Arts Corner

Pirates at the Lyric

Gilbert & Sullivan standard keeps ‘em laughing
Is there anything worse than an evening of bad Gilbert & Sullivan? If there is, let me know. The Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s production of The Pirates of Penzance came as a shock to my system, perhaps because I’ve become too accustomed to mediocre-to-awful productions of the operettas by this celebrated team of Victorian satirists. This version, to my surprise and relief, was immensely entertaining and very, very funny.

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The long goodbye

Guarneri and Johannes Quartets present engaging program for farewell tour
Saying goodbye is an art form unto itself. You want a farewell to be just the right length, use just the right words and contain the perfect mix of sentiment and encouragement, tristesse and hope. Saturday’s Friends of Chamber Music concert at the Folly Theater was part of a 60-city farewell tour of the Guarneri String Quartet, which steps down this year after a 45-year career at the top of the music world.

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TB Blues

Dunleavy’s Violetta makes Lyric Traviata worth the trouble
In the famous opera scene in Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts asks Richard Gere how she’s supposed to know what’s happening onstage if everyone’s singing in Italian. “Oh, you’ll know,” he replies. “Believe me, you’ll understand. The music’s very powerful.” I’ve always scoffed at the pre-supertitle cliché that if a performance is good enough you can follow an opera plot without understanding the text. Balderdash.

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Ancient wine in new bottles

Bagby makes medieval epic into rich cinematic drama
There are several reasons why you might expect Benjamin Bagby’s performance of Beowulf to fall flat on a contemporary American audience. The renowned medievalist performs the epic as a one-man bard, accompanying himself on a diminutive six-string harp that is his only prop.

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No restraints please, we’re British

Esteemed chamber orchestra devours Sir William whole
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields is one of the most venerated musical establishments in England, one could even say in the history of English music. You know a chamber orchestra has clout when it can convince a composer of the stature of Sir William Walton to compose a new work for it.

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