Saturday, January 9, 2016

finally the ballet!

I had been meaning to get to the Sarasota Ballet for a while but it is always nearly impossible to get good seats-so I gave up and got a mediocre seat so I could see how much effort I should put into getting better tickets next year-

you can find the back story on the ballet from my backstage tour there with my Sarasota Arts class of winter 2015... here-

and here is the scoop on the performance I am seeing- from the Ballet website-

Balanchine, de Valois & Graziano opens on Friday 29 January 2016 with the Company premiere of George Balanchine’s Emeralds, the opening ballet in the choreographer’s famed three-act Jewels. Set to music by Gabriel Fauré and designs by Karinska, Balanchine considered Emeralds “an evocation of France.” The Rake’s Progress was inspired by a series of paintings by William Hogarth, to the libretto and music of Gavin Gordon. De Valois’ dramatic rendering depicts the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell, the spendthrift son and heir of a rich merchant. Resident Choreographer Ricardo Graziano presents his acclaimed In a State of Weightlessness, with music by Philip Glass, which received its world premiere at the 2015 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Sarasota Herald-Tribune dance critic Carrie Seidman praised Graziano’s latest work as “...magical and mesmerizing,” and Boston Globe correspondent Janine Parker noted “Weightlessness is indeed weighted, with intensity and beauty.” Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

so we will see how this is- I am extremely picky about the ballet- for a couple of short years I had season tickets to the Joffrey but canceled the subscription because I found it completely incredible that despite having wonderful principle dancers, their corps de ballet were awful. I found it completely distracting to have them not be dancing in complete and utter unison.  It was like each one of them had their own personal agenda to shine individually which is not exactly the discipline an audience would be seeking.  so I will report back when I have seen what the ballet looks like on stage.

so as I promised I will get back to blogging about Cuba because the voices of angels await us- and just so you can rest assured of this I will post a video snippet for you-

and you can find them on You Tube as well if you want to hear a whole selection.... stay tuned!

our week in review

so it was a full week - in the time before classes start for the term (next week) - but the weather was extremely changeable.

on Monday we had Yummy House Chinese -you have to reserve more than a week in advance LOL- there is a dearth of good Chinese food here so they are in demand... actually there is a dearth of good ethnic... we eat a lot of fresh seafood but miss real Thai, Mexican, Vietnamese, Bosnian, Chinese, Korean - this is just not urban enough for authentic ethnic... soooo- stone crab claws anyone??? LOL we are hardly suffering despite the area being seriously lacking in immigrants.

We do have a terrific Philly Cheese Steak place LOL- guess those folks know an appreciative audience when they see one.. this little (seats 30) storefront does a bang up business between 11 and 8:30 their hours.  We also have issues with the hours here- although we never have competition during the hours we would generally be eating - we also find ourselves on the cusp of closings with regularity.  So while we love our winter home in the sunshine, with its white sand beaches and dockside eateries, this will never be our summer location- we go to the city for all it has to offer, the stunning lakefront -the vibrant nightlife and ethnic food!

However, one thing we can say for certain is that our winter home is no slouch when it comes to arts and music and theater - what it lacks in food options it certainly makes up for in culture.  This week we saw The Liar (reviewed in a prior post)

We also went for our first concert of the symphony -Sarasota Orchestra with their real "catch" of a conductor, the amazing Anu Tali.  We heard an outstanding concert which included a piano concerto Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky - here is the evening's list from the program. And yes- we have a brilliant and world renown symphony in Chicago which is not a mere five minutes from our house with free parking- LOL- to say nothing of the schedule conflict of their "year" versus ours.  Most of our local cultural options are less than 20 minutes away. And yes I know this sounds incredibly lazy but access is one element of getting folks out to such events. And we chose the Sarasota area for our winter residence BECAUSE of the cultural options. Just as we choose Chicago for our summer residence for its dining and nightlife options.  We get "the best of all possible worlds" and can live like Candide- LOL

Then just yesterday - completing our week - we saw another production from National Theater Live -this time the Beaux Stratagem.  Absolutely smashing! what a happy accident!  As a member of the Ringling Art Museum, emails keep us abreast of offerings there and yesterday they were broadcasting the National Theater Live of this terrific production from London at the Historic Asolo Theater in the Museum complex, so we snagged tickets and were thrilled by the show.  A Restoration Comedy by a guy who died in like 1707 before the play was even staged and just after he finished writing it...

The Beaux' Stratagem is a comedy by George Farquhar, first produced at the Theatre Royal, now the site of Her Majesty's Theatre, in the Haymarket, London, on March 8, 1707. The Beaux' Stratagem is one of the last Restoration comedies, before the genre was replaced by a new style of more mannered comedy. In a few years, The Beaux' Strategem would have been considered somewhat immoral, notably Farquhar's cynicism about the charms of matrimony.

The ‘Beaux’: Mr Aimwell and Mr Archer, two charming, dissolute young men who have blown their fortunes in giddy London. Shamed and debt-ridden, they flee to provincial Lichfield. Their ‘Stratagem’: to marry for money.  Lodged at the local inn, posing as master and servant, they encounter a teeming variety of human obstacles: a crooked landlord, a fearsome highwayman, a fervent French Count, a maid on the make, a drunken husband, a furious butler, a natural healer and a strange, turbulent priest.  But their greatest obstacle is love. When the Beaux meet their match in Dorinda and Mrs Sullen they are most at risk, for in love they might be truly discovered. George Farquhar’s final play is a fabulous carnal comedy.

Aimwell and Dorinda become engaged to be married at the end of the play, in accordance with the rules of the genre, in which young lovers always get married in the end. However, Farquhar uses Kate Sullen to criticise this facile outcome. She, originally rich in her own right, is trapped in a loveless marriage to a man she despises, who keeps her from the town-based society she adores. The legal system does not allow divorce based on incompatibility, and any divorce at the time left women disgraced and penniless. The dark side to the play produced by this theme threatens to overwhelm the rest of it, and Farquhar has to resort to a deus ex machina character and an arbitrary adjustment to English law to get out of the hole he has dug for himself. Noticeably, even when Kate's separation from her husband seems an accomplished fact, the possibility of marriage never seems to cross either her or Archer's mind.  (above in blue from various websites when searching the play's title and edited to be more concise)

and here are some wonderful photos from the National Theater Live website from the production and rehearsals for the production- the "beaux"-

the terrific set- which was changed with scenes by scurrying in and out amongst the various characters- this was the manor house of Lady Bountiful-

the bandits plotting (in rehearsal)

on stage-

the cute "beaux" who woos Mrs. Sullen-

here's the cute beaux in real life- still cute LOL and made cuter by how much fun he was having in his role- actually they were all having a "jolly good time" and so were we!

I think the link above will take you to the trailer- and the great news is all you need to do is check the National Theater Live website to see when it may be playing at a simulcast theater near your location!  Totally worth going out of your way to see it!

And today for lunch we tried a new place for lunch- one that got a decent review recently in the paper when it opened but was a big disappointment- it is called the Ugly Grouper- and so we went for grouper sandwiches (which they curiously did not have - it was crossed out on the menu- and the serve made some lame excuse about they don't have storage space for grouper filets even though they have grouper...bizarre) so we ordered grudgingly the grouper tacos - which might have been OK except they were stuffed with cabbage! since when do tacos have cabbage instead of lettuce? forewarned! they look good but tasted more of cabbage than any other ingredient...

so we drown our "sorrows" at the indifferent meal by going to the fish market and buying stone crab claws and ahi tuna for some claws and poke for dinner! Can't go wrong there! And now back to Cuba and on to Cienfuegos where we hear angels.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

dinner in town

so off we went to dinner and to meet up with a mosaic artist- who has transformed his neighborhood as well as his home into a fantastic world of color and shapes.

we were greeted by the artist's son at the entrance and he told us briefly about the work of his father (which honestly was pretty self evident since the entire compound was covered in tiles and sculptures of all shapes and sizes...)

sunset is coming soon and so our daylight for photos running out---

we go outside the artists compound and find more neighbors had decorated as well as a corner mural of the revolutionaries - on Granma no less...LOL

back inside the artist's compound we get a few last shots before welcome drinks and dinner and music-

dinner was held around a large table (actually there were two but here is the larger one)

a very short video clip of our musicians for the evening-

the evening draws to a close and we head out - tomorrow we are out of Havana and off to the countryside heading early to Cienfuegos- but tonight we are again amazed at the resourcefulness of the Cubans and awed by their gracious hospitality.

three nights into the trip and our daily lives seem so far away... Cuba offers an alternate reality for the ten nights we spend in-country...fascinating place- so keep on returning for more of the people we meet and the things we see and do...