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Backstage And Beyond

STUCK IN A LOOP: Fugard play speaks to America’s racial stalemate

The more you examine the work of South African playwright Athol Fugard, the more you realize that the racial dynamics in his dramas reveal as much about our own social ills as they do about the specific culture in which he was raised. Though it’s true that many of the 87-year-old author’s 40 or so […]

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ROADS LESS TRAVELED: ‘Yule’ not want to miss these four holiday offerings

Every arts lover has a favorite holiday performance or two, traditions which over the years become part and parcel of the season. And while I wouldn’t want to discoursge anyone from attending one of Kansas City’s more durable large-scale presentations of music, theater, or dance, as the holiday season becomes ever-more crowded with (often quite […]

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TOP CLEF: Harriman presents local debut of refreshing new star

Nadine Sierra shot to the top of the opera world with a glittering burst of speed. At age 20, the Florida-born soprano became the youngest-ever Grand Finalist at America’s most prestigious vocal competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She went on to score big at major houses (San Francisco, Paris, La Scala, Berlin’s Staatsoper). […]

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ONE GIANT LEAP: Symphony opens season with world premiere commemorating American milestone 

“The last rail is laid. The last spike is driven. The Pacific Railroad is completed.” Thus began the report that was telegraphed to the Associated Press on May 10th, 1869, announcing the completion of one of the great engineering feats of the 20th century: The North American Continental Divide had been spanned by rail, and […]

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RIGHT HERE, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER: New Dance Partners builds bridges of innovation

New Dance Partners is built on such an ingenious concept that it’s surprising it hasn’t gained footing in more cities than it has. The idea is simple: Each professional company in town is paired with an eminent choreographer toward creating a new work, and an “umbrella” organization presents the works on a joint program each […]

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THREE, BY THREE: New companies join the Lyric Opera in presenting audience-friendly fare

One of the many things that we owe Mozart is his determination to wrest opera from the clutches of European nobility. Beginning with his 1782 Abduction from the Seraglio, a “singspiel” written in the language of the Viennese public, he helped establish opera as an art-form “for the people.” Opera has been striving to maintain […]

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KNOCK KNOCK: Theater companies embark on daring collaboration

Few moments in theater have stimulated discourse on the role of women in society as compellingly as Nora’s abrupt departure at the end of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. “The door-slam heard ’round the world,” as it’s been called, was one of the boldest acts in all of literature, yet it remains almost as controversial today […]

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SOUL OF THE CELLO: Cathedral series begins with that warmest of instruments

Even at age four, Ho Anthony Ahn was absolutely certain he was not going to be a violinist. His father, a prominent violinist and teacher, had assumed his firstborn would play “first fiddle” in what he pictured as a family string quartet. Ho wanted no part of it. “It just hurt so badly, that metal […]

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DEATH & DESPAIR IN DES MOINES: Metro Opera continues its remarkable ascent

The best summer festivals highlight the unexpected: The juxtaposition of idyllic landscapes with the sort of high-end performances that we usually experience in urban settings sometimes permits us to view great art in fresh ways. Three hours north of Kansas City, nestled in verdant Iowa hills, stands one of America’s most delightful and distinguished opera […]

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