2013-2014 Season at Marines' Memorial Theatre, Union Square
Verdi's Masterwork: Opera and the Birth of Modern Italy November 1-2, 2013 Marines' Memorial Theatre, San Francisco
In the early 19th Century, Italy was essentially a "geographical expression," a patchwork of principalities spread across islands and peninsulas, dominated by foreign powers. By century's end it had united as the independent Kingdom of Italy, its people citizens of a modern nation with an emerging common culture and language. The great Giuseppe Verdi became the leading artist of this resurgent movement, the "Risorgimento." In his operatic masterworks he brought to the stage the values and issues of the reunification, giving vivid creative expression to the ideals of his time. His stirring and melodious music provided a common bond for peoples divided by political boundaries, customs, and dialects. Verdi's life—his humble beginnings, his professional triumphs and family tragedies, his moral integrity, his patriotic yearnings—symbolized an emerging nation's vital spirit. Verdi's life and art were transformed by the Risorgimento and in turn helped to transform it.
Presented in collaboration with the San Francisco Opera, Consul General of Italy, Italian Cultural Institute, and the Leonardo da Vinci Society, celebrating 2013 as the Year of Italian Culture in the US.
Constantinople and the Byzantine Millennium (330-1453) February 28-March 1, 2014
Marines' Memorial Theatre, San Francisco
The fall of the Roman Empire is often seen as a major dividing line in European history, but its offshoot, the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, lived on from 330 to 1453, providing continuity as a fascinating cultural and political power. In fact, the Byzantines thought of themselves as Romans, while imposing a predominantly Greek culture and Eastern Orthodox religion over their multiethnic territories, dominating the eastern Mediterranean, Southern Italy, the Balkans, and North Africa. The Byzantine Empire bridged east and west, ancient and modern, until overwhelmed by the rising power of the Ottoman Turks.
Presented in collaboration with the Consul General of Greece in San Francisco.
Baghdad in Its Golden Age (762-1300) April 25-26, 2014
Marines' Memorial Theatre, San Francisco
From its founding in 762 as The City of Peace, Baghdad thrived as the political, cultural, religious, and commercial center of the Muslim empire. Abbasid caliphs ruled over diverse populations of Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and polytheists, whose ethnic identities ranged from Arab to Persian and Turkish to Berber—all of whom contributed to the brilliance of the greatest city of its time in the Middle East, if not the world. At its House of Wisdom, scholars from across the empire translated into Arabic, synthesized and advanced the fragmented literary and scientific knowledge of ancient Greece, Persia, and India. Chinese paper technology enabled Baghdad bookstores to sell thousands of books a day. Without this chapter in history, the inheritance of antiquity would likely have followed tortured paths to the present. Baghdad’s intellectual and cultural influence was extraordinary in its time, and its legacy—and mythologizing—in the west and east continues to this day.
Special Event: The Story of North Indian Classical Music June 10, 2013
Commonwealth Club of California, San Francisco
Monday Night Philosophy at the Commonwealth Club takes another look at the connections between ideas and music, this time by analyzing the musical traditions of India. Mahesh Kale is not only a classical vocalist, but also plays the instruments Thumri, Dadra, Tappa, Bhajans, Bhavgeet and Natyasangeet. Mr. Kale will explain how Indian music can both express what is verbally inexpressible and deepen the meaning of a seemingly commonplace thought, and will perform to illustrate his points. Cosponsored by Humanities West, the Indian Classical Music Association, and the Monday Night Philosophy Series.
Commonwealth Club of California
Commonwealth Club members free, $20 public.