The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Mar3Filed under: Arts administration, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Country music, Current Affairs, Lexington Opera House, Music, Musicals, Norton Center for the Arts, Opera, Rupp Arena, Singletary Center for the Arts, Theater; Tagged as: 42nd Street, Carl Hall, Cats, Chris Isaak, Emmylou Harris, Gustavo Dudamel, Itzhak Perlman, Jason Aldean, Kathy Griffin, Lexington Opera House, Luanne Franklin, Michael Grice, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Norton Center for the Arts, Porgy and Bess, Rascal Flatts, Rupp Arena, Singletary Center for the Arts, Steve Martin, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic
The afternoon of Feb. 6, I was standing in line at the Singletary Center for the Arts box office behind a handsomely dressed couple that looked like they had just come from church to see the final performance of the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s production of Porgy and Bess.
When it was their turn to be served, the man held out his credit card, and the ticket agent said, “I’m sorry. This performance is sold out.”Metropolitan Opera soprano Angela Brown as Bess in the sold-out Feb. 6 performance of the UK Opera Theatre production of “Porgy and Bess.” Photo by Tim Collins for UK Opera Theatre.
That’s become a more common occurrence at Lexington-area shows recently. Just this weekend, Rupp Arena presents a sold-out performance by country star Jason Aldean Friday night, the Lexington Opera House hosts two sold-out performances by theBeatles tribute show Rain and Saturday night’s concert by violin legend Itzhak Perlman and the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra is so sold out even people who know people couldn’t get tickets.
This follows recent sold-out or near sold-out shows at those venues by artists such as pop star Chris Isaak, comedian Kathy Griffin, the touring production of Spamalot! and country stars Rascal Flatts, Rupp’s first non-UK basketball sell-out of 2011.
So, is the sell out back? Is a recovering economy starting to show up at the box office?
Well yes and no, venue directors say.
Yes, things do seem to be better than they were in the depths of the great recession in 2008 and ‘09. They also see other factors from a string of very popular acts to a pure desire on consumers’ parts to go have fun to ticket prices coming back to earth.
Feb7Filed under: Music, Opera, Singletary Center for the Arts, Theater, UK; Tagged as: American Spiritual Ensemble, Angela Brown, Angelique Clay, George Gershwin, Gregory Turay, Kenneth Overton, La Bohème, Larry D. Hylton, Lashelle Allen, Metropolitan Opera, Porgy and Bess, Rodolfo, Sabrina Elayne Carten, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre
For the second time in what has become the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre‘s semi-pro season, a Metropolitan Opera singer was on stage Sunday for one of its productions.
Soprano Angela Brown took the stage as Bess is the final performance of UK Opera’s unprecedented production of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. This followed last fall’s production of La Boheme featuring UK alumnus and Met vet Gregory Turay as Rodolfo.
Brown was hardly alone as a pro onstage Sunday. Between guest artists and graduate students at UK, numerous singers came to this performance with extensive professional and even P&G credits including Larry D. Hylton’s Sporting Life, a role he has performed around the world since 2003; Sabrina Elayne Carten who has performed Serena in Virginia, New Orleans and sung Maria with New York City Opera; and La’Shelle Allen, a persistent scene-stealer as Maria, who accumulated a distinguished resume before coming to UK. And of course, there was Kenneth Overton as Porgy, a role he has performed in the United States and Europe.
For all of them and numerous student singers, hitting the back of the Singletary Center concert hall was not a problem – this I know as I was perched in Row Y for the sold-out performance. But Brown’s voice was a particular treat, filling the hall with a power we rarely hear and attacking the role of Bess, especially her saucier moments, with gusto. She and Overton combined for what had to be one of the most gorgeous moments in UK Opera history with Bess You is My Woman. I didn’t quite see the interpretation of the role our critic Candace Chaney described in Angelique Clay’s opening night performance. But performing before her biggest Lexington audience ever – Brown has been here with the American Spiritual Ensemble and in solo recitals over the past decade – we had no trouble hearing a voice that wowed Met Opera audiences as Aida and should probably be in strong contention for Bess the next time the legendary opera house presents the show. All of the principals enjoyed strong support from a cast and chorus filled out by UK and Kentucky State University students, members of the community and the American Spiritual Ensemble.
UK Opera is a student company, training singers who expect to be professionals and often have professional credits. That and ardent financial supporters have enabled UK Opera to present productions like Porgy, with guests like Brown and Overton, that leave little to be desired.
Feb2Filed under: Classical Music, Music, Opera, Theater, UK; Tagged as: Angelique Clay, Bill Gregory, Brent Seales, Dione Johnson, Everett McCorvey, Kenneth Overton, Porgy and Bess, Reginald Smith Jr., Singletary Center for the Arts, UK Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre
Here’s a little video look at the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s production of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. The show continues Feb. 3-6 at the Singletary Center for the Arts concert hall.
Jan2Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Balagula Theatre, Classical Music, Downtown Arts Center, Eastern Kentucky University, LexArts, Lexington Philharmonic, Music, Norton Center for the Arts, Opera, Singletary Center for the Arts, Theater, Transylvania University, UK; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Aloha, Boston Pops Orchestra, Downtown Arts Center, Eastern Kentucky University performing arts center, Eric Seale, Everett McCorvey, Itzhak Perlman, Joe Cannon Artz, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lyric Theatre, Naomi Iizuka, Norton Center for the Arts, Porgy and Bess, ProjectSEE Theatre, Rupp Arena, Say the Pretty Girls, Scott Terrell, Singletary Center for the Arts, Steven A. Hoffman, Transylvania University Theatre, UK Symphony Orchestra, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra
Sep7Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Music, Opera, UK; Tagged as: Atlanta Opera, Dicapo Opera Theatre, Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Everett McCorvey, George Gershwin, God Bless Us Everyone, Hotel Casablanca, Ira Gershwin, Porgy and Bess, Richard Kagey, The Weather Channel, Thomas Pasatieri, UK Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, VIS Center
University of Kentucky Opera Theatre director Everett McCorvey says he tells his children that in life you are known by the company you keep. This season, his opera program will be keeping some really good company.
The 2010-11 arts season will see UK Opera collaborating with companies from New York, Atlanta and Evansville, Ind., as well as debuting new theater technology being developed in Lexington.
The centerpiece of the season is a January production of George and Ira Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with the Atlanta Opera.
The show will be the debut of a new rear-projection system for scenery that has been developed by UK’s Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, or VIS Center.
Projected backdrops are nothing new to theater, explained Richard Kagey, a stage director and designer who has worked extensively with the UK and Atlanta opera companies. The problems have been that front projections create shadows and put scenery on the performers, and rear projections require enormous backstage distance between the screen and the projector to create an image large enough to be used as scenery.
The VIS Center “came up with a software to combine and blend multiple rear-projection units,” said Kagey, acting director of UK Opera. “What it means is you can do this projection in 4 1/2 feet of space.”
Kagey showed the audience at a press conference Tuesday a model of the set units in which dozens of rear-projection units will be hung on honeycomb racks behind screens 24 by 30 feet and 24 by 15 feet. The set-up will be used for productions in the winter in Lexington and then in Atlanta.
The images that will be used have already been filmed in North and South Carolina. The production will also use hurricane footage from The Weather Channel.
The new technology removes the need for lots of large scenery, which the opera usually requires.
Kagey said the project is already drawing interest from other opera and theater companies. McCorvey said it is hoped the new technology could generate revenue for UK Opera.
Another collaboration will bring a familiar name back to Lexington: UK Opera and New York’s Dicapo Opera Theatre are collaborating on the world premiere of Thomas Pasatieri’s God Bless Us Everyone. The opera starts at Ebenezer Scrooge’s funeral 20 years after the events of A Christmas Carol and brings Tiny Tim to the United States during the Civil War.
Dicapo general director Michael Capasso said Pasatieri suggested collaborating with UK, whom he had worked with on his 2007 opera Hotel Casablanca. Capasso is in Lexington to audition students for the show, which will combine the talents of New York and UK singers. The show will have performances in New York on Dec. 16-19 and the at the Lexington Opera House on Dec. 21 and 22.
The season will also feature a March co-production with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra of the opera Brundibár, which was originally performed by the children of the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942. Ella Weisberger, a camp survivor, will be at UK for the production.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich