Christmas in November
by Jan Jezioro
The Thanksgiving weekend features a pair of Christmas favorites
There are several local productions of The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s much-loved Christmas themed ballet, offered every Christmas season, but there is only production that features a live performance by an entire symphony orchestra. For the third consecutive season, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Shea’s Performing Arts Center, and Neglia Ballet Artists will stage the premier Buffalo-area production of The Nutcracker for two performances only, on Saturday, November 26, at 7pm, and on Sunday, November 27, at 2pm, at the Shea’s Performing Arts Center, in the heart of the Buffalo Theater district.
Sergio Neglia, founder and artistic director of the Neglia Ballet Company, originally conceived, choreographed, and produced this traditionally oriented production in collaboration with his wife, Heidi Halt, the executive director of the company. “It is wonderful having the opportunity to offer Neglia Ballet Artists production of The Nutcracker in such a beautiful venue as Shea’s with the world-class BPO,” Halt says.
Neglia Ballet’s traditional production of The Nutcracker features 120 characters danced by a corps de ballet, soloists and principal professional ballet dancers from around the world, and students from Neglia Conservatory of Ballet and other local dance studios.
Buenos Aires native Silvina Vaccarelli will dance the roles of the grown-up Marie and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Since starting her career in 1992, Silvina Vaccarelli’s talents have been recognized by national and international dance critics, the Argentinean government, and prominent members of the Argentinean dance community. Silvina received her training at the prestigious Colon Theatre, and she then became a member of the Teatro Argentino de la Plata where she immediately was cast in principal roles. In 1995 Silvina joined the ballet of the Colon Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet and has since been promoted to principal dancer. She has danced most of the leading roles in the classical repertoire as well as in contemporary ballets. In addition to dancing with the Colon, she has toured throughout South America as a guest artist.
Neglia will perform the role of Cavalier. Internationally acknowledged for more than two decades as a gifted and passionate ballet artist, Sergio Neglia was born in Buenos Aires. He began studying ballet at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. At 13 he won a scholarship to the famed Bolshoi Ballet, and at 16 was a scholarship student at the School of American Ballet, handpicked by George Balanchine. He went on to study under and dance with some of ballets most famous names, including Nureyev, Godunov, and Baryshnikov.
Adelaide Clauss will reprise her role as the young Marie, while the Irish Classical Theatre’s founder Vincent O’Neill will again appear as Drosselmeyer. Michele Costa, the premier puppeteer in Western New York, who will once again work her magic onstage, says that “The Nutcracker seems to get better each year, since the kids are so much more comfortable with their roles. They play different roles each year or they get bumped up to better roles that require more dance experience. The mice are tinier than ever—so cute!—and soldiers have gotten taller.”
Tickets are $35-$75. To order by phone, call 1-800-745-3000, or visit the Shea’s box office (Monday-Friday 10am-5pm), or visit ticketmaster.com.
Enter the Night Visitors
Perhaps one year is not quite long enough to establish a tradition, but based on the Nickel City Opera Company’s successful initial production last November of Menotti’s delightful, Christmas-themed one-act opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda, it must certainly count as a valid beginning.
Amahl enjoys the unique distinction of being the first opera, as the initial production in 1951 of the still-running Hallmark Hall of Fame, to be broadcast live on American television, and it has been a Christmas season favorite ever since. The fully staged production is about an hour long, and this year features a young Canadian boy, Joshua DiBellonia, in the title role. Brett Potts repeats in the humor-tinged role of Kaspar, and Greg Sheppard repeats his role as Balthazar, while James Wright Jr. will debut as Melchior.
A favorite Western New York singer, lyric soprano Mary Kay Atlas, who brought a sense of genuine verism to her role, will once again sing the part of Amahl’s mother, while organist Ivan Docenko will again prove that when you are at the keyboard of the mighty Wurlitzer organ, you don’t need any other instruments.
Matinee performances are at 3pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with evening performances at 7:30pm on Friday and Saturday.
Tickets are $25 general admission, $20 for seniors, and $10 for children. For more information, call 692-2413 or visit: www.rivieratheatre.org.
Classical Music CD’s for Christmas
A wealth of classical musicians live, and perform frequently, in Western New York, and every year some of them record their performances for release on compact discs; here are just some of this year’s releases:
• The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, under its music director JoAnn Falletta, has developed a very fruitful relationship with the giant international classical record label Naxos, often recording world premieres of either new or overlooked masterpieces. That special relationship has already resulted in the BPO being awarded a pair of Grammy awards, and it is still going strong, as evidenced by the BPO’s 11th and newest release on Naxos, of music by Czech composer Josef Suk: Fairy Tale (Naxos 8.572323). Suk was the son-in-law of Dvorak, and his early works are very much in the Czech Romantic school tradition, no more so than in the title work of this CD, while the Fantasy features a virtuoso role for solo violin, brilliantly performed by BPO concertmaster Michael Ludwig.
• In addition to its releases on Naxos, the BPO also issues CDs on its own Beau Fleuve Record label, and that label’s latest release, Polish Masterpieces, also features Ludwig as soloist in the spectacular Violin Concerto No. 2 by Henryk Wieniawski, along with other masterpieces by Witold Lutoslawski, Karol Szymanowski, and Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, recorded live in recent performances at Kleinhans. The BPO will also release the first CD in its Great Performances series, with JoAnn Falletta conducting Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade, Op. 35, recorded September 2007, and Franz Schreker’s Prelude to a Drama, from concerts in March 2008. Both CDs will be available for the first time, at the low price of $10, at a signing with JoAnn Falletta following the Classical Christmas concerts Dec 16-17, and at the BPO box office or online at www.bpo.org.
• The concerts of the Camerata di Sant’Antonio, at St. Anthony of Padua RC Church, have been attracting large, loyal audiences for almost a decade. The group issued its first CD this year, Soloisti di Camerata, and it features some of the group’s musicians in solo roles, under the finely judged baton of music director Christopher Weber. Cellist Feng Hew is darkly rhapsodic in Larsson’s Concertino, while Shieh-Jian Tsai’s sweet tone is very much in evidence in Sibelius’s Suite for Violin and Strings, and Nadejda Nigrin sparkles in Kreisler’s Tambourin Chinois. Antoine LeFebvre’s lyricism imbues Schubert’s Rondo for Violin and Strings, and the exquisite tone production of Paul Schlossman, who recently moved out of the area, in Soderlundh’s Concertino for Oboe, reminds the listener that our loss is Pittsburgh’s gain. The CD will be available at the group’s Christmas Concert, on December 11, at 7pm, and from St. Anthony’s: 854-2563.
• UB band director and associate professor of trumpet, Jon Nelson, one of the most eclectic musicians in the area, has a pair of new releases: a DVD of a live performance at the Library of Congress with the Meridian Arts Ensemble, the cutting-edge group that he co-founded, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary season, and a CD featuring a live concert of music by the unclassifiable Genkin Philharmonic: www.8bells.org. The Meridian Arts Ensemble is also featured on Astral Vinyl, an album of new music on the Navonna label by Texas composer Stephen Barber: www.navonarecords.com.blog comments powered by Disqus
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