Curtain Going Up! 2011/2012 Performing Arts Preview
In the immortal words of Emerson, Lake and Palmer: “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends!” The upcoming performing arts season is non-stop carnival of fun, with everything from rising classical stars to world premiere plays to entertainment from show biz legends. Get your tickets early … and often, or you’ll be left out!
BIG STARS/BIG SHOWS
There will be major wattage lighting up the Old Pueblo this season, with stars of stage, screen and concert hall coming to our venues.
A few of the highlights from the UApresents season include hitmaker Patti LaBelle (Sept. 23); violinist extraordinaire Itzhak Perlman (Feb. 12, 2012); cello master Yo-Yo Ma, performing with Kathryn Stott and the Assad Brothers (April 21, 2012); legendary magicians/comedians Penn & Teller (Feb. 24, 2012); Tony winner and TV and movie star Patti LuPone (March 4, 2012); dancer/singer/actress/author Shirley MacLaine (March 18, 2012); humorist Garrison Keillor (Feb. 1, 2012); and talk show icon Larry King (March 27, 2012).
The Invisible Theatre will enthrall audiences with several special events. TV/film/stage star John Amos will perform Halley’s Comet (Jan. 14-15, 2012), taking theater goers through 76 years of a man’s life; Emmy Award-winner Lucie Arnaz in concert (March 2,4, 2012); and Emmy Award-winner Susan Clark starring in A Woman of Independent Means (March 9-11, 2012), based on the bestseller by Elizabeth Forsythe-Hailey.
The Tucson Symphony Orchestra contributes to the star power with concerts featuring renowned violinist Midori (Feb. 11, 2012) playing Brahms’ Violin Concerto; trumpet player and former Tonight Show band leader Doc Severinsen (Jan. 14, 2012); the return of pianist Fabio Bidini (Oct. 14, 16) to play Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; Native American flautist R. Carlos Nakai joining the orchestra for an Arizona Centennial Celebration (Feb. 10, 12, 2012); and young violin phenom Stefan Jackiw stepping in to play Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (April 13, 15, 2012).
Broadway in Tucson has an incredible lineup that includes a number of Tony Award-winning musicals, such as the timeless West Side Story (Sept. 20-25); the ’80s musical celebration Rock of Ages (March 13-18, 2012); and In the Heights (April 24-29, 2012), which honors the immigrant experience in America. Two stage adaptations of musicals will be performed, too: Shrek the Musical (Oct. 18-23), based on the Oscar-winning Dream Works film; and Mary Poppins (May 15-20, 2012), which melds elements from the Disney film and the original children’s books.
Chamber Music PLUS Southwest always features several well-known performers during their season of amazing, original works that skillfully combine history, music and drama. Check their website (chambermusicplus.org) for the latest.
AND NOW A NOTE FROM OUR ORCHESTRA
It’s a delicate act, balancing the popular with the adventurous, taking audiences on a journey that includes side trips into areas that they’ve never been before. But each year the Tucson Symphony Orchestra pulls it off, and 2011-12 promises to be another season that includes both familiar favorites and some lesser-known works (with a world premiere thrown in for good measure).
In the Classic Series, be sure to mark your calendars for Nov. 11 and 13, when the program features Samuel Barber’s gorgeous Adagio for Strings, Bernstein’s Serenade (based on Plato’s Symposium), and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, which was inspired by American gospel and folk music. Dec. 2 and 4 sees the musical giants Mozart and Prokofiev joining forces for an evening that includes one of Mozart’s final and most popular symphonies — No. 39 — as well as Prokofiev’s No. 5, written during WWII and featuring a powerful appeal for an end to tyranny.
Pianist Ilia Ulianitsky, a 2010 TSO Young Artists Competition winner, takes the stage for Beethoven’s magnificent Piano Concerto No. 4, on Jan. 13 and 15, 2012.
The Masterworks Series offers many temptations, including a Bach-based concert on Nov. 5 and 6, with the Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 being one of the highlights; Tchaikovsky gets his much deserved due to Jan. 7 and 8, 2012, with a program that highlights cellist Mark Votapek on the Serenade for Strings; Copland and Ives are part of an American program on Feb. 4 and 5, 2012, that has not only mountain dulcimer player Stephen Seifert performing, but also offers Copland’s haunting, trumpet-driven piece “Quiet City,” and the premiere of Conni Ellisor’s Concerto. And be sure to have a seat on March 3 and 4, 2012, when Laura Stoutenborough performs Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, and the TSO presents Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1.
UApresents will treat classical fans to a concert by the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra (Feb. 26, 2012) featuring Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7 in D minor and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor; as well as the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir (March 11, 2012) playing Bach’s Mass in B minor, one of the master’s final completed works.
Arizona Friends of Chamber Music has a full evening program of wonderful music that includes the Jerusalem Quartet (Oct. 5); Morgenstern Trio (Nov. 9); Takács Quartet (Dec. 7); Jupiter Quartet with cellist Denise Djokic (Jan. 25, 2012); Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio (Feb. 22, 2012); and Mandelring Quartet with marimbist Katarzyna Mycka (March 21, 2012).
Don’t forget about the rising stars showcased in the Piano & Friends series, this year including cellist Boris Andrianov and pianist Alexander Kobrin (Nov. 6); pianists Yelizaveta and Yelena Beriyeva (Jan. 8, 2012); and violinist Elena Urioste with pianist Michael Brown (Feb. 5, 2012). In both series, you’ll rediscover old musical friends, as well as be introduced to some pieces you’ve never heard before, all in the intimate setting of the TCC Leo Rich Theater.
The Arizona Early Music Society turns the clock back with groups that perform medieval and Renaissance music. This season, visit St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church for exquisite music from Ostraka (Sept. 25); Corde á Vide (Oct. 30); New Esterházy Quartet (Jan. 15, 2012); Cançonier (Feb. 26, 2012); and Ensemble Caprice (April 1, 2012 at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church).
Both the UA School of Music and Pima Community College present a full season of music, in styles ranging from classical to traditional to jazz to pop, featuring both faculty members and students. Be sure to check their websites (http://web.cfa.arizona.edu/music and www.pima.edu/cfa) for details.
PLAYING TO THEIR STRENGTHS
Tucson’s eclectic collection of theater groups seem equally at home presenting new works and reprising the classics. From plays for the whole family, to cutting edge dramas that aren’t for the faint of heart, there will be something for everyone in the 2011-2012 season.
The Arizona Theatre Company brings to the stage exciting characters from literature, film and the real world, starting off with everyone’s favorite master of deductive reasoning. The world premiere of Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club (Sept. 17-Oct. 8) mashes up a Robert Louis Stevenson tale with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal character.
French playwright Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning God of Carnage, taking audiences inside the comic unraveling of two sets of parents whose kids have been involved in a donnybrook is staged Oct. 22-Nov. 12.
The romantic musical Daddy Long Legs dances into its Southwest premiere on Nov.26-Dec. 17. Originally a novel, but perhaps best known for the 1955 Fred Astaire/Leslie Caron film version, this charming tale of an unlikely May-December romance has won over audiences for almost 100 years.
The season continues with an English accent on Jan. 14-Feb. 4, 2012, for Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. One of Hitch’s early cinematic masterpieces, the 1935 film involves spies, a secret organization, romance and murder. Patrick Barlow has adapted it with a strong dose of humor, and four actors tackle the daunting task of portraying 150 roles.
The U.S. gets its due with an adaptation of possibly the most American novel ever written: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. At once a poignant picture of the Jazz Age, and an eternal vision of a man haunted by his past, this Southwest premiere (Feb. 25-March 17, 2012) is not to be missed.
The final strokes are put on the season April 7-April 28, 2012, with Red, a drama based on the true story of painter Mark Rothko’s commission to create murals for New York’s Four Seasons Restaurant. As he verbally spars with his young assistant, the conflict between art as commerce and cultural necessity is revealed.
At Invisible Theatre, the theme is “a Season of Possibilities,” vividly demonstrated by the range of productions, which will include Southwest, Tucson and world premieres of comic works in a variety of tones.
Among the exciting offerings will be Kathleen Clark’s In the Mood (Sept. 7-25), a new romantic comedy set in a New York penthouse; Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation (Nov. 2-20), a comedy about a community theater class; Look Ma We’re Dancing (Feb. 8-26, 2012), a world premiere of Janet Neipris’ play that takes a humorous look at sibling rivalry that extends beyond a parent’s death; and The Blonde, The Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead (April 11-29, 2012), Robert Hewett’s comedy that allows Betsy Kruse Craig to tackle seven different characters.
UA Repertory Theatre will kick things off Sept. 11-Oct. 2 with John Olive’s warmly nostalgic tale of the nascent days of radio, The Voice of the Prairie. That’s followed by Noel Coward’s classic comedy Hay Fever (Oct. 9-30); a musical adaptation of the children’s novel The Secret Garden (Nov. 6-Dec. 4); Eve Ensler’s psychological drama Necessary Targets (Feb. 5-26, 2012) about the aftermath of the Yugoslavian Civil War; Shakespeare’s tragedy about politics and power Julius Caesar (Feb. 26-March 25, 2012); and the quirky Bat Boy: The Musical (April 8-29, 2012), which is ripped from the headlines of The Weekly World News tabloid.
THE SOPRANOS ARE BACK … AND THE TENORS … AND THE MEZZOS ….
The 2011-2012 season will be in fine voice, with several performing arts organizations presenting both full operas, and selections from operatic and choral works.
At Arizona Opera, the fall begins with two dramatic classics — Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (Oct. 1-2). Both stories of passion and revenge feature great arias, swift-moving action and enough treacherous secrets for a “very special episode of Jerry Springer.” The Devil takes center stage on Nov. 19-20 when a modern version of Gounod’s Faust is performed, with bass Greer Grimsley singing Mephistopheles, and Raul Melo in the title role. One of Puccini’s most beloved masterworks returns to the TCC Music Hall when Madama Butterfly flutters in (Feb. 4-5, 2012), Both Jill Gardner and Shu-Ying Li are slated to perform the role of Cio-Cio San, with Adam Diegel starring as heartbreaker Pinkerton.
The drama continues March 3-4, 2012, with Verdi’s monumental Aida, taking opera goers right into ancient Egypt for a tale of forbidden love in wartime. And for attendees who want to get very close to the action, you can upgrade your tickets to become a supernumerary in the “Triumphal Scene”!
The year of beautiful music wraps up with Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (April 21-22, 2012), an operatic telling of Orfeo’s march into the Underworld to reclaim his love Euridice. First performed in Vienna in 1762, this work shows the influence of Gluck’s many inspirations, including French and Italian styles of composition. It is often performed today in a single 90-minute stretch, with the chorus singing from the pit, and dancers interpreting onstage. If you’re not very familiar with Baroque opera, this is one you won’t want to miss.
And it ain’t opera, doc, but there’s no disputing the mass appeal of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (March 9 and 11, 2012). This premier work will be conducted by Maestro George Hanson, with the TSO Chorus directed by Bruce Chamberlain. Featured soloists will be soprano Katie Van Kooten, mezzo Susanne Mentzer, tenor Roger Honeywell and bass Raymond Aceto.
Over at Pima Community College, the music department will present a group of opera scenes for your enjoyment, April 21-21, 2012. You’ll also have the opportunity to hear faculty members Dean and Anna Schoff perform on Oct. 16, and attend Chorale and College Singer Concerts on Oct. 23, Dec. 4, March 6, 2012, and May 6, 2012.
The faculty also will be in the spotlight on Feb. 12, 2012, when Dr. Jonathan Ng will perform a concert of English and German art songs.
The UA School of Music will have a full season of vocal splendor, with choir, choral, and opera presentations. On Oct. 30, enjoy the UA Symphonic Choir in the concert “Divine Works: A Choral Celebration of Spiritual Traditions.” Speaking of traditions, Jewish and Tudor traditions will be the topic on Nov. 6 at a University Community Chorus concert, with pieces by Purcell, Mendelssohn, et al.
Opera lovers will want to plan for the presentation of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Consul on Nov. 17, 19 and 20. Menotti is, of course, the man who gave us the ever-popular Amahl and the Night Visitors, and The Consul, with its Kafkaesque reflections on power, is equally powerful — a fitting work to perform on the 100th anniversary of the late composer’s birth.
Other highlights of the UA vocal season include the annual “Holiday Card to Tucson,” (Dec. 4) with the Arizona Choir, UA Symphonic Choir, University Community Chorus, Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus and Tucson Girls Chorus performing songs of the season; and the Grammy-winning New York Voices (Darmon Meader, Lauren Kinhan, Peter Eldridge and Kim Nazarian) presenting an evening of songs on Feb. 17. 2012, with influences ranging from jazz to Brazilian to classical to pop.
GET TO THE POINTE
You’ll want to be on your toes this season to ensure that you don’t miss out on some superb dance performances.
UApresents will bring in some of the country’s best-known troupes, including Pilobolus (Oct. 23), the innovative group that twists itself into human puzzles; Trisha Brown Dance Company (Feb. 18, 2012), celebrating 40 years of cutting-edge creativity; Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (March 3, 2012), presenting multimedia works based on Jones’ life; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (March 23, 2012), the beloved group that has enthralled audiences with its rich mix of styles since the 1950s; River North Dance Chicago (April 14, 2012), a jazz-based group known for exciting choreography.
UApresents also spotlights UA Dance with Premium Blend (Nov. 17-20; Dec. 1-4), a showcase for faculty and masterwork choreography, including Balanchine’s “Allegro Brillante,” and a tribute by Elizabeth George to the Grand Canyon State’s 100th birthday, called “Arizona Highway.”
UA Dance also will perform the programs Love Notes (Feb. 14-16, 2012); Still Here (March 1-4, 2012); Spring Collection (April 20-22, 27-29, 2012); and Break Away (April 19, 21, 26, 28. 2012). This is a great opportunity to see the dance stars of tomorrow in the architecturally remarkable Stevie Eller Dance Theatre.
Another group that has earned an enthusiastic following is Ballet Tucson, which marked its 25th season last year. The season kicks off Oct. 28-30 with a program that includes a futuristic version of Stravinsky’s Firebird; a premiere entitled “Ascending,” and a one-act adaptation of Don Quixote, created by Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner. The annual full-scale production of The Nutcracker (Dec. 22-24) is a joy for all, as is the spring tradition known as Dance & Dessert (March 9-11, 2012), now in its 15th year of offering a mix of fun and moving works and delicious goodies from local bakeries and restaurants. The season wraps with Cinderella (May 5-6, 2012), one of the greatest fairy tale ballets, with music by Prokofiev.
THE BEST FESTS IN THE WEST
This is your night … or possibly your day. Maybe even your week. Whether you’re a rabid movie fan, you dig jazz, blues is your thing, or maybe folk or classical moves you, there’s a major event for you this season.
The Loft Cinema is well known as the premier place to see … well, premieres, as well as the best in foreign, underground, classic and cult movies. Last year’s Loft Film Fest was a huge success, with Griffin Dunne and Rosanna Arquette attending for a screening of their Scorsese classic After Hours, among many other amazing moments. This year, the festival is slated for Nov. 10-17, and incredible guests and unforgettable flicks will again be showcased.
If you’re seeking the best in classical music, make sure to get tickets for the annual Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival (March 4-11, 2012) presented by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music. You’ll hear not only the masterworks you’ve come to love, but some obscure pieces, and even a world premiere. Scheduled for this year are the Tokyo String Quartet, Apollo’s Fire Baroque Ensemble, violinist Benny Kim, pianist Bernadette Harvey, and many more performers who are at the top of their game.
The Tucson Folk Festival (May 5-6, 2012) is a downtown tradition that has welcomed everyone from Karla Bonoff to Richie Havens to Chris Hillman. With concerts, workshops, and good times for all, it should definitely be on your “to-do” list.
In a blue mood? Get yourself down to the annual Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation’s Blues Heritage Festival (Oct. 16) at Reid Park, this year headlined by Elvin Bishop (best known for his hit, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”).
On Dec. 31, end 2011 on the right note with the Tucson Jazz Society at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa. Trumpet player Rick Braun, backed with a Murderer’s Row of jazz talent, will fire you up, and then chill you out. Not a bad way to say “adios” to one year … or “hola” to the next!