Last night before the sold-out opening performance of Cincinnati Opera's performance of Carmen, soprano Margaret Russo was named the winner of the first "Opera Idol" contest. Russo — a 25-year-old copywriter from Zionsville, Ind. — will receive a $3,500 contract with Cincinnati Opera.
I’ve extolled the virtues of White Christmas at the Covedale Center in my CityBeat review, but I’m not the only one who feels that way. The judging panel from the League of Cincinnati Theatres (LCT) has chimed in with an award for Dan Doerger, playing the role of Phil Davis, originated in the 1954 film by Danny Kaye. I would have also recognized Rick Kramer, playing Doerger’s song-and-dance partner, Bob Wallace (played by Bing Crosby in the movie). The LCT panelists cited the “marvelous chemistry” between the two of them. Doerger, who dances as well as he sings and acts, was seen recently in Covedale productions of Singin’ in the Rain and Annie Get Your Gun. White Christmas continues through Dec. 23.
Has it really been 14 years since Beavis and Butt-head (dis)graced MTV and 15 years since the duo invaded movie houses with Beavis and Butt-head Do America, which, despite being a bit of a letdown as a full-length movie, is still one of my all-time favorite moviegoing experiences due to the unprecedented enthusiasm put forth by the sold-out, opening-night crowd at — of all places — the Western Hills Showcase?
If you were out and about this weekend, you may have heard rumors that Maiza Hixson has put in her resignation at the Contemporary Arts Center. Those would be true. Hixson was Associate Curator. Last year, she was the curator for the exhibition American Idyll: Contemporary Art and Karaoke, putting together a set of artists that looked at karaoke and similar real life or amateur approaches to community and singing. It was complex, reflecting her ability to load exhibition projects with strong talent and layered conceptual inquiries. The CAC has a knack for promoting and incubating talent throughout its institution. Many people who work there for a time go on to other great opportunities.
On Saturday (July 14) I spent much of my day attending two excellent events. In the afternoon, I was part of a full-to-the-rafters Music Hall (every single seat was sold, meaning more than 3,400 people were in attendance!) for the final Champions Concert, featuring 11 groups that were judged to be the best in their respective categories. I had a chance to see Fairfield High's Choraliers, named the outstanding Show Choir, as well as the heartfelt Jeremy Winston Chorale, from Wilberforce, Ohio, winners of the Gospel category. (Interestingly, Jeremy Winston was once a member of The Aeolians from Oakwood University of Huntsville, Alabama, the group that won the Spirituals category.) Several children's groups, notably the Vocalista Angels from Indonesia (Children's Choirs) and Wenzhou Children Art School Boys Choir from China (Young Children's Choirs), demonstrated incredible talent and discipline with kids who are still elementary school. The Music Contemporanea category winner was Stellenberg Girls Choir from South Africa, yet another group — this one comprised of approximately 80 adolescent girls — directed by André van der Merwe.Among the several chamber group categories, I was most moved by the smallest group: Seven beautiful young women from Latvia, performing as "Latvian Voices," performed two numbers as much like chant as singing, using smooth harmonics and powerful vocal ranges as their music rose and fell, with single and multiple voices weaving in and out. Quite remarkable, and a kind of invitation to the next games — to be held in Riga, Latvia, in 2014.
Don’t go looking for Boris Karloff or any kind of campy make-up if you decide to see the National Theatre of London’s production of Frankenstein on Tuesday or Wednesday evening at The Carnegie in Covington. This version, provided via HD digital transmission, is much more faithful to Mary Godwin’s creepy and profound Gothic novel written in the summer of 1816. When it was finally published two years later (by which time she had married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and become Mary Shelley), few people believed it could have been written by a young woman not yet 20 years old.
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park Producing Artistic Director Ed Stern has shared some news about his health with the theater’s patrons, using a letter in the program book for Over the Tavern, which opens this Thursday. (It’s had preview performances this weekend.)
On Monday, Cincinnati Art Museum announced the resignation of James Crump, its chief curator and photography curator. He arrived at the museum in 2008. A press release said he would "pursue independent projects." The press release also included high praise for Crump from Aaron Betsky, museum director:
"We are so grateful for the great work James has done here in Cincinnati. His exhibitions and acquisitions have made us a center for photography, and we look forward to building on his extraordinary achievements."
One of those achievements, the exhibition James Welling: Monograph, just opened Feb. 2. Crump was also a leader in the organization of last year's multi-venue FotoFocus photography festival, and Cincinnati Art Museum sponsored two of its biggest shows — Herb Ritts: L.A. Style and Doug and Mike Starn's Gravity of Light.
The museum said an interim chief curator will be named soon.
Recently, the Italian art-book publisher Damiani launched a new line of Damiani / Crump books. It begins in March with Empire Falling, photographer Elena Dorfman's study of Midwest rock quarries.
I've been seeing theatrical productions aboard the Showboat Majestic for at least 25 years. Like the Ohio River adjacent to the "Boat" at the Public Landing, they're up and down, sometimes beautiful and sometimes a bit stinky. But I can offer you an unqualified recommendation for the current production, The Musical of Musicals: The Musical. The title itself is entertaining, but the material is even better — and then there's the cast that's been assembled. This is, in fact, a show that anyone who loves musicals needs to see. It's probably the best production I've seen on the Showboat ever. It's being performed through July 26.
The changes on the local visual art scene just keep coming. Hot on the heels of Scott Boberg leaving the CAC — as well as several staff cuts at the CAC and the Cincinnati Art Museum — the Taft Museum of Art announced today that its director, Eric M. Lee, will be “leaving his post in March 2009 to assume the directorship of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.”