Friday, June 30, 2006

Our 2006-2007 Season is on sale to subscribers NOW

Our 06-07 season is now shrink-wrapped on your doorstep. A multitude of performances in many genres are on our annual buffet. Visit www.celebrityseries.org, peruse the season offerings and subscribe via secure server, or send us an email and order a free brochure sent by mail. You can also download the brochure as a .pdf file, print it out and look it over that way. Options abound.



Sure, I work in marketing at the Celebrity Series, but I'm sincere when I say, now is the time to get in and get good seats - or at least start to consider your options. Individual tickets don't go on sale until early in the Fall so the only way to secure your tickets over the summer is to subscribe. Check out the subscriber benefits, too, and learn just how good our subs have it.



Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"Behind the Scenes in the Blogosphere"

The Center for Marketing Research at University of Massachussetts Dartmouth has released an extensive survey of more than seventy corporate weblogs plus several chapters of analysis on business use of weblogs. Behind the Scenes in the Blogosphere: Advice From Established Bloggers is available on this page as a pdf file.



Monday, June 26, 2006

John Amodeo on Kapilow and The Songs of Sondheim

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John Amodeo has reviewed the final What Makes It Great? of the 2005-06 season, The Songs of Stephen Sondheim, with Rob Kapilow, Michael Winther and Terri Klausner:



"Kapilow, a skilled pianist, performed this musical deconstruction at the piano,
playing each line of music himself, twisted at the waist to face the audience
directly, completely engaging us with his bubbling enthusiasm and cornucopia of
knowledge. If sometimes he seemed too eager, moving to and fro non-stop, like a
hummingbird on a caffeine rush, he could be easily forgiven when we learned what
he had to teach us."


Read the full text on EDGEBoston.com.



Saturday, June 24, 2006

Pres Hall, Ellis Marsalis, Bonnaroo and The Edge

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The resurgence of New Orleans' Preservation Hall following Hurricane Katrina is just one of the stories taking place daily in that ravaged but resilient region. But the fate of Preservation Hall is of particular concern to Boston and the Celebrity Series because of the relationships developed over their many years of performing here. We are pleased to say things have been going well at Pres Hall, though there is, of course, so much more to be done in New Orleans...

The folks at Gibson Guitars have provided a kind of a progress report from the opening of Pres Hall back in May. It features photos, video and an article on the event, which included the appearance of U2's The Edge. Take a look at What A Wonderful World.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band has also taken its performing/fundraising operation on the road. This article chronicles their presence at Tennessee's Bonaroo 2006 music festival.

The Celebrity Series 2006-2007 season opens with very special evening at Symphony Hall this coming October 15. Preservation Hall will celebrate its 45th anniversary with a benefit performance by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band with special guest Ellis Marsalis (the wonderful, pianist patriarch of the Marsalis clan). The show is called "The New Orleans Revue" which will feature, in addition to the aforementioned, a bevy of musicians, vocalists, fan dancers, comedians, circus performers and an MC to lead it all. Proceeds from the event will go to the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund and the Celebrity Series, Arts, Education and Communtiy Program.



Thursday, June 22, 2006

Gantz reviews "Manon" for The Phoenix

Jeffrey Gantz reviewed The Royal Ballet and Manon for the June 22 Boston Phoenix:



"Speaking to the New Yorker in 1974, [Kenneth] MacMillan boasted, 'You have a sixteen-year-old heroine who is beautiful and absolutely amoral, and a hero who is corrupted by her and becomes a cheat, a liar, and a murderer. Not exactly our conventional ballet plot, is it?'"

Read the full text of Stacked Deck.



Wednesday, June 21, 2006

And in this corner...

John Rockwell compares the two versions of Kenneth MacMillan's Manon production seen on the East Coast this month; ours, of course, co-presented with The Wang Center last week at The Wang Theatre (and reviewed solo in the NY Times by Rockwell) and the American Ballet Theatre's version which opened at The Met two days after it closed here. Here's a snippet:



"New York uses the same set by Nicholas Georgiadis, but in a larger version originally built for La Scala in Milan. The props and costumes in Boston seemed more finely wrought, more elegant, as in Manon's fur coat, versus the plainer affair seen at the Met. The lighting in New York (by Thomas R. Skelton) looked more effectively moody and atmospheric (i.e., dimmer)."



Read the full text of  The Competing Visions of 'Manon,' a Tale of Sweet Seduction (requires login)



Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bale talks with Lamb about Royal Ballet

The Boston Herald's dance critic, Theodore Bale, tracked down Royal Ballet principal and Boston native Sarah Lamb between commitments in a busy schedule. Bale's article runs in today's Herald and several TAB/CNC papers this week. Here's a bit:



"It took some doing to speak with former Boston Ballet principal dancer Sarah Lamb about her U.S. tour with London’s Royal Ballet. She was occupied last week with the final rehearsals of a premiere by Christopher Wheeldon, and thoughts of the royal audience about to watch it: England’s Queen Elizabeth II and her entourage."  Read the full text.



Royal Ballet's Ballet Mistress teaches class at Boston Ballet

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Royal Ballet Ballet Mistress Ursula Hageli demonstrates steps for her master class students

The Royal Ballet's Ballet Mistress, Ursula Hageli, led a free master class for intermediate level adult students at Boston Ballet studios yesterday afternoon (June 13). The Celebrity Series and The Wang Center sponsored the event, in association with Boston Ballet.

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Not being one to frequent ballet class (I suppose I could, as comic relief), I was struck by Ms. Hageli's gentleness, patience and poise (it was beastly hot in the studio). Not that the steps she was putting the students through were easy, mind you. She challenged the dancers, certainly, but all the while she warned them not to overdo it if they did not take class regularly. Are all ballet mistresses so nice?



Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Kobborg online

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Royal Ballet principal dancer Johan Kobborg, not to be outdone by Carlos Acosta, has a web site of his own. In addition to his biography and video clips, the site features a message board with frequent responses from Kobborg.



Monday, June 12, 2006

Sarah Lamb returns to Boston

There are many stars and many stories in the ranks of The Royal Ballet. In this Sunday's Boston Globe, Karen Campbell covered one story with a distinctly Boston orientation. Sarah Lamb was born, raised and trained as a dancer in the Boston area. She danced all the way to the level of principal dancer at Boston Ballet - the "pinnacle" of success at the company she had known all her dancing life. Two years ago she left Boston for London's Royal Ballet. She returns to Boston and The Wang Theatre this week for two performances as Lescaut's Mistress (Thursday and Saturday night) in Kenneth MacMillan's Manon.



Here's an excerpt from Dancer's leap of faith has put her in Royal company:



"Less than two weeks ago, just after the curtain closed on her acclaimed series of performances as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet director Monica Mason made a dramatic onstage presentation promoting Lamb to principal dancer.



'It's really an incredible honor and great thrill,' Lamb said, 'because the Royal Ballet is one of the top companies in the world. I'm stunned at my good luck .'"

Full text of Karen Campbell's Boston Globe article.



Friday, June 9, 2006

Royal Ballet's 75th anniversary gala reviewed

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Carlos Acosta as Des Grieux in Manon

The Royal Ballet has just concluded their 75th anniversary gala performance for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. It was also part of the celebration of Her Majesty's 80th birthday. Wouldn't it have been fun to have attended that event?

Zoƫ Anderson reviewed for today's Independent, here's a sample:



"The hit of the evening was the duet from Le Corsaire. Carlos Acosta comes bounding on, his jumps high, the landings as soft as velvet. As he hangs in the air, Acosta embellishes one whirling leap with more turns, more kicks, more sparkle. The entire Covent Garden audience gasped, a collective sizzle of astonishment." Full review.



Well dance (and knitting, and much else) blogger Leigh Witchell was in the audience and writes about the gala on his blog. He concurs with Anderson on Acosta's performance in the Le Corsaire pas de deux with Darcy Bussell. But Witchell includes a gesture made by Royal Ballet director Monica Mason, and the assembled company and school, who sang "Happy Birthday" to Her Majesty, an undoubtedly charming moment that The Independent review oddly did not mention.



Writer Debra Cash looks at "Manon" for The Boston Phoenix

Debra Cash writes in this week's Boston Phoenix about The Royal Ballet's production of Kenneth MacMillan's Manon, opening one week from yesterday at The Wang Theatre and running for four performances (June 15-17). Some samples from her story:



On Manon the story:
"You think poverty and desperation in New Orleans is news? Wait till you see Manon, the conniving Parisian courtesan, reduced to degradation in the Louisiana swamplands and dying in the arms of Des Grieux, the student she once scorned. Crime, prostitution, betrayal: the story is replete with flawed characters and dark intimations."

On Manon, the role:

"The title role is a juicy diva role that a dewy ingenue just can’t pull off. Manon’s mix of hauteur and desperation calls for a ballerina with acting chops and some life experience in her pointe shoes."

Read all of New Orleans Story
.

Read about The Royal Ballet's Manon engagement in Boston June 15-17.



Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Royal Ballet's 1957 Boston visit remembered

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         Our logo in 1957

This just in from former Celebrity Series Executive Director Walter Pierce, a little missive on some of the not-so-good old days. I wonder if Walter tells us these great old stories of trials past to make us feel better about ourselves somehow . . . well, it works. I, for one, am relieved I wasn't present!



Dear Jack:

How is the Royal Ballet doing at the box-office? I am so looking forward to seeing that great company again -- my first attraction at the Celebrity Series when I joined Aaron Richmond in the fall of 1957. Total staff including me at the time: 4. What a nightmare for a first timer. The company was scheduled to play at the old Opera House on Huntington Avenue the first week of October, and tickets had been on sale beginning in the Spring with the mailing of the series announcement. The Shuberts, who owned the theatre, were facing mega-repair costs (rumor had it the facade was about to descend into the street below).

We had to request the return of tickets from the public while we sought an alternate site. We ended up renting a movie house, the Loew's State, on Mass. Ave. now a condo owned by the Mother Church. Terrible conditions. Shallow stage, no dressing rooms, minuscule orchestra pit. We rented the Fine Arts Theatre around the corner for dressing rooms. The dancers ran through an adjacent alley to enter the Loew's State.

Not everyone returned tickets, so people were showing up at sold out performances with tickets for the Opera House and I had to scurry around trying to find places for them. It was like Jesus and the loaves of bread as I shoe-horned people into two boxes I had at my disposal. Somehow we got through the engagement of "Sleeping Beauty" which at the time was the Royal's signature piece.

Anyway, that's the news from Lake Wobegon where the impresarios are pretty and the children are strong.

Best Wishes,
Walter


A subscription brochure from the fall of 1957 indicates that the roster of stars for that engagement included Margot Fonteyn, Michael Somes, Beryl Grey and John Field. The thought of those dancers sprinting across alleys off Mass. Avenue is horrifyingly funny. Or is it hilariously horrifying?



Sunday, June 4, 2006

Esperanza's singalongs and Udden's "Torchsongs" CD

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Esperanza Spalding

In this week's Boston Phoenix, Jon Garelick profiles a couple of young jazz musicians that graced Celebrity Series stages in 2005-06. The first is bassist Esperanza Spalding, who anchored saxophonist Joe Lovano's quartet at our Sanders Theatre concert in March. The date was a double-bill that also featured vocalist Luciana Souza, who is a particular favorite of Spalding's, as Spalding plays bass and sings. Spalding is back for some Boston dates as a headline act.



From Jon Garelick's feature, The Natural:



"It’s getting late on a Tuesday night at Bob’s Southern Bistro in the South End and I’m searching my memory for the last time I’ve heard and seen what’s happening now: a jazz singalong. Onstage is Esperanza Spalding, 21, the petite bass player with the towering Afro who came to Berklee as a 17-year-old and has since not only become, quite literally, the poster girl for the college, with a giant silhouette of her painted on the side of the Performance Center, but also a fixture around town, now teaching bass at the school where she was so recently a student, and showing up as a leader and sideperson in any number of local bands." Read the full text of The Natural.

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Jeremy Udden

Also profiled in Garelick's article is saxophonist and Wrentham native Jeremy Udden (pronounced you-deen), who fills the alto saxophone chair with the Either/Orchestra, which celebrated its 20th anniversary with a Celebrity Series concert back in January. Udden is releasing a new CD, Torchsongs, this month, he talked with Garelick for part two of the article:



"The two jazz albums that Udden cites as models are Joe Henderson’s 'Lush Life' and Joe Lovano’s 'Rush Hour' — the equivalent of jazz concept albums. 'But I wasn’t listening to those when I did this. I was listening to rock records like Wilco’s 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' and Beck’s 'Sea Change.' I suppose ‘Fish Lake’ is the most Beck-like. I’m still holding a saxophone, but it’s got more layers — guitars and Rhodes and saxophones fading in and out. There’s no saxophone solo on it because I didn’t want one.'"



Read the full text of The Natural.

Udden also gets a nice profile from Bill Beuttler in Friday's Boston Globe. Read In apartment, Udden had room to grow.



Saturday, June 3, 2006

Kapilow and company tackle Sondheim

Early in last night's Sondheim program, Rob Kapilow described the Broadway master with a definition of art by W.H. Auden, "Art is clear thinking about mixed feelings." Ambivalence, a hallmark of Sondheim's art, was indeed the analytical theme of the third and final What Makes It Great? outing of 2005-06. Among the nhighlights were Terri Klausner's thrilling rapid-fire vocals on "Not Getting Married" - which featured a nice comic/operatic turn by Carrie Cheron (if we do say so ourselves), and Michael Winther fully inhabiting his role, pointillistically painting his way through "Finishing the Hat."



After a full 80-minute program of songs by the great Broadway songster followed by a lively question and answer session, Winther, Klausner and Kapilow added one more number - unanalyzed, this time - from the Sondheim songbook: "No One Is Alone" from Into The Woods. Once again, Kapilow's audience went home humming.



Friday, June 2, 2006

What Makes It Great? is at Sanders

Just to keep you on your toes, Rob Kapilow and What Makes It Great? The Songs of Stephen Sondheim are both at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge tonight, not at Jordan Hall or the Tsai Performance Center. Just thought some of you could use the reminder.



The Royal Ballet to perform for Her Majesty The Queen during busy June

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The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, home of The Royal Ballet



The Royal Ballet will be in Boston soon (June 15-17 at The Wang Theatre). In the days leading up to their arrival on our shores they are keeping busy. Their London production of Sleeping Beauty drew a rave review from Ruth Leon, who reviewed for Bloomberg.com. In fact, all of June is busy for the Londoners, with multiple performances and events (schedule) including a 75th Anniversary Celebration in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen on June 8 (program). You can only turn 75 once, it looks as if they intend to do it right.



Thursday, June 1, 2006

Carlosacosta.com

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Royal Ballet Principal Guest Artist Carlos Acosta will dance the role of Des Grieux in Kenneth MacMillan's Manon on June 15 (Thursday evening) and June 17 (Saturday evening) at The Wang Theatre in Boston. Mr. Acosta has a short biography provided by the company, as do all the principal dancers. But the renowned Cuban dancer also has his own web site (he is not alone among the Royal Ballet dancers, more on that later) complete with his own logo, photo gallery, news section and an online gift shop featuring Carlos Acosta logo t-shirts, "city tops," a baseball cap and the CD, DVD and book of his Olivier-nominated show, Tocororo, A Cuban Tale. Tocororo has its own site, too, of course.