Tag Archives: Metropolitan Opera

Romeo, Romeo…

A scene from "Romeo and Juliet" performed in 2011 at the Utah Shakespeare Festival (Photo: Karl Hugh). View their current season at http://www.bard.org.

A pair of “Romeo and Juliet” productions come to Valley stages during the 2012/13 season, so those of you who’ve enjoyed one or more of this season’s theater productions featuring star-crossed lovers ala Shakespeare can now experience its grandeur as a work of opera or ballet.

Ballet Arizona presents “Romeo and Juliet” featuring music by Sergei Prokofiev and choreography by artistic director Ib Andersen Feb. 14-17, 2013. Those of you who insist it’s far too early to think of such things should recall just how recently we seemed to be celebrating New Year’s Eve. Time moves quickly, especially in matters of the heart.

Arizona Opera presents “Roméo et Juliette,” written by Charles Gounod, Nov. 16-18. The Arizona Opera production, sung in French with English subtitles, features lyric soprano Jennifer Black of the Metropolitan Opera performing the aria “Je veux vivre.” Talk about a moment.

Love fares no better in most works of opera, which is part of their appeal for those dashed in everyday life by similar dreams and disappointments. Arizona Opera opens its 2012/13 season with another tale of tragic romance set against feuding family — performing Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” Oct. 12-14. Think Scottish moor instead of Italian piazza.

Ballet Arizona opens its 2012/13 season with “Giselle,” composed by Adolphe Adam and choreographed by Ib Andersen, Nov. 1-4. It’s one of four works being performed with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall. Others include “The Nutcracker” (music by Prokofiev, choreography by Andersen) Dec. 7-24 and “All Balanchine” May 2-5, 2013 (featuring “Serenade,” “Monumentum pro Gesualdo”/”Movements for Piano and Orchestra” and “Western Symphony”).

Ballet Arizona’s 2012/13 season also includes “Director’s Choice” — being performed March 28-31, 2013 at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix — which features “Le Carnival des Animaux” by Alexai Ratmansky (an Arizona premiere), “Diversions” by Ib Andersen and “Untitled” by Alejandro Cerrudo (a world premiere).

Arizona Opera’s 2012/13 season features Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca,” in which passionate diva meets political dissident, being performed in Italian with English subtitles Jan. 25-27. Also Giuseppe Verdi’s “Il Tavatore” (Italian with English subtitles) March 1-3. And Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figero” (Italian with English subtitles) April 5-7.

No worries, by the way, if your Italian feels a bit rusty. If the rest of America can keep up with the Kardashians, you can keep up with a romance language or two. A quick click here will direct you to Arizona Opera offerings from composer bios and opera synopses to tips for first-time opera-goers — plus special programs for youth and adults.

Click here and you can explore education and outreach offerings from Ballet Arizona. Both companies, by the way, are readying for moves to new homes that’ll give them more space for both the artistic and administration elements of their work.

They’re also performing pieces to round out the 2011/12 season — including “Director’s Choice” (March 29-April 1) at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix plus “Topia” (May 2-26) at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix for Ballet Arizona — and “Aida” (March 9-11) and “Orfeo ed Euridice” (April 13-15) for Arizona Opera.

– Lynn

Note: Additional information about performance locations (including Tucson venues/dates) are available at each company’s website. Click here to learn about tonight’s special “season reveal” event at Theater Works in Peoria, and here to explore 12 works featured in the 2012/13 “Live in HD” season from the Metropolitan Opera.

Coming up: Doing time

Opera alert!

Opera is best viewed from furniture like this offering from the Diary of a Smart Chick website

I had a lovely time watching an opera one Sunday morning from the comfort of my couch. Looks like I’ll have another opportunity this weekend as Eight, Arizona PBS airs a Metropolitan Opera performance of “Il Trovatore,” Verdi’s tale of two brothers wooing the same woman.

When I’m ready to make the move from couch to cinema, I can head to the UltraLuxe Scottsdale Cinemas (located at The Pavilions at Talking Stick) for Opera Australia performances of works that include “Rigoletto” (your last chance is Thurs, Aug 25 at 7pm), “Mikado” (Sept), “”Der Rosenkavalier” (Oct) and “La Boheme” (Nov).

The Elixer of Love performed by San Francisco Opera

Or I can drive up the road to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts to enjoy a bit of their “Grand Opera Cinema Series,” featuring works performed by the San Francisco Opera. First up is “The Elixer of Love” on Oct 26 — then “Tosca” (Jan), “Lucia di Lammermoor” (March) and “La boheme” (June).

Broadway aficianados know that the musical “Rent” is based on the “La Boheme” story, making this a “must see” opera for musical theater fans. The “Opera in Cinema” series at select Harkins Theatres includes a live simulcast production of “La Boheme” in March.

Other “Opera in Cinema” offerings this season include “Faust” (Sept), “Don Giovanni” (Dec) and “Rigoletto” (April). There’s also a “Ballet in Cinema” series — with titles that include “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Coppelia,” “Swan Lake” and more.

Madama Butterfly is one of five offerings in the Arizona Opera 2011-12 season

There’s no substitute for the experience of live opera and Valley families have several options, including performances by Arizona Opera and Phoenix Opera – as well as university opera programs like Lyric Opera Theatre at ASU in Tempe.

Arizona Opera, which performs in both Phoenix and Tucson, opens its 2011-12 season in October with two offerings — “Cavalleria Rustica” and “Pagliacci.” Other season selections include “Faust” (Nov), “Madama Butterfly” (Jan/Feb), “Aida” (March) and “Orfeo ed Euridice” (April). (The tale of Aida is also told in a Broadway musical.)

This season’s calendar for Phoenix Opera includes several themed performances, including holiday offerings celebrating Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

Love/s Labour/s Lost is part of the Opera in Cinema series

If you’re new to opera or eager to up your opera game, spend a little quality time with the multimedia guide “How to Enjoy Opera” recently published by “The Guardian.” Or watch a performance of Benjamin Britten’s “The Turn of the Screw” online (for free) through Sept 12.

“The Guardian” offers additional primers, including a list of The Top 50 Operas from 1607 to 1978, a tutorial on how to survive your first opera and a look at opera in the modern age. Plus Simon Callow’s take on why “opera has never been more alive.”

Online opera guides from Arizona Opera and other opera companies are also fun to explore. Never say you don’t like opera if you’ve never tried it.

– Lynn

Coming up: ASU’s Lyric Opera Theatre

“Memphis” meets movie theater

Alert: Click here to learn how you can help victims of flooding in the Memphis area.

Lizabeth and I are heading to a Broadway musical Thursday night — not in the theater district in NYC, but right here in the Valley — as Fathom Events presents a filmed performance of “Memphis” at several AMC movie theaters.

Memphis” was nominated for eight 2010 Tony Awards, and won four of them. It beat out “American Idiot,” “Fela!” and “Million Dollar Quartet” for the 2010 Tony Award for “Best Musical.”

You wouldn’t have expected as much had you read an early review of “Memphis” by theater critic Charles Isherwood of The New York Times – who described it in an Oct 20, 2009 review as “the Michael Bolton of Broadway musicals.”

Isherwood decribes the musical as “slick but formulaic entertainment,” but that hardly dampens my interest. If anything, it ups the intrigue factor — already quite high because the music for “Memphis” comes from Bon Jovi pianist David Bryan.

“Memphis” explores issues of sex, race and rock & roll in 1950s America. Seems a white high school dropout stumbles into a black nightclub and wows the crowds with his powerful piano licks — then hits plenty of highs and lows before landing a DJ gig that appears his true calling. Falling for a black singer doesn’t make his life any easier.

The club where character Huey Calhoun first finds his bliss is located on Beale Street, an actual music row located in Memphis, Tennessee — where something called the “Beale Street Music Festival” takes April 29-May 1 this year.

I suppose those who get really inspired when “Memphis” meets the movies on Thursday night can hop a plane and live a bit of Memphis in real life this weekend. Other fab events on the Memphis horizon include a May 2-8 “International Salute to Belgium” and a May 12-14 “World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest.”

Memphis has influenced or been home to plenty of famous actors — from Dixie Carter and Justin Timberlake to Kathy Bates and Morgan Freeman. Also musicians Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, B.B. King and Jerry Lee Lewis (depicted in the musical “Million Dollar Quartet“).

As every loyal Elvis fan knows, Memphis is home to Presley’s “Graceland.” Tennessee museums include the National Civil Rights Museum, the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum, the Memphis Zoo and the Children’s Museum of Memphis.

I have a feeling I’ll want to jump on a plane bound for Tennessee come Friday morning. Thankfully, I’ve got lots of reasons to stick around — including tickets to see the Arizona School for the Arts performance of “Triangle” and the Actors Theatre performance of “Circle Mirror Transformation.”

Come to think of it, perhaps the good folks of Memphis ought to think about coming here to enjoy a bit of Arizona arts and culture…

– Lynn

Note: “Memphis” is also being shown at Cinemark Mesa 16 (home to performances from the Metropolitan Opera in NYC and other special events).

Coming up: Like everyone else…

Update: We had a great time attending “Memphis” at a Mesa movie theater Thursday night. The movie theater venue lets viewers see actors up close, enjoy behind the scenes happenings and watch interviews with cast/creative team members that they can’t experience during live theater performance. I liked the musical as a story of the difference one person, or a small group of people, can make — but Lizabeth and I agree we’d enjoy it more as a concert or play rather than a piece of musical theater. You still have the weekend to see “Memphis” in select movie theaters. It’s perfect for those who enjoy rock and soul, those interested in the history of the civil rights movement, those who appreciate the marriage of history and music, those who like a lot of dance with their Broadway, and those who want to see what happened when Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan got inspired to write music that might help us all like each other more than we hate each other.

Much ado about movie theaters

Never cry over spilled milk, but spilled popcorn is an entirely different matter

There’s much ado about this week’s opening of the movie “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

An exclusive sneak preview takes place at Harkins Theatres - Fashion Square in Scottsdale at 7pm on Thurs, Nov 18.

Tickets are $20 apiece, and benefit Arcadia High School STUGO Prom and Project Graduation. They’re available only at the Arcadia front office and bookstore — and only while supplies last.

Maybe “Harry Potter” isn’t your vibe. If you’re more of a Metropolitan Opera buff, check out today’s movie theater showings of “The Met: Live in HD.”

Donizetti’s Don Pasquale” can be seen at several Valley movie theaters Sat, Nov 13 (mostly AMC, but also Cinemark) — and more live MET performances come our way during the 2010-2011 season.

We’ve already got our tickets to see a live broadcast of the 25th anniversary performance of “Les Miserables In Concert.” It’s playing in select movie theaters nationwide on Wed, Nov 17. (Take note if your child is a Jonas Brothers fan.)

Harkins Theatres and Emerging Pictures present “Das Rheingold” this week as part of the “The Opera and Ballet in Cinema Series.”

It’ll show at 11am on Thurs, Nov 11 at Arrowhead Fountain 18, Chandler Fashion 20 and Scottsdale 101 14 theaters.

Other big news in movie theater world this week includes the Fri, Nov 19 opening of a new theater at the Scottsdale Pavilions (just off the 101 at Indian Bend).

Those of us who’ve driven for months through and around Pavilion-related construction zones are especially pleased that we’ll soon be able to reap some of the rewards.

UltraStar Cinemas’ UltraLuxe Theater in Scottsdale plans to add two family-friendly features come December. 

Their “Parenting Movie Morning” program will show a new film each week in a baby-friendly environment (think low light rather than total darkness, lower volume that’s easier on babies’ ears, accessible changing tables and such).

The “Kidtoons” program will feature a different G-rated film each month, to be  shown Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30am.

I like the timing on this baby. Get your exercise in the morning, then hit the movie theater. Take kids home for a healthy lunch and watch them nod off during naptime.

Movies are selected to appeal to preschool through school age children, and tickets for those who’ve passed big birthday number two are just $2.50 (littler one are free). And kids who attend get free giveaways like stickers or temporary tattoos.

The first “Kidtoons” movie shows at 10:30am on Sat, Dec 4. It’s “Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas.” Sounds like the perfect warm-up for an afternoon trip to see the many monkeys living at the Phoenix Zoo. (You can now enjoy “Curious George” on PBS television too.)

Technically, much ado about movies should involve Shakespeare in some way. So naturally I found that too. Turns out the fine folks at Emerging Cinemas now present “Ballet in Cinema,” “Opera in Cinema,” and “Shakespeare in Cinema” (complete with performances from the Globe Theatre in London).

But more about that in a future post. For now, we have “Harry Potter,” “The Chronicles of Narnia” and other holiday blockbusters to attend to.  

– Lynn

Coming up: Movies and mental illness, Finding art at the Phoenix Zoo

Shakespeare a la symphony, opera & ballet

Once you come to appreciate the works of William Shakespeare, it’s hard to really get your fill. There’s so much material to choose from — interpreted and presented in a myriad of ways.

Here’s a sampling of Shakespeare-related offerings by Arizona arts organizations…

Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet” presented by the Phoenix Symphony. At Phoenix Symphony Hall on Oct 7-9 (times vary). Concert features both a romantic suite from Prokofiev’s ballet “Romeo and Juliet” as well as Hans Krasa’s “Brundibar,” a children’s opera composed in 1938 and frequently performed at a concentration camp in the former Czechoslovakia.

Performers include Phoenix Symphony Chorus and Phoenix Boys Choir. “Brundibar” performance will also include images from a recently published book titled “Brundibar” by author Tony Kushner and famed children’s book illustrator Maurice Sendak (“Where the Wild Things Are”).

A Midsummer Night’s Dream” presented by Ballet Arizona. At Phoenix Symphony Hall on Nov 5-7 (times vary). Ballet choreographed by Ballet Arizona artistic director Ib Andersen features “lavish sets, amazing costumes, and fun loving characters.”

It’s “a comedic love story of quarreling fairies, human lovers, and mistaken identity” that’s suitable for the entire family — featuring music by Felix Mendelssohn

Romeo and Juliet” presented by The Acting Company and Guthrie Theater production (special engagement for 2010-2011 Arizona Theatre Company season). At Herberger Theater Center on Nov 4-7 (times vary). This performance by “two of America’s premier classical theatre companies” features Alejandro Rodriguez as Romeo and Kaliswa Brewster as Juliet.

“As You Like It” presented by the University of Arizona School of Theatre, Film & Television. At the U of A’s Tornabene Theatre on March 2-27.  It’s the tale of a young heroine, Rosalind, and her journey (disguised as a boy) from her uncle’s repressive court to a complicated relationship with her true love Orlando.

Otello” presented by Arizona Opera. At Tucson Music Hall on March 5 & 6 and Phoenix Symphony Hall on March 11-13. Verdi’s famous opera is “faithful to the text of Shakespeare’s play” about treachery fueled by jealousy and rumor.

Work will be sung in Italian with English subtitles, and feature the towering tenor Allan Glassman (“a gifted mainstay at the Metropolitan Opera”) as Otello.

Opera and Ballet Cinema Series” presented by Harkins Theatres and Emerging Pictures. Showing exclusively at Arrowhead 18, Chandler Fashion 20 and Scottsdale 101 14 (dates/times vary). Series features “the best in European opera and ballet” — including several live performances.

A ballet production of “Romeo and Juliet” will be shown at participating Harkins Theatres March 10, 2011 at 6:30pm. A live opera production of “Macbeth” will be shown June 13, 2011 (time TBA). Series tickets often sell out quickly — so consider yourself warned.

My youngest daughter Lizabeth, now a 17-year-old theater arts student, loved going to opera, ballet and symphony performances as a child — starting in elementary school. It didn’t hurt, I suppose, that she studied ballet and violin starting in kindergarten.

Today she’s a Shakespeare aficionado who has studied Shakespeare with Childsplay, Arizona School for the Arts , Scottsdale Community College and the Utah Shakespearean Festival — and enjoys attending Southwest Shakespeare Company productions in Mesa.

To learn more about Southwest Shakespeare Company offerings — including their 2010/2011 season and education programs (including a touring production of “Romeo & Juliet” featuring 2010/2011 Company Interns), visit them online.

While you’re there, check out a cool photo contest of sorts that’ll be held in conjunction with the season’s red carpet opening of “Blood Royal” on Sept 10.

If your child is too young to enjoy these live performances, never fear. You can still enjoy the works of Shakespeare together thanks to the “Shakespeare Can Be Fun!” series, including various titles by Lois Burdett which feature charming drawings, anecdotes and more. 

–Lynn

Note: Featured children’s books are pubished by Firefly Books. I had a great time exploring their diverse offerings online at www.fireflybooks.com.

Coming up: Reviews of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” by Mesa Encore Theatre and “Noises Off” by Phoenix Theatre; Arts management musings from Michael Kaiser (President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts)

Balanchine to butterflies

Normally I’m not much of a name-dropper, but today I can’t resist… 

George Balanchine. Sergei Prokofiev. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Ib Andersen. Never mind that three of the four are dead, because their artistry lives on in performances like “Balanchine Classics,” being presented this weekend by Ballet Arizona

Happily, Andersen is very much alive and celebrating the 10th anniversary of doing his thing with Ballet Arizona. His official title, of course, is artistic director. But that’s only because “visionary” might look silly on a business card. I’ve enjoyed Ballet Arizona performing Balanchine for years and it never disappoints. 

You’ll have four opportunities to see it performed this weekend with the Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall—including two matinees and two evening performances. Ballet Arizona describes various elements of the program as”exotic,” “powerful,” “riveting,” “elegant” and “intriguing.” I doubt it’s an oversell. 

The stage at the Virginia G. Piper Theater at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts will also be very much alive this weekend as one of Italy’s most innovative theater companies, Compagnia TPO (Teatro di Piazza d’Occasione), presents an interactive theater experience called “Farfelle” (Butterflies).

Audience members are seated on the stage surrounding TPO’s touch-sensitive “magic carpet” and “wing-like, sculptural set” as two dancers move through a “virtual landscape of sight and sound” to recreate a butterfly’s journey from wiggling caterpillar to flying adult. It sounds like a lot more fun than my usual encounters with farfalle, which involve eating pasta also known for its bow-tie shape. 

I suppose some of you might get butterflies attending a different performance this weekend, as Theater Works in Peoria presents Franc D’Ambrosio at the Peoria Center for the Arts. The Justin Bieber crowd may be unimpressed but the more mature among you may find yourselves swooning as “the world’s longes-running Phantom” performs in concert. 

This is a one-night-only deal, so set aside Saturday night, June 12, if you’re a fan of all things masked and melodic. The evening begins with a cocktail reception and silent auction, and features an artist reception/meet and greet following the concert. Proceeds benefit youth scholarships supported by the Scottsdale Foothills Rotary.

As always, your best resource for comprehensive information on family-friendly events in the Valley is the daily calendar available both online and in print from Raising Arizona Kids magazine—which regularly features everything from art exhibits and puppet shows to youth theater and storytimes. 

And so I leave you with just a few more options for weekend playtime… 

Arizona Designer Craftsmen presents the “50th Annual Juried Exhibition” (featuring the work of more than 50 artists) opening reception at the Mesa Arts Center June 11.

The Academy of the Performing Arts presents “Center Stage” featuring unique dance and music productions by a complete cast of 150 young performers and Academy staff at the Tempe Center for the Arts June 11-12. 

Dance Republic presents “Kings and Queens” June 12 at the Mesa Arts Center Piper Repertory Theater. 

Valley Youth Theatre presents your last opportunity to see their production of “Willy Wonka” through June 12 at VYT in Phoenix. 

And there you have it. Candy-themed theater. Masked men. Pairings of geniuses dead and alive. Butterflies that don’t startle. And more.

Don’t even think about staying home all weekend… 

–Lynn

Correction: Thanks to the keen-eyed reader who noted the incorrect day originally listed for the Theater Works performance featured above. This post has been updated to indicate that the concert is on Saurday (rather than Sunday). Alas–the “Phantom” has that effect on me…

Note: The week ahead also includes some special performances—including the Broadway hit “In the Heights” at ASU Gammage (June 15-20, with “talk-back” following the Saturday matinee), the “Israeli Scouts-Tzofim Friendship Caravan” in a free performance of song and dance (June 16), the start of The Metropolitan Opera summer “Live in HD” series (June 16 at select AMC and Cinemark Theaters in our area) and the opening of two community college theater productions (see future post for details).

Photos (top to bottom): “The Four Temperaments,” choreography by George Balanchine. Copyright the George Balanchine Trust. Photography by Rosalie O’Connor from balletaz.org; Butterfly Tree from dryicon.com; Frank D’Ambrosio as the Phantom of the Opera from theatre-musical.com; “Willy Wonka” from Valley Youth Theatre at vyt.com; “In the Heights” from asugammage.com.