November 2011 Event Highlights
It's a month of major moments in local arts
Forward Theater presents "The Farnsworth Invention"
It’s a robust month for local arts, with several of the city’s prominent groups starting their new seasons this month, others looking forward with holiday offerings—and some impressive violinists, iconic art and geeky gigs thrown into the mix.
The Forward Theater Company kicks off its new season with a collaboration with University Theatre and the UW–Madison Department of Theatre and Drama. The Farnsworth Invention (November 3–20, forwardtheater.com) focuses on two men—an Idaho farm boy and a Russian immigrant—at the center of one of the world’s greatest inventions: the television.
This electrifying tale, created by the Emmy- and Oscar-winning Aaron Sorkin of The Social Network and A Few Good Men fame, features sixteen actors playing more than seventy roles, including Michael Huftile and Nicholas Harazin from American Players Theatre as the two leads.
Madison Opera raises the curtain on its fifty-first season with the company premiere of Eugene Onegin (November 4 and 6, madisonopera.org). This lesser-known work by Tchaikovsky—an epic drama of love, rejection and regret spanning twenty-six years—nonetheless features the composer’s characteristic melodies and is, in fact, considered his operatic masterpiece.
The production stars baritone Hyung Yun and soprano Maria Kanyova, who last appeared with Madison Opera, respectively, in Carmen of 2009 and Madame Butterfly in 2008, and sees the company debut of tenor Scott Ramsay.
Lessons in Styles
The Chazen Museum of Art follows the opening of its stunningly expanded building last month with a new exhibition. The Hanga Traditions: Twentieth-Century Japanese Woodcuts (November 5–January 15, chazen.wisc.edu) explores two contrasting printmaking styles through the first half of the twentieth century. Shin hanga is a conservative style emphasizing technical perfection, while sosaku hanga is more experimental and idiosyncratic.
In Kanopy Dance’s This is Not America (November 11–13, kanopydance.org), a man lies bound on the floor while a pair dances nearby—a sharp juxtaposition between constraint and freedom.
“It’s Madison right now,” says co-artistic director Robert E. Cleary, though he actually choreographed the intense work back in 1999.
Also featured are Chicago’s Winifred Haun offering dances within a dance in “Bento,” renowned guest artist Lonny Joseph Gordon in a short solo and co-artistic director Lisa Thurrell’s lush, modern “Partita and Chorales,” which is set to music by Bach that incorporates numerology and hidden text.
When the Madison Symphony Orchestra announced its 2011–2012 season, maestro John DeMain expressed enthusiasm over guest artist Midori (November 11–13, madisonsymphony.org). The renowned violinist makes her MSO debut by playing Shostakovich’s challenging Violin Concerto No. 1. Haydn’s “London Symphony” and Ravel’s “La Valse” round out the concert.
Another accomplished violinist comes to Madison this month. At the age of nineteen, Caroline Goulding is considered a rising star of classical music and becoming known for her fresh interpretations. She visits the Union Theater for a concert of Mozart, Enescu, Schumann, Faure and Saint-Saens (November 3, uniontheater.wisc.edu) and stays for a performance with the UW Chamber Orchestra (November 5).
A Notable Performance
The Pro Arte Quartet’s centennial season continues with a free concert at Mills Hall (November 19, music.wisc.edu) premiering Paul Schoenfield’s “Three Rhapsodies for Piano Quintet” andhighlighting the talent of guest pianist Brian Huys.
Ten years after they released their debut album, the three members of the North Mississippi Allstars—guitarist and drummer brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson and bassist Chris Chew—gathered to work on their most personal album. Keys to the Kingdom, which came out earlier this year, is a declaration of life and a tribute to the loss of the Dickinsons’ Memphis musician father. The trio’s fall tour brings their “country blues and Mississippi rock ’n roll” to the Majestic Theatre (November 18, majesticmadison.com).
If you’ve never had the chance to catch today’s most famous tap dancer on one of his visits to Madison, don’t miss A Classical Encounter with Savion Glover (November 10, uniontheater.wisc.edu). This performance is being hailed as the dynamic dancer’s most minimalist concert to date.
Sense of Place
Before she moved to Madison a few years ago, New York City was home for Ida Wyman. The luminary figure in American photography started out as a photojournalist in the 1940s, capturing iconic and intimate images of the city’s neighborhood scenes. She went on to photograph presidents and celebrities, contributing to such publications as Life and the Saturday Evening Post. In Ida Wyman: Portraits of America (October 29–November 20, paolihousegallery.com), the Paoli House Gallery showcases thirty works by the famed photographer, who’s also feted this month in an exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York City.
For unique impressions of places closer to home, check out Window to Wisconsin (November 1–30, absolutelyartllc.com) at Absolutely Art. Digital artist Susan Lukas showcases the state in an Impressionistic style, highlighting forests, ponds and other natural scenes with interesting textures, vivid colors and beautiful warmth.
If comic books and video games are your thing, clear your calendar the first weekend of the month. More than 1,250 vibrant images join live sound artists and voice actors at Overture Center to create a live-action graphic novel known as The Intergalactic Nemesis (November 4, overturecenter.com). The comic-book story takes three heroes around the world and beyond in a quest to save humanity from an invading force of outer-space aliens. And at the Alliant Energy Center, Video Games Live (November 5, alliantenergycenter.com) brings to life music from the most popular video games of all time. Wisconsin Pops performs the sounds of Mario, Zelda, Warcraft and more, with enhancement from synchronized lights and live-action segments.
Kick off the holiday season with lots of music and a helping of theater! The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra hosts its annual Middleton Holiday Pops (November 26–27, wcoconcerts.org). The Middleton High School Concert Choir and American Idol finalist AJ Gill join the WCO for a performance of Christmas favorites. The Oakwood Chamber Players mix up their holiday tradition this year. Christmas Shuffle (November 25, oakwoodchamberplayers.com) is a new take on the group’s regular Christmas Lights program of audience favorites
and new works.
If you can’t help singing along to holiday tunes, find your voice at the Free Community Christmas Carol Sing (November 26, madisonsymphony.org) featuring Samuel Hutchison on the Overture Concert Organ.
For holiday cheer of a different sort, check out Broom Street Theater’s The Ghosts of Christmas Past (November 11–December 18, bstonline.org). The play offers a satirical look at the hauntingly awkward, joyfully chaotic and altogether absurd moments of the holiday season.
Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.