Cher Public

John Masko

John Masko, a native of the Providence, RI area, is an orchestral conducting master’s student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. During his undergraduate years at Yale College, John was active in student opera both as a music director and vocal coach, working on productions of Die Fledermaus, Dido and Aeneas, Castor et Pollux, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado. After he graduated with a double major in history and music in 2014, John’s diverse interests led him to a two-year international politics research and writing position at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, while he simultaneously studied the art of conducting. He is winner of the 2016 Rubin Institute Audience Review Prize for music criticism.



The pleasure of her company

It is not easy for an opera company to follow a spectacular production of La Traviata with Massenet’s Manon.  Read more »

As time goes on, I realize just what you mean to me

There is a slight chill in the air during the final minutes of La Traviata. Onstage stand a huddled group of people, brought together by death, all pretense forgotten as they offer themselves selflessly to one another. All the barriers that divided them a few weeks prior—guilt over a life of disrepute, a thirst for honor and respectability, the drive to defend one’s good name—have melted away. But they are too late.  Read more »

This is a man’s world

Brian Jagde (right) prepares to talk to the hand of Martina Serafin.

Brian Jagde (right) prepares to talk to the hand of Martina Serafin.

On Friday night, I had the pleasure of attending the season-opening performance of Turandot at San Francisco Opera, directed by Garnett Bruce and conducted by Nicola Luisotti. I had been looking forward to this performance for a while, not only for its daring score—equal parts Puccinian schmaltz, nineteenth century “oriental” musical topics, and hard-edged machine-age dissonances—but also to see what the Opera would be able to do with Turandot’s strange personalities and plot.  Read more »

Only connect…

Anna Caterina Antonacci delivered a tour de force of French diction, subtlety of phrasing, variation of vocal timbre, and white-hot stage acting.

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All right on the western front

Silent Night is in a sense a giant middle finger raised against the conventional wisdom that musical sophistication requires inscrutability.

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Open source

Ted Hearne’s opera/oratorio The Source brings compositional process and combination of acoustic and electronic elements to the weighty topics of national security leaks, big data, and war.

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Tag sale

It is a good rule of thumb that if you emerge from a massive grand opera like Aida feeling any less than overwhelmed, you have a right to be somewhat disappointed.

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All night long

In one important respect, a great production of Puccini resembles a great production of Wagner.

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Life sentence

Janácek’s disconcerting commentary on youth and immortality received a full-throated performance.

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