Don't Miss List
Spanish at the Symphony, reliving Madame Butterfly & German collage power, who could ask for more?
Editors Note: We've asked Houston arts leaders and CultureMap contributors to pick the jewels from Houston's upcoming arts season — the events that they don't plan to miss. Here's what's on the list of CultureMap's high and low culture (he's half of the hilarious Real Housewives commentating duo) extraordinaireTheodore Bale
During a stroll through an airport concourse last year, I gave in to temptation and bought one of those highly-touted Spanish language immersion programs. It’s pretty good.
By this time, however, I’m tired of speaking to the voice recognition program in my laptop. I need some real human interaction. So I’m thrilled that the Houston Symphony is offering a free concert at Jones Hall on September 12 that coincides perfectly with my eagerly anticipated autumn adult-Ed Spanish class.
The Chevron Fiesta Sinfónica Familiar features music from a variety of Hispanic composers, most of whom I’ve never heard of. Galindo’s Sones de Mariachi and Chávez: Sinfonía India will certainly set me in the right mood, along with Moncayo’s Huapango and Revueltas: Sensemayá, when I start to practice my verb conjugations. Brett Mitchell conducts this creative, one-night-only program.
It was a common ritual of my youth to enjoy a Japanese dinner with my mother and then see a great staging of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. It sounds hokey, I know, but I’m thrilled that Houston Grand Opera is giving me another chance to relive those wonderful memories with its season-opening new production.
This staging features the work of director Michael Grandage, set and costume designer Christopher Oram, and lighting designer Neil Austin. Their recognized production of Britten’s Billy Budd at the Glyndebourne Festival is just a hint of what is sure to be a stunning version of Butterfly, the team’s first opera production for an American company.
Since the performances run from October 22 through November 5, I intend to return with a young friend who aspires to become an opera singer. She’s never seen a staged performance before, and this one is sure to win her over.
After watching dance mostly on television this month (yes, I’m a serious addict of So You Think You Can Dance), I’m eager to see some real bodies in motion, and in the company of a live audience. I’ll continue my exploration of the flourishing local contemporary dance scene at the Weekend of Texas Contemporary Dance, offered free at the Miller Outdoor Theater September 24-25. Dances performed to both live and recorded music are offered from a wide range of Houston groups, including Noble Motion Dance, Revolve Dance Company, Vault, infinite Moving Ever Evolving (iMEE), and many others.
The 11 a.m.. show on Saturday is especially intended for families, and features performances from Houston Ballet II and The Anjali Dance Company.
I’ll definitely be heading to DiverseWorks for Yasuko Yokoshi’s brilliantly weird Tyler, Tyler, on October 14-16. Films of the unusual dance stuck out most definitely during DiverseWorks’ press conference last month. With both classically-trained Kabuki dancers and contemporary artists, the goal of the event is described as “not to have the performers exchange their respective forms, but to examine the nature of cultural identity by experimenting with cultural form.” I’m there.
After the stunning last season from this presenter, in particular Morgan Thorson’s Heaven, I know that this is where I’ll find the most cutting-edge dance in the city. Original music from Steven Reker, along with scores from Sakamoto, Cat Power and Lou Reed, accompanies the dance.
In between these stunning performances, I plan to return time and again to The Menil Collection to see Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage, which opens on October 22. The German collagist is one of my all-time favorites, and it will be the first time I’ll get to enter inside his legendary Merzbau, a chamber-like sculpture made from found material. One visit won’t be enough.