Pick Five (Plus)
Your weekly guide to Houston: Opera arias, Irish stew & Darwin Deez
There was a lot of opera this week and in my humble opinion, it’s a good thing.
Houston Grand Opera’s Lucia di Lammermoor opened with a bang as soprano Albina Shagimuratova redefined “crazy diva” in her interpretation of the traumatized bipolar title role. CultureMap opera divo,Ted Bale, thought so. The Moores Opera Center explored 3D technology in Mozart’s Magic Flute, making the fantasy story a little more believable than the composer could have staged with period technology. And Dead Man Walking kept on chilling audiences with Heggie’s realistic account of an execution by lethal injection.
On a happier note, Diverseworks “Industry Night” was a blast. Giving the creative community, its supporters and fans an opportunity to co-mingle while looking at pictures of clowns peeing in what could be interpreted as grandmas-gone-wild newly decorated home/exhibit, I was more preoccupied with playing “paw” with Lemonade Day's social media maven Mandy Graessle’s new and adorable pup and talking to Diverseworks' Public Relations & Marketing Manager Shawna Forney’s three-legged dog. That just screams Diverseworks to me.
And the conversation wasn’t disappointing.
Other Sightings? Spacetaker’s Jenni-Rebecca Stephenson and K.C. Scharnberg, James Phelan, Sixto Wagan, Elizabeth Sosa and CultureMap’s sales gurus Chad Miller and Marielle Johnson Sokolowski (Mari), who bought me a beer (hugs).
Our own food connoisseur Sarah Rufca checked out a Girl Scout cookie dessert contest while CultureMap’s sassy social media editor Fayza Elmostehi planned yet another adventure race. Happy and healthy Marci Gilbert was all over the Houston Marathon giving us tips on how to best support our fellow runners.
It was a busy week, and this week isn’t letting up, and we like it that way.
Houston Grand Opera’s "Concert of Arias"
I know I have been talking abundantly about HGO lately. This is something that although may cost you a few bucks, it’s worth your dime. A type of operatic American Idol, HGO presents up-and-coming singers to a friendly competition, also bringing the audience to partake in choosing their favorite. Last year's competition winner and audience favorite, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, had me at hello, but it sounded more like “Aure, deh per pietà” from Handel’s Guilio Cesare. Thursday at 6 p.m.
Houston Symphony presents Gil Shaham and Beethoven Symphony No. 7
Gil Shaham comes from a freak family of talented yet humble musicians. His sister Orli, a ridiculous pianist. Gil has a little bit of that Mathew Broderick syndrome: He never ages, always looks cute, young and innocent (check out his butt). Put a violin in his hands and one can’t help just fall for his musicianship. Throw in a beloved Beethoven Symphony — the second movement has been quoted many times in popular music — and you have a must-see program. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Society for the Performing Arts: Ladysmith Black Mambazo
There is something about the open sonorities of this vocal ensemble that exemplifies the incredible spirit of South African music. Having stood the test of time, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been around for 50 or so years and sung for such notables as Queen of England and Pope John Paul, II. That means they should exercise their vocal chords for you as well. You are worthy. Friday at 8 p.m.
Houston Arboretum and Natural Center class: Edible Wild Plants
I have been spending more and more time at the Houston Arboretum and must report that their program offerings are quite diverse. This class focuses on local plants you can identify grow and eat. Throw them in a salad or maybe use them as gorgeous colorful garnishes. Bring your own lunch, comfortable walking shoes and bug repellent. Saturday morning.
Houston Young People for the Arts (HYPA) Gala "Andalusional: A Spanish Dream World"
I’ll be out of town for this one (emcee and friend Chris Johnson has already given me enough grief) but in my absence, you should go. Last year’s Indian-themed gala sent me to the depths of the Harwin area in search for the perfect Indian outfit and scarf. This year, HYPA's Executive Director Heather Pray honors Kathryn Lott Neumann as they continue to encourage young professionals to partake in Houston’s diverse art scene. And you get to wear exotic Spanish garb as the theme is aligned with the Houston Symphony’s Ravel’s Bolero and Rhapsodie Espagnole concert. Olé! I say. Saturday at 7 p.m.
And my colleagues picks:
Indie music guru Jennifer Patterson's pick: Darwin Deez at Fitzgerald's
Jennifer says: "This one-man show looks like a curly Devendra Banhart and sounds like a calmed-down Julian Casablancas. I was sold as soon as I heard 'Bad Day,' in which he sings to an anonymous frenemy, 'If you drop your keys/ I hope there’s a sewer very nearby,' and 'I would like to be your girlfriend/ so that I could dump you.' He’s not bitter or wishing death on an ex (that’s so tired). Instead, he just hopes a certain acquaintance of his leaves the windows down when it rains." Friday.
Art columnist Nancy Wozny's pick: Opera in the Heights' Don Carlo
Nancy says: "I'm jazzed about Don Carlo at Opera in the Heights for several reasons: It's directed by Brian Byrnes, who rocked the OH! house last season in his direction of La Bohème, his very first opera; the role of Elisabetta is sung by rising star and Lake Jackson native Emily Newton, who heads directly to the Metropolitan Opera to cover (operaese for understudy) Ortlinde in Die Walküre; and it's conducted by Enrique Carréon-Robledo, who is making is OH! debut and up for the job of artistic director." Through Saturday.
Assistant Editor and bar savant Caroline Gallay's pick: Fourth Annual Rory Miggins Memorial Irish Stew Cookoff at the Continental Club
Caroline says: "The annual cook-off, which begins at noon, remembers the son of one of Houston's oldest and most prominent Irish families. Miggins was a great music lover and this annual pre-event to the Saint Paddy's Day parade celebrates that with music from the Blaggards, Irish stew and other goodies from long-time competitors and, obviously, plenty of Jameson and Guinness." Saturday at noon.