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Backstage And Beyond

MEMORIES OF WAR: Symphony pulls out stops for Britten masterpiece, as an early participant reminisces

By Paul Horsley Music lovers often fantasize about what it must have been like to attend the first performance of a huge masterpiece, or indeed to have taken part in one. For the musicians involved, it’s often not apparent at the time whether the piece has “clicked” or not. In May 1962 at Coventry Cathedral […]

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STIFF UPPER DECK: Lyric Opera recruits UK director for quintessentially British comedy

By Paul Horsley We think of England as a sort of motherland for the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, and indeed for more than a century the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company was the standard-bearer for “authentic” performance of these works. But during this same period these “plays-with-songs” also became staples of companies the world over, and […]

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FAIRY-TALE PLUS FILLER: KC Ballet presents full-length classic for first time in its history

By Paul Horsley The Sleeping Beauty is a ballet with a bit of something for everyone: There is some actual storytelling in the middle, with a dashing Prince revivifying a comatose ballerina-Princess with a kiss, and there’s a cornucopia of classical ballet of the most rigorous kind in the outer sections. The Kansas City Ballet’s […]

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ANATOMY OF A CANCELLATION: Operatic duo saves the day for Harriman-Jewell Series when choir’s tour collapses

By Paul Horsley One of the marks of a great arts presenter is the ability to jump into the breach at a moment’s notice when crises arise. The Harriman-Jewell Series’ had originally announced that a highlight of its current season was to be a visit by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Choir, a group of […]

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BOULEVARD OF DREAMS: MET’s upcoming move spurs growth of Main Street as KC’s ‘mini-Broadway’

By Paul Horsley If there’s a sleeping giant among Kansas City theater companies, that genial beast appears to be on the verge of waking up, with a roar. The Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre has been doing increasingly excellent work for 12 seasons: classics and new works, comedies and ponderous plays that deal with racism, sexism, ageism, […]

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BEHIND BARS: Lyric Opera takes a stab at problematic prison opera (review)

By Paul Horsley Dead Man Walking is like the Clockwork Orange of opera. You might appreciate its artistic achievement, admire its remarkable attention to detail, even recognize its potential for redeeming social value. But you really don’t have fun, and at the end you find yourself asking whether you’ve gained anything from the grueling experience […]

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DEATH, LOVE AND SPIRITUAL JOURNEY: Lyric Opera presents local premiere of true-story drama

By Paul Horsley Opera since its beginnings has reveled in hot political topics, from the injustices of feudal society in The Marriage of Figaro to the hapless political prisoners in works such as Andrea Chénier and Tosca. Contemporary opera occasionally takes on controversial historical issues, too, crafting real-life events not so much to make political […]

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TALES AS OLD AS THE DEVIL HIMSELF: Local chamber group confronts Stravinsky classic head-on

By Paul Horsley Often when you scratch the surface of something that seems utterly new, you find the oldest of sources underneath. The Lord of the Rings draws on Wagner and Norse legend, West Side Story is Shakespeare, and so forth. The piece that Igor Stravinsky and his collaborators called The Soldier’s Tale (L’Histoire du […]

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