Bay Area classical music scene is heating — here’s what not to mix

Operas, new works and Baroque favorites presented indoors and al fresco — the classical music season heats up for summer. Here are some of the top attractions.

San Francisco Opera: A classic, a rarely performed masterpiece, and a new work recalling iconic artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera — San Francisco Opera’s summer festival has thrills for every opera lover. With Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly,” Richard Strauss’s “Die Frau ohne Schatten” (The Woman Without a Shadow), and Gabriela Lena Frank’s “El ultimo Sueño de Frida y Diego” (The Last Dream of Frida and Diego) in rotation, it’s an exciting lineup. Be sure to check the company’s website for pre- and post-show events.

Details: Through July 1; War Memorial Opera House; $26-$410;

Festival Opera: Under Zachary Gordin, the Walnut Creek-based company starts the season with two outdoor concerts, 6 p.m. June 22 in Orinda Community Park and 6 p.m. Aug. 6 in Walnut Creek’s Civic Park. The mainstage event is “Carmen,” in an August production directed by Michael Mohammed, conducted by Robert Mollicone and starring mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven in the title role of Bizet’s sizzler.

Details: “Carmen,” Aug. 18-20, Lesher Center, Walnut Creek; $45-$90;

Kronos Festival: The groundbreaking quartet marks its 50th anniversary in this three-day festival, with guest artists Rhiannon Giddens, Guillermo Galindo, Angelique Kidjo, the Friction Quartet and composer Soo Yeon Lyuh joining the lineup.

Details: June 22-24, Miner Auditorium, SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco; $20-$65;

Merola Opera: The summer opera academy has a full schedule, featuring a production of Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia” at Herbst Theatre and as well as “Metamorphosis: Recovery, Renewal, and Rebirth,” a vocal and piano recital co-curated by tenor Nicholas Phan and pianist Carrie-Ann Matheson, San Francisco Opera Center artistic director, and the Schwabacher Summer Concert at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The season wraps with the annual Merola Grand Finale concert at the War Memorial Opera House.

Details: June 29-Aug. 19; $28-$80;

Stern Grove Festival: With Christopher Dragon and Edwin Outwater sharing conducting duties, the San Francisco Symphony brings an afternoon of film score themes to the long-running outdoor festival; music from “Ben-Hur,” “Jaws,” “Psycho,” and “Vertigo” are on the program (July 23.) Of course, Stern Grove also serves up more for than classical fare; other concerts in the lineup include Lyle Lovett and His Large Band (July 9), Angelique Kidjo (July 16), San Francisco Symphony with the Boston-based funk band Lettuce (July 23), Buddy Guy (Aug. 6), Patti Smith (Aug. 13), the Flaming Lips (Aug. 20) and more.

Details: Concerts begin 2 p.m.; free but reservations required,

Music@Menlo: It’s a Beethoven year at the annual Atherton chamber music festival led by David Finckel and Wu Han. “Beethoven Unfolding” celebrates the composer’s life, music, and legacy, along with programs spanning from Baroque masterworks to music by contemporary composers.

Details: July 14-Aug. 5; Menlo School; $20-$84;

Carmel Bach Festival: Under artistic director and principal conductor Grete Pedersen, the annual seaside festival includes appearances by the classical duo Fire & Grace and special guests the San Francisco Girls Chorus.

Details: July 15-29; multiple locations in and around Carmel; tickets start at $25;

West Edge Opera: General director Mark Streshinsky and the company have a big summer season on tap, beginning with Jose Pepé Martinez’s “mariachi opera” titled “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna” (To Cross the Face of the Moon), along with Monteverdi’s “Coronation of Poppea,” a double bill of Stravinsky’s “The Nightingale” and Schoenberg’s “Erwartung,” and an orchestra preview of “Dolores,” an exciting new work under development.

Details: July 22-Aug. 13, Scottish Rite Center, Oakland; $10-$140;

American Bach Soloists: Artistic director Jeffrey Thomas conducts the early music ensemble in works including Vivaldi’s Four Seasons — and, of course, music by the group’s namesake composer, including the B-Minor Mass.

Details: July 27-30; various venues; $25-$125;

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music: The annual new music festival returns under music director Cristian Măcelaru, celebrating Ellen Primack’s 33rd and final year as executive director and introducing ink-still-wet scores by 17 composers, including Gabriela Ortiz, Jennifer Higdon, Kevin Puts, Tan Dun, Paul Wiancko and Bora Yoon. Tickets available for in-person attendance or streaming.

Details: July 30-Aug. 13; Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz; $20-$80;

Contact Georgia Rowe at

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