Smuin Ballet delivers a stockingful of seasonal treats.
Thursday, December 7, 2000
It seemed everyone exclaimed "What a treat!" in reaction to the Smuin Ballets'' Christmas Ballet at Santa Catalina School last weekend. The performances--three of them--fired up the holiday spirit for those who attended. During intermission on Sunday afternoon, one patron said she was so dazzled by the Saturday matinee that she decided to buy another ticket. "The final number of the first half alone was worth the price of admission," she crowed.
If there were any regrets, they concerned the 50 unfilled seats. This was hard to fathom, since last winter''s appearance by Michael Smuin''s splendid company wowed audiences and critics alike. Until now, securing seasonal audiences had been a lock for local choral groups and miscellaneous Nutcracker productions. No more. Smuin has introduced to this town a sizzling alternative.
The Smuin appearance was the second in as many years hosted by the Carmel Bach Festival''s Bravissima series. A year ago, the program included The Classical Christmas, the first half of a two-part ballet, along with other company gems. For the first time locally, The Cool Christmas joined its classical counterpart to drop the other Capezio and complete the picture.
The first half finale, referred to above, radiates the joyous energy of Jauchzet frohlocket which opens J.S. Bach''s Christmas Oratorio. Engaging the entire troupe, it exalts in athletic prowess as men toss women overhead one to another. The choreography of The Classical Christmas imaginatively reflects on the choice of music, including the ancient Veni, Emmanuel, the dramatic Gratias from Mozart''s Mass in C Minor, the Irish-stepping Gloucestershire Wassail and Hanukkah-inspired klezmer rhythms of Licht bensh''n. While the program opened with less precision than it did a year ago, the focus soon shifted back to the intentional choreographic design.
As the Classical grew out of its music, so did the Cool. Shannon Hurlburt''s solo to Lou Rawls'' Little Drummer Boy won cheers, as did Celia Fushille-Burke''s sexy imitation of Cyd Charisse in Eartha Kitt''s Santa Baby.
Smuin''s use of props and special choreographic inspirations drew the first of many hearty guffaws from the audience. The laughter continued through the hula, surfing and Jaws of Leon Redbone''s Christmas Island and the tap-dancing conifers of Benny Martin''s Droopy Little Christmas Tree. Duke Ellington''s Sugar Rum Cherry, a take off from The Nutcracker, turned the company''s seven women into sultry sirens, recalling the Santa Baby number. Finally, a shower of "snow" in combination with the dancer on stage inspired a wave of motion sickness as Bing Crosby crooned White Christmas. Smuin even made sure some of that snow fell on the audience, who got their own turn in the spotlight.
Metropolitan Opera Season
The new season of live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera begins this Saturday, 11 am, on KAZU 99.1 FM, with Der Rosenkavalier, starring Cheryl Studer and Vesselina Kasarova. Other December broadcasts will include The Flying Dutchman, The Merry Widow and La Traviata. The 21-broadcast season includes many repertoire favorites, highlighted by new Met productions of Fidelio (Jan. 6); Il trovatore (Jan. 13); Busoni''s Doktor Faust (Jan. 20); Nabucco (March 24); and Prokofiev''s The Gambler (March 31). Most broadcasts start at 11:30, with a few beginning at 11. The Parsifal broadcast on April 7 begins (locally) at noon.
Camerata Singers Friday/Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 3pm. John Koza conducts "Sing We of Wonder," a holiday journey through many lands. Friday: St. Paul''s Episcopal, 1071 Pajaro, Salinas. Saturday: Carmel Mission, Rio and Lasuen, Carmel. Sunday: Mission San Antonio, Fort Hunter-Liggett Reservation, Jolon. $16/adults ($20/adults in Carmel); $13/students. Reservations 373-3255.
MPC Band Saturday, 8pm. John Anderson conducts music by Dello Joio, Arnold, Strauss, Ticheli. Music Hall, Monterey Peninsula College, 980 Fremont, Monterey. $5. 646-4205.
Hartnell Community Chorus Sunday, 7pm. Sandy Rudo directs holiday program. Main Stage, Hartnell College, 156 Homestead, Salinas. Free. 755-6906.
Hartnell Wind Ensemble Tuesday, 7:30pm. Carl Christensen conducts. Main Stage, Hartnell College, 156 Homestead, Salinas. Free. 755-6906.
Hartnell Choir and Chamber Singers Wednesday, noon and 7:30pm. Sandy Rudo directs. Main Stage, Hartnell College, 156 Homestead, Salinas. Free. 755-6906