Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 30 / 24 July 2014

Another barihunk sighting

Out There

"Barihunk" tenor Jonathan Blalock appeared as Lazaro in composer Jorge Martin's Before Night Falls. Photo: Ellen Appel
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The second production of West Edge Opera 's new Summer Festival, Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg 's Hydrogen Jukebox, will open on Sun., July 27, 5 p.m. at Berkeley's Ed Roberts Campus. Glass sets the words of late gay poet Ginsberg in his distinctive musical idiom, conducted by David Moschler and directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer . The opera features tenor Jonathan Blalock, baritone Efra'n Sol's , bass Kenneth Kellogg , soprano Sara Duchovnay , mezzo-soprano Molly Mahoney and mezzo-soprano Nicole Takesono .

West Edge Opera describes the work this way: "Drawing upon Ginsberg's poetry, this piece is a portrait of America that covers the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, as seen by the collaborators Glass, Ginsberg and designer Jerome Sirlin. Its content ranges from highly personal poems of Ginsberg to his reflection on social issues: the anti-war movement, the sexual revolution, drugs, Eastern philosophy, environmental awareness. The six vocal parts represent six archetypal American characters – a waitress, a policeman, a businessman, a cheerleader, a priest, and a mechanic."

Tenor Jonathan Blalock is acclaimed for his work in 20th & 21st-century opera, including world premieres of The Secret Agent and Before Night Falls. B.A.R. readers will want to know that the Barihunks blog awarded "hunkentenor" Blalock a Barihunks Calendar Grant for his career, with the remarks, "He first caught our eye with two stunning performances at the Fort Worth Opera Festival, appearing shirtless in both Jorge Martin 's Before Night Falls and Philip Glass' Hydrogen Jukebox. Last season, he was one of the many gifted young artists at the Santa Fe Opera." The accompanying photo, courtesy Barihunks, supports that award.

Repeat performances are Sat., Aug. 2, and Fri., Aug. 8, both at 8 p.m. The opera's venue will be the atrium of the Ed Roberts Campus, found at 3075 Adeline St., Berkeley. Seating is general admission. Tickets & info are available at (510) 841-1903, or


Peace out

We listened to the new Morrissey album World Peace Is None of Your Business (Harvest) online, but then went to Amoeba Music to buy the actual CD, because music sounds much richer when it's heard from a real stereo system. The salesclerk looked at a song title on the playlist, "Earth Is the Loneliest Planet," and remarked, "Isn't that the most Morrissey title ever?"

He had a point. A lot of the new album is echt Moz: you can hear his resolute point of view on "Neal Cassady Drops Dead," "Kick the Bride Down the Aisle" and "The Bullfighter Dies" ("and nobody cries"). Probably the centerpiece of the album, the eight-minute-long "I'm Not a Man," is an eloquent dismissal of what even The New York Times calls "hetero-normative masculinity." It also ventures into Morrissey's life-long campaign against considering animals as food ("Meat is Murder"). "T-bone steak," he sings, morbidly: "Cancer of the prostrate!"

But this is why, even though the man's voice and literate lyrics have been a part of our listening life ever since his long-ago tenure with The Smiths, we're rapidly tiring of the Moz. We agree with most if not all of his political positions, and find his militant vegetarianism admirable. We just don't like the nastiness that attends his condemnations of others. Rather than wishing cancer on anyone, meat-eater or not, we'd rather take our cue from an earlier lyric: "It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate,/It takes strength to be gentle and kind." Morrissey crooned that very sentiment on "I Know It's Over," from The Smiths' 1986 record The Queen Is Dead. Still true.


OT datebook

Chef Charles Phan, of The Slanted Door fame, unveiled his South cafe in the SF Jazz Center upon its opening last year. It featured New Orleans-style food: gumbo, fried chicken, and the like. All delectable, but ill-suited to the quick-turnaround time demanded of performance-venue restaurants. So now, with chef de cuisine Rymee Trobaugh , he has re-opened South re-imagined as a Mexican eatery. Out There attended the press opening. Stand-out fare included Flor de calabas relleno (squash blossoms stuffed with sheep ricotta and salsa de aguacate), pickled pasilla relleno with sardines and potatoes, and conejo en mole amarillo (rabbit in yellow mole, chard, carrots). We downed it all with a refreshing Chi Chi (Hanger One vodka, house coconut cream, pineapple, lime and crushed ice). The name may remain the same, the offerings are a world apart.

Finally, last Friday night OT celebrated the opening of the triennial Bay Area Now 7 show at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. For this iteration, YBCA 's curators turned over its selection process and presentation to regional visual arts organizations, a worthy and democratic decision. They include two queer-oriented arts groups, and so arts writer Sura Wood will have a review in next week's issue. Be good until then.


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