Fall is here & along with the anticipation of the Holidays comes a new season of Classical Music performances. We kick off Plano & Las Colinas Symphonies with grandeur & check in with a comedic genius at his most personal.
Eddie Izzard: Believe Me - Oct 13th - The Majestic Theatre - Dallas, TX
How perfect that Transgendered comedic legend Eddie Izzard & his brand of info-tainment landed in our fair city on Friday the 13th.
From the creation of the universe to the Trojan War, the comedian has never shied away from telling huge stories in his inimitably hilarious style. Now, at the age of 55, he has felt the need to return to his formative years and discuss childhood sack races, football and his street theatre days at Edinburgh Festival. But of course it's all part of something much bigger.
In his new memoir Believe Me & accompanying stage show held in intimate theatres to match the nature of the material, Izzard tackles some of the most important and personal moments in his life with frank and moving honesty.
As he reads passages from his book, shares home movies and family photographs and takes questions from a captivated audience, the linking feature of Izzard’s bizarre and beautifully crafted comedy shows is his fascination with the ridiculous. Jazz chickens, vampires and Darth Vader have all been drawn vividly across a dreamlike landscape of nutty characters.
But Izzard has only ever briefly touched on the personal details of his life & in this show he tackles the death of his mother, coming out as transvestite his early experiences with women & other pivotal moments of his life with remarkable candor.
Izzard - a stand-up, political activist, marathon runner and actor, the devastating impact of losing his mother at the age of six is the memory which kicks off the show & this moving admission sets the tone for a reliably funny but emotional show.
In one particularly unflinching extract Izzard describes being chased by a group of teenage girls during his first public outing dressed in women’s clothing. Stripped to the bare bones, the story is heartbreaking but spoken through Izzard’s voice it is funny and gives us a true insight into his bold and unabashed approach to life.
Full of pathos, honesty and boomerang hippos, Believe Me is a wonderful show which gives a fascinating glimpse into what drives this remarkable man.
Masquerade:Opera Cabaret Presented by American Baroque Opera Company - September 14th - AT&T Performing Arts Center - Dallas, TX
ABOC, had its inaugural concert as part of the recently started Elevator Project. took the form of a Greatest Hits sampler, including several arias from their upcoming spring production of Alcina, & rare gems by Vivaldi and Porpora that gave a very promising hint of the repertoire that these intrepid performers intend to bring to the mainstream consciousness.
This is the first group in the state specifically devoted to Baroque opera. All the singers (and several of the orchestra players, including the director, Eric Smith, who played cello) wore Venetian masks as well as we the audience to make it a fun, interactive experience that really set the mood for the music. The effect was heightened by how the singers would walk up to the stage in character throughout.
They opened with Vivaldi's L'Olimpiade, which showed off the orchestra's agility, dynamic contrast, and cohesion, all attributes which very well foreshadowed the challenges inherent in the music to come. Intonation was very much on point, and the ensemble was very superb at acting as one. Soprano Anna Fredericka Popova's take on "Ah, mio cor" was especially informative, featuring very dark vowels which were very much used to dramatic effect. She also sang Vivaldi's extremely agile "Siam navi all'onde algenti" with the greatest of ease and finesse.
Countertenor Nicholas Garza, who will be singing Ruggiero in the upcoming Alcina, showcased one of that character's arias at the end of the first half, "Sta nell'Ircana", complete with a robust natural horn obbligato cheerfully supplied by Nancy Piper, notable for its imitation in canon of the vocal line in places. He also sang "Venti, turbini, prestate" from Rinaldo and a passionate cantabile aria by Nicola Porpora, "Alto Giove". Soprano Jendi Tarde filled out the program quite well with her selection which had by far the most acting, in addition to her delightfully unencumbered vocal instrument. She sang "Tornami a vagheggiar" as she will be singing Morgana in Alcina, and her ornaments were simultaneously very well-planned yet came off seemingly spontaneously, as if she were effortlessly grasping them from the thin air.
This group has succeeded in being a passionate representative of Baroque opera as not merely an outlier that "comes before the real operas of Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, and Bizet", but as a vibrant, effusive, and brilliant genre sui generis that appreciates the love and devotion performers bring to it. The audience certainly showed this, with great reason, and I look forward to this company accomplishing many great things in the seasons to come.
Plano Symphony Opening Night w/ Conrad Tao - September 23rd - Eismann Center - Richardson, TX
Hector Guzman and the Plano Symphony Orchestra kick off the 35th Anniversary celebration with rousing fireworks by Dvořák, followed by a return to a favorite audience practice of two concertos in one evening. Liszt’s Totentanz is known in part for its innovations -- from repeated notes in the piano to special effects in the orchestra. Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 rewarded the composer with the Anton Rubinstein Prize for pianistic accomplishments at a performance of the one-movement work at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. The performance concludes with Rachmaninoff’s romantic Symphony No. 2, one of his best known compositions.
Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer, and has been dubbed a musician of “probing intellect and open-hearted vision” by the New York Times, a “thoughtful and mature composer” by NPR, and “ferociously talented” by TimeOut New York.
Now full disclosure, my attendance was completely rooted in the fact that my gorgeous & wonderfully talented girlfriend Jocelyn Hund was playing violin in the orchestra & while I may be a bit biased, I feel that her presence was glowing light that blessed the venue & everyone in it.
Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra Opening Night w/ Oleg Larshin - October 21st - Irving Arts Center - Irving, TX
As stated above my attendance was completely rooted in the fact that my gorgeous & wonderfully talented girlfriend Jocelyn Hund was playing violin in the orchestra & this time I was seated with her parents for the first time. And while I might be a bit biased, this was one amazing show!
Performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, this season LCSO theme is Vienna & Throughout the 2017-18 Season, the musicians and Maestro Austin invite you to join us for symphonies by Mozart (the “Jupiter”), Beethoven (the “Eroica”), Schubert (the “Great” Symphony No. 9 in C Major), and Mahler (the “Titan”). We’ll also share Brahms’s exquisite Piano Concerto No. 2 and Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. And naturally there will be waltzing, polkas, and quadrilles from Vienna’s beloved Strauss family.
An international array of brilliant soloists will be on hand, including Mexican flutist Joaquin Melo, and Bulgarian pianist Ivan Donchev. Closer to home, Texan Alex McDonald (pianist) and Scott Stratton (trombonist) will also appear as concerto soloists. The season’s distinguished array of guest conductors is headlined by Oliver Weder of Germany, Piero Romano of Italy, and Piotr Sulkowski from Poland.