I, Norton Happening July 5

Gino Robair’s improvisatory opera, I, Norton, will get a rare performance on July 5 in San Francisco. Performers will include Robair and, on the church organ, David Hatt, whose specialty is the organ music of Max Reger.

It’s an early show, 4:00 p.m., at St. John’s: 1661 15th St. at Julian.

The show is tied to, of all things, an American Guild of Organists convention happening July 3 through 7, which includes 16 free concerts at Bay Area churches and other organ-having sites. I, Norton is not one of them; they’re asking for $5 at the door.

As I’ve noted before, I, Norton — about the life of San Francisco’s Emporer Norton I — is not your typical opera. It’s built in fragments, any number of which can be performed by any number of performers. (Hopefully, they’ll have Tom Duff on hand to play Norton; he’s very good in the role, pacing the stage, reciting Norton’s proclamations.)¬† A CD version, on Rastascan Records, includes performances full of acoustic instruments and others packed with electronics. An organ in a resonant church hall could be a very powerful rendering. (I wrote about the CD in May 2010.)

Operatic side note: I, Norton will play out with the backdrop of Wagner’s Ring Cycle going on at the SF Opera. I don’t think there’s a Ring performance on this exact night, but the fact that the Ring is happening has overshadowed the Bay Area arts scene for the past few weeks, almost like the piece is technically happening even between performances. At least, that’s how I’ve thought of it — even though I’m not going to go, there’s a tingling excitement in knowing it’s happening.

Hat tip: San Francisco Classical Voice (sfcv.org)