Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Stage

Stage Planner: Florida Orchestra kicks off with Beethoven's Ninth, St. Pete Opera with 'Il Trovatore'

GRAND BEGINNINGS: BEETHOVEN'S NINTH

Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 is one of the grandest orchestral compositions ever, and possibly also the composer's best. It broke rules, extending the usual orchestra size and symphony length (more than an hour) and adding a chorus, at a time when many viewed singers as superfluous.

Now closing in on 50 years since it debuted as the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony, the Florida Orchestra opens its season Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts with the masterpiece known best for its Ode to Joy theme.

In a recent interview, music director Michael Francis called Symphony No. 9 a "great poem to human victory," all the more remarkable because the composer had by then lost his hearing completely. Read that story at tbtim.es/16o5.

Anyone who wants to learn more about the concert program should attend the pre-concert talk, which starts at 7 p.m. The talks last 30 minutes and include snippets of the music to come, either on tape or by one of the musicians.

Some in the audience enjoy soaking up every detail. A few might even bring a score to concerts and follow along as the orchestra plays. Others might skip the pre-concert talk but take in the conductor's brief remarks before lifting his baton. Still others just let their minds wander and enjoy the music.

Wherever you fall, there is no "wrong way" to listen, Francis said.

"What I feel about listening to classical music is that there is a tremendous level of refinement," Francis said. "Your ear, the more you listen to it — in silence, really captivated and really drawn into it — will start to hear more. You start to hear not just one level, not just melody and bass but in the harmony. … I feel that the process of listening is massively underrated. It sharpens our hearing, and we start to feel much more as a result of it."

The concert opens with Francis Poulenc's triumphant Gloria. The work premiered in 1961, and also features the Master Chorale. The evening's soloists include soprano Yetzabel Arias, above, contralto Lynne McMurtry, tenor Robin Yujoong Kim and bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus.

Concerts are at 8 p.m. Friday at the Straz Center in Tampa; 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg; and 2 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15–$45. (727) 892-3331. floridaorchestra.org.

TROUBADOURS: ST. PETERSBURG OPERA

Like most 19th century operas, Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore has its share of complications. It opens with a duel, hints at a mysterious knight, is touched by the nearness of witchcraft and is otherwise adorned with gypsies and royalty, love triangles and lots of death. The St. Petersburg Opera kicks off its season Oct. 14 with the opera, which in English means "the Troubadour."

To hear those passionate conflicts distilled and get a glimpse of the performance, maestro Mark Sforzini, above, leads previews Thursday and Friday. In "Dark Lady Played Black Magic — a preview to Il Trovatore," he'll have singers on hand to demonstrate key points of the story and give audiences ideas on what to listen for. The events start at 6 p.m. today at the Music Gallery of Clearwater, 5990 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater; and 11 a.m. Friday at the Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. $20, $17 seniors and students. (727) 823-2040. stpeteopera.org.

BROADWAY AND BEYOND: UT OPENS FREE CONCERT SERIES

The University of Tampa's popular PNC Bank series of free public concerts gets off to big start Sunday with Broadway singer Liz Callaway, above, a favorite of Stephen Sondheim. She brings her songbook of favorites and everything from Gershwin to film scores. Callaway made her Broadway debut in Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along in 1981, the first of many collaborations with the acclaimed composer. She earned a Tony nomination for Baby and a Drama Desk Award nomination for The Spitfire Grill. Animation fans will recognize her as the voice of the lead character in Anastasia and Kiara from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. The free concert series has become one of UT's most anticipated and well-attended events on campus. It will also bring in organists Raymond and Beth Chenault (Feb. 5); returning pops organist Carol Williams (March 19); and symphony conductor, pianist and virtuoso organist Alexander Frey (April 9), who worked with Leonard Bernstein. Callaway's concert is 2 p.m. Sunday at UT's Sykes Chapel, 401 W Kennedy Blvd.

   
Comments
The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

PHANTOM REDUX: LOVE NEVER DIESTurns out, the Phantom survived that angry mob. We know that because the antihero of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera re-emerges in the 2010 sequel, Love Never Dies.It opens in 1907 New York, w...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Is Gilbert Gottfried really that annoying in real life?

Is Gilbert Gottfried really that annoying in real life?

A new documentary about comedian Gilbert Gottfried reveals someone more mild-mannered than his stage persona, married with children, verging on dull.His voice doesn’t grate, dropping half its nasal quality and all of its foul-mouthed bluster. Shy win...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala

Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala

ST. PETERSBURG — In some ways, the Florida Orchestra’s gala with Sting looked like other concerts of a mega-star. Most of the fans who packed the Mahaffey Theater bought their tickets the day they went on sale. They cheered and sang along at the open...
Published: 12/10/17
What’s on stage this week: Florida Orchestra happy hour concerts are back, Book of Mormon lottery

What’s on stage this week: Florida Orchestra happy hour concerts are back, Book of Mormon lottery

BACK ON TAP: HAPPY HOUR CONCERTSWith an opening year on the books, it looks like Happy Hour Concerts are here to stay. The Florida Orchestra figured last year it was time to create a user-friendly atmosphere geared to 9-to-5 commuters who could use t...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Live Oak Theatre Company presents Christmas show Dec. 15-16 in Brooksville

Live Oak Theatre Company presents Christmas show Dec. 15-16 in Brooksville

BROOKSVILLE — Singing Christmas carols, listening to stories while sitting in front of the fireplace, watching twinkling Christmas lights. For many, these are the feelings that trigger memories of Christmases past.Such memories will be reignited when...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/09/17
Musical take on miserly classic

Musical take on miserly classic

Photo courtesy of Jimmy FerraroThe new Millennium Theatre Company will present a musical production of What in the Dickens Happened To Scrooge? weekends, Dec. 9-17, at 10005 Ridge Road, New Port Richey. Show times are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
How to get $25 tickets to ‘Book of Mormon’ at the Straz Center

How to get $25 tickets to ‘Book of Mormon’ at the Straz Center

The Book of Mormon’s producers have made lower-priced tickets possible for a few lucky fans.To win a $25 ticket (that’s less than half of the starting price for seats), it’s safest to show up two and a half hours before curtain. One lottery entry per...
Published: 12/05/17
Orchestra delivers a stirring Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2

Orchestra delivers a stirring Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2

TAMPA — Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy a concert. I mean really, you can work yourself to death trying to figure out every nuance, as a critic or music aficionado. I don’t think Sergei Rachmaninoff, who described music as nonverbal po...
Published: 12/02/17
Our music critics wonder, how will Sting mesh with the Florida Orchestra?

Our music critics wonder, how will Sting mesh with the Florida Orchestra?

I was working construction the year Roxanne peaked on the Billboard charts and was playing all the time. With some of the more monotonous jobs, such as grading slabs, the radio is an important part of getting through it. I wasn’t into the Polic...
Published: 11/30/17
You should go see terrific ‘Fun Home’ at the Straz

You should go see terrific ‘Fun Home’ at the Straz

TAMPA The best open house this holiday season runs this week, but it’s not about nostalgia or sentiment. Fun Home tells a true story of the cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s upbringing in a lovingly dysfunctional family. The graphic novel of the same name ...
Published: 11/29/17