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Backstage And Beyond

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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