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Classical scene hits high notes this weekend

THURSDAY, SEPT. 22, 2011

From opera in CdA to symphony in Spokane, plenty to hear on local stages

Classical music hits a crescendo in the region this weekend, with Opera Coeur d’Alene, the Spokane Symphony, the Spokane String Quartet and pianist Simone Dinnerstein all performing on area stages.

Read on for details:

Opera Coeur d’Alene: ‘Faust’

This homegrown opera company tackles one of the big French operatic war-horses, Charles Gounod’s “Faust.”

It’s the classic story of a man who makes a deal with the devil (Mephistopheles) in exchange for the restoration of his youth.

Opera Coeur d’Alene has brought in some operatic veterans, including Vale Rideout, who will sing the title role. He has performed with the New York Philharmonic, among many others.

Marguerite will be sung by Shana Blake Hill, who has been a principal artist with the Los Angeles Opera. Mephistopheles will be sung by Jamie Offenbach, another veteran of world stages.

The director is Aaron St. Clair Nicholson, a frequent Metropolitan Opera performer. His concept for this production encompasses “the mists and long dark shadows of German impressionism.”

The opera will be sung in the original French, with English supra-titles. Todd Robinson will conduct the Opera Coeur d’Alene Orchestra.

“Faust” will have two performances, Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., in Schuler Auditorium in North Idaho College’s Boswell Hall, 1000 W. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene. There will be a free lecture one hour before each concert.

Tickets are $35 and $29 for adults, $18 for students, available by calling (208) 769-7780 or online at www.operacda.org.

Spokane Symphony: ‘Beethoven’s Facebook’

The Spokane Symphony’s Casual Classics series has always emphasized the word “casual,” but the symphony takes that concept to new heights on Friday with a concert titled “Beethoven’s Facebook.”

In some ways, it’s a regular concert, with the symphony performing Bach’s Suite No. 1; Haydn’s Symphony No. 38; Rossini’s Overture to “L’Italiana in Algeri”; and Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture and Symphony No. 2.

But it will also have some distinctly modern differences.

“I will have a computer on stage and an overhead screen and we will go into Beethoven’s page and see what happens,” said Music Director Eckart Preu.

“We’ll ask, what if Beethoven had a Facebook page? Who would he friend? Who would he unfriend? What would he ‘like’?’ ”

He will troll for information about Beethoven’s connections with the evening’s other composers. It’s actually just a variation on the usual Casual Classics theme, in which Preu begins each piece with some information about the composers and then gives the audience clues about what to listen for.

“The Facebook thing is to lift them out of the obscure past and make them a person, not a legend,” he said.

The plan is also to present shorter works, for people “who are a little afraid of classical music.” Even the Beethoven symphony is on the brief side (at least by Ludwig’s standards).

The concert begins at 8 p.m. at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, 1000 W. Sprague Ave. Tickets range from $10 to $30, available by calling (509) 624-1200 or through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com).

Spokane String Quartet: ‘Beginnings and Endings’

The Spokane String Quartet launches its season Sunday with a concert titled “Beginnings and Endings.”

One beginning is that of second violinist Amanda Howard-Phillips, the quartet’s newest member.

The other beginnings and endings refer to pieces that came from the start and finish of their composers’ careers. The program will include Haydn’s String Quartet in E-flat major, Britten’s String Quartet in D major and Beethoven’s String Quartet in F major.

The other members of the quartet are violinist Mateusz Wolski, violist Jeannette Wee-Yang and cellist Helen Byrne.

The concert begins at 3 p.m. at the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague Ave. Tickets are $10 to $18, through TicketsWest.

Simone Dinnerstein with the Gonzaga Symphony

New York-based piano sensation Simone Dinnerstein returns for her third performance with the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra on Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox.

Dinnerstein will play Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” She’s a prodigious talent who usually performs with larger orchestras, but she also happens to be a former classmate of the GU Symphony’s conductor, Kevin Hekmatpanah.

Tickets are a bargain for an artist of this magnitude: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students (free for those with a Gonzaga ID).

Seats are general admission and you can purchase them through TicketsWest outlets or at the door.



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