Thursday, October 31, 2013

Verdi’s Uplifting Operatic Farewell Comes to the Center

Roberto Frontali as Falstaff. Photo by Marc Vanappelghem, 
courtesy of Opera de Lausanne
On November 26, Giuseppe Verdi’s comic masterpiece and final opera will be heard in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall during a concert performance of LA Opera’s fully staged production. Thomas May, a regular contributor to LA Opera’s programs has prepared a fascinating scan of this brilliant opus that many critics consider his finest work. May writes, “Whoever laughs last, laughs best—or, in the more elegant formulation by Arrigo Boito, author of Falstaff’s libretto: Ma ride ben chi ride / La risata finale … It’s quintessential Verdi, incorporating myriad references to his own artistic past; and yet, far from repeating himself, the composer responds to the drama with a remarkably innovative attitude. This trait can still surprise opera lovers accustomed to the more obviously lyrical style of the blockbusters from earlier in his career. A prominent example of its novelty is the unusual (for Verdi) degree of integration of voices and orchestra, which some even describe as symphonic.” It’s an operatic tour de force and final opera by Italy’s greatest composer. 

To read May’s complete story and to purchase tickets, click here.

A scene from LA Opera's 2005 production of Falstaff
Photo by Robert Millard.
A scene from LA Opera's 2005 production of Falstaff
Photo by Robert Millard
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On-the-Air about On the Edge

On the Edge Choreographers Carolyn Carlson and Jean-Christophe Maillot
When Diana Vishneva: On the Edge premieres at the Center on November 6, the world of dance will have two brand new works to experience and embrace – Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Switch and Carolyn Carlson’s Woman in a Room. But what exactly are these two dances about? What is the inspiration? How involved was Ms. Vishneva in this process? Are you pondering similar questions? 

Good news, you can tune to classical KUSC-FM this Saturday morning (8 a.m. PT) November 2 when the weekly arts program “Arts Alive” airs interviews with choreographers Maillot and Carlson as well as Segerstrom Center Executive Vice President (and dance lover) Judy Morr about all things dance and On the Edge

On the Edge Choreographers Carolyn Carlson and Jean-Christophe Maillot
with "Arts Alive" Executive Producer Kelsey McConnell
Not a morning person? Fret not, you can visit KUSC-FM's website and listen to the podcast online. 

For more information about our International Dance Series, please visit

Segerstrom Center Executive Vice President Judy Morr
"Arts Alive" Executive Producer Kelsey McConnell

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Bravo, Luigi Palumbo!

Luigi Palumbo of Paularino Elementary School

Luigi Palumbo from Paularino Elementary School took first prize in the 5th - 6th Grade Level in this year’s Costa Mesa Library Foundation Student Essay, Photography and Video Competition. The competition was open to both public and private schools, and there were 212 entries. The essay’s theme was “My Favorite Place in Costa Mesa.” Luigi selected the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall with performances by Pacific Symphony as his favorite place. 

Winners, including budding essayist Palumbo, attended an awards dinner on October 23 in the Captain’s Table of Orange Coast College. In addition to his commendation, Segerstrom Center presented Luigi with a congratulatory letter from Center President Terry Dwyer and a certificate for tickets to attend the April 4, 2014 concert by organist Cameron Carpenter co-presented by the Center and Pacific Symphony – packaged in one of the Center’s JERSEY BOYS totes. Congratulations, Young Mr. Palumbo!  

by Luigi Palumbo 

Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale
at the 
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
My favorite place in Costa Mesa is the Segerstrom Concert Hall. The Segerstrom Concert Hall is a place where the Pacific Symphony plays their concerts. It looks like a humongous auditorium with soft red chairs everywhere. In the very front, the whole Symphony is playing music. The hall is very big, so the sounds of all the instruments can be heard. The Segerstrom Concert Hall is my favorite place because I like to hear the music of the Symphony. I like to see and hear the string family (violins, violas, cellos and bass) the most. In the hall I listen and watch the Pacific Symphony play in harmony. The music sounds wonderful when the musicians come together and play their instruments. I go there with my school on field trips and I really enjoy it.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Priscilla Stars Greet ASF Supporters

AIDS Services Foundation auction winners
backstage with the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert 
Stars from Priscilla Queen of the Desert welcomed several special guests backstage following the show’s October 22 opening at the Center. Mike and Nancy Brown generously supported AIDS Services Foundation last month at the Foundation’s SPLASH! Fundraiser. They purchased one of two live auction packages that included dinners for four at Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge in the Center’s Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and tickets to Priscilla. The Priscilla stars – Wade McCollum, Bryan West and Scott Willis – met the Browns and their guests to a special thank you and backstage tour. 

For more information about ASF, visit To purchase tickets to Priscilla Queen of the Desert, click here. The show is at Segerstrom Center for a limited engagement through Sunday, October 27.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Priscilla Packs a Fashion Whallop!

The only rule is don't be boring and dress cute wherever you go. 
Life is too short to blend in. 
— Paris Hilton 

Boring will never be used in the same fashion breath as Priscilla Queen of the Desert! The Tony® Award-winner for best costume design dazzles and amazes. Count them if you will/can: 500 costumes, more than 200 hats and headdresses, 150 pairs of shoes and 60 wigs. Ostrich feathers number 295. During the Broadway run, approximately 1,500 makeup remover wipes were used EACH WEEK, 24 pairs of eye lashes for EACH PERFORMANCE, 175 tubes of lipstick, 75 pots of eye shadow and 2 pounds of glitter EACH MONTH. And to remove all that glitter from those lips – with 12 rolls of packing tape each week. Ouch! 

Prepare yourself for this fashion frolic and join the adoring audiences at the Center now through Sunday, October 27.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Alvin Sputnik Sets Down at the Center

DeMille Elementary School students
…. And students from DeMille Elementary in Midway City (Westminster School District) were on hand to greet him! Alvin and his human mentor, Sam from the Perth Theatre Company, met DeMille’s fourth, fifth and sixth graders after the Thursday, October 17 performance in Samueli Theater for a little real human contact and interaction. The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer is making its West Coast premiere in Segerstrom Center’s Family Series. 

DeMille Elementary School students

Please visit our website for more information about the Center’s Family Series or the Center’s education and community engagement programs.

The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer

Photo by Michelle Robin Anderson
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Celebrating Giuseppe Verdi at 200 with Falstaff

Giuseppe Verdi, the man many consider the father of Italian opera, would have celebrated his 200 birthday on October 10. While he could not be with us in person, opera and music fans around the world have been commemorating the occasion with special concerts and performances of his works. 

Roberto Frontali as Falstaff © Marc Vanappelghem
Courtesy of Opera de Lausanne
Verdi had a tremendous influence on the evolution of opera, in particular, infusing it with profound emotional theatricality. The Washington Post music critic and opera-enthusiast Anne Midgette raved, “For me, Verdi has always made perfect sense. Something about his work accords with my sense of how life works, and how stories can be told and experienced.” He said of himself, "I adore art... when I am alone with my notes, my heart pounds and the tears stream from my eyes, and my emotion and my joys are too much to bear." It is likely that countless people who have heard his music and watched his operas have said the same thing about their experiences with his notes. 

His final opera, Falstaff, will be presented in concert version at the Center on November 26. Based on Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV, Part I, many critics have called it his finest work. This comic masterpiece, the crowning glory of his magnificent career, will be performed by LA Opera, conducted by LA Opera Music Director James Conlon and star Italian baritone Roberto Frontali. 

To learn more about Falstaff, please visit

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Friday, October 11, 2013

An Acronym by Any Other Name

A trio of contemporary jazz greats choose to abbreviate. 

By Cristofer Gross

Forty years ago the most successful progressive rock group went by its initials: ELP. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, veterans of other famous bands, formed a "supergroup." With much less fanfare but more raw firepower, a new super trio has emerged in contemporary jazz. 

Unlike the men of old, ACS has no recordings. That's because pianist Geri Allen, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, and bassist Esperanza Spalding are so busy with individual Grammy-worthy projects they could only squeeze in a short tour. Fortunately, it includes shows in the Samueli on October 25 and 26

Although it will be Allen's first visit, Spalding had an unforgettable debut here in 2009, before she became the first jazz artist to earn Best New Artist in Grammy history. Since then she released two more acclaimed CDs and has been in constant demand in the studios and on festival stages. 

In May, Carrington, who was here eight years ago, spoke about ACS for a story in Revue

"Our very first gig in New York was at the Vanguard and we recorded a couple of those nights," she said. "It sounds good, but we don't have any plans to release it or go into the studio. But anything can happen." 

Saxophonist Joe Lovano, who will be at the Center with the McCoy Tyner Trio in December, has appeared alongside ACS this summer in concerts marking Wayne Shorter's 80th birthday. In a separate interview, he praised the trio. 

"Geri's amazing," he said. "She's fabulous and knows so much music. Terri also, the way she reorganizes and restructures things within the music is just beautiful." 

Don't miss ACS. This is one acronym-supergroup whose touring days may be as abbreviated as its name. 

Read Cris’ full story in the Center’s online Revue magazine here. To read Mr. Gross's interview with Carrington, please visit his website, Theater Times

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Diana Vishneva: Artist & Muse

Diana Vishneva, who has thrilled Center audiences many times, returns in Diana Vishneva: On the Edge. The brilliant dancer will perform two world premiere works choreographed especially for her by Carolyn Carlson and Jean-Christophe Maillot: Woman in a Room by Carlson and Switch by Maillot. In their respective interviews here, Carlson and Maillot discuss their collaborations with Vishneva and what to expect from these much anticipated new works. 

Woman in a Room, choreographed by National Centre for Contemporary Choreography Director Carolyn Carlson focuses on a woman reminiscing about many of her important life experiences. In Carlson’s interview, she explains how Woman in a Room is heavily inspired by Vishneva’s imagination. Carlson hopes that Woman in a Room will reveal a more personal side of this great dancer. The audiences, of course, are encouraged to interpret both the dancing and symbolism utilized in the work. 

With Switch, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo Director-Choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot praises Vishneva’s ability to portray a personal relationships and experiences as well as a range of human emotions while dancing. Maillot’s choreographic vision is a reflection of a star’s life and her interactions with others – perhaps his interpretation of elements in Vishneva’s own life.

In both pieces, Vishneva’s talent and creative sensibilities come to life. Audiences are invited to view these revealing performance in Segerstrom Hall on November 6, 7, 9 and 10. For more information about Diana Vishneva: On the Edge, please visit

To enhance your experience, please join us for the free Preview Talks, one hour before each performance. 

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