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Theatre: The Flea Theater presents ‘MS. ESTRADA’ by the Q Brothers Collective

Malena Pennycook (center) and the cast of "Ms. Estrada". Photo: Hunter Canning.

This season female empowerment dominates two big Broadway musicals.  Sure, both "Frozen" and "Mean Girls" have female leads but those #MeToo connections are slightly perfunctory: the only change Disney princesses and a SNL alum bring to commercial theatre are record ticket sales + pricing along with celebrity audience sightings on Instagram.  For those in search of a night out with their tweens or long for an original musical with a positive message delivered by "woke" females there is "Ms. Estrada" - the Q Brothers Collective shrewd Hip-Hop adaptation of Aristophanes’ ancient sex farce in its world premiere at The Flea.  If

Music: the little OPERA theatre of ny in collaboration with New Vintage Baroque presents the New York City Premiere of Johann Adolph Hasse’s ‘Piramo e Tisbe’

Tisbe (Summer Hassan) wearing her fatal shawl and Piramo (Sarah Nelson Craft). Photo: Tina Buckman

Because early opera is highly regimented and at times surprisingly experimental, the right performance space makes all the difference.  The little OPERA theatre of ny (LOTNY) presented the NYC premiere of Johann Adolph Hasse's "Piramo e Tisbe" at the Baruch Performing Arts Center on the East Side.  The CUNY campus housing the theatre is in the corporate, no-frills Kips Bay neighborhood - making its intimate size ideal for students and those new to opera.  Since the sold-out audience consisted primarily of students, and Hasse's 1768 opera (revised, 1770) was new to most likely new to everyone else, LOTNY and the New Vintage Baroque orchestra conducted by Elliot Figg  proved both outstanding musicians and

Music: Curtis Opera Theatre presents ‘A Quiet Place’ at the Kaye Playhouse

Cast of Curtis Opera Theatre 's production of "A Quiet Place". Photo: Andrew Bogard

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's birth.  Accomplishments such as the first American music director of the NY Philharmonic, music educator who united the concert hall with television, and composer "West Side Story" fill more than one lifetime.  Yet that formidable legacy overshadows his lesser-known work worth knowing, including "A Quiet Place." On March 13, 2018 his alma mater, the Curtis Institute of Music, visited from Philadelphia for a single performance of the 1983 opera at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. "A Quiet Place" is the sequel to Bernstein's 1951 "Trouble in Tahiti".  Both are one act, and Bernstein

Theatre: The New Group presents ‘Good for Otto’ at the Pershing Square Signature Center

Rileigh McDonald, Charlotte Hope, Ed Harris (back) in David Rabe’s Good for Otto, directed by Scott Elliott. Photo credit: Monique Carboni.

Non-spoiler alert: the title character never appears in David Rabe's "Good for Otto", making its New York premiere onstage at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center.  Unlike Harvey the rabbit, the beloved pet hamster really exists.  His well-being is one of several crises in Rabe's passionate exploration of mental health providers and patients.  Like the subject matter, there are no easy solutions.  Such long-term perimeters limit the play's message that even its accomplished cast cannot answer in three hours. Rabe returns to his familiar theme of the extended family created by circumstance. Drs. Michaels (Ed

Theatre: Theatre of War presents “(Flying) Dutchman” at The Tank

He said nothing.  She said nothing nice.  He tried.  She still made no effort.  He got angry.  She got violent.  That is the double one-sided conversation at The Tank in Theatre of War’s reimagining of Amiri Baraka’s “(Flying) Dutchman”, which is as confrontational and relevant as it was in 1964. Rather than setting the interaction between middle-class African-American Clay (Malcolm B. Hines) and White poetess Lula (Jonathan Schenk) in a subway like Baraka did, director Christopher Stevenson has the two “talk” across a long table.  Microphones provide the public performance Lula craves and testimony Clay provides her with regarding his life. 

Theatre: The New Group presents ‘Jerry Springer – The Opera’ at The Pershing Square Signature Center

L-R: Will Swenson, Terrence Mann in “Jerry Springer – The Opera,” a production from The New Group, in a limited Off-Broadway engagement at The Pershing Square Signature Center Jan 23 – Mar 11, 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Monique Carboni /

  The title no joke.  Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee’s “Jerry Springer – The Opera” is a raucous parody of many things, but most of all opera.  Librettos make for dull reading, but this 90% unprintable one is laugh out-loud.  It has taken over a decade for “Jerry Springer” to brawl its way to a NYC stage, but The New Group more than makes up for it with John Rando’s wild production. Thomas (music, lyrics) and Lee (book, additional lyrics) didn’t have to look hard for commonalities between “Jerry Springer and “opera”.  Act I is the taping of Jerry’s (Terrence Mann’s) show.

Music: Rossini’s ‘Semiramide’ at the Metropolitan Opera House

Javier Camarena as Idreno and Ryan Speedo Green as Oroe in Rossini's "Semiramide." Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Along with Rossini’s “Barber of Seville”, the Met in recent seasons has sucessfully presented his lesser known “L'italiana in Algeri”, “La Cenerentola” (“Cinderella”), “La donna del lago” (“Lady of the Lake”), and “William Tell”.  Now after 25 years, his “Semiramide” returns to the repertory.  For reasons other than Maurizio Benini and the Met Orchestra's spunky playing of the opera's Overture, soprano Angela Meade’s gallant singing of the serial killer Babylonian queen, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong's beautiful duets with Meade about their complicated relationship and tenor Javier Camarena’s star turn as the love-struck Prince Idreno, the production also provided an up-close look at

Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962-2017) An Apprciation Patricia Contino, Author One of the best things about the arts is following an artist’s journey. I first heard Dmitri (“Dima”) Hvorostovsky sing at in person at a 1995 New York Philharmonic concert conducted by Valery Gergiev. They performed Mussorgsky’s “Songs of Dances and Death”, which they recorded the previous year. I was already familiar with the baritone’s persuasively smooth voice – the combination of his 1989 victory at the first Cardiff Singer of the World competition along with his silver hair and black eyes certified a regular spot on WQXR’s playlist – but the song cycle was still

Whipped Cream

'Whipped Cream,' American Ballet Theatre Metropolitan Opera House Snapshot Review: Must See Patricia Contino, Reviewer Applauding the scenery is an accepted theatre tradition. Like the standing ovation, it is now automatic, and institutionalized. Occasionally, downtown venues like HERE and LaMama permit post-curtain looks without touching. The closest one can get at the Metropolitan Opera House are at designated display areas. American Ballet Theatre goers enchanted by Alexi Ratmansky "Whipped Cream" -- the highlight and hit of their 2017 Spring/Summer season -- found designer Mark Ryden\'s cuddly creations for the deliberately off-center ballet on tee shirts, stickers, expensive prints that sold

The Orchestra

The Orchestra Now Performs Hermann and Korngold Carnegie Hall Snapshot Review: Must See Patricia Contino, Reviewer "Star Wars Night" is not only a mainstay of MLB and NHL Many major symphony orchestras know that film music is an easy sell, and John Williams' iconic fanfare was part of the orchestra now (TŌN)'s opening season concert at Carnegie Hall. The difference was hearing it played alongside Erich Wolfgang Korngold's opening theme for 1942's "King's Row.” Discovering Williams' inspiration from a Ronald Reagan film served as a precursor to Korngold's” Symphony in F-Sharp,” part of a program conducted by TŌN's music director Leon Botstein celebrating glorious