By Rodger Skidmore
Sing for your Supper
The dictionary meaning of the phrase “Sing for your supper” is to do something for someone and get something in return. Ah, but what were its origins? When Cimarosa’s opera The Secret Marriage (Il matrimonio segreto) was first performed, in 1792, it so enthralled Emperor Leopold II that he ordered dinner for the entire cast and then had them perform the opera, in its entirety, as an encore. Fortunately for the kitchen staff there were only six singers to feed.
The Secret Marriage is, beyond doubt, opera buffa in its purest form. In this comedy, with spritely engaging music, five of the singers are in love — but they, and sometimes the audience, don’t always know with whom. Some want to get married to people who … well, why not go see a Sarasota Opera production of The Secret Marriage on Oct. 30 or Nov. 8, 10 or 12.
Spoiler alert: The Sarasota Orchestra will be accompanying the singers for these performances, and Victor DeRenzi will conduct.
Has anyone ever lost a cat? Or maybe a baby brother? Or both? One family has, and the baby’s siblings descend into The Secret World of Og to bring them home. It is one thing to steal a few toys or comic books, which might go unnoticed, but stealing a cat — that’s just too much. Travel with your own children or grandchildren down into this underground den of thieves at the Sarasota Opera House, along with the cast of the Sarasota Youth Opera, on Nov. 5 or 6.
It wouldn’t be December if there weren’t a few productions of The Nutcracker around town. Just to make things easy for you, there will be two different performances at the opera house. On the 3rd, the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School will be presenting the classic choreography to Tchaikovsky’s score with costumes and scenery designed especially for the SCBS by Steven Rubin (costumes and scenery for more than 30 plays and ballets around the country).
On the 10th, the Diane Partington Studio of Classical Ballet will be performing Ms. Partington’s production of The Nutcracker, which has been a holiday tradition in Sarasota for more than 20 years. More info for all shows at Sarasotaopera.org.
November is National Fun with Fondue Month
It really is, just Google it. It must also be, at least in Sarasota, National Piano Playing Month, because the Sarasota Orchestra is outdoing itself in the piano department. A Masterworks program is being presented at the Van Wezel on Nov. 4-6 with Joyce Yang performing Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto (it was so good he only needed to write one). During these performances David Alan Miller will also be conducting Quinn Mason’s A Joyous Trilogy, “the very embodiment of happiness and cheerfulness.” Rounding out these events will be Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. The word fantastique is the French word for fantastic, but is also directly linked to the word fantasy. In Berlioz’s symphony both words are correct, it is a fantastic musical rendering of his real-life fantasy.
Berlioz fell obsessively in love with a Shakespearean actress and his music, in five movements, tells of his self-destructive passion for her and his “dreams, tantrums and moments of tenderness, and visions of suicide and murder, ecstasy and despair.” He was, and it is, a real piece of work. For a complete description of the actual events portrayed in symphonie fantastique go to pbs.org/keepingscore/berlioz-symphonie-fantastique. His art really was a mirror to his life.
On the 13th of the month Orion Weiss and members of the orchestra will be performing two piano based selections. The first is the Trio Sonata from The Musical Offering by our old friend J. S. Bach, a Baroque masterpiece. This is followed by César Franck’s Piano Quintet. This work is “full of brooding emotional intensity” — not as much as that of Berlioz’s, but enough to keep you stimulated, and pleased by what you hear. More info for all at Sarasotaorchestra.org.
A musical fable
Guys and Dolls has often been characterized as a musical fable — and a fable often highlights human follies and weaknesses. That definition hits the nail on the head for this musical. The Damon Runyon stories that brought these characters to life, the Frank Loesser music and lyrics that coached them on how to sing, the Abe Burrows/Jo Swerling book that taught them new tricks, and the direction and choreography laid out by Jim Weaver, etches these con artists, big lugs, do-gooders, and sweet lovelies into unreal people to whom we can, for an hour or so, actually relate. Well, sort of. We can relate to their joyous subterfuge even if we could never sing, dance, or put on the moves the way we see these actors do. The action moves along as these performers keep on keepin’ on. Great show.
Damon Runyon wrote about the high times of these Manhattan lowlifes during the 1930s-40s, hence the backdrop of the Apollo Theatre, the Cotton Club, and the marquee of the 1939-1945 Broadway show Life With Father. Technology brought to life a dozen sets, including the landing of an airplane and mountains and street scenes in Cuba and New York. More info about an entertaining musical at Westcoastblacktheatre.org.
100,000 photos on your smart phone?
If you had that many shots on your phone you’d be really embarrassed, even if they were of your grandchildren. But Selby Gardens is quite proud of that many high-resolution photos of 25,000 different flora (you know, plants, flowers, and stuff) that they maintain in their files. Files which include photographs of over 3,500 orchid species. Their archives also contain 40,000 dried and processed orchid specimens which are used for research and educational purposes. And, of course, there are those stunning live specimens on display during Orchid Show 2022: Capturing the Perfect Shot, which continues through Dec. 4.
Interesting fact from Angel Lara, VP for Greenhouse Horticulture; When you think of orchids you visualize fantastically shaped flowers, green drooping leaves, and a tangle of roots at the base. Well, you aren’t seeing roots, as the roots are sheathed within what you see. That outer layer is a sponge-like material which holds the rain, or remnants of a morning mist, so that the real roots remain wet enough to continue to nourish the orchid during the heat of the day.
There are tiny orchids the size of the head of a pin, and/or are hundreds of feet up in the canopy of a rain forest, and/or aren’t blooming when the orchid hunters are about — and yet The Selby has the best scientifically documented collection of livings orchids in the world. Visit Selby Gardens and see them in all their glory. More info at Selby.org.