Posted at 9:36 AM on April 19, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: News and reviews
A fraud or a tempest in a teacup?
Article by: CURT BROWN , Star Tribune Updated: April 18, 2011 - 10:03 PM
Local schools inspired by St. Cloud native Greg Mortenson's work hope to use flap as a teachable moment.
'60 Minutes' and 'Three Cups of Tea': What I saw in Afghanistan with Greg Mortenson
The school I saw was real and clearly welcome in the village. Since then other journalists and even U.S. military officers have visited his various projects too, and they have verified that at least some of his work measures up to his claims.
- Sharon Schmickle, MinnPost.com
Writers Museum founder -- still looking for a home -- wowed by state's Book Awards and literary scene
Malcolm O'Hagan has a grand dream of an American Writers Museum, and he's traveling the country trying to drum up support. And money. Lots of money. He was in the Twin Cities over the weekend, checking us out. And he liked what he saw.
- Joe Kimball, MinnPost.com
Backers pitch St. Paul as site of writers museum
Foundation president visits; Chicago also in the running
- Mary Ann Grossmann, Pioneer Press
23rd annual Minnesota Book Award winners announced
Those receiving awards included poet Lightsey Darst, graphic design artist Michael Hall, and journalist Laurie Hertzel, who took the readers' choice for News to Me: Advenutures of an Accidental Journalist.
- Jessica Armbruster, City Pages
Voltage 2011: Fashion recap
Twin Cities' style mavens put their best dressed foot forward for one of Minnesota's biggest nights in fashion, Voltage: Fashion Amplified.
- Tatiana Craine, City Pages
Bruner/Loeb Forum in Minneapolis: Artists and thinkers converge to brainstorm how to strengthen communities
Local and national artists, arts administrators, community developers, designers, thinkers, and planners converged at Chambers Hotel on Friday and Saturday for a forum aimed at investigating how art and design can help build more equitable, sustainable, and engaged neighborhoods.
- Sheila Regan, TC Daily Planet
Things are not what they seem: Bad heroes in 'Super,' unnerving art at Chambers
- Max Sparber, MinnPost.com
Low at First Avenue, 4/16/11
The Duluth band delivered a riveting, impassioned performance, playing their entire new record, C'mon, during the course of their 90-minute set, as well as some choice classic tracks that all went over well with the captivated, considerate crowd.
- Erik Thompson, City Pages
Cinderella at the Medina Entertainment Center, 4/16/11
Each original member is old enough to be my father, but jesus if they aren't still able to own their slightly-updated glam rocker look and take on rock music.
- Nikki Miller, City Pages
Peelander-Z at the Turf, 4/15/11
Anamanaguchi took their chiptune punk from New York City, loud, fast and hacked from NES circa 1985 and overlaid that basic infrastructure with perfectly melodic pop rock. Clean, straightforward, and oddly compelling. God, it's just so...enjoyable.
- Nikki Miller, City pages
Thomas Kivi talks Wisconsin protests, songwriting, and future plans
The songwriter had been making frequent treks to Madison, Wisconsin after the release show for his debut LP Crying Child to attended the union protests, and is now gearing up to do some regional touring.
- Pat Dougherty, City Pages
The master of Afrobeat: 'Just tell everyone to get ready'
Article by: BRITT ROBSON , Special to the Star Tribune Updated: April 18, 2011 - 10:27 PM
Coming to town for a hotly anticipated show, Tony Allen remains the fiercely proud force who melded African pop and American funk.
Savage Aural Hotbed, Felonious Bosch and Sendero Flamenco mix it up Friday at Loring Theater
Billed as an evening that promises a "mix of flamenco, eccentricos gringos and power tools" and culminating in one big mish-mash collaboration of all the above, Friday's show should be everything except your standard fare.
- Danny Sigelman, City Pages
Destroyer's new "yacht rock" sails the high seas at the Cedar Cultural Center
Some people have written off Kaputt's "yacht rock" vibe as being too tongue-in-cheek or kitschy, but when that style of music is pulled off with such precision and ease, it's hard not to believe it's totally sincere.
- Kyle Matteson, TC Daily Planet
Rusko talks Minneapolis, fan gifts and YouTube
This week one of the genre's most famous producer/DJs returns to First Avenue to
hypnotize the young electronic music crowd with every wicked wobble and sadistic bass attack.
- Jen Boyles, City Pages
Mike Watt bringing new 'opera' to Turf Club
The punk veteran and hugely influential bassist made his name in the early '80s as a member of the Minutemen, and he seemingly hasn't stopped touring since, lending his talents to a number of post-Minutemen projects like Dos (formed with ex-Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler), fIREHOSE, and a newly reformed Iggy & The Stooges.
- Ian Traas, City Pages
Review: Finding new life in 'Old Lace'
Article by: ROHAN PRESTON , Star Tribune Updated: April 18, 2011 - 2:34 PM
Strong casting, especially of the murderous Brewster sisters, helps bring laughs to the Guthrie Theater's staging of a comic chestnut.
Review: Rare staging of opera based on Brontë novel
Article by: WILLIAM RANDALL BEARD , Special to the Star Tribune Updated: April 18, 2011 - 2:10 PM
Famed film composer Bernard Herrmann's only opera is an emotion-packed, if often slow, ride.
Review: 'La Mancha' feels impossibly new
Updated: April 18, 2011 - 1:25 PM
Steven Epp galvanizes this production with such immediacy that it seems we're watching a new show.
Playwright gets a little preachy, but performances are strong in 'The Gospel According to Jerry'
[The actors] can't quite overcome the shortcomings of a script that seems more interested in giving voice to Kula's ideas than telling a compelling story.
- Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press
Guthrie's 2011-12 season has classics, comedies, new works and a touch of the Irish
At least three of the 14 plays on Guthrie stages in 2011-12 will come with a connection to Guthrie artistic director Joe Dowling's native Ireland.
- Chris Hewitt, Pioneer Press
Guthrie announces 2011-2012 season
There will be world premieres, old classics, Shakespeare, and, of course, A Christmas Carol onstage during the Guthrie Theater's 2011-2012 season, which was announced Monday evening at a program on the McGuire Proscenium Stage, and streamed live over the theater's Facebook page.
- Ed Huyck, City Pages
Theater review: CTC's 'Annie' is smooth, watchable and ... nice
The Children's Theatre Company's production of "Annie" is -- to quote Dom DeLuise in "History of the World Part One" -- nice. Not thrilling. But nice.
- Dominic P. Papatola, Pioneer Press
Nat-urally Dennis Spears says Nat King Cole shaped his style, and he pays his respects to the late crooner in 'I Wish You Love.'
For Spears, who made his name as the male voice of Moore by Four, it's a role he's been preparing for -- whether or not he realized it -- since he was a child listening to Cole around the Christmas tree.
- Ross Raihala, Pioneer Press
Michelle Hensley's 'Man of La Mancha' is different, but powerful
That my father-in-law walked out of the Minnesota Opera Center with tears in his eyes demonstrates that there's more than one way to make a great musical.
- Dominic P. Papatola, Pioneer Press
Amy Buchanan: 100 Creatives
In 2003 Le Cirque Rouge reawakened burlesque tradition in the Twin Cities after an unnecessarily long slumber. We have troupe founder Amy Buchanan to thank for that.
- Jessica Armbruster, City Pages
'[title of show]' tackles creativity head on
[title of show]-- a musical about the process of making a musical about making a musical--is plenty of fun, with strong insights into the creative process mixed with lots of insider jokes about the business of Broadway, the craft of acting, and musical theater flops.
- Ed Huyck, City Pages
At Illusion Theater, Jeffrey Hatcher's "Three Viewings" is reasonably entertaining
An exceptional cast carries a work that goes from superb to serviceable to inept capably through its paces.
- Dwight Hobbes, TC Daily Planet
Talking with Annie, star of page ("Annie"), stage ("Annie"), and screen ("Annie")
Disclaimer: Though inspired by the actual production of the musical Annie at the Children's Theatre Company, this is a fictional interview with the fictional character of Annie, involving neither the actress playing Annie nor any other member of the production cast or crew. I just made it up. You've been warned.
- Jay Gabler, TC Daily Planet
Minnesota Opera offers superb production of Herrmann's remarkable 'Wuthering Heights'
Bernard Herrmann's debut opera, "Wuthering Heights," Minnesota Opera's final offering of the season, seems especially remarkable.
- Michael Anthony, MinnPost.com
Sara Jakubiak as Catherine Earnshaw in The Minnesota Opera production of Wuthering Heights
All photos by Michal Daniel
Minnesota Opera presents "Wuthering Heights," the opera based on Emily Brontë's novel, through April 23. Thinking of seeing the show? Check out these excerpts of reviews from the local media - click on the links to read the full reviews.
Oscar-winning film composer Bernard Herrmann contributed to the success of such renowned films as "Citizen Kane," "Psycho" and "Taxi Driver." His sole opera, "Wuthering Heights," went unperformed during his lifetime. In fact, it had been produced only once before Minnesota Opera took it up.
I went to the opening, Saturday night the Ordway Center in St. Paul, hoping to discover a neglected masterpiece. The opera was not that, though Minnesota Opera treated it as if it were.
...Conductor Michael Christie led a brisk performance, but he could not overcome the opera's fatal flaw: Herrmann's lack of experience in pacing opera. Too often, forward momentum is sacrificed to orchestral expressiveness, as in Act IV, when another interlude interrupts drama that should be propelling to the climax.
The physical production could hardly be bettered. Neil Patel's set creatively contrasts an oppressive and gloomy Wuthering Heights estate with the elegant and airy neighboring Thrushcross Grange. Wendall K. Harrington's projections create an effective visual representation of the music.
...Minnesota Opera makes a strong case for "Wuthering Heights," but this is an opera I never need to hear again.
Joshua Ross as Hareton, Victoria Vargas as Nelly Dean and Ben Wager as Hindley Earnshaw in The Minnesota Opera production of Wuthering Heights
...you're not likely to come away wondering why this work hasn't been hailed as a modern masterpiece.
If only the tunes were as evocative as their words. Instead, the most swoon-ready love songs are given to Cathy's supposedly stiff-upper-lipped husband, Edgar -- and are sung splendidly by Eric Margiore.
...That's not to say this opera is lacking for marvelous music. It's just that almost all of it emanates from the orchestra pit. And conductor Michael Christie and the Minnesota Opera Orchestra sounded terrific on Saturday, the textures wonderfully woven, sweet solos pealing out from oboes, clarinets, violins and others.
If only Herrmann had given more of those melodies to the singers.
Lee Poulis as Heathcliff and Jesse Blumberg as Mr. Lockwood in The Minnesota Opera production of Wuthering Heights
...Despite occasional flaws, the work is a rich and rewarding endeavor, as compelling in dramatic terms as it is musically accomplished, and the superb, thoughtful production it is receiving at the Ordway Center serves only to make the opera's strengths abundantly clear.
... It's a brilliant score in many ways. Much of it is delicate chamber music, though the climaxes, like that of the first act, are almost over-powering in their force. (Yes, we do hear echoes of Herrmann film scores such as "Vertigo" and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.")
And what of that awkward ending that Herrmann left us? Heathcliff is supposed to wander the moors endlessly searching for Cathy. Simonson has him lie down with her on the table, as if joining her in death, and then carrying her decayed body across a field. Grim, perhaps, but surely a better solution than having the two of them climb toward heaven and the celestial choir, as happens in the 1939 movie.
Lee Poulis as Heathcliff and Sara Jakubiak as Catherine Earnshaw in The Minnesota Opera production of Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights recalls Oscar Wilde's famous criticism of Richard Wagner's operas: it has "great moments and very dull quarters of an hour." As is, it's been trimmed significantly from Herrmann's original version (the composer died in 1975, so he had no say in the matter)--which, with all respect to the great Herrmann, probably serves his memory better than if it hadn't been cut.
As a composer, Herrmann's special genius was orchestral texture: shivering strings, yelping horns, foreboding woodwinds. (As David Sander succinctly puts it in his program notes, "Herrmann was not a melodist.") It's a treat to hear those textures come alive at the Ordway; conductor Michael Christie whips the orchestra into life for the opera's several thrilling moments. At those moments, particularly when textures and melodies intertwine and overlap, the opera really pops. It's when lyricism is required--when characters are lengthily professing their devotion, or their pain--that Wuthering Heights sags. Despite his intention to place "utmost importance on the expressiveness of the vocal roles," writing for the solo voice was evidently not Herrmann's forte, and this production's powerful leads are often reduced to mumbling, moaning, or barking.
...Though I appreciated this very rare opportunity to see the opera that Sander calls Herrmann's "lifelong obsession," this production does not make a convincing case for the piece to enter the standard repertoire. Herrmann fans will want to see this production, but others may find it more satisfying to stay home and curl up with Emily Brontë's classic novel.
Have you seen "Wuthering Heights?" If so, what did you think? Share your review in the comments section.
There was a special guest at this weekend's Minnesota Book Awards ceremony: Malcolm O'Hagan, President of the The American Writers Museum Foundation. O'Hagan is on a quest to find a home for his literary museum, which is still in the early fundraising stage of creation.
O'Hagan was the guest of Pat Coleman, acquisitions librarian for the Minnesota Historical Society, and brother of St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman. Irish by birth, I'm sure O'Hagan was delighted to see poet Leanne O'Sullivan take the stage to receive the O'Shaughnessy award.
Two articles, from the Pioneer Press and MinnPost.com, go into detail on O'Hagan's visit, which included a performance of the opera "Wuthering Heights" inspired by Emily Brontë's novel (according to reviews, that may not have been such a good idea).
Possible homes for the museum that were bandied about include the Minnesota History Center and the James J. Hill Reference Library. But evidently Chicago is the frontrunner in this race.
I thought it might be fun to make a list of just why such a museum should find its true home here in the Twin Cities, so without further ado, see below. Am I missing something? Add it in the comments section.
Why a National Writers' Museum would do well to settle in the Twin Cities:
1. F. Scott Fitzgerald lived and wrote here.
2. So did Sinclair Lewis.
3. Minneapolis is the third most literate city in the nation
We are home to three of the top four independent literary presses in the United States:
4. Milkweed Editions
5. Graywolf Press
6. Coffee House Press
7. St. Paul is the 7th most literate/literary city in the nation
8. We are home to Open Book, a unique center devoted to a love of the book, which, in addition to housing Milkweed Editions, is also home to:
9. The Loft Literary Center
10. and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts
11. St. Paul has poetry embedded in its sidewalks.
12. Robert Bly
13. Carol Bly
14. Bill Holm
15. Louise Erdrich
16. Kate DiCamillo
17. Garrison Keillor, author and host of Writers' Almanac, in addition to hosting A Prairie Home Companion.
18. Rain Taxi Review of Books
The Twin Cities are home to a wealth of independent book stores, including (but not limited to):
19. Micawber's Books
20. Birchbark Books and Native Arts
21. Magers & Quinn
22. Once Upon a Crime
23. Red Balloon Bookshop
24. Sixth Chamber Used Books
25. Wild Rumpus
26. Uncle Edgar and Uncle Hugo
27. True Colors Bookstore
28. Common Good Books
Oh and let's not forget:
29. Leif Enger
30. Pete Hautmann
31. Kevin Kling
32. We have a theater named after F. Scott Fitzgerald
33. We have a restaurant/cafe named after Oscar Wilde
Obviously I could go on and on - what would you add to the list?
Posted at 5:52 PM on April 19, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Music
Image courtesy of Walker Art Center
It's one of the hottest parties of the summer - thousands gather on the lawn of the Walker Art Center and enjoy the fabulous summer weather (knock on wood) while taking in great tunes and a loving-life community atmosphere. Here's this year's official roundup, just released:
3:00PM Gates open
4:15PM Tapes 'n Tapes
5:15PM Booker T. Jones
6:45PM Neko Case
8:30PM My Morning Jacket
10:00PM Gates close
What I want to know is - where's the after-party?