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In “The Nose,” Kovalyov’s search for his missing nose, as orchestrated by a young but clearly fearless Dmitri Shostakovich, is a big noisy affair. Effusions of brass and long interludes of pure percussion mark the score, and the singing is mainly declamatory and boisterous. No attenuated love arias or heartbreak-by-moonlight songs here. What opera ever composed has so much work for the trombones?
The ICON movie theater in St. Louis Park was full on Saturday for the Metropolitan Opera’s live telecast of Shostakovich’s seldom-produced “The Nose,” which premiered there in 2010 and is being revived this season. (The high-definition video will be seen again this Wednesday evening in several Twin Cities theaters. Details here.)
South African artist William Kentridge, who made his Met Opera with this brilliant production, has imagined a frenetic world of creatures made out of typography, of inky figures drawing monstrous cartloads as if all Russia were their burden. Then these figures drag in a new scenic element -- a cramped barber shop, a tilted sleeping room on which Kovalyov tosses and turns in misery on his too-small bed.
Kentridge brings great inventiveness and hurly-burly to bear on the Gogol story. Presented in the black, gray, white and brilliant red color scheme of the Russian Constructivists, it’s a world where a newspaper office becomes a towering front page, out of which explode the pressman, the editors and reporters, each singing from their own grimy, newsprint-strewn window.
At one point, type moves like iron filings on a magnet until cohering into a giant image of Joseph Stalin, evoking the era when Shostakovich was emerging as a composer.
The production design shies away from the usual illusions of depth, opting instead for ladders, trap doors and trompe l’oeil effects in a dizzying, floor-to-ceiling 2D effect, like Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in as imagined by El Lissitzky. When an animated nose takes a dive, it splashes into a movie-reel swimming pool. The profusion of these dynamic visual effects throughout the opera is perhaps its biggest attraction. They added to, rather than distracting from, the music and the singers.
The crack Met orchestra was here conducted by Pavel Smelkov, and the terrific costumes are by Greta Goiris.
Gordon Parks, 1990 portrait by Richard Sennott for the Star Tribune
Two shows of photos by legendary photographer, filmmaker, musician Gordon Parks will run simultaneously at the Mill City Museum and Juxtaposition Arts in Minneapolis. They feature photos on loan from the Gordon Parks Foundation and work by Twin Cities students enrolled in a Juxtaposition program guided by nationally known photographer Jamel Shabazz.
Panel discussions and artist talks accompany the exhibits which open October 24. The Mill City show runs through June 8, 2014; the Juxtaposition exhibit through Dec.1. Both are free.
The exhibits' title, "A Choice of Weapons: A Living Legacy," alludes to Parks' powerful autobiography in which he recalls his tough, impoverished youth in Kansas and St. Paul during eras of racial tension and strife. Rather than respond to violence with more violence, Parks (1912-2006) chose to fight injustice and ignorance with a camera. His unsparing photo essays for Life and other magazines of the time documented the appalling living conditions endured by the poor in the United States, Brazil and elsewhere. Many of his photos are recognized as classics of the Civil Rights movement. He went on to be a pioneering filmmaker, composer, poet and inspiration to generations of admirers.
The exhibits complement One Minneapolis One Read, a community endeavor in which Twin Citians are invited to read the same book, this year's selection being "A Choice of Weapons" by Parks.
Opening reception and panel: 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Oct. 24, free. Mill City Museum, 704 S. 2nd St., Mpls. Panelists: Wing Young Huie, Archie Givens, Robin Hickman and Jahliah Holloman, moderator Daniel Bergin. RSVP to email@example.com or call 612-673-2509.
Reception and artist talk: 5 p.m.-7p.m., Nov. 7, free. Juxtaposition Arts, 2007 Emerson Av., N., Mpls. Speaker Jamel Shabazz. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-673-2509.
Internationally known Minnesota wildlife artists Joe, Bob and Jim Hautman have proved so popular that the Minnetonka Center for the Arts is extending its show of their work through Tuesday, October 29. This adds three days to the exhibit which was originally scheduled to close October 26.
The brothers will also sign reproductions of their artwork at a public reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, October 24. Prints of their images will be available for purchase that evening.
Organized by architect Jim Dayton, the exhibit is the first in which the guys have shown their work together. It features about 100 paintings of birds, game animals (deer, bear, lions) and even pets plus sketches and photos of work in progress. Fans of their meticulously observed nature studies have an unprecedented opportunity to see original paintings that have been reproduced on thousands of popular duck stamps over more than 20 years. Read a Star Tribune review of the show here.
Together the three brothers have won an unprecedented 10 Federal Duck Stamp competitions. Sales of duck stamps, which are essentially federal hunting licenses for migratory waterfowl, raise about $25 million annually for the preservation of marshes and watersheds for migratory birds and human enjoyment.
CAROLINE PALMER, SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
Choreographer Karen Sherman may be the Twin Cities’ answer to Emmy/Tony Awards host extraordinaire Neil Patrick Harris. On Tuesday night she emceed the 2013 Sage Awards for Dance at the Cowles Center and revealed a natural gift for keeping the show running smoothly while supplying a steady stream of wry one-liners.
Strolling to center stage with live DJ (and dancer) Greg Waletski providing a musical cue from his decks, Sherman modeled her tartan kilt ensemble and declared it a find from “Dolce and G’Savers.” After making the obligatory Miley Cyrus reference (“Improvising is the new twerking”) Sherman got down to the business of the evening, that is honoring all the artists who contributed to the vibrancy of the local dance community over the past 12 months.
This is the ninth year for the ceremony. Since its inception 127 panelists have seen more than 2,300 performances. The awards are named for Sage Cowles, a choreographer, performer and philanthropist who has supported dance over the years (including major funding for the Cowles Center with her late husband John). Aside from awards, the event features performances by past recipients. Last night Emily Johnson, Katie Johnson of Minnesota Dance Theatre and members of Shapiro & Smith Dance stepped into the spotlight. And the late choreographer, teacher, researcher, blogger and all-around nation dance expert John Munger was honored with a moment of silence.
This year’s program had a special emphasis on dance education, with Julie Kerr-Berry, Dance Program Director, Minnesota State University, Mankato giving the opening address. She urged the audience to think about all the teachers helping others to learn to dance everywhere from public schools to suburban studios and college campuses. “Dance is a powerful medium,” she said. “To dance makes us think differently about ourselves.” Sage panel member Judith Howard (who teaches at Carleton College) reflected fondly on her own childhood dance teacher Miss Shirley: “She had a lot of pizzaz and a questionable reputation.”
But when artist educator Florence Cobb took the stage to accept her special citation, the force of history behind Kerr-Berry’s words became especially poignant. Cobb founded the Mankato program in the 1970’s. Wearing biker-ready black leather pants and boots, the octogenarian accepted her award with a few wise words: “I’ve shared time and space and energy with all of you. And that’s all it’s about on this earth.”
Choreographer Chris Schlichting was the big winner of the evening, scooping up two awards, both for “Matching Drapes,” which premiered at Red Eye Theater in February (one for Outstanding Dance Performance and the other for Outstanding Design, shared with the team of Terrance Payne, Max Wirsing, Justin Jones, Morgan Peterson and Heidi Eckwall).
Hip hop received notice with two awards: Jason Noer for organizing the annual Groundbreaker Ballet Festival at the Cowles (Outstanding Dance Performance) while “We’re Muslim, Don’t Panic,” featuring the cast of “Mourning in America” (Amirah Sackett, Iman Siferllah-Griffin and Khadijah Siferllah-Griffin) garnered the Outstanding Dance Ensemble Award. Choreographer Sackett (whose collaborators are both just 15 years old) honored the pioneers of hip hop – “the brown and black people of the Bronx” – but acknowledged her crew is blazing new ground in the genre. “We’re three Muslim women,” she said. “And that’s not without controversy.”
From left: Sage winners Khadija Siferllah-Griffen, Amirah Sackett and Iman Siferllah-Griffen.
Other awardees included choreographer Megan Flood for “Folding in Wings” (Outstanding Dance Performance), musician/composer Butch Thompson (Outstanding Design for “Destination Twin Cities” choreographed by Sarah LaRose-Holland), Suzanne River (Outstanding Dance Educator), and Kenna Cottman, Jim Lieberthal and Sally Rousse (all in the Outstanding Dance or Performers category) Lieberthal, a longtime performer who won for his work in “Listen” created by Rosy Simas, vowed to continue dancing. “There’s always so much more to learn.”
Myron Johnson and Ballet of the Dolls were nominated in the Outstanding Dance Performance category for “Venus and Adonis” and while they didn’t win, the troupe and their entourage were among the best-dressed in attendance. Johnson himself sported a look somewhere between commodore and pirate. No one wears glamour and glitter like the Dolls, although past Sage award-winners Tara King, Theresa Madaus and Monica Thomas of Mad King Thomas were a close second in their sparkling gowns and feather boas.
But Sherman had the last word on the sartorial front. She came out wearing a blanket fastened together with some clips filched from backstage. “That’s a wrap,” she announced at the end of the show. Somewhere downtown a rimshot echoed into the night.
In "Captain Phillips," Tom Hanks plays Merchant marine Capt. Richard Phillips, right. Photo: Dave Allocca, AP
Hijacking survivor Richard Phillips, whose capture by Somali pirates inspired the Tom Hanks film “Captain Phillips,” will be the featured speaker at Beth El Synagogue’s "Heroes Among Us" series Sunday, Dec. 8.
In April 2009, the Merchant marine commander became the center of an extraordinary international drama when his cargo ship was captured off the Horn of Africa, the first hijacking of a U.S. vessel in more than 200 years. Phillips spent five days in a cramped lifeboat with desperate gunmen before he was rescued by the U.S. Navy. His 2010 book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea” inspired the film’s screenplay.
His appearance will include remarks followed by a moderated question and answer session.
A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit Beth El Synagogue’s Minnesota National Guard unit adoption initiative, assisting the 849th MAC (Mobility Augmentation Company).
The synagogue’s series opened last year with CIA master of disguise Tony Mendez, of “Argo” fame, as the inaugural speaker.
Tickets are $36 - $360; $18 for those with valid military ID. Family members of deployed 849th MAC soldiers can attend this event free of charge by contacting FRG Leader Mary Reitsma at 320-894-8945 or email@example.com.
More information and tickets are available online at www.besyn.org/captainphillips or by calling (952) 873-7300. Beth El Synagogue is located at 5225 W. Barry St., St. Louis Park.
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