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Paul’s Perspective

CRACKING THE CODE: Ballet’s seasonal offering has become local favorite

In 2015, the Kansas City Ballet treated its production of The Nutcracker to a complete makeover, with new set designs by Alain Vaës, costumes by Holly Hynes, and lighting by Trad A Burns. It was an investment in the future, as it was designed to serve, for many years to come, what has always been the […]

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REVIEW: Broadway classic takes a spin on the opera stage

If any musical is worthy to be performed by an opera company, it is The Sound of Music. Its best songs are not just Rodgers & Hammerstein at their most inspired, they are among the classiest products of the Broadway hit-factory. Whether the show should be placed alongside the operas of Mozart and Verdi is […]

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REVIEW: Opera’s ultimate double-bill gets classy send-up

The double-bill of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana (1890) and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (1892) remains one of the most accessible evenings at the opera. With busy choruses, passionate arias and ensembles, and the “tears of a clown,” literally, these early verismo works offer much, to novice and seasoned opera buff alike. No, verismo does not mean […]

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WHITHER, BALLET? Season finale presents delights, conundrums, questions

Each spring, the Kansas City Ballet presents a program of mixed repertoire embodying some of the more fascinating trends in contemporary ballet: where dance has been recently, where it stands now, and where it might be headed. This year’s program, Bliss Point, which opened May 12th at the Kauffman Center, brought us a deliciously executed […]

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REVIEW: Stephen King-inspired opera makes strong case for new operatic genre

One of the reasons that Stephen King’s horror stories are so indelibly etched onto our consciousness is that their macabre ingenuity has lent itself so readily to screen adaptation. Far more people know Misery or The Green Mile or Children of the Corn from the film versions than from their literary originals. Yet for all […]

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A THOUSAND NIGHTS: Series marks milestone with brilliant soprano

Just about everybody who is anybody has appeared on the Harriman-Jewell Series. Or so it seems these days, 58 years after the Series was founded by two William Jewell College professors, Richard Harriman and Dean Dunham, Jr. Let’s put it this way: If you are a classical performing artist or ensemble or dance company or even […]

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REVIEW: Ballet outdoes itself with annual holiday classic

Dance is live theater, and thus every performance of a work of choreography differs from every other. Standard works evolve from year to year, as well: Since 2015, when Devon Carney introduced his version of The Nutcracker to Kansas City Ballet audiences, we have witnessed fine-tuning and often barely perceptible alterations that, to be sure, […]

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REVIEW: Lyric presents distinguished production of Verdi’s well-worn tragedy

La traviata continues to fascinate us some 170 years after its inception partly because it presents the viewer with no clear-cut heroes or villains. Its principle characters are a lot like the rest of us, imbued with glaring defects and endearing, even transformative strengths: in roughly equal measure. Francesca Zambello’s 2018 production, which opened at the […]

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REVIEW: Ballet’s revival of 19th-century classic shows solid professionalism

Giselle is as beloved as any ballet in the repertoire partly because it contains some of the most beautiful choreography in the repertoire of Western dance: much of which has, miraculously, been preserved for nearly two centuries within the story we still see today. Thus the version of this classic that Devon Carney created for […]

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REVIEW: Lyric’s ‘Carmen’ succeeds on vocal prowess, uncluttered direction

Georges Bizet’s Carmen is an opera best presented in a direct and straightforward manner, for its strength lies not in deep complexities of character development but in its infectious music and playful archetypes of 19th-century French opéra comique. The Lyric Opera’s most recent version, which opened on September 24th at the Kauffman Center, is refreshingly […]

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REVIEW: Rep storms into new season with wackily successful Shakespeare comedy

Shakespeare’s humor often stirs deep, mirthful reflection on the human condition and yes, sometimes it makes us laugh out loud. We don’t normally think of the bard’s subtle, fleet-footed humor as cause for continual belly laughs, and yet that’s pretty much how I reacted to the Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s raucous Twelfth Night, which opened […]

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SIBLING REVELRY: Two Kanneh-Masons will bring their magic to the Harriman

Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason and cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason are two of seven highly gifted siblings from Nottingham, England, who are creating a worldwide sensation. Sheku is best known for his performance during the royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in 2018. His elder sister, Isata, recipient of the 2021 Leonard Bernstein Award, is forging […]

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REVIEW: Lyric Opera’s Jobs opera is fascinating, frustrating, and fun

Because Steve Jobs brought us the iPhone, the iPad, iTunes, the Mac, and a host of other indispensable devices, there are always going to be retellings of his life. One of the more intriguing, if perhaps frustratingly incomplete, is that of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, the celebrated 2017 opera by composer Mason Bates and librettist […]

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REVIEW: Rep scores big with sharp commentary on race in America

The Royale is a powerfully crafted piece of theater that addresses an issue that is still with us. Marco Ramirez’ 85-minute play reflects on the legacy of Jack Johnson, the first Black prizefighter to win the Heavyweight Boxing Championship, a title he held from 1908 to 1915. But it is also a drama about a […]

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REVIEW OF ‘MEMPHIS’: Black Rep/White Theatre at the J collaboration wins the heart, sets the mind thinking

At the heart of Memphis lies a conversation about cultural veneration versus cultural appropriation. Based loosely on a real-life Memphis DJ who, during the early 1950s, began to spread the appeal of R&B to white radio listeners, this Tony Award-winning musical ran for 1,166 performances at New York’s Shubert Theatre before closing in 2012 and […]

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REVIEW: Lyric Opera finally able to present its innovative Amahl to live audiences

Most of us have experienced at least one extraordinary moment in our lives in which we feel we’ve been visited by a miracle: and perhaps we have been. Such a moment is at the heart of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, which despite being a specifically Christian story contains fundamental truths that […]

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REIMAGINING THE CLASSICAL: Kansas City Ballet opens season with precision, playfulness, and a modern turn

Oh, how George Balanchine’s teachers back in Russia must have chafed at the finale of his Serenade, in which three women assert themselves through the most startling of means: After 20 minutes of perfectly turned-out, bun-headed classicism, they let down their hair, literally. And how cataclysmic this revolutionary moment can feel when this chilly classic […]

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Best of Fall 2021: Our picks

Many of the shows we are highlighting this fall are actually indoors! But always confirm your event a day or two ahead.   SEPTEMBER August 27-September 19 Kansas City Repertory Theater; Mary’s Wedding; First love strikes at the outbreak of World War I in Stephen Massicotte’s drama; National World War I Museum and Memorial south […]

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IN REVIEW: Ballet’s ‘Swan Lake’ becoming signature work of the Carney era

Devon Carney’s great affection for classical ballet stands front and center in his lovingly choreographed Swan Lake, which the Kansas City Ballet introduced here in 2016 and is currently revisiting. This newly refurbished version, with sets from Ballet West that are even more imposing and elaborate than those used the first time around, opened on […]

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BEST OF SPRING 2020: Choice moments in music, theater, and dance

FEBRUARY 7-9  Kansas City Symphony; Zukerman Plays Beethoven’s Violin Concerto; Michael Stern has invited the great American artist to help inaugurate the Symphony’s dual celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday and what would have been the 100th birthday of Michael’s father, Isaac Stern, who discovered Pinchas Zukerman as a 13-year-old Israeli wunderkind and brought him to […]

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IN REVIEW: Ballet opens season with recent works and new ‘Carmina’

Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana lends itself to the stage partly, perhaps, because the composer actually intended it to be performed as a sort of theatrical pageant, with sets, costumes, and even movement. And because so much of its rhythmic energy suggests dance, it’s hardly surprising that the score has proven a favorite among choreographers. Many […]

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