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Wednesday, Jun 10 1998
Jupiter, the king of the gods, risks the wrath of two women in Jean-Philippe Rameau's Platee when he raises the hopes of a grotesque (and gullible) marsh nymph by pretending to seduce her to teach his wife Junon a lesson about jealousy. In the long-anticipated American debut of the comic opera-ballet, staged by contemporary choreographer/baroque aficionado Mark Morris and originally produced by the Royal Opera Covent Garden, tenor Jean-Paul Fouchecourt plays the title role of the nymph in drag, and the Mark Morris Dance Company joins the operatic cast as snakes, satyrs, tortoises, and other natural and immortal creatures, inventively costumed all the way down to their webbed feet and hooves by designer Isaac Mizrahi. The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus perform the score to this satire of baroque tragedy, the centerpiece to the Berkeley Festival and Exhibition, a two-week international celebration of early music. Locally loved early music specialists like recorder virtuoso Marion Verbruggen (June 13) take their places alongside lesser-known musicians like the Catalan ensembles Hesperion XX and La Capella Reial de Catalunya (June 11), and exhibits and demonstrations continue through June 14. The San Francisco Opera's contribution to the festival is a production of Monteverdi's 1642 opera L'Incoronazione di Poppea, another musical love triangle in which the emperor Nero maneuvers to divorce empress Octavia and have his lover crowned in her place. Platee begins tonight at 8 p.m. (also Friday and Saturday) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $15-85; call (510) 642-0212. Poppea begins at 8 p.m. Saturday (and continues through June 26) at the War Memorial Opera House, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Admission is $20-140; call 864-3330. (

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Heather Wisner


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