Ubu & The Truth Commission, performed by Handspring Puppet Company, part of the 2014-15 Cal Performances season. Photo: Courtesy of Cal Performances
Ubu and The Truth Commission, performed by Handspring Puppet Co., part of the 2014-15 Cal Performances season. Photo: Cal Performances

Cal Performances this week announced its 2014-15 season, which includes cellist Yo Yo Ma performing Bach solo cello suites, Robert Wilson’s production of Daniil Kharms’ The Old Woman, with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe, a residency with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the Australian Ballet’s Swan Lake (which includes the love triangle of Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Camilla Parker-Bowles), and Project TenFourteen, where the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players perform ten world premiers.

“You have world-beating innovation here,” said Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of London’s Barbican Centre, at the launch of the program. “Anywhere in the world would be envious of what you have in this season.” 

Kenyon joined Cal Performances artistic director Matías Tarnopolsky for the launch to talk about another season highlight, a co-presentation with the Barbican of Benjamin Britten’s church parable Curlew River, with tenor Ian Bostridge in the lead role, directed and designed by Netia Jones. Kenyon described it as a “viscerally dramatic experience.”

Robert Wilson's production of The Old Woman, with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe. Photo: Courtesy of Cal Performances
Robert Wilson’s production of The Old Woman, with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe. Photo: Cal Performances

The Baryshnikov/Dafoe collaboration with Wilson, according to Tarnopolsky, “will both charm and harm you” (a reference to Kharms’ self-chosen transliteration of his own name, which mashes together charm and harm).

In addition to the Australian Ballet, the dance program includes the return of the Mark Morris Dance Group, Sasha Waltz and Guests, Joffrey Ballet and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

The season’s recital and chamber music includes pianist Richard Goode performing Schubert’s last three piano sonatas, Pierre-Laurent Aimard playing the piano music of Pierre Boulez, tenor Bostridge in a recital of music and poetry from World War I, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in three programs, each of which includes a work of Berkeley-based composer John Adams, and two appearances by the Takács Quartet.

Theater work includes South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company (well known for their puppetry in War Horse in London and New York) in Ubu and the Truth Commission, conceived and directed by artist William Kentridge and written by Jane Taylor, and Paris’s Théâtre de la Ville in Luigi Pirandello’s classic Six Characters in Search of an Author.

The jazz program includes singer Mavis Staples, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock performing together, and Cassandra Wilson’s celebration of Billie Holiday.

The early music programming includes Apollo’s Fire in the Monteverdi Vespers, viol player Jordi Savall, and The Tallis Scholars performing Thomas Tallis’ Spem in alium (joined by 29 singers from UC Berkeley’s student choir).

The world stage performances include Berkeley-based Kathak master Pandit Chitresh Das’ Shiva, Arlo Guthrie in an Alice’s Restaurant 50th anniversary tour, Hugh Masekela celebrating 20 years of South African democracy with singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela, and The Nile Project, which brings together musicians from Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda to raise awareness of the cultural and environmental challenges along the world’s longest river.

Tarnopolsky said Cal Performances is particularly fortunate with its loyal, attentive audiences. Following last weekend’s performances of Handel’s Acis and Galatea, he said that Mark Morris told him that “it’s only in Berkeley that he doesn’t see the glow of cellphones in people’s faces during a performance.”

Tickets for the 2014-15 Cal Performances season go on sale tomorrow, Friday May 2 at noon. 

Check out Berkeleyside’s event calendar for many more events, and make sure to post your own community happenings.

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...