Category: San Diego

It's not too late to catch many Pacific Standard Time shows

April 4, 2012 |  2:58 pm

Last Saturday, several local museums offered free admission as a way to mark the end of the sprawling six-month-long exhibition festival Pacific Standard Time. But don't throw away your little red guide to the PST shows quite yet.

As could be expected from such an unwieldy event involving many different institutional schedules, several exhibitions are spilling beyond the official six-month mark, giving people a little more time to fill in gaps in their knowledge of Southern California art history.

Here's a list of shows that run beyond this week: 

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San Diego museums receive $40-million art collection

March 23, 2012 |  3:49 pm

Kline work among the San Diego museum gift

Two San Diego museums will share a gift of a private art collection worth $40 million.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the San Diego Museum of Art received a series of Minimalist and contemporary masterpieces from the late Dr. Vance E. Kondon and his wife, Elisabeth Giesberger.

The Museum of Art received 48 German Expressionist paintings, drawings and prints from a range of artists, including Otto Dix, Alexej von Jawlensky, Gabriele Munter and Gustav Klimt. Collection highlights include an erotic drawing by Egon Shiele and a double-sided painting by Max Pechstein.

The Museum of Contemporary Art received 30 contemporary pieces from the 1950s to 1980s, with artworks from Piero Manzoni, Ad Dekkers, Christo, Jules Olitski and Franz Kline, as well as California artists Craig Kauffman and Ron Davis.

Kondon served on the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s Board of Trustees during the 1970s and was known as one of San Diego's top art collectors and supporters. His collection, 30 years in the making, ranged from figurative pieces of the early 1900s to the abstract works of the latter half of the 20th century.

Kondon died in 1997, and Geisberger died last year.

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Theater review: 'A Room With a View' at the Old Globe

March 16, 2012 |  3:13 pm

A room with a view

E.M. Forster knew how to weave a narrative spell as well as any 20th century English novelist. He was the master of building romantic suspense out of psychological repression. His most famous dictum, “Only connect,” is routinely shown to be much harder in good English society than it sounds.

The moviemaking team of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory had great success in mining Forster's oeuvre for lavish epics that couldn't get enough of those grand manors, rolling lawns, prep-school haircuts and fancy tea services. The stage can't compete on the same pictorial front, but plots this well devised and characters this richly distinctive are too valuable a resource to pass up. Which brings us to “A Room With a View,” the rather rudimentary musical version of Forster's 1908 novel that's having its world premiere at the Old Globe.

With music and lyrics by Jeffrey Stock (“Triumph of Love”) and a book by novelist and playwright Marc Acito (who also contributed additional lyrics), the show attempts in as straightforward a manner as possible to translate the novel from the page to the singing stage. This tale of a young English woman's awakening in Florence to the glories of art, love and unruly human nature is efficiently synopsized by Acito. The songs by Stock carefully set up the characters while briskly advancing the action. But the work doesn't pulse with genuine passion — it has the feeling of a commissioned exercise that's competently yet unimaginatively pulled off.

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'Spring Awakening' team to bring fairy-tale show to La Jolla

March 6, 2012 |  2:49 pm

Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater at 2007 Tony Awards Jason Szenes European Pressphoto Agency

“Spring Awakening” collaborators Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater are dipping into the well of 19th century European literature yet again, with a musical version of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale  “The Nightingale.”

The La Jolla Playhouse announced Tuesday that the work-in-progress will have a public workshop staging July 10 to Aug. 5 as part of the playhouse’s Page to Stage new play development series.

Composer Sheik and lyricist-librettist Sater will have a high-profile collaborator in director Moises Kaufman, who helped get Page to Stage off on the right foot in 2001, directing its inaugural installment, Doug Wright’s “I Am My Own Wife.”

That show, with Kaufman as director, went on to win the 2004 Pulitzer prize for drama and 2004 Tony Awards for best play and best actor (Jefferson Mays in a solo turn playing dozens of characters). Kaufman co-wrote and directed “The Laramie Project” for his own documentary stage company, Tectonic Theater Project, and directed well-received stagings of Rajiv Joseph's "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" at L.A.'s Kirk Douglas Theatre and Mark Taper Forum in 2009-10, as well as its 2011  Broadway production starring Robin Williams.

Before Page to Stage debuted, the La Jolla Playhouse helped launch “Spring Awakening” with its initial in-house workshop in 2000 under former artistic director Anne Hamburger. That show, based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 drama about teen angst in sexually repressive, Victorian-era Germany, went on to win eight Tony Awards in 2007, including best musical, best book (for Sater) and best score and orchestrations (for Sheik).

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Opera review: Jake Heggie's 'Moby-Dick' at San Diego Opera

February 22, 2012 |  4:01 pm

Moby Dick

When it comes to adapting great literature, opera has mostly lost the knack for magnificent triviality. We’ve become conservators on guard against one art form shamelessly overtaking another. We police loopy and irrelevant invention. Composers once freed from reverence are now easily cowed.

I had my hopes that Jake Heggie’s “Moby-Dick,” which is currently enjoying its Southern California premiere at San Diego Opera, might be a modern exception. What a rapturous reception this opera has already received. At its Dallas Opera premiere two years ago, critics hailed it a triumph.

The production dazzled. Tenor Ben Heppner’s was said to have brilliantly inhabited Ahab. If the music was a tad derivative, few seemed to mind since it served the singers and the drama. The Dallas audience at the premiere reportedly burst into spontaneous applause three times during the first act. A couple in front of me at San Diego Civic Theatre Tuesday night had returned to see “Moby-Dick” after having been thrilled on its Saturday opening. They were also eager to hear Jay Hunter Morris, who has now replaced an indisposed Heppner for the rest of the run.

Here, then, is a minority report.

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Ben Heppner cancels 'Moby-Dick' performance in San Diego

February 20, 2012 |  7:42 am


Ben Heppner has canceled his Tuesday appearance in "Moby-Dick" at the San Diego Opera. The company said in a statement that the tenor was ill and that the role of Captain Ahab would be sung that night by Jay Hunter Morris.

"Moby-Dick," by Jake Heggie, is an operatic adaptation of the Herman Melville classic novel. Heppner originated the role of Ahab at the world premiere in 2010 at the Dallas Opera.

In recent years, Heppner, 56, has been noted as much for his cancellations as his appearances and some vocal travails in performances.

"It happens," he said flatly in an interview with The Times. "There have been some not-great moments in my more recent past. I'm working through it."

Of Saturday night's opening performance of "Moby-Dick," San Diego Union-Tribune critic James Chute wrote that Heppner’s voice "sounded strained and was inconsistent throughout his range (every time he went up into his high register, it sounded like an occasion, and not a good one)."

Heppner's last Los Angeles Opera appearance was in Wagner's "Lohengrin" in 2010. Critic Mark Swed wrote of Heppner, "You could never predict which notes or phrases would be clarion and which not."

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Riding to the rescue of the opera 'Moby-Dick,' baton in hand

February 15, 2012 |  5:33 pm

Due to illness, San Diego Opera’s resident conductor Karen Keltner has withdrawn from the company’s production of Jake Heggie’s opera “Moby Dick.”  She will be replaced by Kentucky Opera conductor Joe Mechavich, who recently conducted "Moby-Dick" in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Mechavich, who arrived in San Diego for rehearsal on Monday, was scheduled to conduct upcoming performances of Kentucky Opera’s “The Merry Widow,” but withdrew because Kentucky Opera management had decided to hire non-union players to perform for that production. The conductor has not resigned from his post as the Kentucky company’s resident conductor.

 “It’s been well over a year that there has been an impasse between the Louisville Orchestra Inc. and the union players in Kentucky and this has had adverse effects for Kentucky Opera,” Mechavich said in an interview Wednesday.  “On Feb. 2, I was informed by the management of Kentucky Opera that a group of non-union players had been organized with intent to perform for Kentucky Opera’s production of ‘The Merry Widow.’ On Feb. 10, I withdrew from the production.”

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Theater review: 'The Recommendation' at the Old Globe

January 31, 2012 |  6:00 pm

The Recommendation

Brentwood, Harvard-Westlake, Brown University, Hollywood apprenticeships — Aaron Feldman has had a golden start to life, and there’s every indication that the future will be just as gloriously posh for this would-be filmmaker.

When Aaron (played by Evan Todd with a curious mix of cockiness and whimper) makes his grand entrance in Jonathan Caren’s fidgety drama “The Recommendation,” now having its world premiere at the Old Globe, he is bathed in light and strutting around without his shirt. Yes, he even has 6-pack abs.

What a lucky guy, you find yourself thinking. Sure hope this is an old-fashioned tragedy! 

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Theater review: 'Dividing the Estate' at the Old Globe

January 23, 2012 |  6:30 am



Nothing draws out the worst in a family quite like conflicts over an inheritance. Land, money and, oh, God, jewelry, have a way of reviving old rivalries and resurrecting long-buried grudges.

Horton Foote, an America dramatist who was a master of revealing all sorts of tragic goings-on lurking under the calm domestic surface, lays bare the self-seeking ferocity of otherwise loving brothers and sisters in his superb drama “Dividing the Estate.” This quietly furious work, being presented at the Old Globe with many of the same actors from Michael Wilson’s critically acclaimed 2008 Broadway production, is not just an acute psychological study, it’s a deeply perceptive sociological one as well.

The British would call this a state-of-the-nation play. And indeed, with all the talk of foreclosures, layoffs and the depredations of big business, you’d have reason to think it came hot off the press, but it was first performed in 1989. “Dividing the Estate” takes place in the playwright’s fictionalized hometown of Harrison, Texas, in the late 1980s during a recession in the oil industry. Foote, who died in 2009, had made revisions to the script for its New York premiere, but one of the eye-opening aspects of the play is the way it provides historical depth to our current crises. Yes, 20-odd years ago we were fretting, just as we are today, over how America is becoming a service economy and falling behind more industrious Asian countries as sloth, greed and superficiality threaten to accelerate the pace of decline.

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Horton Foote's children carry on his work, acting at Old Globe

January 14, 2012 | 12:00 pm

Families coming to strife over how to divvy up the land that makes up their legacy is as old a dramatic subject as "King Lear." But Horton Foote's handling of it in "Dividing the State" is considerably more funny.

The comedy's West Coast premiere at The Old Globe theater in San Diego deals with a legacy in more ways than one. When he died three years ago, just shy of his 93rd birthday, Foote left behind a theatrical oeuvre of more than 60 plays, plus Oscar-winning screenplays for "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Tender Mercies." Now Hallie Foote and Horton Foote Jr., his eldest daughter and son, are uniting to carry his work forward.

Read here about how they'll be battling onstage as sibling rivals for the sake of doing just the opposite as their father's son and daughter.


Remembering Horton Foote

Letting go: such sweet sorrow

Horton Foote dies at 92; playwright, screenwriter chronicled small-town Southern life

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Hallie Foote and Horton Foote Jr. Credit: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times


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