Overtures: Notes on the classical scene

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Scipione Sangiovanni is competing at the Cliburn competition later this month

Our classical music contributor Gregory Sullivan Isaacs updates us on what’s coming this month in choral and orchestral music:

We will also get treated to (or inflicted with, depending on your view) Carl Orff’s blockbuster oratorio Carmina Burana by both the Dallas and Fort Worth symphonies. (You would think that they would talk to each other so such an unfortunate colliding wouldn’t happen.) The Fort Worth Opera continues its well-received season, while four other groups all wind up their seasons with major concerts. Here are the details.

• May 5 at 7:30 p.m. at SMU’s Caruth Auditorium is the Voices of Change concert. They will welcome composer Derek Bermel and play some of his music. Arrive at 6:30 to hear the informative Laurie Shulman give a preview. On the same day at 7, Orpheus Chamber Singers presents a concert at Preston Hollow Presbyterian.

• The Fort Worth Opera’s summer festival includes Puccini’s three-hanky favorite, La Boheme, Donizetti’s comedy (one is really funny — many aren’t) Daughter of the Regiment, Richard Strauss’ comedy (that is more amusing than a knee-slapper like Daughter), Ariadne auf Naxos and the super-intense, disturbing, marvelous refill-your-valium-first, Glory Denied. All four are excellent. The innovative Frontiers! program will showcase scenes from new operas by living composers on May 9 at 6 p.m. and May 10 at 4 p.m.

• May 10 also brings some great string quartet playing to the new City Performance Hall as Chamber Music International presents a concert that contains two masterpieces: Beethoven’s Razumowsky quartet and Bartok’s fourth string quartet. There is other music on the program, but these two are must hears.

• The Carmina Burana overload starts with the FWO May 17–19 at Bass Hall. The DSO plays this same work, with its lewd sexual lyrics, May 23–25. Both symphonies have fine soloists and it will be, if nothing else, an opportunity to contrast the area’s two major conductors: Jaap van Zweden and Miguel Harth-Bedoya.

• May 17–19, the DSO takes a big risk by presenting the first act of Wagner’s opera, Die Walküre. The main interest here is tenor Clifton Forbis, who is also on the faculty of SMU. This is one act of a four opera cycle so it is a part of a part of a whole. Tickets are hard to come by, but it should be worth it if you are a Wagner fan.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Overtures: Notes on the classical scene

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April is crowed with classical music performances, with some terrific performances coming up. Of course, it kicks off Friday as Dallas Opera opens the first of two not-to-be missed productions at the Winspear: Turandot, Puccini’s final masterpiece (and the resting place of the most popular tenor aria ever, “Nessun Dorma”), which runs April 5, 10, 13 and 19 with matinees April 7 and 21. Running concurrently, Dominick Argento’s atmospheric mystery opera, The Aspern Papers — which the Dallas Opera premiered several decades ago — will feature superstar mezzo soprano Susan Graham. It plays evening performances April 12, 17 and 20, with matinees April 14 and 28.

Can’t make it to the Winspear for Turandot? The April 13 performance will be broadcast live at Cowboys Stadium … and tickets (and parking!) are free. Visit here to avoid the rush. You won’t wanna miss the warm-up act: The classic Bugs Bunny cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” will screen at 6:45 followed by the video of the opera’s boffo buffa about Julia Child, Bon Appétit!

Opera season continues with the Fort Worth Opera opening its summer festival at Bass Hall with four operas in repertory. Three are warhorses, with one (Glory Denied, about a Vietnam-era war hero) a regional premiere. The revivals include Puccini’s three-hanky, tuneful La Boheme opening April 20 with the brilliant Joe Illick in the pit, and Donizetti’s knee-slapper, The Daughter of the Regiment, with local favorite Ave Pine and superstar Joyce Castle in the cast opening April 27. Illick returns to conduct Richard Strauss’ sort-of comic opera Ariadne auf Naxos, starting May 4.

The Fort Worth Symphony under Miguel Harth-Bedoya continues its centennial season with a monster concert this weekend, starting with former composer-in-residence Kevin Puts’s Network, then launching into two Russian masterpieces: Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto.

Chamber music fans get three pioneering concerts this month: The innovative Ahn Trio, which is made up of three sisters (Lucia on the piano, Angella on the violin, and Maria on the cello, pictured), brings their cutting edge music to the Winspear April 16; the equally intriguing Lawrence String Quartet plays at SMU’s Caruth Auditorium on April 26; and the same day, the outstanding Soundings series at the Nasher presents pianist Gilbert Kalish playing Ives’ monumental Concord Sonata.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

Fort Worth’s Q Cinema got underway last night with the screening of the period drama Funkytown, but there’s plenty of good programming all weekend long. And while you’re in Cowtown, check out some of the performances at the Fort Worth Opera (if you haven’t already, send in your email to win tickets to some performances this weekend.)

If you prefer to stick closer to Dallas, Paula Poundstone is performing Saturday night at the Lakewood Theater. And if you haven’t seen it already — seriously!?!? — Mamma Mia is playing at Fair Park Music Hall, courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals. Tonight at Revive is the latest Gay Dallas Happy Hour, starting at 5 p.m., with DJ Paul Kraft spinning (the food is worth a bite, too).

There’re some leather events this weekend as well, from the spank-happy Butt Busters leather event on Saturday to the Women’s International Leatherfest, going on all weekend. And Snow White and the Huntsman is the summer movie you wanna catch (complete with a Hemsworth, pictured) before Prometheus comes out next week.

Stealing a little god-of-thunder from Marvel’s announcement that its gay Northstar superhero would get hitched later this month, DC Comics has outed the Green Lantern as gay. He certainly has always had fashion sense. And it may erase some memories of the Ryan Reynolds movie from last year.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

GIVEAWAY: Tickets to tonight’s “Three Decembers” at the Fort Worth Opera Festival

The Fort Worth Opera has been very generous to offer Dallas Voice readers a chance to partake in their current FW Opera Festival.  The impressive lineup this year includes Tosca, The Marriage of Figaro, Lysistrata and Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers.

You might remember that name when he premiered the opera Moby Dick at the Winspear in 2010. The out composer makes his splash again with his newest chamber opera about an aging Broadway star and the ramifications of choosing career over children. Mixing Broadway and opera is quite a feat, but knowing Heggie, he no doubt pulls it off with finesse.

We have three pairs of tickets for tonight’s show. Just email me here by 2 p.m. with “A Night at the Opera” in your subject line along with contact info in the email and I’ll select three random winners for tonight’s performance.

Note that while the majority of the festival is at Bass Music Hall, this show will be performed at the Scott Theatre. For more information about the festival, click here. And stay tuned for more ticket giveaways to the final weekend of the Fort Worth Opera Festival.

—  Rich Lopez

What’s gay at the Fort Worth Opera Festival

It’s not just Michael Chioldi, whom we profiled this week playing Scarpia in Tosca, who brings queer sensibilities to the Fort Worth Opera Festival (which started last weekend). There are some other gay connections you might wanna know about:

• The only two living composers to have their work performed this season — Jake Heggie (Three Decembers) and Mark Adamo (Lysistrata) — are gay. Three Decembers runs tonight.

• The director of Lysistrata, FWO regular David Gately, is also gay.

• Charles Allen Klein, who designed the costumes for The Marriage of Figaro, is the partner of opera director Bliss Hebert. We profiled the two of them earlier this year for their Traviata production at the Dallas Opera.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Sneak preview of FWO's 'Before Night Falls,' the story of a gay man in Fidel Castro's Cuba

DVtv’s Cindy Chaffin reports:

Last night I attended the KERA/Art&Seek panel discussion, “Before Night Falls: Relationships, Politics and Opera,” at the Robert J. O’Donnell Lecture-Recital Hall at SMU. KERA’s Jerome Weeks led the panel discussion which featured composer and librettist Jorge Martín, costume designer Claudia Stephens and the oh-so-yummy star of the opera, Wes Mason.

Here’s what the Fort Worth Opera tells us about the upcoming production:

“As Reinaldo Arenas lies dying of AIDS in New York City, he remembers his beloved homeland before and after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba. Born in extreme poverty, Arenas joins Castro’s rebellion as a teen. As he matures, he realizes that Castro is not interested in a free Cuba after all. A rising poet and writer, he defies Castro when a manuscript is smuggled out of the country and published in France. Embarrassed by the bad publicity, the regime imprisons Arenas for being a homosexual. After imprisonment and torture, he agrees to stop writing as a condition of his release, but can not handle his ‘silence’ for long. He escapes to the U.S. in the Mariel exodus, but during his new found freedom outside of Cuba he contracts HIV/AIDS. He rushes to complete his memoir before he commits suicide to end his suffering.”

This short video is a taste of what to expect. Just imagine fabulous costumes, an impressive set design and a backing symphony. Personally, I’m going to imagine Wes Mason shirtless. “Before Night Falls” runs May 29 through June 6.

—  John Wright

KERA, FWO host forum for 'Before Night Falls'

Major props to the Fort Worth Opera. Their gay general director, Darren Woods, has routinely included very gay-friendly pieces — such as the Jake Heggie-Terrence McNally opera Dead Man Walking and the adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America — as part of the programming. This year’s festival, which begins late next month, includes the world premiere of Before Night Falls, about the life and death from AIDS of gay Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas.

Before you see the opera — or revisit Julian Schnabel’s Oscar-nominated film of the same name with Javier Bardem — you might want to calendar a panel discussion, hosted by the FWO and KERA’s Art & Seek blog. Composer Jorge Martin, actors Wes Mason and Janice Hall, and costumer Claudia Stephens will discuss their approaches to the material at a free event at the Owen Arts Center on the SMU campus on May 12, starting at 7 p.m. and moderated by my nemesis Jerome Weeks. (Kidding.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Fort Worth Opera gets real(ity)

The Fort Worth Opera may be coming to a cable channel near you.

The company — the oldest continually operating opera troupe in Texas — recently won a competition to have a behind-the-scenes reality series made of their upcoming festival. Filming is beginning now with certain activities, many centered around the company’s gay general director, Darren Woods, who instituted the festival format a few years back.

Filming will ramp up in May, once the artists begin to arrive and the FWO has to put on three rotating shows — including the premiere of Before Night Falls about the gay poet Reinaldo Arenas — in less than a month.

No word yet on when — of even if — the series will eventually air.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones