Pagliacci has come and gone now, but all lovers of music should mark their calendars for the next two Austin Lyric Opera productions: The Marriage of Figaro (January 31; February 2, 3, 2013) and Gounod’s Faust (April 25, 27, 28, 2013). These promise to be the giant crowd-pleasers that Pagliacci was. The orchestra just gets better and better and all was most pleasing about this production. We saw the Friday performance, and then confirmed our appreciation by listening to the Sunday live performance on KMFA 89.5-fm. The audience loved the surprise encore concert after the performance, when, accompanied by the orchestra, leading singers were joined by the chorus (also excellent) in song.
The jazz band performed first, and then the 36th Infantry Division concert band, which appeared to be the jazz band plus many additional musicians. Another configuration of the band marched in the Congress Avenue parade earlier in the day. These are musicians of the highest ability. There can be no finer setting for music than the outdoor terrace at the Long Center for the performing arts, with its spectacular view of the downtown Austin skyline. The capacity audience was delighted from start to finish by the spirited and stirring music. Also heard was a traditional recitation piece called “A Toast to the Flag.” The jazz program included the best performance of “In the Mood” that I’ve ever heard. We were treated to a Filmore march (“Americans We”) and two Sousa gems, complete with piccolo embellishments (“Washington Post” and “Stars and Stripes Forever”). Musician and vocalist SPC Bonnie Wellington sang a moving “America the Beautiful.” Austin is indeed the live music capital of the world. The toy-camera images and unedited videos do not come close to doing justice to this occasion.
On the eleventh day of the eleventh month, it was a glorious day for a parade to observe Veterans’ Day. As always the valiant Cardinal band from Del Valle marched and played, and all welcomed the returned 36th Infantry Division Band. The image here shows the flag flying from a crane near the start of the parade, which began on the bridge and proceeded up Congress to the Capitol. Other diversion was provided by a picturesque person on a bicycle who did a good bit of shouting and told a police officer (at a rather high volume and close to the officer’s face), “It’s not against the law to yell.” Pictures of the parade taken by a toy camera and unedited videos convey only a bit of this spirited event.
Congress Avenue was made for parades; the Welcome Home, Iraq Veterans parade was made for Congress Avenue. On July 7, we marched up Congress Avenue to the Capitol grounds and then we returned on foot all the way back to the downtown side of the bridge. Many of us followed the wonderful band of the 36th Infantry Division of Camp Mabry, which sounds better than ever. It’s been a long time since we were privileged to hear this outfit. What spirit the band brought to the occasion! Five brass Sousaphones! Trombones out front! Mere pictures and videos cannot capture the event, but they’re souvenirs to remind us of the day and all the volunteers who created the tribute. Thank you!
Patience played to a full house, including all the children who arrived early for a special program and remained for the entire matinee performance yesterday, just as entranced as the rest of us.
H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado seem to be the most frequently performed masterpieces, but, thanks to our very own Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin, we are privileged to enjoy every gem and delight in the Gilbert and Sullivan repertory.
Sparkling in the intimate new performance setting of the arts center of Brentwood Christian School (map), which seats 400 and boasts an orchestra pit that conceals the professional-quality 15-piece orchestra, Patience is a complete theatrical experience. The 22-voice chorus (11 men, 11 women) sang with a snappy vigor and the clarity that made the supertitles showcasing the lyrics really unnecessary.
Every principal singer shone, and the audience welcomed the return of comic and musical stalwarts Arthur Di Bianca, Holton Johnson, Jeanette Jones, and Russell Gregory. Meredith Ruduski, as Patience the dairy maid herself, was a fine lyric and comic presence.
Everyone associated with this production should be very proud. A lot of the stage business and choreography was quite demanding. The audience laughed everywhere it was supposed to and nowhere it was not.
Just five performances remain: Thursday, 14 June, at 8 pm; Friday, 15 June, at 8 pm; Saturday, 16 June, at 3 pm and at 8 pm; and Sunday, 17 June, at 3 pm. For ticket information, call 474-5664; advance prices are $20 for adults ($25 at the door), $15 for students over 18 with identification ($20 at the door), and $7 for those 18 and under ($10 at the door).
Do not deprive yourself. If you love music or theater or both, treat yourself to Patience.
The movie Bernie is must-see entertainment.
It’s now playing in town at the Violet Crown Cinema and at the Arbor. On-line advance purchase appears to be requisite to see it at the Violet Crown; an attempt to purchase tickets at the door there was met with information that the next two shows were already sold out. So it was on to the Arbor, where the much larger house was nearly sold out.
This movie is laugh-out-loud fun. The audience even applauded spontaneously a few times. Look for familiar scenes from San Marcos, Bastrop, Smithville, Austin, and more. Quita Culpepper and Dale Dudley are on-screen presences.
Everyone loves different aspects of this movie. Here are some of my favorites: Jack Black’s singing, the singing and especially the choreography of the stage scene of “Seventy-Six Trombones” from The Music Man, the dialogue, the costumes, the humor generally, and the performances of everyone, in particular that of Richard Robichaux and, yes, those of Shirley MacLaine and, especially, Matthew McConaughey.
This would be a movie to see even if it weren’t set in Texas and weren’t filmed in part nearby. You won’t have a favorite scene to compare with the favorite scenes of others if you don’t go see it while it’s here.
Today’s the very last day for a wonderful traveling exhibition at the Blanton Museum. There’s still time to get there before it closes at five.
It’s called “American Scenery: Different Views in Hudson River School Painting.” Views of the Susquehanna, Hudson, Saco, and other rivers and panoramas of Niagara, Lake George, Saranac astonish in their beauty. The 119 works of art are for the most part quite small, and the frames are as interesting as the art displayed within them. There’s always instructional material in addition to the labels mounted on the walls; look in the slots in the middle of the banks of benches in the exhibition halls.
The Blanton cafe and gift shop are worth visits for their own sake. There’s a gift in every price range for every age: books, toys, stationery, tabletop items, and much, much more.
Fiestas Patrias for el cinco de mayo this year was two days; we had to choose one and were glad that the Sunday weather and the Sunday conjunto music made us and everyone happy, happy, happy! This is an annual event for all ages, and all ages were out on the dance floor.
The current special train goes on to San Marcos, where the mayor will greet its arrival and a band will play. Thereafter, it will spend a few days in San Antonio for Fiesta, before moving on to Houston and, eventually, to New Orleans.
Music and spectacle, all free; what more could anyone want on a beautiful spring day! Honk!TX community bands paraded from east to west this year, instead of from west to east as was done last year–beginning at Pan Am park instead of disbanding there.
We kept to the east side of IH-35 again this year, where the streets are shadier and quieter and more peaceful, and we’re not sorry that we did. Two art bicycles turned out again. Music was accompanied by stilt walkers, twirlers of hula hoops, and figures on sticks (see picture).