Monday, June 10, 2019

Summer Opera—My Passion: San Francisco Opera’s Summer Season Has Just Opened with the Very Classical New Production of ‘Carmen,’ a Dramatic New ‘Orlando,’ and the New ‘Rusalka’ with Some of the Most Poignant Moments and Beautiful Singing in Opera

My Great Pleasures of Summer: Opera is one of my favorite entertainments of summer. I disappear into the beautiful San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, and immerse myself in glorious singing and lively performances and dramatic productions.

Yes, I love the fall/winter opera season in San Francisco. But the summer season—June only—is my stealth pleasure. It’s a very special and a secret thrill. When it’s hot outside, I escape to grand world-class productions, to worlds of imagination, artistry, pure performances, and world-class performers and musicians at their best. The San Francisco Opera orchestra is superb.

This 2019 summer season is rich in creativity, classicism, romance, ethereal worlds and style.

I’m very much looking forward to ‘Orlando’ (new production) with the 25-year-old virtuoso countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen making his company debut as Medoro in Orlando. J’Nai Bridges as Carmen will be extraordinary. Women conductors. A breath of fresh ideas and collaborations. I’ll be seeing all three.

Kyle Ketelsen as Escamillo and J'Nai Bridges in the title role of Bizet's "Carmen."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Special thanks to San Francisco Opera general director, Matthew Shilvock who created this perfect summer series, with new productions and exciting new talent. 

Matthew Shilvock

San Francisco Opera Summer Season 2019: An Overview

Beginning June 5 and continuing through the 29th, San Francisco Opera presents a trio of extraordinary lyric works—Georges Bizet’s Carmen, George Frideric Handel’s Orlando and Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka—featuring powerful leading women in the title roles. 

Spanning three centuries and sung in French, Italian and Czech, the 2019 Summer Season marks the debuts of four conductors, including two women, in productions that are new to the War Memorial Opera House stage.

Performing the title heroines in the 2019 Summer Season operas, each for the first time, are: mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges as Carmen, and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke takes on Orlando, a role originally composed for the castrato Senesino. Rachel Willis-Sørensen portrays the water nymph Rusalka.

The company’s roster of conductors will be expanded with the debuts of James Gaffigan, Eun Sun Kim, Michelle Merrill and Christopher Moulds.

Michelle Merrill

Michelle Merrill is one of two female conductors to join San Francisco Opera’s roster this season and will be conducting the June 20 performance of Carmen.

Eun Sun Kim

Eun Sun Kim makes her company debut leading the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in Rusalka. Well-known for her performances in Europe at Staatsoper Berlin, Frankfurt Opera, Munich’s Bavarian State Opera and Dresden’s Semperoper, the fast-rising South Korean maestra made her American debut in 2017 leading Verdi’s La Traviata at Houston Grand Opera. In 2018, Kim led Verdi’s Requiem at the Cincinnati May Festival, becoming the first female conductor in the choral festival’s 145-year history.

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen
Photo: Dario Acosta

Exciting News

In a casting update for Orlando, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen makes his Company and role debuts as Medoro. The Brooklyn-born, second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow quickly rose to prominence after being named a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2017. 

J'Nai Bridges as the title role in Bizet's "Carmen."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Bizet's "Carmen" with J'Nai Bridges as Carmen (center), Natalie Image as Frasquita, Ashley Dixon as Mercédès and the San Francisco Opera Chorus. Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Kyle Ketesen as Escamillo with the San Francisco Opera Chorus in Bizet's "Carmen." 
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

David Leigh as Zuniga, Zhengyi Bai as Remendado, Natalie Image as Frasquita, Ashley Dixon as Mercédès (partially obscured) and J'Nai Bridges in the title role of Bizet's "Carmen."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Matthew Polenzani as Don José and J'Nai Bridges in the title role of Bizet's "Carmen."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Kyle Ketelsen as Escamillo with the San Francisco Opera Chorus in Bizet's "Carmen."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The 2019 Summer Season opens with director Francesca Zambello’s production of Carmen (June 5–29). The popular French work about a free-spirited woman and her besotted lover stars mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges in her professional role debut as the title heroine and tenor Matthew Polenzani performing Don José for the first time in his career. Romanian soprano Anita Hartig makes her Company debut as Micaëla and bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen is the bullfighter, Escamillo.

General Director at the Glimmerglass Festival and longtime San Francisco Opera collaborator, Zambello commented on working with Bridges in 2011: “At Glimmerglass, I began offering a family performance of one of the operas with a cast of young artists. J’Nai Bridges essayed the role of Carmen in one of those family performances and her singing was already memorable, as were her animal stage instincts. I am thrilled to see the wonderful arc of J’Nai’s career and for us to be rejoined as she makes her professional debut in this role.” 

Christina Gansch as Dorinda in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Medoro and Heidi Stober as Angelica in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Christina Gansch as Dorinda, Heidi Stober as Angelica, and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Medoro in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Sasha Cooke (left) as Orlando and Christian Van Horn (right) as Zoroastro in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Sasha Cooke as Orlando, Heidi Stober as Angelica, and Christian Van Horn as Zoroastro in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Sasha Cooke as Orlando and Christian Van Horn as Zoroastro in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Medoro in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Handel’s Orlando (June 9–27) will be unveiled in a bold production by English director Harry Fehr which sets Ariosto’s mythic romance in London during The Blitz of the Second World War.

Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke makes her highly-anticipated role debut as the warrior Orlando, here envisioned as a fighter pilot who is mentally tormented by battle trauma and an immoderate passion for his lover, Angelica.

Soprano Heidi Stober adds Angelica to her repertory of Handelian roles, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen is Medoro and Austrian soprano Christina Gansch makes her American debut as Dorinda.

Bass-baritone and 2018 Richard Tucker Award recipient Christian Van Horn is Zoroastro, the doctor who helps Orlando navigate his mental anguish. English conductor Christopher Moulds leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in his first engagement with the Company.

Dvořák's "Rusalka"
Photo: Todd Rosenberg/Lyric Opera of Chicago

Dvořák's "Rusalka"
Photo: Todd Rosenberg/Lyric Opera of Chicago

Rusalka (June 16–28), Antonín Dvořák’s enchanting 1901 fairytale about a water nymph who trades her voice for love, returns to the War Memorial Opera House stage in a “thoughtfully conceived and brilliantly executed” (Chicago Tribune) production by director David McVicar.

In her first portrayal of the title role, soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen heads a cast that includes tenor Brandon Jovanovich as the Prince, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as the witch Ježibaba, Kristinn Sigmundsson as Vodník and soprano Sarah Cambidge as the Foreign Princess.

San Francisco War Memorial Opera House
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Images courtesy of SF Opera

Please check sfopera.comfor further details or call the Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330.

San Francisco Opera Box Office hours: Monday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. (Saturday phone only). Casts, programs and schedules are subject to change.

All War Memorial Opera House performances feature a Pre-Opera Talk beginning 55 minutes prior to curtain. The lecturers for the Summer Season are Laura Prichard (Carmen), Bruce Lamott (Orlando) and Peter Susskind (Rusalka).

San Francisco War Memorial Opera House
Photo: Cesar Rubio

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Designer to Watch: Sausalito-Based Molie Malone

TRUE TO FORM: Molie Malone believes that the best design happens when she develops a deeply empathetic relationship with her clients.

Her goal is to design and create interiors of rich comfort and pleasure, in the style and scale that fit perfectly, like a beautifully tailored ensemble

Molie Malone’s life and career trajectory have been fascinating, from growing up in the California Wine Country, her rewarding years as a therapist, to world traveler antiquaire. And each step has enriched her highly successful design career.

Now based in a sunny loft in Sausalito that’s a scenic ferry trip across the bay from San Francisco, she uses all of her skills to craft custom design for fortunate clients.

“It’s thrilling for me to work with my clients’ personal collections of art and objects and antiques. These exceptional pieces enrich rooms and give each design an edge.” – Molie Malone

Meet Molie Malone

I sat down for a chat with Molie Malone recently. Come with me to meet Molie and learn about her design and project management approach.

DDS: Molie, congratulations on your success as a designer and your empathetic approach to design. For you the most important aspect of working with a new design client is first to build a creative relationship. 
MM: Yes, my first career was in mental health. I was a psychotherapist for a number of years before I entered the design world. I worked primarily with young women as part of a feminist practice. I also had the privilege of working with couples and families. It has been a surprisingly helpful background for my design career.

DDS: You become the client’s advisor, and advocate, never a design dictator.

MM: That is absolutely my goal. A lot of time is dedicated in the early phases of any project to assess, not just the client's taste and budget, but other needs as well. There are so many dynamics going on within an individual's or family's life. As designers, we step into their homes and their worlds. I want to make sure I have made an important connection with my clients as early as possible. This allows me to drive the design process respectfully and comfortably for everyone. 

DDS: You had also worked with antiques, from an early age.
MM: I come from a long line of collectors and I was trained early to love furniture and treasures with patina and soul. I purchased my first set of blue and white china at age 15. It surprised no one in my family when I was in the antique world. What surprised me was how it launched my design career. Customers began to me to design their homes. As the projects grew in scale, I returned to school and was re-trained in interior design.

DDS: Tell us about your design for the recent San Francisco Decorator Showcase on the Marina. The de Gournay stairway decor was memorable indeed.
MM: I worked closely with de Gournay, a dream in certain ways. They were generous with their time and resources. Their level of artistry that went into creating the abstract hand-painted de Gournay wallpapers for my entry was thrilling. The metallic finish reflected the light in the most beautiful way. At sunrise, the wall colors were shimmering and subtle, and at sunset they reflected the rich colors of the sun on San Francisco Bay. The wallpapers were made to my exact specifications, using traditional Chinese art techniques and all traditional materials. When de Gournay is the talent and eye, the experience is otherworldly. It was most certainly a career high for me.

DDS: And you recently completed a chic and lovely interior, in collaboration with Mill Valley architect Barbara Chambers. 
MM: Another amazing experience! Barbara is as talented as she is kind. She is a respectful collaborator and unwavering in her commitment to creating homes with brilliant, thoughtful details, but more importantly, soul.

DDS: You’re working all over Northern California. What’s next for you? 
MM: My team and I are very involved and immersed with longtime and new clients. We are creating a home for clients who currently live abroad but will return to the Bay Area when the project is finished. It has been a fascinating process to design and build remotely. It is such a reminder about how small the world becomes with technology. We literally can design for anyone, anywhere. More importantly, this "remotely designed" project evokes such gratitude in me. Cients trust me and my team to create a home for them, sometimes while they live on the other side of the planet, and that is deeply gratifying. 

DDS: I can’t wait to see it. Wishing you continued success and the joy of decorating.

The Perfect Collaboration

Molie Malone collaborated with architect Barbara Chambers on a house in San Francisco overlooking elegant Alta Plaza Park.

This 1920s Italian Revival residence, for a venture capitalist, included a central staircase, a grand foyer, a gracious formal living room facing the park, and relaxed circulation throughout the residence.

Mill Valley architect Barbara Chambers of Chambers & Chambers, a noted classicist, and Malone worked closely to refine the architecture and to create a truly bespoke interior. After an extensive remodel, the house serves as a calm haven.

About Molie Malone Interior Design

Molie Malone found her way to the design world through an early love of collecting antiques. In 2001, she launched her antique company.

Molie traveled extensively to buy antiques and developed her eye for exceptional design. Clients requested her assistance with their interior design projects, and she translated her passion for antiqued into her own design studio, Molie Malone Interior Design. 

Molie creates spaces that are both elegant and easy to live in. A clear and pragmatic approach to design enables her to work on a wide range of projects, both residential and commercial. “The best designs come from close collaborations with a broad range of talent, from architects to fabric designers and craftspeople around the world.

Molie lives in Marin County, California in a 100 year-old family residence. Her passions include nurturing and maintaining her garden.


Molie Malone Interior Design


Mitchell Shenker Photography

Christopher Stark Photography

Melanie Duerkopp Photography

David Duncan Livingston Photography

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Best of the 2019 San Francisco Decorator Showcase Continued: The Chic Spirit of Modern — Studio Collins Weir Creates a Masterful Design with Refinement and Elegance

Susan Collins Weir and Chris Weir turned a dull interior into a ravishingly beautiful living room/ grand salon, full of bold design ideas and dramatic gestures.

Making their début at this year’s dazzling showcase, partners Susan and Chris splashed white paint on a series of columns and added tall mirrors for a sense of grandeur and excitement.

The annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase is now in its 42nd year.

This Studio Collins Weir living room is a fresh presence at San Francisco’s iconic 1904 Le Petit Trianon.  
The intricate, original architecture of the living room served as a multi-layered canvas for this grand salon.

Classical columns and ceiling details and moldings and motifs were all restored and painted a warm white. The niches between the columns are filled with mirror to extend light and a sense of space around the room. This gesture also expands the views of surrounding gardens to create a traditional setting that seems to blur the visual effect between indoors and out.

The room is anchored by Mathieu Lehanneur’s carved marble table from the Carpenters Workshop Gallery.

Overhead there’s an Ozone Parisienne Opéra chandelier.

A custom designed, Baughman-inspired circular sofa and banquette, upholstered in rich plum mohair, wends around the table. The seating group welcomes a private conversation and invites guests to perch along its back, as cocktails are served from the bar cabinet. 

“We designed the pieces in the space to be minimal in form and materially rich,” said Chris Weir of Studio Collins Weir. “They are quite modern and work to contrast the classical detailing of the space, reinforcing the qualities of both. We further heightened this juxtaposition by lining the room with contemporary art.” 

The curated selection of art works from California galleries, including the Haines Gallery, Hosfelt Gallery, Jessica Silverman Gallery and the Future Perfect includes photography, painting and sculpture. Their explorations result in pieces that are textural and phenomenological.

“Placing modern art and furnishings in a classical space tells the story of different time periods and imbues the room with a sense of history,” said Susan Collins of Studio Collins Weir. “The layering of epochs is quintessential San Francisco – a city racing towards the future while looking over its shoulder to the past.”

The Interview—Meet Susan and Chris

I sat down recently with Susan and her husband Chris (they have two young children) and talked about their luscious décor.

DDS:Why did you select this room?
SCW: We loved the scale, detail, light and view of the garden. The strong axial layout made the room perfect for us as we knew we could respond to it in a way that would help make the traditional detailing more current. We liked the concept of making a perfect backdrop for us to work in our more modern style. We aimed for a perfect balance of traditional detailing and lush modern furnishings and art.

DDS: The room is a forest of columns and architectural details. How did you see this when you were planning the room.
SCW and CW: We knew that the columns, if handled correctly, would play a strong part in the overall scheme. So we devoted time end effort to restore them as they were in terrible shape. The capitals of the columns are solid carved wood which had split and cracked over time due to neglect. We restored these and painted them and the rest of the room a beautiful shade of white in an eggshell finish. The effect is to highlight the detailing of all original columns and moldings to add shadow and a layer of drama to the room. This neutral background allowed us to go big with color in the sofa and add pieces like the carved marble table by Carpenters Workshop, and art that is heavily textured.

DDS: Your sofas are dramatic and handsome. They offer utmost versatility. They work for two people or a cocktail crowd. How did you plan them?
SCW and CW: The living room has such strong central axis it felt natural to build our furnishing plan around it. The circular seating group provides a setting for an intimate gathering around the marble table. It also opens up the corners of the room for larger gatherings. We designed the sofa. Its ergonomics are what really lets the piece work well. The seat depth allows you to relax but not lounge while the back is at the perfect height to support you. The back also serves as a perch to sit on and engage guests in conversation around the room. At two people can perch and have a conversation in any part of the two sofas.

DDS: The abstract carpet adds dynamism to the room.
SCW and CW: We always start with floor coverings for our spaces. They ground the room and provide a context for every piece that follows. In this case, we wanted a graphic rug with a neutral palette that would provide movement and allow the minimal form of the coffee table and sofa to really make an impact. We worked closely with Mark Nelson. It’s a large carpet. For the design, we started with an image of a slab of marble and worked to abstract it into blocks of grey intersected by “veins” of ivory. It’s dynamic without being overpowering and really adds movement to the space. 

DDS: I love the effect of daylight in this north-and-east-facing room. The views are so elegant – beautiful flourishing trees and a sliver of the bay and Angel Island. The windows are tall and beautifully proportioned and the light seems to soar aloft. The room embraces a sense of place and a sense of time.
SCW and CW: Yes! The trees and changing light play such a prominent roll in the room. There’s soft sunlight in the morning. At night the trees are just silhouettes. We emphasized the light by adding mirrors to the east wall. The effect is to double the windows in space and blur the edges of the room. Everywhere you look you are greeted by a wall of greenery moving in the wind or light shifting around the space. We wanted the room to feel light and engaged with its surroundings rather the inward looking. Its a hard thing to do in such traditional architecture but, by the response we're getting, we achieved our goal.

All About Studio Collins Weir

Studio Collins Weir is a full service interior design studio based in the San Francisco Bay Area with projects throughout North America. Founded in 2014, the studio is directed by the husband/wife team of Susan Collins Weir and Chris Weir. Together with their studio team, they create modern designs with timeless appeal.

Studio Collins Weir’s expertise in both interior design and architecture creates fully realized projects, each unique to its own client. Their designs are a result of listening to and understanding each client combined with a deep respect for the site and the architecture. Within each projec, the firm’s signature touches of custom, crafted furnishings and textiles as well as elevated art curation.

Studio Collins Weir has received critical acclaim, recognized by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ Magazine, 1st Dibs, California Home & Design, Luxe Magazine, and many more. The Studio has also received numerous design awards including the IIDA Honor Awards and Interior Design Magazine’s BOY Awards.

Susan Collins
Susan Collins founded the award winning design firm STUDIO COLLINS WEIR with her husband, Chris Weir in 2014. Susan’s deep understanding of interior architecture and art creates projects that are classic with a strong modern undertone. The studio is founded on the principal of balancing architecture with well-crafted interiors that are built out of deep understanding of context and client.

Susan began her career at Christie’s New York researching fine art and furniture before relocating to the west coast to study architecture and furniture design at the California College of the Arts. Studio Collins Weir’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, 1st Dibs and Luxe Magazine as well as received numerous design awards including the IIDA Honor Awards and Interior Design Magazine’s BOY Awards. Susan lives in Marin California with her husband and two children.

Chris Weir

Chris Weir’s professional experience includes 12 years of work as a project architect in the bay area for the award winning firms of Aidlin Darling Design and EnvelopeAD; among others. His architectural experience includes the design of custom single-family residences, public buildings, restaurants, and commercial renovations. This work has been published in national periodicals and has been granted numerous awards over the years.

Currently Chris shares the responsibility of running STUDIO COLLINS WEIR, an interior and furniture design practice founded in 2014 with his wife, Susan Collins. The studios work leverages both partners backgrounds in residential, commercial, furniture design and fine art, to provide complete design solutions for their clientele. STUDIO COLLINS WEIR has received critical acclaim having been recognized by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ magazine, 1st dibs, California Home & Design, Luxe magazine, and many more.

In addition to his interior design and architectural design experience, Chris has worked as product designer and creative director for Grain Audio, a company that he started in 2011 and brought to market with two partners. His role at Grain involved the design of all products, packaging and graphics associated with the brand. To accomplish this he managed teams both locally and internationally. Chris’ work at Grain has been widely lauded by both design and audio press; it also received a Reddot award for product design in 2014. 


Floors: SCW custom design, hand tufted cut pile wool quality, fabricated by Mark Nelson Designs

Window Treatment: Ripple fold drapery panels in Holland and Sherry. Patagonia Wool Flannel in color Mineral.

Light Fixture: Parisienne Opera Chandelier by Régis Botta for Ozone inspired by the Parisian street lights,

Sofa and Bench: Custom, designed by SCW in Pinot Noir Mokum, Alpaca Velvet

Cocktail table: Steel with satin nickel finish

Sideboard: Custom, designed by SCW in painted ash with a Nero Marquina marble top

Walls: C2 Paint in Architectural White, flat color on wall and ceiling panels, eggshell on remaining surfaces

Coffee Table: Ocean White Volakas Marble Memories Circular Low Table XXL by Mathieu Lehanneur from Carpenter’s Workshop.
Details: Mathieu Lehanneur’s Ocean Memories Circular Low Table presents a surrealistic vision of an ocean frozen in time. The complex movements of waves and currents are captured with the help of 3D special effects digital software – usually employed by the film industry. These digital forms are then machine cut from a block of volakas marble and hand polished, to produce the liquid-like surface that reflects and distorts light.


John Chiara Sunnydale at Russia, 2013
Camera Obscura Ilfochrome, Photograph – From Haines Gallery

Emil Lukas Heat Shield #1496, 2016
Paint on Plaster over aluminum – From Hosfelt Gallery

Dashiell Manley the breakers, 2019
Oil on Linen – From Jessica Silverman Gallery

Dashiell Manley quiet jails, 2019
Oil on Linen – From Jessica Silverman Gallery

Artist Details: Dashiell Manley’s zen “E” paintings contain two kinds of brushstroke: a short, rhythmic, repetitive stroke, which relates to a mindful focus on the process of painting itself; and occasional drifting transgressive lines, which signal and attempt to correct moments of distraction. The“E” originally stood for “elegy,” a poem that laments the dead, and a title often used by one of Manley’s favorite painters, the Postwar Abstract Expressionist, Robert Motherwell. But, as their living-and-breathing brushstrokes suggest, these paintings memorialize the vibrancy of emotional abstraction

Karl Zahn Vines #3 – 11 Leaves, 2017
White aluminum, chain – From The Future Perfect
Artist Details: Karl Zahn is a product and furniture designer based in Brooklyn, New York. His work recalls a Danish influence, with its stark minimalism and functional ingenuity - and includes lighting, household products, decorative and experimental objects.

Wanda Koop Still (Pink), 2017
Acrylic on Canvas – From Night Gallery
Artist Details: Wanda Koop has been reinventing and redefining landscape painting for more than 40 years. Featured in over 50 solo exhibitions, she is a preeminent figure in contemporary Canadian art. Her monumentally scaled work focuses on the intersection of urbanization.

The Living Room at Le Petit Trianon before Studio Collins Weir began their transformation.


Studio Collins Weir
451 Coloma street
Sausalito, California 94965

Matthew Millman

The San Francisco Decorator Showcase contiues through May 27 at 3800 Washington Street, San Francisco.