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Bravo

The Kansas City Ballet continues to be the envy of mid-sized American companies, maintaining fiscal health while continuing to challenge itself artistically. At Thursday’s season finale opener, veterans and younger dancers mingled like a well-oiled machine in two distinguished world premieres and a reprise of Twyla Tharp’s elegant Nine Sinatra Songs. And the company showed that it has a […]

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Is there anything worse than an evening of bad Gilbert & Sullivan? If there is, let me know. The Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s production of The Pirates of Penzance came as a shock to my system, perhaps because I’ve become too accustomed to mediocre-to-awful productions of the operettas by this celebrated team of Victorian satirists. This version, to my […]

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Saying goodbye is an art form unto itself. You want a farewell to be just the right length, use just the right words and contain the perfect mix of sentiment and encouragement, tristesse and hope. Saturday’s Friends of Chamber Music concert at the Folly Theater was part of a 60-city farewell tour of the Guarneri String Quartet, […]

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In the famous opera scene in Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts asks Richard Gere how she’s supposed to know what’s happening onstage if everyone’s singing in Italian. “Oh, you’ll know,” he replies. “Believe me, you’ll understand. The music’s very powerful.” I’ve always scoffed at the pre-supertitle cliché that if a performance is good enough you can follow an […]

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There are several reasons why you might expect Benjamin Bagby’s performance of Beowulf to fall flat on a contemporary American audience. The renowned medievalist performs the epic as a one-man bard, accompanying himself on a diminutive six-string harp that is his only prop. He recites-sings the monodrama in the original Anglo-Saxon, which to non-expert ears sounds like a mixture […]

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The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields is one of the most venerated musical establishments in England, one could even say in the history of English music. You know a chamber orchestra has clout when it can convince a composer of the stature of Sir William Walton to compose a new work for it. Well, almost […]

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The final seconds of Yuri Possokhov’s Firebird contain a simple event that is so natural, so poignant and dramatically satisfying that it made my heart clutch up. Naturally I’m not going to spoil it: You’ll just have to see the Kansas City Ballet’s winter program that opened Thursday at the Lyric Theatre. Let’s just say it’s just one […]

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Chen Yi’s musical world is a cheerful place teeming with activity and populated by stately emperors, raucous villagers, artful calligraphers and lovers boating through lotus blossoms — always against the backdrop of the gorgeous Chinese landscape. Her new seven-movement song cycle for choir and string quartet From the Path of Beauty feels so all-encompassing it’s like a miniature […]

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Competition was fierce this year for the best of 2008, for one simple reason: Kansas City’s culture remains on such an upward trajectory that it’s not out of line to say this might have been the city’s best-ever year for classical music and dance. I mean ever, as in, during Our Town’s 155-year history. Whoa, baby. […]

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