July 2011 Event Highlights

The arts reach a fever pitch this month

Opera in the Park

Opera in the Park

The summer arts season is heating up, with festivals, concerts and plays filling nearly every evening and weekend. Don’t let the month pass without experiencing at least one outdoor performance, whether it’s a neighborhood bash, an evening of opera or a Saturday-morning band concert.

Best Fests

One of Madison’s favorite neighborhood parties, La Fête de Marquette (July 7–10, wil-mar.org) honors the French national holiday Bastille Day with food, vendors and, best of all, lots of music. Performers hail from all corners of the French-speaking world, from Africa and France to Canada and New Orleans.

The Madison Early Music Festival travels in time and place in El Nuevo Mundo (July 9–16, dcs.wisc.edu/lsa/memf/), a celebration of the fusion of cultures that took place in the New World, as sixteenth-century European music met the styles indigenous to America. Before each of the seven concerts, musicologists, historians, artists and linguists offer free lectures.

If you’re looking to jam, the Sugar Maple Traditional Music Festival (July 29–30, sugarmaplefest.org) highlights a diversity of “hand-made music” ranging from bluegrass and Irish to jazz swing and polka. Held at Lake County Farm Park, the festival offers performances, intimate jam sessions and workshops.

On and Off

Whatever your preferred medium and style of art, you’re likely to find it—and plenty more—at Art Fair on the Square (July 9–10, mmoca.org). Held by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and now in its fifty-third year, the event turns the Capitol Square into a festive bazaar of paintings, photography, prints, sculpture, glass art, wood and metal work, jewelry and furniture. A variety of food vendors and live entertainment help make it one of the city’s signature events.

Art Fair off the Square (July 9–10, artcraftwis.org/afos.html, pictured at right) is another celebration of creativity. The thirty-second annual event, hosted by the Wisconsin Alliance of Artists and Craftspeople, highlights drawings, paintings, ceramics, prints, paper making and more by roughly 140 Wisconsin artists. Kids’ activities, food and a public art project along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard round out this community showcase.

Going Strong

American Players Theatre’s season (through October 2, americanplayers.org) is heating up. This month, the venerable Spring Green company opens Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck’s tale of friendship and tragedy in Depression-era California. You can also catch The Taming of the Shrew, Blithe Spirit and The Critic in the open-air Up the Hill amphitheater, or The Glass Menagerie and Crime and Punishment in the indoor Touchstone theatre.

Playing with Politics

Doug Reed was scheduled to create a corporate comedy for Broom Street Theater this summer. But when Wisconsin’s new governor prompted protests downtown, the playwright switched gears. His new play, Being the Lam’entable Tragedie of Sctt Wlkr Governour of Wisconsin (July 29–September 4, bstonline.org) takes a comic look at the governor and current affairs. “Tragic times call for tragic measures,” says Reed.

Politics is also cause for laughs in Utopia Limited (July 22–31, madisonsavoyards.org). The Madison Savoyards present Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera, set on the island of Utopia, that satirizes financial and political entities.

Daily Doses

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s Concerts on the Square (through August 3, wcoconcerts.org, pictured above) season is in full swing this month, with Wednesday-evening performances devoted to diverse influences. Bring a picnic, spread out on the Capitol lawn and enjoy this summer treat.

And don’t forget about Concerts on the Rooftop (through July 21, mononaterrace.com) Thursday nights at Monona Terrace or Olbrich Botanical GardensConcerts in the Gardens (through July 26, olbrich.org) on Tuesday evenings.

Al Fresco Art

A Madison summer tradition ten years strong, Opera in the Park (July 16, madisonopera.org) brings the chance to hear gorgeous music live in Madison’s Garner Park. The Madison Opera Chorus, Madison Symphony Orchestra and opera stars—including soprano Maria Kanyova and mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack, who will appear with Madison Opera next season, and tenor Roy Cornelius Smith and baritone Hyung Yun—perform opera and Broadway hits and offer a sneak peak at highlights from the upcoming season.

Fair Game

The Dane County Fair (July 20–24, danecountyfair.com) promises timeless fun, with festival food, carnival rides and concerts every night—don’t miss the seven-piece local country band Madison County on Saturday.


Celebrate Independence Day at Rhythm & Booms (July 2, rhythmandbooms.com), the Midwest’s largest fireworks display. Come early to Warner Park for picnics and parades and to check out the music stages featuring a variety of acts. At dusk, tune your radio to 94.9 FM to hear a soundtrack set to the approximately 15,000 shells fired during the thirty-five-minute fire-works extravaganza.

Downtown Diversions

If you find yourself downtown on Saturday mornings early this month, you have two unique musical options. The Capitol City Band performs a free concert, Tribute to the Troops—Then and Now (July 2, mmqccb.org), on the Capitol Square alongside the Dane County Farmers’ Market. Or drop by Overture Center for the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Free Farmers’ Market Concert (July 9, madisonsymphony.org); beat the heat while listening to the sounds of the grand concert organ.

Head to the city center for Maxwell Street Days (July 15–17, visitdowntownmadison.com), the summer sidewalk sale on State Street that also brings live entertainment and dining deals. Whenever you’re on State Street, pop into Fanny Garver Gallery to see Dioramas by Christine Rodrigues (July 1–30, fannygarvergallery.com). The artist finds inspiration in vintage photos and personal memories to create dioramas tinged with nostalgia. 

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine. Find more arts and entertainment coverage in profiles and the Liberal Arts column.



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