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MIDWINTER NIGHT: SACRED AND PROFANE RITUALS
Music from the Carpathians, a Baroque Nativity folk opera and carnivalesque Goat Songs by a punk group from Toronto comprise “Midwinter Night: Sacred and Profane Rituals” — an evening (or in one case, a matinee) of world music theater presented by Yara Arts Group. In 2003, the La MaMa resident company (which creates works of theater based on the cultural traditions of East Europe, Central Asia and Siberia) began collaborating with traditional artists from the Carpathians.
This first section of this three-part “Midwinter” endeavor focuses on the winter ritual of Koliada. Older than Christmas and rich in symbolism, Koliada’s traditions are still carried out by villagers living high in the Carpathian Mountains — where some believe that Spring and the harvest will not come unless certain songs are sung in every household. In this context, they become powerful incantations (“what is said, will be so”). The instruments played by Koliadnyky, an ensemble of Ukrainian winter song singers from the Hutsul region, include hand-made flutes, the duda (bagpipes made from a goat) and the trembita (also known as the Carpathian mountain horn, it’s made of a hollowed pine tree that has been struck by lightning and wrapped in birch bark).
The program’s second section features Yara Artistic Director Virlana Tkacz’s adaptation of a Baroque folk Christmas opera from Ukraine. The final part of the evening offers raucous Goat Songs. In a symbolic depiction of the old year’s passing and rebirth, a wooden goat puppet dances, dies and is brought back to life (because, the belief goes, “where the goat will dance that’s where wheat will grow”). Music will be provided by Toronto’s 14-piece Lemon Bucket Orkestra. This self-described “Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Punk-Super-Party-Band” just got back from a tour of Romania, where their series of half-naked, mohawked performances may seem tame in comparison to the beats a certain wooden goat will be grooving to.
Thurs., Dec. 27 through Sat., Dec. 29 at 7:30pm; Sun., Dec. 30 at 2:30pm. At the La MaMa E.T.C. Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & 2nd Ave.). For tickets ($25, $20 for student/seniors and $10 for children), call 212-475-7710 or visit lamama.org. Also visit brama.com/yara.
AMORE OPERA’S “La Bohème”
Amore Opera revisits the production that marked its inaugural season — Puccini’s timeless masterpiece, “La Bohème.” Set in the 1840s, the opera in four acts (which had a little something to do with inspiring a little Broadway smash called “Rent”) concerns a group of bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris — specifically, the tragic arc of two young lovers. Directed by Nathan Hull and conducted by Gregory Ortega, Amore’s “La Bohème” is fully staged (with full orchestra) and presented in its original Italian (with subtitles). An abbreviated, 90-minute version is also offered, as part of Amore’s “Opera-in-Brief” series (geared towards young audiences and families). The New Year’s Eve performance of the full production also functions as the company’s annual fundraiser — and includes hors d’oeuvres, dinner between acts, a champagne toast at midnight and a special post-midnight concert.
Through Jan. 6, at the Connelly Theater (220 E. 4th St., btw. Aves. A & B). Tickets are $40, $30 for students/seniors. The New Year’s Eve Gala is $125. All tickets for the Opera-in-Briefs are $15. To purchase, visit amoreopera.org or call 888-811-4111. “La Bohème” plays Thurs., Dec 27-Sat., Dec. 29 at 7:30pm and Sun., Dec. 30 at 3:30pm. The New Year’s Eve Dinner Gala/performance is Mon., Dec. 31, 7:30pm. Additional performances at 7:30pm, Wed, Jan. 2-Sat., Jan. 5 and on Sun., Jan. 6 at 2:30pm. “La Bohème Opera-in-Brief” plays Thurs., Dec. 27-Sat., Dec. 29 at 2:30pm and Sat., Jan. 5 at 2:30pm.
GIRL, A LOPSIDED TREE WON’T RUIN CHRISMAS
Alternative Theater Company’s Joe Marshall — the troubled but brilliant mind behind “The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever” — is back on the boards with a brand new holiday-themed travesty. As sassy and defiant as its title suggests, “Girl, A Lopsided Tree Won’t Ruin Christmas” begins with the death of Santa Claus — leaving his two most trusted elves, Herby and Vinnie, out of cash, out of a job and in need of a plan. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the ghetto-fabulous Tym Moss is starring in an Off-Broadway show as a flamin’ cowboy, a prepubescent girl, a high society lady, a little boy and a drug addict. Worlds collide, hilarity ensues and somehow, we hope, the damaged characters get the miracles they deserve…and demand!
Through Dec. 29, at The Players Theatre Loft (115 MacDougal St., btw. W. 3rd & Bleeker Sts. Thurs. at 7:30pm; Fri./Sat. at 7pm; Sat. at 2pm, Sun. at 5pm. For tickets ($45), visit lopsidedchristmas.com or call 866-811-4111. Also visit alternativetheatreco.org.
TINSEL TUNES BY THE TINSELTONES
The Merchant’s House Museum — New York City’s only family home preserved intact (inside and out) from the mid-19th century — survived survived the Great Fire of 1835, the Civil War and the Draft Riots and, more recently, Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, that last challenge to MHM’s structural integrity happened right in the middle of their Ghost Tours (a major source of income). So show this worthy nonprofit some love by visiting the house for a few upcoming events featuring imaginative takes on traditions both old and new. Now through Jan. 7, “From Candlelight to Bubble Light: A 1950s Christmas in an 1850s Home,” retro-decks the 19th century MHM with hundreds of East Village art scene icon Deb O’Nair’s post-1950s Christmas cards, ornaments, decorations and lit-from-within plastic holiday icons. On Dec. 22, “Tinsel Tunes by the Tinseltones” continues MHM’s comparison/contrast theme, with a concert of favorites from both the 1850s and the 1950s — performed in a stunning Greek Revival parlor filled with O’Nair’s vintage holiday memorabilia (some say the Tinseltones bear a striking resemblance to the Bond Street Euterpean Singing Society, MHM’s charismatic and vocally gifted artists-in-residence). On Jan. 1, “New Year’s Day Open House” recalls the centuries-old tradition of paying New Year’s Day calls. Take a tour of the MHM, then enjoy a cup of holiday punch and canapés in the cozy period kitchen.
“Tinsel Tunes” is performed Sat., Dec. 22, at 7:30pm. Reservations required. “New Year’s Day Open House” happens on, well, New Year’s Day (Tues., Jan. 1), from 3-6pm. Tickets are $20, reservations required. “From Candlelight to Bubble Light: A 1950s Christmas in an 1850s Home” is on display through Jan. 7. Free with museum admission ($10, $5 for students/seniors). Museum hours are noon-5pm, Thurs.-Mon. At the Merchant’s House Museum, 29 East Fourth St. (btw. Lafayette & Bowery). For tickets and info, visit merchantshouse.org or call 212-777-1089.