Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Dec. 1)

Options on a busy weekend include “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” “Just a Book Club” and the Fresno Community Concert Band

Soft rock radio stations in dental offices might call this “the most wonderful time of the year,” but there’s another truism when it comes the local cultural scene: It feels like the busiest time of the year. Especially the next two weekends, in which nearly every arts organization seems to schedule a concert or opening.

I’ve already told you about Fresno State’s production of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” Children’s Musical Theaterworks’ production of “Annie,” CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre’s production of “Plaid Tidings,” River City Theatre Company’s production of “Miracle on 34th Street” and the Fresno Philharmonic’s big holiday concert. (And don’t forget the final weekend for Selma Arts Center’s fine “Hunchback of Notre Dame.”) Now here are some more options for the weekend to consider:

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Aug. 4)

Options include California Opera’s free production of “Cinderella.” Plus: “Hairspray” in Visalia; and “I Love You” in Oakhurst

Here’s a rundown on three promising arts picks for the weekend:

California Opera

California Opera Association’s annual arts and education festival ends with a fully staged production Friday evening and Sunday afternoon of “La Cenerentola (Cinderella),” an operatic version of the beloved fairy tale, at the Mercedes Edwards Theatre in Clovis. Under the artistic direction of Fresno’s own diva, Edna Garabedian, the festival brings together opera students, advanced singers and professional faculty in a month-long program. “Cinderella” is the festival’s big finale. And because it’s free (donations gladly accepted), it’s a great way to expose children to opera as an art form.

Gabriel and Alix
Fairy tale: Gabriel Manro and Alix Jerinic in the California Opera production of “La Cenerentola.” Photo / Owen Gailar

The production is stage directed by Richard Adamson, and the orchestra is conducted by Brian Asher Alhadeff, artistic director of Opera San Luis Obispo. Here’s the principal cast:

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (July 28)

Options include Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo, the second weekend of California Opera’s summer festival and “Eurydice” at the Fourth Wall Theatre in Visalia.

Here’s a rundown on promising cultural events for the weekend:

mozaic1
Refreshing: San Luis Obispo’s Festival Mozaic continues for a second weekend through Sunday, July 30. Photo / Festival Mozaic

Festival Mozaic

Where was I last weekend? Not in boiling Fresno. A quick trip over to the cooler Central Coast for a first-time visit to San Luis Obispo County’s Festival Mozaic has turned me into a hardcore fan.

I already walked you through the nuts-and-bolts of the festival in advance of last week’s opening. And next week, I’ll share some detailed reflections on the three concerts I attended last weekend, including an unforgettable musical moment on the top of a Shandon hillside as the sun set.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (July 20)

Cambridge choir makes a stop at Fresno’s St. James Cathedral. Plus: It’s the kickoff of California Opera’s summer festival, “Angels in America” hits the big screen, and Inner Ear poetry does its thing at Bitwise.

There are two Thursday evening events this week I want to make sure you know about, so I’m offering this version of “Donald’s List” a little early. Here’s a rundown on promising cultural events for the weekend:

selwyn college
California tour: The Selwyn College Cambridge choir performs Thursday, July 20, in Fresno.

Cambridge choir

If you love choral music, you don’t want to miss the Thursday performance of the Selwyn College Cambridge choir visiting from England on a West Coast tour. The ensemble sings a concert titled “One Equal Light: A Celebration of European Choral Music” at St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Fresno.

Sarah MacDonald conducts the choir, which is made up 29 singers (16 female and 13 male), who are undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Cambridge. She is the first woman to hold the post of director of music in an Oxbridge Chapel. MacDonald is a longtime friend of Fresno State opera professor Anthony Radford — they were both in the Ontario Youth Choir when he was 20 — and when she knew she was coming on tour to California, she wanted to visit Fresno.

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Donald’s notes: Constantine Pappas gets big break in ‘Phantom’

Quick updates on Miles Gaston Villanueva, the Selma Arts Center Awards, some stylish GCP housewives, Heidi Blickenstaff in ‘Freaky Friday,’ and a last word on the Fresno Philharmonic’s new music director

A roundup of stuff on the arts beat that recently caught my eye:

‘Let the Dream Begin’: A national Raoul

If you spent any time taking in the local opera scene in recent years, you knew the talented and charismatic Constantine Pappas — and probably guessed that he was going big places. From memorable roles at the California Opera Association to strong performances with Fresno State Opera Theatre as a voice major, Pappas offered a voice and dynamic stage presence that was hard to miss.

Photograph of Constantine Pappas made up as an old man and a young man.
All made up: Constantine Pappas in a recent rehearsal as Raoul (both old and young) in the national tour of ‘The Phantom of the Opera.’

After a stint singing on a cruise ship and time doing some smaller stage roles, including a Connecticut run in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Pappas was set to appear in a summer production of “The Fantasticks” at Sierra Repertory Theatre in Sonora. Then he got the call from his agent: He’d just landed a role understudying the character of Raoul in the national tour of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

That’s a big deal. This is the same big first-tier production that toured through Fresno in 2016, complete with a redesigned massive set and impressively sized orchestra.

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