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The List: From ‘Traviata’ and ‘Madama Butterfly’ to Clovis cabaret, some promising picks for the weekend

Welcome to The List, a curated offering of promising events for the weekend. Why stay home with Amazon Prime when there’s a whole world of local stuff to enjoy and support?

1. Experience ‘La Traviata’

If you’re a fan of opera, this weekend offers such riches that your head will spin. California Opera presents a fully staged production of “La Traviata” at the Tower Theatre against a backdrop of scenic projections created by Steve Wall. From the company:

Fresno’s own Gabriel Manro, one of the most talented and diversified baritones of the Western opera stage, is Germont, with Jamie Bonetto as Violetta and David Gustafson as Alfredo. Bay Area artists Alix Jerinic, Linda Baird, and JT Williams, along with Central Valley opera treasures Dr. Don Gaede, Misak Israelyan, and Charlie Orta, complement the production as part of the principal cast and supporting roles.

Greg Magie conducts the California Opera orchestra. A highlight will be ballet dancers of the California Arts Academy, choreographed by Margaret Hord, along with the soloists of Academia de Arte Flamenco.

Pictured above: Gabriel Manro stars in ‘La Traviata.’

“La Traviata” is an outreach production planned to generate support for the company’s 20th annual upcoming summer opera festival.

The performances will be attended by music, dance, art, and world language students from Fresno, Madera, and Clovis county schools, made possible by the generous sponsorship of  EECU of Fresno.

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Plus: I’m giving away free tickets to both performances of “La Traviata.” Here’s the entry form. Deadline is 9 a.m. Saturday.

If you go: 7 p.m. Saturday, March 9; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 10, Tower Theatre. Tickets start at $20.

Fresno State

Jonathan Yarrington and Maria Briggs in a scene from ‘Madama Butterfly.’

2. ‘Madama Butterfly’ at Fresno State

The other big opera title this weekend is Fresno State’s ambitious, fully staged production of “Madama Butterfly” presented by the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theatre.

Marilyn Castaneda has a nice preview story in The Daily Collegian:

The role of Madame Butterfly will be played by Dr. Maria Briggs, an assistant professor of voice and soprano at Fresno State, followed by the role of B.F. Pinkerton, which will be played by guest tenor Jonathan Yarrington, assistant professor of voice at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The production will feature a 60-piece orchestra and a cast of students and professionals, including Fresno State alumni and professional opera singers Limuel Forgey and Tiffanie Trujillo. Professional singers will fill the main roles with students supporting them in smaller roles. The music department is bringing in a stage to give better sight lines in the Concert Hall, a venue that was not designed for stage productions.

Producer Anthony Radford, a Fresno State voice professor, told Fresno State News: “There are not many schools the size of Fresno State that put on full operas like we do, but we felt that it was important for our program and community to have an event that brought together many elements of the musical and fine arts in one performance. We are the only school in the Central Valley that is capable of doing this, so we needed to do it.”

If you go: 8 p.m. Friday, March 8; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 10, Fresno State Concert Hall. Tickets are $20 general, $15 seniors, $5 students. 

3. Support CenterStage

I’ve already given away tickets to CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre’s cabaret fundraiser. The Saturday afternoon event, the latest in the company’s “Encore!” series, has a theme of “Duets” and features a champagne & hors d’oeuvres reception.

Lorie Lewis Ham of Kings River Life has a Q&A with CenterStage board president Brandon Crane about the fundraiser:

We’re really blessed with the talent that wants to come out and play with us … You can expect to hear music from classics like “The Secret Garden” and “The Phantom of the Opera” to songs from recent Broadway hits like “Mean Girls.”

You’ll also get a chance to mingle with the performers.

If you go: 3 p.m. Saturday, March 9, Clovis Veterans Memorial District Theatre. Tickets are $25.

Arte Americas

4. Arte Americas Jazz Fellows

Jazz fans have plenty to check out on Saturday (including the final performance of Benjamin Boone’s “Jazz and Poetry Project” at the Rogue Festival). Here’s a powerhouse event to consider. From the folks at Arte Americas:

Join us for an evening of Jazz with saxophonist James Mahone featuring: Richard Giddens, Tim Shaghoian, Craig Vonberg, Jaz Sawyer. Mahone has performed throughout the U.S., Japan and Europe over 30 years. In early 90s, he was the composer for popular jazz band, Black Note. Mahone has performed alongside Wynton Marsalis, Eric Reed, Billy Higgins, Gil-Scott Heron, El De Barge, Josh Redman, and Roy Hargrove, Reggie Workman, Billy Harper, Arnie Lawrence, and R&B band The Chesterfields.

The evening is part of the Arte Jazz Fellows program.

If you go: 7 p.m. Saturday, March 9, Arte Americas. Tickets are $15 general, $10 students, $5 children.

5. And don’t forget …

The official artists’ reception for the new Daniel Keys/Adam Longatti show at A Sense of Place Gallery is 1-5 p.m. Saturday. Here’s my feature preview.

Fresno Filmworks is screening the Danish thriller “The Charmer” 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 8, at the Tower Theatre.

Fresno City College closes “The Little Prince” on Saturday, March 9. Here’s my review.

And here’s a plug for Steve Dzerigian’s book exhibition at Spectrum Art Gallery, now in its opening weekend.


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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

donaldfresnoarts@gmail.com

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