05/24/13 Music & Concerts
ST. PETERSBURG — Hein Jung has one of the longest arias in all of opera in Ariadne auf Naxos. "It's almost 11 minutes of ravishing coloratura, a lot of high notes, really difficult," the soprano says. "At one point I sing a high D for 16 beats — 10 beats of holding and six beats of trills."
Jung is playing the role of Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss' madcap opera (with a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal), which has been called a "serious trifle" because of its mix of tragic Greek myth and slapstick farce. The premise is ridiculous: By order of the "richest man in Vienna," who is paying for the soiree, an opera is combined with a commedia dell'arte piece in order to get things over with in time for fireworks. Opening on Friday, it's the final production of the season by St. Petersburg Opera....
05/24/13 Music & Concerts
TAMPA — I recently watched a documentary (by British filmmaker Tony Palmer) on Stravinsky, and it had footage of ice breaking up in the frozen Neva River in St. Petersburg, the Russian composer's childhood home. Experiencing that could have been the source of his oft-quoted remark on "the whole earth cracking" during the onset of spring as inspiration for his ballet score The Rite of Spring....
05/22/13 Music & Concerts
In the symphonic repertoire, it doesn't get much more exciting than the Rite of Spring, Stravinsky's ballet music that started a riot when it was first heard (and seen in Nijinsky's scandalous choreography for the Ballets Russes) on May 29, 1913, in Paris.
With 99 musicians on stage, an orchestra performance of the work can still be thrilling, and guest conductor Tito Muñoz and the Florida Orchestra take on its complex harmonies and rhythms this weekend. ...
Song and dance — and especially tap dance — supply the material for Pulse, which is receiving its premiere at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Conceived and choreographed by Noah Racey, whose Broadway credits range from dance roles in numerous shows to associate choreographer for Thoroughly Modern Millie, the new production has a cast of six (including Racey) and a six-piece band. The score features standards like Under My Skin, Sunny Side of the Street, Sweet Pea and Drum Crazy....
05/18/13 Music & Concerts
It was 100 years ago this month that the Rite of Spring had its infamous premiere in Paris. As the lore and legend goes, the ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky caused a riot.
"The music was very loud, Nijinsky had to scream the counts to the dancers from the wings and people were throwing things into the pit," said Tito Muñoz, reading from the New York Times review of the Ballets Russes performance on May 29, 1913....
05/17/13 Music & Concerts
Times Performing Arts Critic
ST. PETERSBURG — Jeff Multer gained fresh appreciation for concert hall conditions in the United States last Sunday when he was a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba. The concertmaster of the Florida Orchestra played the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the orchestra at the National Theater of Cuba in steamy Havana.
"Even when the air conditioning was working, it was a bazillion percent humidity," Multer said after his return this week. "With water condensing on the violin, the instrument was literally sweating. I was sweating. Oil was leaching out of the wood. Then I was playing the fastest, hardest, most ridiculous violin concerto under those circumstances. It was such a surreal experience."...
05/17/13 Music & Concerts
TAMPA — Clay Ellerbroek is like an opera singer whose voice penetrates with ease through the sound of a big orchestra, except that he does so with his flute. Friday night, Ellerbroek, principal flute of the Florida Orchestra, was the soloist in a piece made to show off his talents, Lowell Liebermann's Flute Concerto. Guest conductor Tito Munoz led the concert in Ferguson Hall at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts....
05/15/13 Music & Concerts
Some principal players in symphony orchestras who are excellent musicians don't necessarily thrive when they are featured in concertos or other solo works in front of their colleagues. Perhaps they are too used to being part of the group to shine in the spotlight.
Clay Ellerbroek, principal flute of the Florida Orchestra, doesn't seem as if he will have that problem. For one thing, the first-chair flute probably has more solos per score than any orchestra player, and Ellerbroek is invariably rock solid in them. And he has flair, not just in his playing but also in his many hairstyles....
Take your pick, modern dance or ballet, both are on the agenda this weekend.
Moving Current, the bay area's modern dance collective, presents its 11th annual NewGrounds program of up-and-coming choreographers from Florida and beyond. Featured are works by Melissa Torres, Emily Cargill, Raven Jones and others in performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Theater 2 on USF's Tampa campus. $12, $16. Moving Current is also offering master classes with NewGrounds artists Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the USF dance studios. Show and Tell, a free showcase of new dance works, is at 4 p.m. Thursday at Theater 2. (813) 237-0216; movingcurrent.com....
The rock musical has been around since Hair in the 1960s, and some of them have rocked pretty hard, such as Spring Awakening and Rock of Ages. But none rock as hard as American Idiot.
“This is the most unapologetic rock show that Broadway has seen to date," says Evan Jay Newman, music director and keyboard player with the tour that opens Friday for a three-day gig at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts....
05/14/13 Music & Concerts
ST. PETERSBURG — Clay Ellerbroek came to the flute late, not starting to take lessons on the instrument until he was 13. Before, he was a saxophone player, and therein lies a telling story that the flutist related one afternoon at a coffee shop:
"Being a 12-year-old boy walking to school with a tenor saxophone case, with it constantly banging against the side of my leg, uphill, in the snow, both to and from school — well, after a year or two of that, I was ready to go to something smaller and more portable."...
TAMPA — Behind the Gates intends to shine light on a closed world, the ultra-Orthodox Haredi sect in Israel, and the Jobsite Theater staging of Wendy Graf's play gets off to a promising start, with a marathon monologue by a troubled 17-year-old named Bethany Leiberman.
As she profanely recounts her misery over being adopted, her useless parents and therapist, and American teenage life in general, Bethany undergoes a transformation, shedding her black Metallica T-shirt, Goth makeup and nose ring and changing into the modest garments of a kosher maidel, a pure, sacred Jewish maiden....
05/08/13 Music & Concerts
Jim Morrison may be spinning in his Parisian grave at the thought of setting songs like Light My Fire and Roadhouse Blues to symphonic strings, but the idea of the Florida Orchestra playing music of the Doors is not so farfetched. Nor is it new. Back in 2000, the British superstar violinist Nigel Kennedy had a crossover hit with his recording of Riders on the Storm: The Doors Concerto, with songs such as Hello, I Love You, People Are Strange and The End arranged and orchestrated by rocker-turned-classical-composer Jaz Coleman....
05/08/13 Music & Concerts
A longstanding Tampa series of music from India may have its finale this weekend with a performance by vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan. Organizers of Swaralaya, which has presented three or four concerts of South Indian classical music a year since 2001, are uncertain if they can continue because of declining attendance and financial support.
"We are going to decide after this concert if we can keep giving concerts," said Raghupathy Sarma, who has been involved with the series since its beginning. "Our attendance has fallen to about 50 people per concert, and if we don't get more support, we will simply close."...
ST. PETERSBURG — Right from the beginning, John & Jen gets its principal point across, as 6-year-old Jen sings Welcome to the World to her newborn brother, John.
"The people you love the most are also the ones who make you cry," she croons, leaning into his crib. "I'm not sure why."
The bond between siblings is at the heart of John & Jen, now playing at Freefall Theatre, and through that prism, this intimate, two-actor musical by Andrew Lippa (music, book) and Tom Greenwald (lyrics, book) is an emotionally riveting portrait of American family life during a time of wrenching change....