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Arts on the Horizon

Third time’s the charm

     The Sarasota Youth Opera has performed The Little Sweep three times since 2005 – its last production in 2018 – and Hans Krása’s Brundibár has its third production this month. The connection between the two? Both stories – along with Hansel and Gretel – show how children, beset by adversity, survive thru perseverance and a little luck. The two most aligned are Brundibár and Hansel and Gretel. Of course there are differences, otherwise they would be the same opera, just with different names. In H&G, the mother is dead and the father is forced (through poverty and the mean stepmother) to send the children into the woods to seek a new life. In Brundibár, the father is dead and their mother needs milk in order to be cured of an illness. Here, the children go willingly, though also penniless. Being well brought up they won’t steal the milk but will beg as there is no local ordinance forbidding begging or singing for money (yet). This unforced giving will help redistribute money voluntarily thus eliminating income inequality without resorting to taxation. The purchase of the milk, (price determined by an equitable reading of market forces) will, thankfully, ensure stability in the supply chain. Unfortunately, an evil government official, Brundibár, seeing that a non-pharmaceutically manufactured product is about to be utilized to alleviate pain and suffering, without sufficient markup, tries to stop them. Will Brundibár succeed in his dastardly plan, will a bird, a cat and a dog help these helpless children, will children who attend this opera enjoy it? No, Yes, and Yes. How do we know children will enjoy it? Because the SYO has done this show before and know a good thing when they see it. You will also. 

     The premiere of this opera was at an orphanage in Prague in 1942. Unfortunately, the next series of performances were at a concentration camp in 1943-44 with the same  orphaned children reprising their roles. While the original venues were tragic, the thrust of the opera is positive and full of hope. In order to bring that message of hope to the audience (both younger and older) a prologue was commissioned by the SYO utilizing music and song, blending together uplifting thoughts of brave children from around the world. Performances are November 15th and 16th at the Sarasota Opera House. Additional performances are sponsored by Embracing Our Differences and Temple Beth Sholom. More info at SarasotaOpera.Org -and – EmbracingOurDifferences.Org/Brundibar or google Sarasota Beth Sholom Brundibar.

An ocean of hope

     If you add up all the problems in the world and have just one person try to solve them, there is no hope. If you try to do this only for America or Florida, there still is no hope whatsoever. So, while we should do our part trying to help solve world scale problems, – good intentions can, through persistent effort, become small steps in the right direction – it will still take an ocean of hope to truly move forward. A different effort can, however, be effective in another way. Instead of an ocean of hope, how about a soup ladle of help? World hunger – or just hunger here in Sarasota – is not just of concern to the hungry, it is a concern for all who care for another human being. And hunger does not have to mean starvation, it could be a child in school who can’t concentrate, for the lack of a good nutritious breakfast. Or veterans with PTSD who can’t focus on getting a job. Or addicts whose families can’t deal with them any longer. Or a single mom or dad who works two jobs but still doesn’t earn enough to fill all the cereal and soup bowls a family needs to have filled. 

     Yes, you, and your friends and own family can help. Not by directly filling someone else’s bowl but by filling your own. All Faiths Food Bank is at Ed Smith Stadium – on November 10th from 11am till 2pm – hosting Bowls of Hope. Over 1,500 bowls have been hand-crafted by students, potters, and artists. While these bowls currently only contain hope they can, if you attend this event, contain the help that many people need. 40 local restaurants and caterers will be serving delicious concoctions directly into the bowl of your choice. You can take the food (soup, breads, desserts, etc.) home in your belly and the bowl in your helping hand. At your next party fill the bowl with pretzels or crackers and continue sharing with your friends. Info. at Allfaithsfoodbank.org/bowlsofhope.

Music and dance lead to Classical Romance

     One of the terrible, rotten, really bad things about Sarasota is that there are so many great things to do here. How does one chose between mango ice cream and guava jelly toast with bacon? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

     One of the choices we always give is to go to the country of origin for some great entertainment, or wait until they appear here in Sarasota, while on tour. One such act is Casa Patas Flamenco. What, you ask, is flamenco? Specifically, flamenco dancing? If you are of a certain age, you might remember José Greco appearing on the Ed Sullivan show. He would dance (stomp around the floor with a clickity-clack of his tap heels) and then leap onto tables and do it again – a vibrant sight to behold. The music, the dance, the rhythm, the interplay of the dancers – es magnìfico. So go. TripAdvisor says you can see them in Madrid for a bit over $150 per person. Or see them at the Historic Asolo on November 6th or 7th. Wonder how you could become a great flamenco dancer? Attend a master class. Well, why not? See Ringling.org. 

        Did anyone say Classical Romance? Well, they should because that is what is happening at the Van Wezel, November 8th – 10th. And who says Romance better than Don Juan? And who wrote more romantic music than Richard Strauss? And who plays romantic music in Sarasota better than the Sarasota Orchestra? That all comes together is a lovely evening of Classical Romance at the Van Wezel. Strauss’ luscious tone poem, Don Juan, is just the start of a lovely evening. It is followed by Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 with Lise de la Salle as the soloist. Being written in d-minor, this concerto is a dramatic and impassioned work with dark overtones and is often considered to be Mozart’s best and most loved piano concerto. Beethoven thought enough of it to add it to his own repertoire (but with his own cadenzas).

     Ms. de la Salle will be playing Mozart’s concerto here and in Ft. Worth, Texas but in between she is giving two concerts in France. After Texas she plays in Cincinnati and then London. Wonderful that we are part of this musical circuit.

     Colic relates to crying babies while bucolic concerns pastoral settings. Fortunately Dvořák’s symphony, which rounds out the evening, falls into the latter category. While it is not the case that Dvořák started writing late in life, it is true that he was not “discovered” until he was in his mid-thirties – by Johannes Brahms. It is your turn to discover this symphony as it is conducted by Gerard Schwarz, Conductor Laureate of the Seattle Symphony. More info. at Sarasotaorchestra.org.