Tag Archives: Emerging Pictures

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


Art with a cherry on top

Cherry Ice Cream (oil on canvas) by Barry Levitt

I learned a day too late that the third Sunday in July is National Ice Cream Day thanks to a 1984 proclamation by President Ronald Reagan, though I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to celebrate after the fact with a small scoop or two. 

If live performance art was ice cream, live simulcasts would be the cherry on top. They allow folks to enjoy works of dance, music and theater that they wouldn’t otherwise experience.

National Theatre Live presents “the best of British theatre broadcast live to cinemas around the world” — and you can see their latest offering at the Phoenix Art Museum Sun, July 24 from 2-5pm.

It’s a new version of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” by Andrew Upton, starring Zoe Wanamaker — known to “Harry Potter” fans as Madame Hooch from the movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” It’s being performed at London’s Olivier Theatre.

This production of “The Cherry Orchard,” directed by Howard Davies, is being presented at the Phoenix Art Museum by Arizona Theatre Company. The Phoenix Art Museum is the only Phoenix-area venue to offer this presentation of “The Cherry Orchard.” Here’s their description of the work…

You can see a new production of The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov July 24 at the Phoenix Art Museum

Set at the very start of the twentieth century, Anton Checkhov’s The Cherry Orchard captures a poignant moment in Russian history as the country rolls inexorably towards the October Revolution of 1917. Madame Ranyevskaya returns home, more or less bankrupt after ten years abroad. Luxuriating in her fading moneyed world and blissfully unaware of the growing hostile forces outside, she and her brother snub the lucrative scheme of Lopakhin, a peasant turned entrepreneur, to save the family estate. In so doing, they put up their lives to auction and seal the fate of the beloved orchard.

“The Cherry Orchard,” which was Chekhov’s last play, is being presented in high definition and Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. Tickets are just $15 for Phoenix Art Museum members, ATC subscribers and students with I.D. — and $18 for others. Space is limited and tickets can be purchased online.

Other providers of live simulcast and taped performances include Emerging Pictures, which offers Ballet in Cinema, Opera in Cinema and Shakespeare in Cinema series. Also Fathom Events — which recently presented a revival of the musical “Company” at several Valley movie theaters.

It’s all art with a cherry on top. Yum.

— Lynn

Note: The Phoenix Art Museum also offers films with an arts twist.  And the Film Bar in Phoenix presents two visual arts-related titles this month — “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child” and “!Women Art Revolution.”

Coming up: What would Robin Hood do?

Opera for rent?

My 19-year-old daughter Jennifer seems to have found a way to get “videos” via just about everything but a toaster. (Thankfully, all by legal means.)

I’ve no doubt she could “rent” videos of some of my favorite operas without leaving the comfort of the couch.

Enjoy a filmed performance of Puccini's LA BOHEME outdoors this month (Photo: Arizona Opera)

Still, big productions lose their appeal on the small screen — which is why I’m so delighted to have several opera venues in the Valley.

Until my youngest daughter Lizabeth (now 17) became too busy with her own theater auditions, rehearsals and performances, we enjoyed Arizona Opera productions fairly regularly at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix.

But options for opera-goers have expanded since then. If you’ve never given opera a try, fearing it might be too boring or stuffy, consider giving it a whirl with one the following:

“The Magic Flute,” composed by Mozart, will be performed at Teatro alla Scala in Milan this week. It’s a tad late to snag airline and opera tickets — but you can watch the live performance at one of three Harkins Theatres in the Valley on March 24 (assuming you can get tickets before they sell out).

“La boheme,” composed by Puccini, was filmed during an Arizona Opera production at Symphony Hall in Phoenix. As many of you know, “La boheme” inspired the Broadway musical titled “Rent.”

It’s being screened during an evening dubbed “Opera in the Park” — taking place March 26 thanks to Arizona Opera and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

MUSIC IN THE GROVE features Phoenix Opera Singers performing in Queen Creek (Photo: Howard Paley)

The free outdoor screening at the Scottsdale Civic Center Amphiteater is a lovely way to introduce the very young to opera in a casual environment.

Food and beverages are available for purchase on sight (you can bring your own water), and seating is whatever you bring to spread on the lawn. Think low lawn chairs, blankets and such.

Some of Lizabeth’s earliest experiences with live classical music performance took place at this amphitheatre — where we loved spending time together under the stars.

Music in the Grove,” an event featuring the Phoenix Opera Singers performing “popular and operatic masterpieces,” takes place April 17 at the Queen Creek Olive Mill.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase, and the event also includes a marketplace. Opera doesn’t get much more user-friendly than that.

Harkins Theatres present both OPERA IN CINEMA and BALLET IN CINEMA (Photo: Emerging Pictures)

Those of you who prefer your opera in more traditional venues can visit the websites for Arizona Opera and Phoenix Opera to learn more about their offerings.

I’ll pretty much take my opera any way I can get it. It’s a grand enterprise full of magical sets, lush costumes, soaring musical performance and a taste of some of the world’s great languages.

— Lynn

Note: Watch the Harkins Theatres website for future “Emerging Pictures” presentations of “Opera in Cinema” — including “The Barber of Seville” and Verdi’s “Macbeth.” Also watch the AMC Theatres website for opera offerings (from The Metropolitan Opera in NYC).

Coming up: Finding classical music in unexpected places, Dance detours, Shakespeare for all ages

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

The sparkle in her eyes

Brian Anderson (Frederic) in Arizona Opera's "The Pirates of Penzance" (Photo: Tim Fuller)

I met a delightful girl and her mother recently during intermission at a matinee performance of “The Pirates of Penzence” by Arizona Opera. The young girl’s eyes got wide with excitement when I asked what she thought of the show so far.

It must have been some sparkle, because it distracted me from the delicious brownie she was nibbling on. Though tempted by the cheesecake and such at the nearby coffee stand, I managed to walk away with only an iced espresso.

But back to my friend with the brownie, whose mom shared with me that she’s one of the magazine’s subscribers.

The daughter’s face completely lit up as we talked about the show. “I love it!,” she exclaimed. So I asked whether anything was a particular favorite — the music, the costumes, the humor. “I love it all!,” she beamed.

Korby Myrick (Ruth) in Arizona Opera's "The Pirates of Penzance" (Photo: Tim Fuller)

The last time I saw a young girl that excited about going to the opera, it was my own daughter — a good decade or so ago.

I was thrilled to see several children and teens in the audience for Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” conducted by Joel Revzen and directed for Arizona Opera by David Ira Goldstein of Arizona Theatre Company.

The other parents and youth I spoke with — including a dad named Steve and his daughter, and a dad (also a magazine subscriber) there with his wife and two sons — also seemed to be enjoying the show. Even a group of teens I spoke with gave it high marks, noting they have plans to see more operas together.

I gave several of the folks I talked with my business card and suggested they get in touch to share a bit about what their schools are doing in terms of theater, music and other arts. I’m always on the prowl for school and community art offerings.

Sarah Jane McMahon (Mable) in Arizona Opera's "The Pirates of Penzance" (Photo: Tim Fuller)

It just so happens that Arizona Opera offers several education programs, including a special opera week, teacher workshops, school tours, opera “look ins,” student dress rehearsals, study guides and opera in a box. I’ll share a bit more about those in a future post.

For now, I’m still reliving my swashbuckling good time. 

I was thrilled to see the name of Lizabeth’s longtime violin teacher, Cynthia Baker, in the program — and rushed to the pit (after the lengthy standing ovation) to chat a bit before she headed out with violin case in tow.

Then I stuck around for a talkback session with several cast and creative team members during which audience members asked about how opera singers train, how performers find just the right comedic balance, how opera differs from musical theater and more.

Curt Olds (Pirate King) in Arizona Opera's "The Pirates of Penzance" (Photo: Tim Fuller)

There was plenty to love about the show itself. The endearing word play. The performance of Curt Olds (Pirate King) — part Johnny Depp, part Jon Stewart (and ever so easy on the eyes). Baton-twirling bobbies. Chest-pounding odes to duty. Even the splits and several cartwheels from Sarah Jane McMahon (Mabel).

But the most fulfilling moments by far were the ones I spent talking with the parents, children and teens who were gracious enough to share their time and thoughts with me.

It’s the sparkle in their eyes that we all work and write for each day.

— Lynn

Up next for Arizona Opera is Georges Bizet's "Carmen"

Note: Opera buffs can enjoy the Harkins Theatres and Emerging Pictures “Opera & Ballet in Cinema” series presentation of “Das Rheingold” in three Valley movie theaters on Thurs, Nov 18. ASU Lyric Opera Theatre opens “The Secret Garden” in Tempe on Fri, Nov 19. Arizona Opera presents “Carmen” at Tucson Music Hall on Nov 13 & 14 and at Phoenix Symphony Hall on Nov 19, 20 & 21. And Phoenix Opera presents “The Magic Flute” at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix on Dec 3 & 5.

Coming up: From D.C. to Higley, Thespian tales, Holiday shopping museum-style, Dancing your way through the holidays

Bollywood & beyond

A young dancer enjoys a class with Kriti Dance (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

I was delighted to hear recently from a dance school that specializes in Bollywood dance, which has its origins in India’s film industry. It seems I’ve been invited to participate in a dance class — just to get a feel for this “contemporary and innovative” dance form.

The website for Kriti Dance readily notes that participants have been known to giggle a bit when first experiencing the unique waist and hip movements used in Bollywood dance — but I suspect that hearty laughter might be more likely with me (and my thickening body parts) in the room.

I’m opting instead to share the happy news that Kriti Dance, which recently performed during a Phoenix Mercury halftime, will begin a new session of classes at Dance Connection 2 in Chandler on Sept 11. It’s a tough day in so many ways — so I’m pleased to share a fun and fit way to dance away part of the day.

Classes for adults and teens start at 10:30am, with classes for 9- to 13-year olds starting at 11:30am and classes for 5- to 8-year-olds starting at 12:30pm. You can visit their website to learn more — and drop me a thank you note later for the decision to leave my hips at home (for now).

Kriti Dance offers fun and fitness for all ages (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

My weekend calendar is already plenty full — driving Lizabeth to and from a community service gig, seeing The Phoenix Symphony and Phoenix Theatre present a semi-staged production of “The Music Man,” and joining Lizabeth at the National Youth Theatre awards being held at Valley Youth Theatre.

Tonight we’ll be attending the first production of the 2010-2011 Southwest Shakespeare Company season at Mesa Arts Center — complete with red carpet flair and a fabulously fun photo contest. We’ll have to miss Sunday’s preview of Childsplay’s “A Year With Frog and Toad” so Lizabeth can see an ASA teacher perform in another show, but that just gives us more to look forward to next weekend.

There’s no lack of arts experiences in the Valley this weekend, so here’s a sampling of your many options to help you plan your family together time…

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center in northwest Phoenix offers half-price admisson to grandparents from 8am-2pm on Sun, Sept 12, in honor of Grandparents Day. Who’s to say that grandma won’t want to enjoy both petroglyphs and Bollywood dance in one weekend? Admit it — Bollywood dance is probably on your “bucket list” too.

Why not celebrate Grandparents Day in Bollywood style? (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

If you’re an artist eager to learn more about using technologies in art making and/or arts promotion, check out the Sept 11 STEWshop from Urban Stew. It’s one of a series of arts and technology workshops they’ll hold each second Saturday of the month between Sept 2010 and Feb 2011.

Children and their adults can enjoy making art together at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix Art Studio — which provides materials for making a special Grandparents Day gift in the studio this weekend.

Head to Chandler Center for the Arts if you love all things musical theater and musical standards. Valley favorites Rusty Ferracane and Christine Drathman will join composer/arranger Craig Bohmler and “top Valley musicians” for “That’s Life…from Sinatra to Sondheim.” (Perhaps we could persuade the trio to add a bit of Bollywood dance to the gig.)

Creative Stage Youth Theatre is eager to show off their new performing space at a free open house Sept 11 from 4-7pm at 19209 N. 83rd Ave (Ste 105) in Peoria — which is a great opportunity to learn more about their upcoming season.

When in doubt, just dance! (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village in Sedona presents their 37th annual celebration of Mexican Independence Day with flamenco dance, folk music and children’s activities to include face painting and juggling demonstrations. Remind me to drop them a thank you note for the lovely mental image I just got of attempting to juggle while doing my Bollywood thing.

If you share my love of social justice theater, check out the work of Teatro Bravo at a “pay what you can” performance of “Manzi: The Advenures of Young Cesar Chavez” this evening at the Metropolitan Arts Theatre in Phoenix. It’s “a tale for the entire family” about the legendary advocate of farm workers’ rights — and runs through Sept 19.

So there you have it. Bollywoood and flamenco. Art and technology. Sinatra and Sondheim. If that doesn’t make you want to swivel those hips while gyrating that waist, I don’t know what will.


Note: Today marks the opening of the “Opera & Ballet in Cinema Series” presented by Harkins Theatres and Emerging Pictures. You’re in luck if you’re reading this in time to make it to the 11am live broadcast of “Cosi Fan Tutte” at Arrowhead Fountains 18 or Scottsdale 101 14. Visit www.harkinstheatres.com for ticket availability and pricing, and information on upcoming shows in the series. I can tell you from experience that tickets go quickly so don’t delay in deciding which of European operas and ballets presented in Hi-Definition digital projection you’d like to experience.

Coming up: Art and body image, Coupling fine arts and dual language instruction, The shape of social justice

Audition/Call for artists alert! Auditions will be held this weekend for productions of “The Nutcracker” by both Baller Etudes and Ballet Arizona. CONDER/dance is calling for submissions (from choreographers, dance filmmakers and performance artists) for the 4th annual “Breaking Ground” festival to be held Dec 10 & 11 at Tempe Center for the Arts.

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. 


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)