Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 29 / 21 July 2016

Maestro on the beach

Out There

Conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin, named new Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, with his boyfriend on the beach. Photo: Courtesy Twitter
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Let's catch up a bit with the world of high culture since we've been otherwise engaged during the onslaught and aftermath of Pride month. In June, conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin was named new Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera , effective 2020. Was the classical music world abuzz when word of this dropped? We turned to our insider friend Classical Cliff. "In my time 'in the biz' I've not seen a story fall flatter. First of all, no one was the least surprised. And both The New York Times and [music critic] Alex Ross weighed in with big doubts, which I share, about N-S' artistic creds.

"Little Miss Zachary [Woolfe, NYT classical music editor] has been particularly loud about his misgivings, as I'm sure you know. He tweeted this picture [above] of 'Your new music director with his boyfriend on the beach.' What I don't know is whether he put it in the paper [he didn't], but I suspect it's on Twitter because he didn't or couldn't. Anyway, what matters at this point is that the queens are at it."

Their own press materials indicate there have been only two previous Music Directors in the Met's 133-year history: James Levine , who after 40 years in the position stepped down at the end of last season to become the company's first Music Director Emeritus; and Rafael Kubelik, who held the title briefly in the company's 1973-74 season.

"Nezet-Seguin will assume the interim title of Music Director Designate in the Met's 2017-18 season, and become Music Director in the 2020-21 season, when he'll have artistic authority over the company's orchestra, chorus, and music staff, and will work in tandem with Met General Manager Peter Gelb to oversee the planning and casting of each Met season, including repertoire choices, new productions, revivals, and commissions. He will initially conduct five different operas each season, as well as concerts with the Met Orchestra. Next season at the Met, he will conduct his first Wagner opera with the company, a revival of Der Fliegende Hollander."

But what we really want to know is, what SPF sunscreen does the maestro use to protect that porcelain skin?

Moving on to other musical news, the 200-voice San Francisco Choral Society, under the artistic direction of Robert Geary, will perform Giuseppe Verdi's magnificent Requiem at Davies Symphony Hall in SF on Fri. & Sat., Aug. 19 & 20, in 8 p.m. performances. Maestro Geary has brought in as his soloists soprano Hope Briggs, contralto Edith Dowd, tenor Noah Stewart and baritone Eugene Brancoveanu. The 60-piece California Chamber Symphony will accompany. Tickets: (415)-392-4400 or


Ling cycle

Last weekend the luxurious Hakkasan nightclub-eatery in downtown SF invited us to try their new Evolution of Ling Ling cocktail flight and dim sum pairing. We brought our better half Pepi, who, being a teetotaler, had our handsome bartender make him a right nice virgin. As if.

First up for Out There was a delectable alcoholic drink called the Bitter Fortune, which combined Tanqueray No. 10 gin, the Italian aperitif Aperol, rhubarb liqueur, pink grapefruit and peach bitters. It paired nicely with a right tasty venison puff, and represented the city of London, where Hakkasan started.

Then came the Golden Mare: again that very fine No. 10 gin, Aperol, rhubarb liqueur, the same two bitters, plus Pernod, rosemary, basil and pineapple. Paired with a crispy duck roll, the additional greenery and tropicalia in the drink are meant to evoke Mykonos, where Hakkasan maintains its Grecian outpost.

Finally we tucked into the Chili Coupette , composed of the same first five ingredients, with chili, cardamom, peppermint and passion fruit, paired with a savory sesame prawn toast. This last impressive libation evoked sensory impressions of Morocco, in order to celebrate the Hakkasan opening there in Marrakech this autumn.

Gin is OT's lubricant of choice, and No. 10 is among the finest we know. We abide folks who can't abide the spirit – a friend says, "Gin tastes like fermented Scotch Tape!" To which we say, "That's just why we like it."

The Ling Ling flight/pairing will be available for lunch and dinner service at the bar at Hakkasan San Francisco through Aug. 31. The three cocktails appear in darling custom-made smaller stemware, suitable for martini-drinking toddlers. For $30, the three mini-drinks with their yummy dim sum accompaniments make for rather a nice deal at such a glamorous spot.


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