PIck Five (Plus)
Your weekly guide to Houston: Nude theater, an Opera Marriage, a Killer Joe &Simon Fashion Now
Is Mozart in the air?
Perhaps, though it's mostly accidental, but nonetheless fabulous. What begun with a phenomenal and hilarious fictional account between rivals Mozart and Salieri with Alley Theatre's Amadeus segued with one of the most artistically engaging concerts I have witnessed at the Houston Symphony. The River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) picked the theme du jour and surprised audiences with an unscripted performance of Mozart's Overture to La Clemenza di Tito.
But there is life beyond Mozart, really.
Ending on a high note, literally, ROCO's principal clarinetist Nathan Williams rocked the Copland Clarinet Concerto, even collaborated with happily chirping birds and a quacking duck who were astonishingly in tune. Closing with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, the concert left audiences in a chipper mood, myself included.
As the opera world mourns the loss of Daniel Catán, I will treasure the time I had to speak with him followed by the thoughtful production of Il Postino at the Moores Opera Center. His music and legacy will live on, assuming that Buck Ross will continue to program his works as part of the Daniel Catán Project, an effort established by Ross in 2009 to stage one of Catán's operas every two years.
Non-music events were plentiful last week, beginning with the reveal of a surrealist parlor game for iPad courtesy of Lawndale Artist Studio Program resident Anthony Thompson Shumate. Exquisite Corpse, though it sounds morbid, is a hilarious and artful game, where participants contribute to create an image, blind to what others have done.
The Houston Modern Market turned Winter Street Studio into a mid-century mod shopping fete, filled with the most curious objects, art, furniture, clothes and personal items. Lesson learned? Grab something before someone else does. In these shows, one-of-a-kind means you snooze, you loose. And I lost a whimsical set of salt and pepper shakers in the shape of lightbulbs.
What's on tap for this week?
Alley Theater's Amadeus: A Tale of Obsession
Amadeus is for everyone including opera lovers, theater nuts, comic types, even for non-artsy individuals who have never heard of Mozart or classical music all together. Focusing on his nemesis, Antonio Salieri, Amadeus at its roots concerns itself with man's desires and how far one will go to fulfill them.
Fame, jealousy, murder, failed suicide and sex (even a little nudity) commingle in this hilarious but meaningful tour de force. Though their rivalry was indeed real, the account of events is highly fictional. Enjoy it nonetheless. Runs through May 1.
Houston Grand Opera's Marriage of Figaro
Are you Mozart curious? You can experience one of the Operas quoted in Amadeus. In this operabuffa (comic), Mozart abandons the regal and lofty conventions of the time in favor of a piece about everyday people with everyday issues, beginning inside a lady's boudoir.
The work picks up where The Barber of Seville left off. Young hot shot conductor James Gaffigan makes his Houston Grand Opera debut, having already worked with the Zurich Opera, Glyndebourne Festival and having conducted Don Giovanni at the Aspen Music Festival and School. Opens Friday and runs through April 30.
Divergence Vocal Theater's Klytemnestra: The Original Subversive Female
With a title like that, its difficult not to pay heed, although Divergence Vocal Theater's power femme, Misha Penton, has already achieved notoriety in Houston for staging works that expand and challenge the boundaries of opera into a genre in its own milieu. It's a collaborative effort, where everyone involved contributes artistically.
With music by Dominick DiOrio and text by John Harvey and Penton, Klytemnestra promises to be another success like Selkie: A Sea Tale, which was sold out, standing room only by the time of the performance. DVT will also be debuting its new performance space at Spring Street Studios. Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Downtown Home Tour
Downtown Houston is truly a charming neighborhood filled with fantastic shopping, great amenities and breathtaking one-of-a-kind real estate. The Downtown Home Tour opens the doors to unique residences for the home and design curious to tour.
Guests can peruse the Bayou Lofts, Four Seasons Residences, Franklin Lofts, One Park Place, Commerce Towers and Post Rice Lofts. Also on the tour are the homes of Houston artists Nicola Parente and Olga Porter and the just renovated historic Cash Register Building on Caroline. Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m.
Texas Bluebonnet Wine & Cheese Trail
Wildflowers may be a little lazy this year, but that shouldn't prevent wine enthusiasts from taking a trip down the 105 corridor to enjoy some Texas vino. Each winery will showcase two select blends in addition to cheese pairings. Participating wineries include Messina Hof, Bernhardt, Colony Cellars, Cork This, Pleasant Hill, Retreat Hill, Retreat Hill Cellars, Saddlehorn, Texas Star and Windy Winery. Weekends through April 17.
My colleague's picks:
Assistant editor and art savant Steven Thomson's pick: Zeitgeist Films Trio: Bill Cunningham New York atMuseum of Fine Arts, Houston
Steven says: "The Sunday Styles stalwart comes to life in this stunning documentary that reveals the world of old school journalism, as well as glimpses of a very complex artist. A must." Friday at 7 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
Art contributor and Dancehunter Nancy Wozny's pick: Tracy Letts's Killer Joe at Obsidian Art Space
Nancy says: "Thanks to Big Head Productions at Obsidian Art Space I can continue being a Tracy Letts groupie, with their production of Killer Joe, directed by Ananka Kohnitz, who also did a bang up job directing Letts' weird ass play, Bug, at Theatre Southwest. Expect drugs, sex, violence, naked people and some biting dialogue, which often makes a Letts play tick.
It should be noted that the Alley Theatre got in on the Letts action with his Pulitzer-prize winning, August: Osage County earlier this year and Stages jumped in last season with his Man from Nebraska."
Fashionista Dillon Sorensen's pick: Simon Fashion Now 2011
Dillon says: "Most fashion show showcases look one season ahead — but not Simon Fashion Now at the Houston Galleria. The weekend-long event kicks off on Thursday night with a runway show featuring the hottest Spring looks from Billy Reid, Kate Spade, Neiman Marcus, Carolina Herrera and Jimmy Choo. Seating is invitation only, but public viewing will be available from the common areas.
"As usual, the local Billy Reid store will be hosting a ridiculous after-party, and I guarantee that you will have never seen so many people packed into a retail store.
"On Friday night, more runway shows will take place at 5:30, 6:30, and 7:30. Houston's own version of Project Runway, entitled Design Wars, will take place at 6 p.m. You definitely won't want to miss this, considering that Chloe Dao and I will both be sitting on the judges panel. Galleria retailers will also offer in-store events and specials on Saturday." Thursday through Saturday.