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AMORE OPERA PRESENTS “THE BARBER OF SEVILLE”
With “The Marriage of Figaro” and the American premiere of Mercadante’s “I due Figaro” already under their third season belt, Amore Opera’s Fall Figaro Fest concludes with Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” Amore promises their production (with full orchestra) will enchant and amuse — in English and Italian! Maestro Richard Owen (former resident conductor at Deutsche Oper am Rhein and Duesseldorf Symphony in Germany, and current cover conductor at the New York Philharmonic) returns to Amore to take the baton.
Through December. Thurs.-Sat, at 7:30pm; Wed., Dec. 28 also at 7:30pm; Sun., Dec. 18, 2:30pm. The “Opera-in-Brief” series features “The Kid’s Barber of Seville” at 11:30am on Thurs, Dec. 29 and Sat., Dec. 31. “Hansel & Gretel” is performed on Sat., Dec. 17 and Wed., Dec. 28 at 11:30am & 3pm. At the Connelly Theater (220 E. 4th St.). For tickets ($40; $30 for students, seniors; $15 for the Opera-in-Brief shows), call 866-811-4111 or visit amoreopera.org. The New Year’s Eve Gala (on Sat., Dec. 31, at 7:30pm) includes hors d’oeuvres and champagne before the show, dinner and desert during the intermissions and a champagne toast at Midnight. A concert featuring the talent of Amore Opera will be presented after the show. Tickets are $125.
THE LA MAMA CANTATA
Most people have one good book in them. By the time she left this mortal stage (on January 13, 2011 — at the age of 91),
Ellen Stewart had over 3,000 theatrical productions to her name — having nurtured theater, dance, performance art and music as founder and artistic director of La MaMa (currently celebrating its 50th anniversary season). Writer and composer Elizabeth Swados’ new theater work pays tribute to La MaMa’s mama, by presenting a musical journey through Stewart’s life and times. The text is taken from Stewart’s own word as well as those who knew her well.
A cast of 18, accompanied by a piano and percussion ensemble, bring the story to life — and what a story. Arriving in New York (via Louisiana, via Chicago), Stewart spent her early years as a fashion designer for Saks Fifth Avenue — then found herself, in 1961, in the improbable position of being a woman of color determined to open a theater “dedicated to the playwright and all aspects of the theatre.” In the process, she distinguished herself as one of a very few creative types responsible for creating what came to be known as the Off-Off Broadway movement.
At the November premiere of “The La MaMa Cantata,” our own Martin Denton (a regular contributor to this paper, and editor of nytheatre.com) declared, “Like the best works at La MaMa over the years, the CANTATA is a dazzling showcase of diversity and imagination. The cast is alarmingly talented. They communicate Ellen’s words, commentary for her collaborators, along with passages from St. John and Corinthians to honor Ms. Stewart’s spiritual side with passion and joy. Swados’ score is magnificently varied, and filled with emotion.” Such high praise from Denton (an enthusiastic theatergoer, but no light touch), plus the long shadow cast by Stewart, is more than reason enough to clear your crowded holiday calendar.
At 7:30pm on Thurs., Dec. 29 and Fri., Dec. 30 (the Dec. 30 performance will be live-streamed, and features a post-show talk-back with the cast and creator). At the Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4 St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For tickets ($25; $20 for students/seniors), call the La MaMa box office at 212-475-7710 or visit lamama.org.
ACCIDENTALLY, LIKE A MARTYR
Playwright Grant James Varjas imbued his latest endeavor with an unmistakable ring of truth — by imbibing, dishing and learning valuable life lessons at an East Village watering hole very similar to the old school dive which serves as the setting for “Accidentally, Like a Martyr.” Back in the day, Varjas spent his wonder years as a budding gay man by logging countless hours at The Boiler Room (still going strong at 86 E. 4 St., btw. 1st and 2nd Aves.; boilerroomnyc.com).
Decades later, extended families are still being formed at your local gay bar — but today’s young bucks are more likely to be found raising a glass alongside straights and finding their casual kicks with the help of a smartphone app instead of that second Happy Hour drink. “Martyr” is more concerned with the former rather than the latter. In 90 minutes (with a few flashbacks to 2007 thrown in), a group of gay men spend a pivotal winter evening hunkered down in their favorite bar, grappling with life and aging in the 21st century.
The cast includes Keith McDermott (who was the young male lead opposite Richard Burton in the original Broadway production of “Equus”) and Brett Douglas (“The Play About the Naked Guy”).
Through January 8. Thurs. through Sat. at 8pm; Sun. at 3pm; Mon. at 7pm. At Paradise Factory (64 E. 4th St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For tickets ($18; $15 for students and seniors), call 212-352-3101 or visit ovationtix.com. Also visit othersideproductions.org