WELL, SHOOT. The whole thing explodes into a duel, of course, but before that there’s a tangled romance, and a cad’s carelessness, and a whole lot of glorious singing, and, well, why not a wintry tale for a midsummer opera? Portland Opera moves into the cozier confines of the Newmark Theatre beginning Friday night for its new production of Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky’s lyric opera based on Pushkin’s verse novel, and things are looking promising – if not for Onegin himself, who lives to deeply regret shooting his best friend, Lensky, then for the audience. ArtsWatch’s Christa Morletti McIntyre interviewed stage director Kevin Newbury, fresh off his acclaimed world-premiere production of Fellow Travelers at Cincinnati Opera, and discovered his plan to create an Onegin that will resonate with his fellow Gen Xers. Newbury has reset the late 19th century tale in the 1980s, around the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union and crumbling of the Berlin Wall. The “political and nuclear-threatening war of grudges” between East and West, McIntyre writes, helped “to unpack the meanings and individual lives impacted by this new kind of war, which was as visually stunning as it was oppressive and terrorizing.” All that, of course, plus some gorgeous music.
JULY’S FIRST THURSDAY IS THIS WEEK, and there is considerable to look forward to the monthly gallery walk. (Some galleries open shows on Last Friday or First Friday or according to their own schedules). A few we have our eye on: J.D. Perkin’s Island, an exhibit of the Portland sculptor’s fascinating-looking contemporary busts, coupled with some selected works by the late, great Robert Colescott, at Laura Russo Gallery; Sarah Siestreem’s Winter Work paintings, with Cynthia Mosser’s Beach Body, at Augen; the all-star anniversary lineup at PDX Contemporary in A Stand of Pine in a Tilled Field: 21 Years at PDX; the stylized figures and settings of R. Keaney Rathbun’s Memory and Stone, at Waterstone; and Blackfish’s annual Recent Graduates Exhibition of work from Oregon’s college and university art departments. Also, the Portland Biennial, an ambitious overview of work by 34 contemporary artists, opens Saturday at Disjecta, and should be well worth a long look. And on the north coast in Astoria, K.B. Dixon’s 32 Faces, his black-and-white environmental portraits of well-known Oregon artists in their elements, opens Saturday. ArtsWatch wrote about the exhibit when it opened at Michael Parsons Fine Art in Portland in February.
CHAMBER MUSIC NORTHWEST, Portland’s extravaganza of great small-scale music, has moved into its second of five weeks of performance at Reed College’s Kaul Auditorium and other spots around town. with, among other things, an evening of Schubert and Beethoven with the Orion String Quartet on Tuesday, July 5, at Portland State University’s Lincoln Performance Hall and Thursday, the 7th, in the Kaul. Angela Allen kicks off our coverage with Great musicians handle ‘Grand Turismo,’ her report on the festival’s Fourth of July weekend string fireworks. Keep an eye out for more reports on the festival’s progress from ArtsWatch.
THE OREGON BACH FESTIVAL, in the meantime, is heading into the home stretch downvalley in Eugene (it continues through Sunday, July 10), and ArtsWatch’s writers have been busy following the action, with more to come. What we’ve done so far:
- Chris Thile: punching through categories. Brett Campbell, in a piece originally from Eugene Weekly, interviews Thile, leader of the eclectic Punch Brothers and a major Bach fan, before the group’s performance tonight (Tuesday, July 5) with Gabriel Kahane at the festival.
- Bach Fest: an ace in the mule. We take in a pair of performances of music by Viennese masters featuring pianoforte whiz Robert Levin and other advocates of historical instrumentation, and compare the results to watching a mule race. That, we declare, is a good thing.
- Requiem from a heavyweight. Our interview with Sir James MacMillan, the Scottish composer whose massive new work A European Requiem was premiered on Saturday night at the festival. MacMillan stoutly defends carrying tradition forward while forging the music and culture of the future: “People say the past is a tainted world. But as time has gone on the world has begun to understand that starting everything fresh brings problems, too.”
- OBF’s Mass in B-minor: creative alchemy. Rachel Barnes, in a review that ran originally on Eugene Weekly’s EW! blog, writes about the season-opening performance of Bach’s great B-minor mass, which for the first time in the festival’s history was performed in historically informed style, a radical departure from the Helmuth Rilling days.
- Mentoring a community of 21st century composers. Gary Ferrington writes about the Bach Fest’s innovative ventures into the present and future via its Composers Symposium, New Pathways concert series, and mentoring programs – as Ferrington puts it, “helping foster tomorrow’s music.”
CORIOLANUS and CORIOLANUS. The political times for Shakespeare’s tragedy about a general who fails at leadership have rolled around yet again, and Bag&Baggage brings Thomas Sheridan’s 1749 adaptation, with an all-female cast (called Coriolanus, or the Roman Matron), to Hillsboro’s outdoor Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza beginning Thursday. It’ll join Portland Actors Ensemble’s Shakespeare-in-the-parks production of the original script. This week PAE’s version plays Thursday and Saturday at Pettygrove Park near PSU downtown, and Friday at Marylhurst University. Look for ArtsWatch’s reviews of both soon.
FILM: GRIMM STAR DAVID GIUNTOLI IN BUDDYMOON. Marc Mohan reviews Portland’s favorite Wesen watchdog in a low-budget, made-in-Oregon, independent flick with charms: “Buddymoon is slight but goofily endearing, and a notably heartfelt depiction of male friendship that avoids the clichés of a typical ‘bromance.’”
STORMY WEATHER: A TEMPEST ERUPTS. The improvisational practitioners of Original Practice Shakespeare take to the parks with a quirky version of the Bard’s late romance. Christa Morletti McIntyre reviews.
RISK/REWARD 2016: CREATIVE TENSIONS. Bret Campbell reviews the shows in this year’s multimedia performance festival: “The most successful drew their power, and often their humor, from the interaction of two or more media forms—artistic friction that struck sparks.”
FILM: DANIEL RADCLIFFE IS A SWISS ARMY MAN. Think playing a child wizard was oddball? In this definitely out-of-the-mainstream movie comedy, the erstwhile Harry Potter plays a flatulating, talking corpse. It is, our reviewer Marc Mohan writes, “the most outrageous thing he’s done yet. It also might be the best.”
HUNTER CAPTURED BY THE GAME. Christa Morletti McIntyre reviews the sparkling turns by Rebecca Ridenour and Matthew Kerrigan in the Shaking the Tree/CoHo dramatization of Shakespeare’s poem Venus and Adonis in the CoHo Summeriest. (This weekend in Summerfest: Bella Culpa in A Little Bit Off.)
DANCEWATCH WEEKLY. Jamuna Chiarini’s most rcent weekly dance wrap includes a fascinating interview with Iranian dancer Tanin about dancing in Iran, where the art form is prohibited.
MUSICWATCH WEEKLY. Brett Campbell’s weekly update on what’s what where and when on Oregon’s music scene.
FILMWATCH WEEKLY. Marc Mohan’s weekly column keeps everyone up to date on the big screen.
INTERVIEW: D.A. PENNEBAKER AND CHRIS HEGEDUS DO LOOK BACK. The documentary film masters chat with Marc Mohan about their four decades of working together professionally and as a married couple, ahead of Wednesday night’s screenings at the Hollywood Theatre of Pennebaker’s groundbreaking 1967 Bob Dylan film Don’t Look Back and his 1973 David Bowie film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
LIVING HISTORY: ROE IN ASHLAND. Suzi Steffen reviews Lisa Loomer’s new play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, rooted in the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision on abortion.
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