The arts roundup - September-November 2016

God, I've been so bad at writing lately. Seriously think I need a resolution on how to not suck at maintaining this space. Excuse this time? The world's most brutal bout of cold/flu/PLAGUE that struck me down in tandem with the lovely polar vortex Minnesota enjoyed this weekend. Bleh. You know it's cold when the inside of your windows are completely frozen over...

It's always warm in theaters, though, and I've kept my hot streak of being a professional audience member going strong this fall! I've shared plenty about "Hamilton" (still OMG-ing a month later) and our holiday choral road trip, but that's just the tip of the iceberg...

September kicked off with a VIP donor preview of the Minnesota Opera's 2016-17 season, hosted by new president and general director Ryan Taylor. With discussion of each opera, why it was programmed, and how it was going to be staged, along with excerpts from each, Jodester and I had a ball...even though she's NOT an opera lover and isn't my usual opera date! 

Legit the next weekend saw my actual opera plus-one driving down from Fargo to join me for the season-opening gala, Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette!"

Nothing like getting all black-tied up for a night in a theater. My happy place ;) The set for Romeo and Juliet centered around giant roses and hanging swords, which was graphic and cool and engaging. The opera, maybe not as ranks lower on my list of favorites thus far. 

We still had a blast, though, and enjoyed the VIP afterparty too! 

That Thursday, Hal, AJ and I endured an utter fiasco trying to dine at Parlour before the Guthrie's Open Call night at "Sense and Sensibility." We're talking waiting two hours for a burger, only to receive them EIGHT minutes before showtime and having to scarf them in my car en route to the theater. Definitely my finest hour. 

We made it on time, though, and I LOVED the show. Jane Austen is my eternal homegirl. 

I'm also loving the (recent?) trend of revolving setpieces and turntables. "Sense and Sensibility" made extensive use of it, as did "Hamilton" and a few of my other favorites. Then again, the Guthrie's set shop never really ceases to amaze me. 

October ushered itself in with a performance I'd been looking forward to since February...the incomparable Renée Fleming opened the Schubert Club's 135th season at the Ordway! Matt was kind enough to join me...

...and to refrain from mocking me as I fangirled out so hard and took crappy iPhone photos of her. I spazzed hard, not gonna lie. The champagne reception afterward didn't hurt matters either.

(The above is what happens when an iPhone 5 is zoomed all the way in a dark theater and faced with OPERATIC LEGEND.)

Next on our Guthrie docket in October was "The Parchman Hour," which knocked my socks off in all the best ways. Focused around the Freedom Riders of the equal-rights movement, each actor played numerous roles, and digital media was used to stunning effect to illustrate their stories and the events surrounding them. I'm loving the Guthrie's powerful programming under Joseph Haj, in his first full season as head artistic director. 

Just days before the election, Jodester and I headed to Orchestra Hall for the first package of our season... Copland's "Lincoln Portrait," narrated by my bff (not kidding) Alan Page, seen above rocking VERY snazzy socks and dissecting the continuing relevance and power of the piece. "Lincoln" was followed up by prodigy violinist Esther Yoo performing Bruch's violin concerto, and the evening closed with an absolutely stunning rendition of Dvorak's "New World Symphony." 

I recently started thinking about how the hell I would pick if I had to choose between the orchestra and the Guthrie...answer is that I genuinely don't think I could. EEK!

Less than 24 hours after "Hamilton," Michael was back down from Fargo and we met up with his utterly lovely friends Michael and Antinea for Wagner's "Das Rheingold" at the Minnesota Opera! My first Wagner!! The Opera faced the challenge of fitting Wagner's super-sized orchestra into a too-small pit, so instead used the pit as part of the stage and put the musicians onstage right in the heart of the action. It presented an innovative, visually engaging and, for me, totally riveting solution to the issue, and I fell in love with the grandiose scale of Wagner's style hard and fast. 

Of course, pre-show dinner at the Saint Paul Grill as the Rice Park lighting ceremony took place, followed by post-show drinks and dessert at Meritage didn't hurt either. :) 

Lots more to come! I'm not even halfway through my calendar of LITERALLY 36 ARTS EVENTS THIS YEAR EEK!