at the Presidio Theatre will include Heggie and Scheer’s Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope (2019). The song cycle was inspired by a rare collection of Holocaust string instruments that belonged to Jews who played them before and during the Holocaust. The work’s six songs share the stories of those precious instruments and imagine how their owners would tell their own stories. The actual historical instruments were heard in the Bay Area as part of a residency sponsored by Music at Kohl Mansion in Burlingame, which premiered the work in January 2020. MOR’s performance will feature mezzo soprano Laura Krumm, a graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler fellowship program, along with MOR’s ensemble drawn primarily from the ranks of the Seattle Symphony.
The program also features For a Look or a Touch, the earliest of four Heggie/Scheer works that MOR has commissioned and premiered over the past decade. For a Look or a Touch was the first major musical work ever to explore the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. Since its premiere in 2007 it has traveled around the world, and MOR is bringing it back in an expanded version. The musical drama is based on the true story of two idealistic young gay men in Berlin whose lives and love were torn apart under Nazi rule. MOR’s production, directed by Erich Parce, features rising operatic star baritone Jarrett Ott as Manfred Lewin, along with the eagerly awaited appearance of actor Curt Branom, a beloved fixture of San Francisco’s Beach Blanket Babylon, in the role of Gad Beck. The work bears inspiring witness to the power of love, courage and memory.