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Backstage And Beyond

You might think of Shakespeare as being all about language, but several of his works have been made into ballets in which the entire dramatic arc is expressed without a single word being uttered. Perhaps the most powerful of these is Romeo and Juliet, which owes much of its cache to a brilliant score by Prokofiev. It has been […]

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Behzod Abduraimov almost didn’t become a pianist. At age 6 he failed his very first piano examination, getting stuck in the middle of Schumann’s The Wild Horsemanseveral times before his teacher finally told him to stop. “After that my teacher said I would never be able to play a piece on piano from beginning to end without […]

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OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLES: KC BALLET PRESENTS FINE ‘NUTCRACKER’ IN KAUFFMAN CENTER The production of The Nutcracker that the late Todd Bolender created for the Kansas City Ballet is 30 years old this year, but at the opening performance on the afternoon of December 3rd it had a bright new look. That’s partly because it was […]

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Ten strongly lit dancers dressed in soft hues stood downstage, perfectly spaced across the stage. One by one they stepped diagonally out of formation, legs scissored, one arm out and one back, until they formed a sort of human zigzag. Gradually each peeled off in a circular pattern and rushed upstage. All in total silence. […]

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“If music be the food of love, sing on.” Thus the Bard might have written his famous line from Twelfth Night if he had heard the Kansas City Chorale singing works set to his poetry. This week the Grammy Award-winning Chorale performs a whole program of music set to, or inspired by, the greatest poet in the English language. […]

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Simon Carrington knows what he wants in a choral sound, and in 2008 he and two dozen Kansas City area singers formed a choir that has had a huge success in producing that sound. The British-born conductor and singer, who began as a boy chorister and later was a member of the King’s Singers, says […]

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If you want to know the heart and soul of America, listen to its songs. And few genres of song tell our stories more vividly than country music, that unique style born of folk and gospel and blues and rooted in the soil of Middle America. Love, work, family, heartache, infidelity, addiction—like it or not, […]

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The key to finding a niche in Kansas City is to identify something that’s lacking in the community and go for it. That’s what a group of local musicians did 21 years ago, when they determined that July was a frightfully dead month for music locally—and that classical fans were left hungry for chamber-music fare. Thus […]

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Mark your calendars: In just a few days the Kansas City Ballet enters a new era of its 54-year history, as it moves into its new Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity and, just a month and a half later, begins dancing on the stage of the $413 million Kauffman Center for the Performing […]

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SAN FRANCISCO – In this loveliest of West Coast cities, the San Francisco Opera has staged what is arguably the most intriguing production of Wagner’s Ring that one can currently see in America. On four separate nights during a week in June at San Francisco’s War Memorial House, I had the chance to witness Francesca Zambello’s brilliant new version […]

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And they’re off! In a fall cultural season to be filled with exciting “firsts,” the Kansas City Ballet leapt from the starting gate on August 26th with the inauguration of its new Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity, located in the restored Power House just west of Union Station. Under a large tent set […]

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The Westons of Oklahoma may not be your typical American family, but their crises are familiar to anyone who has followed American drama of the last century, from Eugene O’Neill to Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller to Edward Albee. Booze, drugs, divorce, depression, sexual depravity: The protagonists of Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County live through it all, and they pull us […]

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When the Kansas City Symphony and music director Michael Stern open their 2011-2012 season September 23rd through the 25th at the Kauffman Center’s Helzberg Hall they will also be inaugurating a series of commissions to be spread throughout the season. Chen Yi’s Fountains of KC is the first of three “water-themed” pieces commissioned by the Symphony – the “KC” referring not only to […]

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Amidst the bevy of high-profile soloists, the huge chorus and complement of supernumeraries, the children’s choir and the over-the-top scenic and costume designs, one thing was abundantly clear about the October 1st opening of Turandot at the Kauffman Center: With this production the Lyric Opera is entering a new epoch in its history, and future productions will […]

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At first glance Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer might not seem an obvious choice for a novel on which to base a full-length ballet, and I confess that I approached William Whitener’s and Maury Yeston’s Tom Sawyer: A Ballet in Three Acts with some skepticism. But, wow. On October 14th the ambitious piece opened the Kansas City Ballet’s season in its world premiere at […]

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The New York Times’ prickly dance critic Alistair Macaulay seemed to have liked the Kansas City Ballet’s Tom Sawyeralmost as much as I did – though at times for different reasons. See my review here, and his here. Much was hanging on the new full-length ballet because it was the company’s first world premiere in the new Kauffman Center, and (as […]

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In what promises to be one of the most significant musical events of the Kansas City season, this week the Boston Early Music Festival brings Handel’s Acis and Galatea to the Friends of Chamber Music’s chamber series. This semi-staged production—at 8 p.m. on April 1st at the Folly Theater—strives for historical authenticity in all aspects. It […]

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Legendary and iconic dancer Jacques D’Amboise was in Our Town on April 1st to promote his new memoir, I Was a Dancer (Borzoi Books: Alfred A. Knopf, $35). Born Joseph Aheard in Massachusetts, D’Amboise would become one of George Balanchine’s most indispensable muses: Over the course of 33 years at New York City Ballet, Jacques had more works created for him […]

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There are extremes of misery in the world that defy comprehension. In the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo, violence and sexual brutality against women and girls have remained at epidemic levels for more a decade. “The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world,” United Nations undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs John Holmes told The […]

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The Lyric Opera’s new production of The Marriage of Figaro is well-sung, confidently acted and executed with a deft comic touch. Whether or not you buy into its conceit of setting the opera as a contemporary backstage drama, the production is at least consistent—at times relentlessly so—in its transfer of Mozart’s and Da Ponte’s 18th-century master-servant conflict […]

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Concluding the Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s 2010-2011 season is Henryk Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, in an adaptation by David Schweizer, who also directs it. The production is already in previews and opens April 29th at the Copaken Stage downtown. David is a prominent figure in American theater who has directed several off-Broadway productions as well as works at Lincoln […]

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