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Arts & Culture

‘The Language Archive’ @ TheatreWorks - Heggie’s ‘If I Were You’ @ Merola - ABS Festival & Academy

Alessandra Mello

This week on Open Air, KALW’s weekly radio magazine for the Bay Area performing arts, guest host Kevin Vance talks with actor Francis Jue (pictured) and Executive Director Phil Santora about the new production of the quirky comedy The Language Archive, which opens the 50th Anniversary season at Tony Award-winning TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

The Language Archive is a romantic parable about the limits and potential of communication, featuring a linguist at a loss for words, especially the vocabulary of the heart. The production runs through August 4 at the Lucie Stern Theatre (1305 Middlefield Rd.) in Palo Alto. 

Also, an interview with composer Jake Heggie, about the world premiere of his opera If I Were You, at San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program. This is the first time in its 62-year history that Merola has commissioned a new work. 

If I Were You, with a libretto by Gene Scheer, is loosely based on a novel by French-American writer Julien Green. It is a contemporary story of identity with echoes of classical literature, from Faust to Jekyll and Hyde. 

Lead character Fabian Hart is an aspiring writer who yearns for adventure and a way out of his stifling existence. The devil, appearing in many different guises, gives him the power to transfer his soul into other people’s bodies, which begins a journey from person to person in search of a better identity. Performances are August 1 - 6 at Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness) in San Francisco, with two alternating casts. 

Also, a conversation with artistic and music director Jeffrey Thomas of the American Bach Soloists (ABS), who shares details about the annual ABS Summer Festival & Academy, held from July 28 - August 11 at the Conservatory of Music (50 Oak St.) in San Francisco. 

This year’s Festival includes major works from the Baroque, including Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Handel’s Utrecht Te Deum Jubilate and Terpsicore, Lotti’s Mass for Three Choirs, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Geminiani’s imaginative and picturesque Enchanted Forest, and endearing concertos about frogs and crickets by Telemann. Plus, the 10th annual collaboration of the Academy Orchestra & Soloists with the American Bach Choir in Johann Sebastian Bach’s consummate masterwork, the Mass in B Minor.

Open Air with guest host Kevin Vance; heard live on Thursday, July 25 at 1pm. Listen now or anytime.