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August 29, 2011

As 2011-12 approaches, some music and theater events that have my attention

While lending a hand with the compilation of the Sun's annual Fall Arts Guide, which will be out Sept. 9 (that's still officially summer, but who bothers with such picky details?), I kept making mental notes of music and theater offerings that I particularly want to catch. Here are five of them:


1) Mahler's Symphony No. 2, the "Resurrection"; Baltimore Symphony, Sept.15-17.

You knew I was going to pick this, didn't you?

As the Mahler anniversary draws down -- he died 100 years ago -- it's great to have the Second performed, especially in such  proximity to the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. This symphony is all about life and death and life again, providing one of the most absorbing and rewarding journeys possible in music.

It will be interesting to hear Marin Alsop's approach to the work, which has been so associated in Baltimore with her predecessor at the BSO, Yuri Temirkanov, who chose it as his tenure-opener and tenure-closer.

2) "A Raisin in the Sun"; Everyman Theatre, Sept. 7-Oct. 9.

The company opens its season -- the last at its current location -- with a revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s venerable work, which offers a slice of African-American life in 1950s Chicago. Given Everyman's brilliant production last season of another classic, "All My Sons," the odds favor a memorable theatrical experience.

3) "The Rake's Progress"; Peabody Opera Theater, Nov. 18, 20.

The big news of the fall season is the debut of Lyric Opera Baltimore, but another company making use of our city's newly renovated opera house has my attention, too.

The Peabody troupe is moving into the historic theater to present Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress," a work with libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman inspired by the Hogarth print series of that name. This neoclassical masterpiece from 1951 does not come around every year  (has it ever been staged here?).

4) "Jeanne d'Arc au bucher"; BSO, Nov. 17-18.

One of the best things about Marin Alsop's tenure with the BSO is her adventurous programming. A case in point this season is a theatrical presentation of Arthur Honegger's 1935 oratorio about Joan of Arc, a fascinating, prismatic work.

The Morgan State University Choir and other choral ensembles join Alsop and the orchestra for  performances of the piece in Baltimore and then Carnegie Hall.

5) "La Cage aux Folles"; Hippodrome, Nov. 1-6.

File this under guilty pleasures. So it's not be the greatest musical of all time, but the Jerry Herman/Harvey Fierstein confection sure does have its charms. And this revival, which originated at London's innovative Menier Chocolate Factory in 2007, has been widely heralded as revelatory.

The touring production stars George Hamilton, so that should add to the fun.

SUN FILE PHOTOS (Mahler portrait by David Goldberg) 

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:30 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens


These are shows that have my attention:
"A Raisin in the Sun" (Everyman)
"Underneath the Moon" (Glass Mind)
"The Rivals" (Centerstage)
"MilkMilkLemondade" (Single Carrot)
"Skull of Cannemarra" (Centerstage)
"Anna Bella Emma" (Strand)
"Hotel Casseopia" (Strand)
"Adadpting Cinderella" (Glass Mind)
"The Fantastiks" (Spotlighters)
"Hot_l Baltimore" (Spotlighters)
"The Addams Family" (Hippodrome)
"Logic, Luck & Love" (Spotlight UB)

How many of these I actually get to see remains to be seen.

Good luck hitting 'em all. TIM

The Barns at Wolf Trap performed The Rake's Progress in July 1999; Peabody staged it in November 1999. We had just moved to the area and were thrilled to see two excellent productions of an opera we thought we'd never get to see.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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