The Dancer’s Garden: Great Review (first published review, too)

The Dancer’s Garden by Leslie Friedman (The Lively Foundation, 2019)

This is a wonderful, quirky, perky series of ruminations on gardens, flowers, plants, trees, cats, people, indeed life. It has magnificent photographs mostly taken by the author herself but also some by her husband, the distinguished photographer and printer, Jonathan Clark, the proprietor of that fine private press, appropriately named The Artichoke Press. Leslie herself, a member of the Institute, is well-known primarily as a dancer and choreographer but is also a fine historian. Some years ago, to an extent sidelined by hip problems, she decided to turn more attention to her garden in Mountain View. In this delightful book she tells us about the various growing things, mostly flowers, that she deals with, their characteristics, difficulties and rewards. She and Jonathan expand their horizons, coping with so many growing things, not only flowers but pine, apple, and orange trees. They rescue abandoned cacti from the neighborhood. The author has an amazingly direct way of dealing with what she is putting into the earth, the satisfactions and beauty (so wonderfully captured in the photographs) when they flourish; the sadness when they die. She makes being a gardener such an immediate, connected, and personal matter.

In the text, Leslie recounts her adventures with a wide range of growing things, most vividly oxalis, chrysanthemums, poppies, narcissus, camellias, primroses, magnolia, all beautifully illustrated. She is very insightful on how to deal with all these and other growing objects, and how they can be menaced by birds, notably crows, as well as by cats, humans, too much water and too little water. There is such a splendid sense of engagement with the ambitious enterprise of having a garden. As she writes towards the end of the text about fruit (but it may be about any of the myriad aspects of nature that she has nurtured): “When I had acquired my first new hip, my first foray into the garden was to see the apple blossoms. The apples would arrive later than the peaches. The oranges come when we run out of apples. We change partners, but it is the same dance.” Leslie Friedman has choreographed a garden and other growing things much as she has both performed and created dance. As she concludes her book: “It is a wonder.” It is an exhilarating read.   Peter Stansky, Frances & Charles Field Professor of History, Emeritus, Stanford University. Professor Stansky is the author of many books, most recent is Leonard Woolf: Bloomsbury Socialist ( Oxford University Press, 2019) with co-author, Fred Leventhal This review appeared in the journal of the Institute of Historical Studies, Vol. 39, No. 2, Fall, 2019

For information about purchasing the book, please contact The Lively Foundation, livelyfoundation@sbcglobal.net

 

Merola Grand Finale: LIVELY AT THE OPERA

The Lively Foundation was delighted to invite our music loving friends to attend the GRAND FINALE of the Merola Opera at the SF Opera House. Every voice was extraordinary on August 17 when our Lively group of twelve attended. Through their Merola months, the artists perform full length operas, the Schwabacher Concerts of select opera acts, and recitals. The Grand Finale is their graduation celebration. Their performances are with the full San Francisco Opera Orchestra.

In the Grand Finale, the “Merolini” perform a selection of arias, choruses and groups. In some “greatest hits” performances, there will be one or two pieces which are fabulous and maybe one or two which do not please. Each audience member might have his or her favorite or least favorite. In this performance, each presentation truly made the audience open eyes wide, catch the breath, and applaud. The applause only slowed because the next selection would begin a few breaths after the previous one ended. The program presented the song in its setting, so each selection is performed in the dramatic context of the opera from which it came. This allowed the performers to engage in their characters and show the audience their acting ability. It was done so successfully that for the time of that scene the audience experienced the pain or joy in the moment of the story.

Named in honor of the first director of the San Francisco Opera, Gaetano Merola, the program brings singers who are already beginning their careers to San Francisco for twelve weeks of intensive training and performing. Merola is widely considered among the finest training programs in the world. International stars launched by Merola include Ruth Ann Swenson, Susan Graham, Deborah Voight, Anna Netrebko, Dolora Zajick, Brian Asawa, Rolando Villazon, Thomas Hampson, Quinn Kelsey, Conductor Patrick Summer and so many more.

Among memorable moments were Alice Chung, Mezzo-Soprano, as Gertrude and Timothy Murray, Baritone, as Hamlet, Stefan Egerstrom, Bass, as the Spectre, in Hamlet by Thomas. (L to R) Timothy Murray and Alice Chung

Ms Chung’s presence was powerful even as Mr Murray castigated her for the death of her husband, Hamlet’s father. Their voices gave the Mother-Son relationship a new dimension beyond the usual lascivious Queen and up-tight Prince. Esther Tonea, Soprano, as Fiordiligi; Michael Day, Tenor, as Ferrando; and Edward Laurenson, Baritone, as Don Alfonso, gave Non son cattivo cornico…L’abito di Ferrando sara buono per me…Fra gli amplessi from Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutti the lilting, teasing buoyancy of this opera of practical jokes in the war of the sexes.

(L to R) Esther Tonea and Michael Day

A tense scene from Maria Stuarda, by Donizetti, had all 2,000 listeners on the edges of their seats. Chelsea Lehnea, Soprano, sang Elisabetta (Queen Elizabeth I of England); Salvatore Atti, Tenor; Conte di Leicester; Rafael Porto, Baritone, Lord Cecil. The Queen cannot make up her mind: should she sign the execution order and have Mary, Queen of Scots killed or not? As the threesome debates the political pros and cons of allowing Mary to live or killing her, the voices soared. It was a gut wrenching and magnificent experience demonstrating the expressive and musical gifts of opera.

In a lighter scene, Elisa Sunshine, Soprano, sang Marie, in Donizetti’s La Fille du regiment (Daughter of the Regiment) and Andrew Dwan, Bass-Baritone, was Sulpice, who acts as her adoptive father. Both voices were outstanding. Ms Sunshine surely deserves her last name. Her actions as well as her musicality made her performance an absolute delight. What can I do now? Running up against a word limit when the Grand Finale’s incredible artists have not all been given their well deserved salutes? A rush to mention more does not do them justice. Hat’s off to Laureano Quant, Baritone, who sang Sir Riccardo Forth from Bellini’s I Puritani, Kneeling, down stage center, he reached into our hearts. Brandon Scott Russell, Tenor, sang the Prince from Dvorak’s Rusalka with a voice and presence that were surely royal; Jeff Byrnes, Baritone, was Germont, the father trying to spare Alfredo, his son, sung by Salvatore Atti, Tenor, who has lost himself to Violetta, in Verdi’s La Traviata. Mr. Byrnes, with a baritone which gets that musical term “burnished,” makes the father figure sympathetic. His distress is in his voice as the foolish lover, besotted Mr. Atti, his son, runs after that woman.

Keep track of these names! Soon you will see them perform around the US and the world. How exciting to be able to say, I was there when Anne-Marie MacIntosh sang Giulietta in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, or Brennan Blankenship sang Stephano in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette. Cara Collins, Anna Dugan, Victor Starsky, Amber R. Monroe, Hyeree Shin, Patricia Westley, Edith Grossman, Nicholas Huff. Each one a star. No kidding, keep this list!

GARDEN BOOK: The Dancer’s Garden by Leslie Friedman

The Lively Foundation is proud to announce the publication of The Dancer’s Garden, a new book by Lively’s Artistic Director, Leslie Friedman. It is a beautiful hardback book with text and more than 60 full color photographs by the author.

Cover photos are by internationally admired photographer, Jonathan Clark.

“Neighbors, strangers, cats, flowers, weeds, trees appear in the garden and in my memory. I meet time through lives in the garden, including my own.” Dancer/choreographer Leslie Friedman writes about her humorous, informative, piquant experiences in gardening, dance, and life.  Friedman’s groundbreaking solo dance performances have been acclaimed worldwide. She holds a Ph.D. in History from Stanford, and an A.B. summa cum laude from Vassar College. Her writing has been published in the US, France, India, and Poland.

This limited-edition book is now available from The Lively Foundation. Hard back printed on fine, glossy paper. Price: $45 (this price includes postage). Special edition on heavier paper with signed photographic print by Jonathan Clark, $75 (this price includes postage). There are now only 12 of the book plus print edition. To buy The Dancer’s Garden, contact  livelyfoundation@sbcglobal.net

FERLINGHETTI’S 100th BIRTHDAY! GET THE POSTER!

Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s birthday is March 24. Just a few days ago he turned 100. Celebrate this great life landmark with an exclusive poster designed by Jonathan Clark. His birthday is also March 24th! but not his 100th. Not yet. The poster is colorful with a strong image of Lawrence’s painting. Buy one now for yourself and another as a gift. It was a limited edition poster of which Jonathan is offering some of what he has in his own collection.  In 1994, Jonathan –Lively’s technical director as well as an internationally acclaimed photographer and fine art printer—was the Chair of the Visual Arts Committee for the City of Mountain View, CA. He organized and presented the first major exhibition of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s paintings. Well known as a poet and publisher, Ferlinghetti’s visual art was not well known. Soon after the exhibition in the Mountain View City Hall, the exhibition moved to San Francisco to be shown in The Lively Foundation’s new studio at the corner of Grove and Gough Street, just a block from the SF Ballet and the SF Opera House. It was Lawrence’s 75th Birthday Party and our opening; a great day with a great crowd of art lovers and many who were devoted to Lawrence’s role in the cultural life of San Francisco.

Original poster. It is 18″ x 24″

Cost for one poster is $18. If we mail it to you, cost is $25; that includes mailing tube and postage. Yes, that really is the postage. This is a real deal. You will not find this anywhere else, and it is terrific. Email us at livelyfoundation.org   Let us know your name, address and how many posters you would like. This is first come, first served. Mail a check made out to Jonathan Clark to Jonathan Clark, 550 Mountain View Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94041-1941. You will love having this historic poster celebrating an individual who is a significant cultural force and who has done so much for many artists. Do it today!

International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley, 2019:HERE WE GO!

The Lively Foundation is excited to announce the dates and events of International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley, 2019. OUR 8TH SEASON! This year, IDF@SV takes place in May. The Full Day of Dance© will be on Saturday, May 18. First class begins at 10 a.m. Last class ends at 5 p.m. The Festival Concert will be on Sunday, May 19, 3 p.m. ALL EVENTS take place at the Mountain View Masonic Center, 890 Church Street, Mountain View, CA 94041. There is free parking on the street around the Center and in the parking lot behind the building. It is also an easy walk from CalTrain.

FULL DAY OF DANCE© You may take any number of classes, but for the BEST DEAL & THE MOST FUN: TAKE THEM ALL! Ballroom (Cha Cha and Waltz), Ballet, Etta’s Electric Line Dances, Pilates mat, Tap. The best teachers anywhere, all of them are established, acclaimed artists in their own movement styles and all of them are devoted teachers. No partner for Ballroom? No problem; partners will be provided by the teachers. Each class is one hour long, open to mixed levels of training or dance experience, best for participants age 14 and older. Any age adult is welcome. Class costs: Price per class reduces with each added class. Early Bird registration: $20 single,$36 for 2; $48 for 3; $56 for 4; $60 for all five; Regular registration: $25 single; $40 for 2; $54 for 3; $64 for 4; $70 for all five.

Audreyanne Delgado Covarrubias teaching Tap

FESTIVAL CONCERT The Festival artists perform and choreograph new works special for this concert. Premieres by Audreyanne Delagado Covarrubias, Kris Mola, Leslie Friedman. The Awardees of the annual Choreography Competition present their award winning works. This is a Very Special Event for dance lovers and those who are interested in getting to know dance in the intimate, summer stock style setting of the Festival Concert. The dances will range from Contemporary to Traditional, international dance forms; Ballroom to Hip Hop. It is not to be missed! Tickets are $20 general admission; $12 for over 65 or under 10. Sponsor Tickets: $35 or more by your choice (reserved best seat and tax deductible donation). Group ticket discounts are available. Please contact The Lively Foundation for group information.

Taylor Florez & Casandra Armenta thrilled the audiences with their Hip Hop at IDF@SV, 2018 and return to the Festival Concert, May 19, 2019

FESTIVE FESTIVAL DINNER! Join artists and audience members at a fun, delicious dinner after the show. We will meet at Amici’s Pizzeria which is about a block and a half from the Masonic Center. Dinner plus the show: $40.

TO REGISTER AND BUY TICKETS: email livelyfoundation@sbcglobal.net  If you are registering for classes tell us which classes, and if you are buying tickets, tell us how many and which type of ticket. Please mail us a check made out to The Lively Foundation and mail it to The Lively Foundation/550 Mountain View Avenue/Mountain View, CA 94041-1828   OR if you need to use a credit card please go to the landing page of this blog, scroll down the page until you see the PayPal logo, click on it and follow directions. PLEASE let us know what classes you are registering for and how many and which kind of ticket. It is absolutely necessary for you to email us this information or, when you appear for class or performance, we will have no idea that you paid or paid for what. OR you may pay at the door.

THANK YOU!

MEROLA OPERA GRAND FINALE: A LIVELY EVENT!

Over the years, the Merola Opera has made it possible for The Lively Foundation friends to attend some of its wonderful performances in San Francisco. Named after Gaetano Merola, the first director of the San Francisco Opera, Merola is THE great training program for professional singers. They spend a year in Merola and go on to become world famous stars. Just a few of their graduates are Ruth Ann Swenson, Thomas Hampson, Deborah Voight, Brian Asawa. In July, Lively friends attended a comic Mozart opera performed by the Merolini (singers in the program carry this festive name), Il re pastore.

Zhengyi Bai as Alessandro in Il re pastore

Patricia Westley as Elisa in Il re pastore

On August 18, a group of Lively friends will attend the Merola Grand Finale at the San Francisco Opera House. It will be a sensational evening. All of the 2018 Merolini will perform. The program includes arias, duets, and other groupings selected from many different operas. The voices will be excellent. Watch the Lively Foundation News & Events and the Hedgehog Highlights on livelyfoundation.org for a report and review of this great event. It’s the Merolini’s graduation party, and we are invited!

photos by Kristen Loken, courtesy Merola Opera

Charlotte Bronte: The Bats of Haworth

The Lively Foundation is proud to announce that the Browning Society of San Francisco, a prominent literary and theater society, has invited our Artistic Director, Leslie Friedman to make a presentation on January 12, 1:00 p.m., the Sequoias, 1400 Geary, San Francisco. Admission is free. A reception with cake, coffee, tea follows the talk.

The Bronte sisters, Emily, Anne, Charlotte, painted by their brother, Branwell.

Leslie will show the video of her dance, THE BATS OF HAWORTH, which is accompanied by spoken excerpts from the writings of Charlotte Bronte, and music of Chopin. The dance is a trio about the Bronte sisters. This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights. The presentation will include a talk about the sisters and their art as well as about the choreography. Dr. Friedman choreographed and danced in this work.

The presentation is free and open to the public, Jan. 12, 1:00 p.m., at the Sequoias, 1400 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. You may enter through the buildings Post St. entrance, sign in, take the elevators to the top floor. For more information, please contact Dennis R. Parks, 415/668-0332 or dennisrparks@yahoo.com  or find the Browning Society on Facebook.

LIVELY DANCES & STANDS FOR DIVERSE BEAUTIES

The Lively Foundation is recognized by the State of California and the Internal Revenue Service and a 501(c) (3) not for profit organization, since 1984. As a non-profit Lively has never taken a political position or used our programs to endorse any particular political program. Not once. Not even a little. Supporting the US Constitution, however, is not a political position as all American citizens and political leaders of every party are working to protect the Constitution and further its values. Therefore the following statement is not political speech at all; it is American speech.

From its inception, The Lively Foundation’s performers have come from myriad different backgrounds. Seldom, maybe never, have the dancers in the company had grandparents or great grandparents who were from the same continent, let alone the same country. Similarly, as Choreographer and Artistic Director, I have used ideas, themes, movement styles, and especially music from myriad sources: African; American folk, jazz, classical; Arabic; Chinese; various European classical, popular, and folk sources; Indian; South American; even more. I have worked with these gifted individuals and the beautiful, interesting, inspiring music and other resources because they are good, not to make a point, not to earn a grant, only because they are good.

Neither The Lively Foundation nor myself as its Artistic Director will ever limit our work to any one resource or style for our art or for our artists. It is impossible to dictate our creativity or with whom we will work. It is, in fact, Un-American, and neither The Lively Foundation nor I will stoop to align ourselves to someone’s requests or demands. If I had been willing to do that in previous circumstances The Lively Foundation surely would be better funded but it would not create such first rate art as it does.

Leslie Friedman, Artistic Director & Vice-President

Martina Knee: Champion of Freedom

mKnee

The Lively Foundation is profoundly saddened by the loss of Martina Knee. We only learned recently that Ms Knee passed away, Sept. 26, 2016. She was a remarkable woman, especially as a tireless champion of refugees and a relentless fighter against genocide. She is survived by her husband and her Sudanese god son. Born in Austria, she came to the US with her family at age two. Both parents were MDs. She worked her way to her B.A. at UC, Berkeley, and to her JD from UC, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall. She left a successful corporate law career to become VP and General Counsel for UUNET, an Internet Service Provider that grew to be the world’s largest ISP. She retired from corporate life in 2005. She discovered her family’s Jewish background as an adult and became dedicated to fighting all genocide. She was Executive Director of the Bay Area Darfur Coalition;  a co-founder of Act for Sudan, an alliance of American activists and Sudanese refugees in the US. The list of organizations to which she devoted her time, energy and great intelligence is very long. She became a Carl Wilkens Fellow, focused on developing the political direction among community leaders to stop and prevent genocide. She was a member of the Advisory Board of the UC Berkeley Law School Human Rights Center; an officer and Director Of Living Ubuntu which focused on the health of refugees and public awareness of their needs; a member of the American Jewish World Services; co-chair of the International Human Rights portfolio of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ task Force on Israel World Jewry, and International Human Rights. This is only a brief sample of her devotion to human rights locally and around the world. Martina was honored as a “Darfur Hero” by the Save Darfur Coalition in October 2007 and received the Honorable Tom Lantos Memorial Humanitarian of the Year award, 2008. In 2006, Martina and her husband, Michael, assisted a family of South Sudanese who emigrated from Uganda to San Francisco. Martina and Mike mentored and tutored two of the younger members of the family who graduated from Stuart Hall High School. Emmanuel, who earned a college degree with their love and support, is like a son to them.
The Lively Foundation Artistic Director, Leslie Friedman, met Ms Knee in the court yard of Temple Emanu El, San Francisco. The Temple had for many months a huge banner asking everyone to support efforts to help Sudanese refugees and to stop the atrocities in Darfur. Ms Knee was behind a table like any volunteer with a petition, literature, and requests for donations. In conversation about what could be done, Ms Friedman mentioned that she was involved in a performance at the Cowell Theater very soon (probably in a few days). The Lively Foundation needed volunteers to sell refreshments, mostly water, during the intermission. Would Ms Knee and/or any volunteers for the Darfur efforts like to come to the performance, sell refreshments and keep every cent that came in from the sales? Yes. In this way, without knowing any more about Martina Knee than that she was working very hard for this desperate cause, we had the great honor to meet a great human being. May her memory be a blessing.

 

 

Lively Friends Meet the Merolinis

janeLeslieFrancoMerolaGrpSharonAnnA Lively group of Friends of The Lively Foundation enjoyed an evening of gorgeous singing at the San Francisco Opera House, Aug. 20.  The eleven Lively individuals came from Marin, San Francisco, Pacifica, Mountain View, and San Jose. The Merola Opera program has given Lively tickets for its friends to attend Merola performances each of the last 7 summers. Merola is a training program for singers on their way to international fame. The program gives them many opportunities and by doing so gives the rest of us the opportunity to hear great music sung by stars. Previous “Merolini”  have included Ruth Ann Swenson, Thomas Hampson, Carol Van Ness, Patrick Summers, Brian Asawa, and many others beginning brilliant careers. This summer rather than a full length opera, eleven Lively friends were treated to the Merola Grand Finale, a gala performance of arias and ensembles accompanied by full orchestra. The voices were splendid. We shall all keep our programs in order to follow the careers of our favorites. Keep in touch with Lively for future great events.