Music News & Reviews

Legendary singers Baez and Callas (yes, she's dead) coming to Mondavi

Opera star Maria Callas, who died in 1977, will be back on stage in a unique holographic concert at the Mondavi Center.
Opera star Maria Callas, who died in 1977, will be back on stage in a unique holographic concert at the Mondavi Center. Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

From Joan Baez to James Galway, the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts will offer legends in concert during its 2018-19 season – including one who died decades before Jackson Hall opened.

A marvel of holographic technology, "Callas in Concert" brings soprano Maria Callas back to life with remastered audio of some of her greatest performances. On stage Sept. 28, the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra will provide live accompaniment to Callas, who died in 1977, singing arias by Bellini, Bizet, Verdi and Puccini.

"I expect it will be kind of a hoot," said executive director Don Roth. "Musically, it will be beautiful. I never had a chance to see Callas in performance. It's one of the experiences I'm most looking forward to this season because it will be so unique."

Familiar names and a few surprises dot the schedule, which spans 52 productions and 74 performances.

Folk legend Baez squeezed the Mondavi into the final week of her Fare Thee Well final tour. On Nov. 14, Baez will perform selections from "Whistle Down the Wind," her first new album in a decade, as well as old favorites in her Mondavi debut.

"Obviously, Joan Baez is iconic," Roth said, "and we're very fortunate to be able to get her before she quits touring."

Galway, the world's most famous flute player, will present a genre-crossing recital of his work Oct. 14. A master of classical repertoire, Galway also has performed with Elton John and Stevie Wonder and collaborated on the film soundtracks for "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Also on tap for classical fans are violinist Pinchas Zukerman (in recital on Nov. 10), tenor Lawrence Brownlee and bass-baritone Eric Owens (March 11, 2019) and four major orchestras: The Czech Philharmonic (Nov. 12) in an all-Tchaikovsky program featuring the Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Kirill Gerstein; the Russian National Orchestra (March 2, 2019), playing all Rachmaninoff, featuring pianist George Li and Piano Concerto No. 2; Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (March 8, 2019), celebrating its 60th anniversary; and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (April 6) with pianist Olga Kern.

Opening the center's 17th season on Sept. 22, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis performs his suite, "Spaces," with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. San Francisco's Alexander String Quartet, the only artists to be part of every Mondavi season, continue their streak Sept. 30 with a performance of Shostakovich's String Quartets No. 1 and 2.

Among the eclectic artists making their Mondavi debuts: folk super-group I'm With Her (Oct. 7), featuring Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan; Nobuntu (Nov. 1 and 2), a female a cappella quintet from Zimbabwe; and song stylist Veronica Swift (Feb. 27-March 2, 2019).

Another newcomer will be Abbey Theatre's "Two Pints" (May 6-11, 2019), an immersive play by Roddy Doyle. The Mondavi's Vanderhoef Studio Theatre will be transformed into a Dublin pub complete with real beer and lots of banter.

Renewing subscribers are invited to an open house from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, April 13, to be held in the Mondavi Center's Grand Lobby. Staff will be available to answer questions about more than a dozen season series. Deadline for renewals is May 4.

New subscriptions go on sale June 1. Details are available at