Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

A Met screening with a star in the audience

Fresno’s own Jacqueline Antaramian, the Fresno State theater graduate who starred in last year’s StageWorks Fresno production of “Master Class” after understudying the role of Maria Callas on Broadway, made her Metropolitan Opera debut a few years ago in the non-singing role of Clytaemnestra in “Iphegenie En Tauride.” The opera community must have taken notice, because director Francesca Zambello cast her in last year’s production of Berlioz’s  “Les Troyens.”

The production was featured in a rebroadcast of the Met’s Live in HD series Wednesday night at Edwards. And guess what? Antaramian, home for a visit, was there in person. How cool is that? I couldn’t make the screening, alas, because I was still at work — I’m still kicking myself for missing this one — but I asked Hazel Antaramian Hofman, Jacqueline’s sister, to take a photo for the Beehive. (Jacqueline is pictured above, center, with some very recognizable Fresno theater folks.) Thanks, Hazel!

Denver’s Westword newspaper caught up with Antaramian — who spent 10 years at the Denver Center Theatre Company — to talk about her performance in “Les Troyens,” in which she played the role of Andromache, Hector’s grieving wife. It’s interesting to read her take on the experience. Meanwhile, dare we hope that Antaramian will come back to Fresno soon to perform again?

Donald’s weekend picks

Besides, as Mike Oz put it in his own picks, hoping that no more local businesses close …

Everything about Berlioz’s vast “Les Troyens” is epic — including its length. The first installment of the year of the Metropolitan Opera’s popular Live in HD series clocks in at 5 hours, 45 minutes. Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Bryan Hymel and Dwayne Croft lead the cast, portraying characters from the Trojan War. It screens at 9 a.m. Saturday at Edwards. Here’s the New York Times review of the production.

I still remember the time I saw Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and I swear it must have clocked in at close to six hours including two long intermissions. It’s kind of fun to just settle back and bask in a work of such length. [Details]

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Donald’s weekend picks

Valentine’s Day weekend is jam-packed with worthwhile events, many of them benefits. (Mike and I write about eight of the options in Friday’s 7 cover story.) One concert that looks especially promising is “Love Conquers All,” a fund-raiser for the Youth Orchestras of Fresno. Guest artist and acclaimed tenor Scott Piper joins the orchestra in a selection of favorite romantic arias. A dessert auction following the concert will give you a chance to satisfy your sweet tooth as well. Below, Piper works with Henry Woolf and Sophia Liang.

Scott Piper with Henry (flute) and Sophia (violin).JPG

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Live from New York …


Those of you print folks who read my column in last Sunday’s Bee know I’m smack in the middle of an intensive 10-day fellowship in classical music and opera in New York. I’m one of 24 classical music journalists from around the country gathered on Manhattan’s Upper West Side for a morning-to-night flurry of lectures, concerts, tours and discussions. I arrived last Saturday evening, and on this following Saturday morning I’m cherishing my first few hours of free time in which I’m able to ponder everything I’ve soaked in so far. Among the highlights:

  • The New York premiere of a work by David Del Tredicci at Alice Tully Hall.
  • The Broadway production of “West Side Story.”
  • Renee Fleming singing the lead role in the Metropolitan Opera production of “Der Rosenkavalier,” which had a running time of four and a half hours. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
  • Pianist Murray Perahia performing Chopin’s Etude in C-sharp Minor at Carnegie Hall.
  • Bernard Haitink conducting the London Symphony in a monumental performance of Mahler’s 4th Symphony at Avery Fisher Hall.
  • Tours of the New York City Opera, the Met, WNYC radio and Carnegie Hall.
  • Lectures with experts, a singing lesson with Audra McDonald’s former vocal coach, and writing workshops with classical music writers from the New York Times and New York magazine.

Another memorable moment, but not exactly a good thing, happened when our tour of the beautiful new New York Times newsroom collided with the grim staff meeting announcing that the paper was eliminating 100 more journalist positions. Ugh. One thing I’ll take away from this experience is that the Times classical music department is as understaffed and overworked as most other papers across the country.

I won’t subject you to all the overnight reviews I’ve written, but I’ll share with you my (raw and unedited) draft of the Mahler performance on the jump. It was exhilarating.

Still to come: the “Ancient Paths, Modern Voices” Chinese music festival at Carnegie Hall; the London Symphony Orchestra playing Mahler’s 9th Symphony (yes, I’m gorging on Mahler) and an evening at one of New York’s hottest new performance spaces, Le Poisson Rouge.

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