For the birds
by Roberto Friedman
The ease of taking two-day getaways is one of the Bay Area's great perks, with so much natural beauty and wonder only a short drive from the pulse and frenetic energy of the city. Recently Out There and our #1 Pepi were offered a rejuvenating stay at the Bodega Bay Lodge, and we availed ourselves of the opportunity with alacrity.
Our first association with Bodega Bay is that it served as location shooting for Hitchcock's immortal thriller The Birds, and just like Tippi Hedren, we got in close personal touch with the abundant nature in the vicinity. Unlike Tippi, we were there for a coastal retreat, ensconced in a hotel that has recently completed a major renovation. The Lodge offers six acres of newly landscaped grounds surrounding a heated pool, an oversized, infinity-edge hot tub, an outdoor shower and fire pits, all with sweeping views of the rough and wild Pacific.
We dove into the pool and promptly lost our key-card, which slipped out of our shorts as we splashed around. Pepi was our hero as usual, diving headfirst into the deep end to retrieve the card, sticking to the pool floor, and bring it up. A single large bubble escaped from his mouth as he surfaced for air.
Our deluxe suite came complete with a beautiful coastal view, a wood-burning fireplace, and a private patio. We made it over to the redesigned lobby, with oversized couches, leather chairs, restored hardwood and slate floors, for a cozy wine-and-cheese hour before our reservation for dinner. Under the direction of Executive Chef Jeff Reilly, the Duck Club restaurant offers Sonoma coastal cuisine with spectacular views. Local seafood and sustainable, regional ingredients pair beautifully with Sonoma County wines.
We took a hike in the nearby Doran Regional Park, encompassing a sand spit splayed out between the Bay, a tidal pond and the ocean. It was easy to spot coastal birds, and we checked off many boxes on our birding list: great blue heron, oystercatcher, cormorant, great egret, snowy egret, plover and scrub jay. We were channeling Tippi Hedren, except the birds were not our foes but our fine feathered friends.
The Bodega Bay Lodge is a luxurious stay, located at 103 Coast Highway One in Bodega Bay, CA. For more info, go to bodegabaylodge.com.
An upcoming concert by the Rainbow Chamber Players , Only Air, features the West Coast premiere of an anti-gay-bullying piece. The concert comes up on Sat., Nov. 1, 6 p.m., at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, 3281 16th St. (at Dolores) in SF. The first three works on the program are part of the group's LGBTQ Performers and Composers Series: Miguel del Aguila, Salon Buenos Aires (excerpt); David del Tredici, Acrostic Song (chamber version); Dennis Tobenski, Only Air (chamber version, West Coast Premiere); and Johann Strauss II/arranger Arnold Schoenberg, Kaiser-Walzer (Emperor Waltz).
Here's the backgrounder: "Only Air is a 20-minute work for voice and chamber ensemble with a text by poet Kathryn Levy that memorializes the LGBT teenagers who have taken their own lives due to anti-gay bullying. Originally composed for voice and orchestra and commissioned by the Illinois State University Symphony Orchestra, this chamber version was commissioned and premiered by The Secret Opera , a New York-based opera company dedicated to presenting provocative and socially relevant operatic and vocal works. The piece is in the form of an extended song with five instrumental interludes, meditations on five young men who committed suicide: Justin Aaberg , Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Zach Harrington, and Tyler Clementi ."
Rainbow Chamber Players is composed of members of the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony [BARS], dedicated to increasing visibility and challenging stereotypes of LGBT composers and instrumentalists, connecting with audiences of all communities. This concert will welcome members of the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists [AGLP ] and the American Psychiatric Association [APA ] who are attending the 66th Institute on Psychiatric Services. The concert is free, although donations for BARS are encouraged. A reception will follow the performance at 538 Sanchez St. (at 18th St.) in SF.
Many Bay Area LGBT opera-lovers are drawn to the world of the countertenor. Now Bill Doggett, a specialist in African American opera history and a Founding Board of Director of Los Angeles Opera's African Americans for LA Opera division, shares news of a rare and historic casting of three black countertenors in one production currently on the boards in the Southland.
LA Opera is presenting an innovative staging by Barrie Kosky of English Baroque composer Henry Purcell's time-revered opera Dido and Aeneas. The re-emergence of Baroque opera as an integral repertoire genre in opera houses around the world has produced the re-surfacing of a voice type showcased during the Baroque opera era, the countertenor voice, originally performed by an elite group of men known as castrati. One of the most celebrated castrato singers of the Baroque era (1600-1750) was the legendary singer Farinelli, whose life was the subject of an award-winning 1994 film.
In recent years, aficionados of Baroque opera have delighted in the beautiful singing of countertenors David Daniels , Andreas Scholl , Brian Asawa and Ian Howell. At LA Opera's Dido and Aeneas, opera-goers are encountering an historic first: Three African American countertenors – John Holiday , Darryl Taylor and G. Thomas Allen – are making their LA Opera debuts at once. To our knowledge, this has never happened on an American or an international opera stage.
Dido and Aeneas is featured in a special double bill with 20th-century master Bela Bartok's rarely performed Bluebeard's Castle, through Nov. 15. Tickets and info: laopera.org.