Monday-Friday
6A        Morning Edition
9A        Music
3P        Fresh Air
4P        All Things Considered
6:30P  The Daily

7P        Eclectic After Dark
banner101 3

mainly Euripides' Greek tragedy Iphigenia at Aulis, a storm of bloodlust, retribution and obligation — the opera seeks to imbue its namesake character, a young woman sentenced to ritual sacrifice, with some semblance of a soul. As for the metaphor, it arrives when someone exhorts Iphigenia to "open the cemented way by your dandelion sprout." The chorus instantly seizes on that image:

seeded in you

in you seed the cracking of cemented myth

illumine our clay

A seedling, sprouting through a crack in the firmament: it's a useful way to envision what ...(Iphigenia) is trying to accomplish, with respect to its source material. At the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston last month, during the opera's first fully staged presentation, this hopeful struggle played out both in the music and its metatext. And as Shorter and spalding both freely admit, speaking separately by phone this week, the buried tensions in the production are far from resolved. On the cusp of two sold-out performances at the Kennedy Center this weekend, and before ...(Iphigenia) moves on to a pair of bookings in California (Cal Performances at UC Berkeley and the Broad Stage in Los Angeles), the opera's co-creators describe a work very much in progress — if not, as spalding might be the first to acknowledge, a piece at war with itself.

For Shorter, a saxophonist who at 88 belongs to the first rank of living jazz legends, ...(Iphigenia) represents a continuation, rather than a culmination, of his lifetime inquiry. Earlier this fall, he spoke with NPR's All Things Considered about the circuitous life of this production, which fulfills an operatic ambition he first harbored in the 1950s, as a music education major at NYU. His career path led him instead through some of the most acclaimed small groups of the era, his deep instinct for enigmatic logic making him one of the most influential jazz composers of the last 60 years.

"I kind of knew that these bits and pieces of music were like a trail, a stairway, leading to other kinds of things," he says, speaking from his home in Los Angeles. "All this music, they're all like cells that belong to what I'm doing now." Then again, it's not as if an operatic expression is some sort of prize at the end of the pathway, Shorter hastens to add. "I come to this opera with the idea that nothing is thrown away," he says. "Nothing is destroyed. All the stuff — one little song that I wrote, to me, is equal to a symphony. Has equal value. Equal importance."

Shorter has faced serious health issues in recent years, a circumstance that could have consigned ...(Iphigenia) to the realm of What Might Have Been. Instead, taking up guest residence at a Santa Monica bungalow owned by architect Frank Gehry, he and spalding immersed themselves in the project. Writing the score in his own hand, Shorter brought intense exactitude to his orchestration — a quality that rings clearly from the first few measures of the piece, which can only be characterized (to those who know his work) as "unmistakably Wayne."

Though he was unable to travel to Boston, Shorter will be in Washington, D.C. for the Kennedy Center run. ("I'm bringing a dialysis technician with me," he says, "so I can receive treatments in the hotel room.") He says that Gehry, who did the monumental yet strikingly fluid set design for ...(Iphigenia), will also be in attendance. So too, of course, will spalding — who not only wrote the opera's libretto and helped found its independent production company (Real Magic, named after a casual remark by Shorter), but also occupies a central role in the opera, as one of six Iphigenias. (The credits identify her role as "Iphigenia of the Open Tense.")

Among the stated intentions that spalding brought to the project was an exploration of consent, something that has rarely if ever factored into Iphigenia's story. In Euripides' drama and in depictions throughout art history — a few of which are pointedly reenacted in the opera's opening scenes — Iphigenia has no agency, or much of an autonomous voice. "What if she contests her fate?" prods the program notes for ...(Iphigenia). "What if she says no?" Throughout spalding's libretto, which borrows language from Joy Harjo, Safiya Sinclair and Ganavya Doraiswamy, there runs a stream of poetical archetype and sly provocation. Still, the central act of violence in the story is undeniable, a harsh centripetal force.

Reflecting on last month's premiere, presented by ArtsEmerson, spalding keeps returning to a sensation of stubborn rigidity — partly due to the restrictions of budget and time, but also of the myth itself, and of even the most permissive operatic conventions. "I felt it kind of flailing at, and pushing against, the shape that we tried to fit it into in Boston," spalding says, speaking with an uncharacteristic deliberation, as if feeling her way to judgment.

The chest-thumping machismo of the Grecian soldiers in ...(Iphigenia), while overplayed for satirical effect, was also something that took spalding aback. "I didn't realize that men took up so much space in this opera," she says. "And that's so crazy; I wrote it like that! But I didn't know this until I was sitting in the audience watching the parts of the show that I'm not in. And I was like, 'Oh my god. What is this?' " She laughs. "But actually, the music has this virility and relentlessness that feels closer to how I perceived these myths when I was first reading them."

There's no shortage of self-awareness on this front in spalding's libretto — at one point, a narrator, referring to "the great old men" behind the myth itself, Freudian-slips "phallic" for "prolific" — but there's something deep-seated in the power of embodiment onstage. "Eros and fear and power and lust and rage and all of these energies — it's one thing to think about these energies in the abstract, and what it means for them to be manifest and portrayed," spalding says, back in her usual conversational flow now. "But I think what was shocking was noticing how intense and brutal and grotesque these dynamics really are. And most of the times when I'm encountering these myths, they're really hidden behind the classiness of the storytelling and the staging and the portrayal. When I strip away the façade of the classiness of performance, that's what I feel is churning underearth this myth."

Shorter brought some of that knowing ambivalence to his own engagement with the story. ("What was Euripides really saying?" he muses. "He didn't want to go to jail like Socrates.") But he was also more focused on how his musical language could flourish in a new setting and presentation — a challenge he embraced with characteristic, horizon-scanning optimism. "The first people were not limited," Shorter says, referring to the originators of opera as an art form. "Some of the guys — as I say, Monteverdi and the cats — they were doing things indoors, in the principalities, with all that money and everything. And then somebody said, 'Let's go outside and play.' And someone else said, 'I have a story. Can I get it in here somehow?' And then somebody said, 'I'll dance to that.' That's how opera grew. It came out of the desire to play together."

By what may have been a cosmic accident, ...(Iphigenia) is the second major opera by a jazz eminence to reach audiences in the second half of this year. The first was Terence Blanchard's Fire Shut Up in My Bones, which had a triumphant run at The Metropolitan Opera in the fall. The spectacular success of Fire just led The Met to announce that it will also stage Champion, Blanchard's first operatic effort, in the spring of 2023. What's worth acknowledging is that the approach taken by Blanchard ­— a leading jazz trumpeter who dedicated his most recent album, Absence, to Shorter — was to win over operatic institutions from within. The approach taken by the ...(Iphigenia) team, including producer Jeff Tang and director Lileana Blain-Cruz, has been to proceed as if operatic institutions are beside the point. Musically, this conviction comes across most vividly in the presence of Shorter's longtime rhythm section, pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade (whose effective substitute in Boston was Jeff "Tain" Watts, fresh off a similar assignment in the pit of Fire). There's a powerfully expressive moment near the conclusion of ...(Iphigenia), when the orchestra falls away and the trio simply rages — a spike of catharsis, as the ancient Greeks would say.

"Everything is kind of breaking down," attests Shorter, speaking to long-held prejudices around the genre. "Doors are opening. The path less trodden? That path is open now. Anyone who has the guts and the fearlessness and the inquiry to jump in there." He quickly clarifies that you should also understand the tradition you're inhabiting (or evading). "There's a phrase I don't like, when an artist tries something, to 'see if it works,' " he adds. "That sounds like a robot to me. I like: 'See what happens.' "

As it rumbles toward the next phase in its evolution, ...(Iphigenia) still occupies a "see what happens" space. The discomfort of that position, for the company and even for the audience, is central to the process. "Wayne always says that you can't get mad at those forces of resistance that surround the creative art, because that resistance is exactly what we need to fly," spalding says. "And he always uses this metaphor of a plane needing drag as much as it needs lift. So actually, I guess if there were no restrictions or forces of rigidity working on the process of this, it wouldn't truly be in spirit with Wayne's philosophy. Because he does believe that the way we respond to those resistances is the work. It is about how you create value and bring forth the enlightened function out of whatever resistance you're encountering. In that way, even with its quote-unquote imperfections, it's quite a Wayne piece."


...(Iphigenia) will be presented at the Kennedy Center on Dec. 10 and 11; at Cal Performances at UC Berkeley on Feb. 12, 2022; and at The Broad Stage in Los Angeles on Feb. 17-19, 2022.

  • SoCo Calendar
  • Stickers!
  • Living Downstream
  • Postcards
  • Savoring Sonoma
  • ARTbeat
  • First News
  • Farm Tales
window stickerGet Your Free KRCB 104.9 Window Sticker
 
Get yours today at these friends of KRCB:
 
-Stanroy Music, Santa Rosa
-The Next Record Store, Santa Rosa
-All 10 SoCo Mary's Pizzas
-Acre Coffee (SR, Petaluma, Sebastopol)
-Wolf House Brewing, Cloverdale
 
They might look like bumper stickers, but they're meant to stick to the inside surface of glass.

8ff1 Asset 6 p 500Our podcast "Living Downstream" has been named by the Global Center for Climate Justice as one of "Five Climate Justice Podcasts You Need to Follow." Wow: https://bit.ly/2Xkbs0D

Listen to some recent episodes! Generations in Houston's Fifth Ward Contend with Contamination, Cancer Clusters will break your heart, and perhaps solidify your resolve to make change. The Sea Next Door is told in true partnership with the community living near California's Salton Sea, an environmental powder keg, where the state has no idea how to avoid a coming health disaster.

Get them here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

 

 
Postcards from Sonoma County...
        ... What people are talking about, direct from the locals.
 
Each week, our correspondents from all over Sonoma County check in with a weekly "postcard" of what people are talking about in their area. Not always "news," but still worthy of a mention. It's our way to give voice to communities that may not make it into the everyday news cycle.
 
We play these in a random rotation throughout the week. Each postcard airs from Sunday morning at midnight through Saturday at 11:59:59 pm.
 
We archive all our postcards here. Have a listen!
 

Week of July 31, 2022
 
Greetings from Forestville
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Penngrove
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
More greetings from Petaluma
 

Week of July 24, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 

Week of July 17, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 

Week of July 10, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
 

Week of July 3, 2022
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 

Week of June 26, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
More Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 

Week of June 19, 2022
 
Greetings from Cotati
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 

Week of June 12, 2022
 
Greetings from Cotati
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 

Week of June 5, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 

Week of May 29, 2022
 
Greetings from The Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 

Week of May 22, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 

Week of May 15, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
More Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 

Week of May 8, 2022
 
Greetings from Glen Ellen
 
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 

Week of May 1, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Occidental
 

Week of April 24, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 

Week of April 17, 2022
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
Greetings from Tomales
 

Week of April 10, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
 

Week of April 3, 2022
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
More greetings from Sebastopol
 
  
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
  
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
 
 
 

Week of Sunday, March 27, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
 
More greetings from Sebastopol
 
 
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
 

Week of Sunday, March 20, 2022
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
 

Week of Sunday, March 13, 2022:
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
 

Week of Sunday, March 6, 2022:
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
 
 
 
 

Week of Sunday, February 27, 2022:
 
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
More greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
 

Week of Sunday, February 20, 2022:
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
 
Greetings from Windsor
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
 
 

Week of Sunday, February 6, 2022:
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
 
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
 

Week of Sunday, January 30, 2022:
 
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
More greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
Greetings from Windsor
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
 

Week of Sunday, January 23rd, 2022:
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Windsor
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
 
 
 

Week of Sunday, January 16, 2022:
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
Greetings from Windsor
 
 
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
 
 
 

 Week of Sunday, January 9th, 2022:
 
Greetings from Healdsburg
 
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
Greetings from Sebastopol
 
 
Greetings from Windsor
 
 
 
 

 
Week of Sunday, January 2nd, 2022:
 
Greetings from the Lower Russian River
 
 
Greetings from Petaluma
 
 
Greetings from Rohnert Park
 
 
Greetings from Windsor
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Read More
Savoring Sonoma shorts with Clark Wolf
Clark Wolf publicityClark Wolf is a nationally recognized, James Beard Award-winning food and restaurant consultant, author, and columnist who now lives in what he calls “the Eden of All the Earth," in a 100-year-old logger’s cabin in the Redwoods of Sonoma County.
 
Savoring Sonoma is a weekly 60-second snapshot of what's importantly delicious in Sonoma County.
Each week, you'll hear two new episodes.
 
Episodes are archived here.
 
Week of July 17, 2022
Salad
Gravensteins
 
Week of July 10, 2022
Outdoor grilling
Tomatoes
 
Week of July 3, 2022
Lavender
Plums & prunes
 
Week of June 19, 2022
Plums
Major peaches
 
Week of June 12, 2022
Melons
Squash blossoms
 
Week of June 5, 2022
Purple foods
You-pick
 
Week of May 29, 2022
Cherries
Peaches
 
Week of May 22, 2022
Mulberries
Apricots
 
Week of May 15, 2022
Parsley/herb salad
Lettuces
 
Week of May 8, 2022
Waffles
James Beard
 
Week of May 1, 2022
Kohlrabi
Cauliflower
 
Week of April 24, 2022
Dry Farming
Rhubarb
 
Week of April 17, 2022
Fava beans
Earth Day 2022
 
Week of April 10, 2022
Watercress
Romaine
 
 Week of April 3, 2022
Farmer's Markets
Strawberries
 
 
 
Avocados_Wk13a
 
 
Artichokes_Wk13b
 
 
Radishes_Wk12a
 
 
Snow Peas & Shoots_Wk12b
 
 
Pixie Tangerines_Wk11a
 
 
After Fat Friday_Wk11b
 
 
Asparagus_Wk10a
 
 
Morell Mushrooms_Wk10b
 
 
Root Vegetables_Wk9a
 
 
Fondue_Wk9b
 
 
  Mac & Cheese_Wk8a
 
 
  Cherries_Wk8b
 
 
Wk7b_Veggie starts
 
 
Wk7a_Honey
 
 
Wk6_Roses
 
 
Wk5a_Meyer Lemons
 
 
Wk5b_Ice Cream in Winter
 
 
  Wk4a_Arugula
 
 
Wk4b_Mustard Greens
 
 
Persimmons
 
 
Sonoma County cheeses
 
 
Joys of fermentation
 
 
Winter squash
 
 
Pomegranates
 
 
Dungeness crab 2
 
 
Olive oil
 
 
Local Sonoma County meats
 
 
Mushrooms
 
 
Bodega Red potatoes
 
 
Local eggs
 
 
Dungeness crab
 
 
Should healthy food cost more?
Read More
The Sonoma County ArtBeat
                                      With Satri Pencak
 
 
Satri picSatri Pencak is an independent art curator with an M.A. in Art History. She writes about the visual arts for her website, www.satripencak.com, her Facebook Blog, and other publications.
 
Satri loves knowing what’s going on in the art world and sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm with others.
 
All episodes are archived here:
 
Week of July 31, 2022
 
Week of July 24, 2022
 
Week of July 17, 2022
 
 
Week of July 10, 2022
 
Week of July 3, 2022
 
Week of June 26, 2022
 
Week of June 19, 2022
 
Week of June 12, 2022
 
Week of June 5, 2022
 
Week of May 29, 2022
 
Week of May 22, 2022
 
Week of May 15, 2022
 
Week of May 8, 2022
 
Week of May 1, 2022
 
Week of April 24, 2022
 
Week of April 17, 2022
 
 Week of April 10, 2022
 
 
Week of April 3, 2022
 
 
Week of March 27, 2022
 
 
  Week of March 20, 2022
 
 
Week of March13, 2022
 
 
 Week of March 6, 2022
 

 Week of February 27, 2022
 
 
  Week of February 20, 2022
 
 
  Week of February 13, 2022
 
 
Week of February 6, 2022
 
 
Week of January 30, 2022
 
 
Week of January 23, 2022
 
 
 
 
Week of December 19, 2021
 
 
Week or January 2, 2022
 
 
Week of January 9, 2022
 
 
Week of January 16, 2022
 
 
 
Read More
thumbnail FirstNews logoA weekday early morning podcast that offers a first look at the top local news stories and weather forecast you need to start your day.

Sonoma County news stories featuring the latest in breaking news, county government, elections, environment, cultural happenings, and updates on your communities, from Petaluma to Cloverdale, and from Sonoma to Bodega Bay, and everyplace in between.

Subscribe to the Sonoma County First News podcast through our website, the NorCal Mobile App, NPR Podcasts, NPR One, iTunes/Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

 
Read More
farm trails logoWelcome to Farm Tales.
               Stories from and about Sonoma County Farm Trails members.
 
 
Celebrating farms forever in Sonoma County.
 
For more information visit farmtrails.org.
 
 
 
 
 
Hear archived tales below!

 
Dry Creek Peach - Gayle Okumura Sullivan
 
 
 
Boring Farm - Rachel Boring
 
 
Monte-Bellaria Farm
 
 
Sun Ray Farm - Maggie La Rochelle
 
 
Freestone Ranch - Misty Gay
 

Redwood Hill Farms - Jennifer Bice
 
 
Lala's Jam Bar and Urban Farmstand - Leslie Goodrich
 
 
Cambria Gardens Sebastopol - Garth Watson
 
 
Wiseacre Farm - Farmer Tiffany 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Read More

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.