Normal People, Big Problems
Opera West’s annual production showcases Italian opera
The “verismo”—or realistic—tradition of Italian opera involves “characters at street level,” composer and educator Oliver Prezant notes. And Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni, circa 1890—adapted from the short story by Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga—is considered one of the first operas in that tradition.
“This is a lyric, one-act super-intense very Italian opera,” Prezant, who provided a pre-opera lecture earlier this month, tells SFR. “Ordinary people in a Sicilian village dealing with love, infidelity and revenge.”
The style suits Opera West Founder and Director Janice Pantazelos, who will mount the company’s annual production this weekend at the St. Francis Auditorium, providing a close-up experience for both opera and chamber orchestra lovers alike.
“My mission is two hours or less,” Pantazelos says. “Because I think people who have never seen an opera, to have them go see something that’s four hours long is not going to make them fall in love with opera right away.”
Helping people fall in love with opera is one of Pantazelos’ goals, so she keeps the shows short and the ticket prices attainable. As a former opera singer herself (mezzo soprano), she says she also wants to “give back” and provide more opportunities for the singers and the musicians, the latter under the direction of returning conductor Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra Director Russell Vinick.
While Pantazelos picks shorter operas, she also picks ones, she says, governed by emotion.
“I love verismo opera,” she says. “I love opera that’s real emotion…they’re real people with real stories.”
The story in this case—in a nutshell: When Turiddu returned home from the army, he found his love Lola married to Alfio; he turns to Santuzza, whom he then abandons to rekindle his relationship with Lola. Opera West’s production has two separate casts dividing the duties for its four shows. Soprano Kathleen Echols, a Santa Fe resident returning for her fourth season as a singer and children’s chorus director, depicts Lola during a recent rehearsal in the photo above (right), with Dominican tenor José Heredia, first prize winner of the Verismo Opera International competition, performing Turiddu, back for his third season. “I think the singers are amazing,” Pantazelos says. “They are really high-level singers; they all have studied for years, many of them have more than 10 roles under their belts. And many of them are back again and keep auditioning every year. And keep winning roles.” (Julia Goldberg)
Opera West presents Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni: 6 pm Friday, Oct. 27; 1 pm and 7 pm Saturday, Oct. 28; 5 pm Sunday, Oct. 29. $15-$150. St. Francis Auditorium, 107 West Palace Ave., (505) 476-5072; operawest.org
Fused in Clay
For those following the local ceramics game, names like Heidi Loewen and Matthew Rowe really mean something. Taken singularly, each brings a mastery to the clay world that has played out across numerous years and projects; together, LOMA (as we’ve just decided to call them) contain multitudes. At the upcoming show The Gold That Binds Us, Loewen and Rowe capitalize upon decades of their friendly/professional relationship at the intersection of traditional and contemporary methods including clay marbleization, blowtorching, gold leafing and, notably, kintsugi—the Japanese-developed means of repairing broken ceramic pieces with gold and lacquer. There’s probably some kind of allusion to be made about coming together for golden newness, but we’ll just leave it at how the show’s a must for the clay-lovers among us. (ADV)
Heidi Loewen and Matthew Rowe: The Gold That Binds Us: 5-8 pm Friday, Oct. 27 and noon-5 pm, Saturday, Oct. 28. Heidi Loewen Fine Art, 315 Johnson St., (505) 9888-2225
What a Drag
Know what rules? Cast a glance around here and you’re bound to lay eyes on an awesome drag performer. Even better? The kings have come out to play big time in recent years thanks to promotions outfit New Mexico Drag Kings, and we just plain love to see it. In this instance, we refer to Rusty Galore Nutz, a dedicated drag daddy who will sadly move on from New Mexico for greener pastures following this week’s Haunted Cinema Drag Show at the Jean Cocteau Cinema—itself a benefit for transitionary healthcare costs for local performer Vilette Stratton. What spurred this move just as the scene begins to hit new heights? “I need to step away for just a little bit of some spiritual and artistic motivation outside the city,” Nutz tells SFR, adding that drag kings in Santa Fe are finally paid as much as the queens, “but there’s a chance I’ll be back in February.” Catch ‘em while you can this week, including Nutz, queen Mona Chromatic and other performers too numerous to list here. (ADV)
Haunted Cinema Drag Show: 7 pm Saturday, Oct. 28. $30-$70. Jean Cocteau Cinema, 418 Montezuma Ave., (505) 466-5528
Bring Out Your Dead
At a certain point, pet ownership for the unhoused becomes harm reduction. Yeah, yeah...you have feelings—save ‘em, because local nonprofit Street Homeless Animal Project’s 2nd Annual Zombie Run is here, and it’s all about helping rather than deriding. “Our mission is to alleviate suffering and keep animal-human families together,” says founder and director Karen Cain. “Our tagline has always been ‘sometimes love has no address.’” In short, the 2nd Annual Zombie Run is like a walk-a-thon kind of thing, only participants are encouraged to come as zombies, which includes completing the run in a zombie shuffle should they choose. The registration fee goes toward helping SHAP provide vet services, food, water and other resources to the pets of our local unhoused, and the event also includes music from the Torii Taiki Japanese drumming ensemble, food trucks, face painters and more. “There’s more need than ever,” Cain adds, “and we simply couldn’t do it without the community supporting and caring.” (ADV)
SHAP 2nd Annual Zombie Run: 8 am-noon Sunday, Oct. 29. $35-$40. Railyard Park, 740 Cerrillos Road, (505) 316-3596; nmshap.org