Spring Arts Preview

From the FotoFest Biennial to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, there's something for everyone in the next few months.

By Michael Hardy January 3, 2014


Main Street Theater
March 27–April 19 Time Stands Still In this Tony-nominated 2009 play by Donald Margulies, a photojournalist who has been wounded in the Iraq War struggles to resume life with her husband in present-day Brooklyn. The original Los Angeles production of the play starred Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn as the photojournalist (Laura Linney took over for its Broadway run) and David Harbour as her husband.


Ars Lyrica
March 29 & 30 Handel’s Susanna  Astonishingly, this Handel oratorio, based on the Old Testament story of Susanna and the Elders, has never been performed in Texas. Born in Germany but making England his home for most of his life, Handel composed dozens of operas and oratorios for various patrons and occasions, and is widely considered one of the greatest Baroque composers. This performance will feature soprano Melissa Givens, mezzo-soprano Abigail Levis, tenor Zachary Avery, baritone Brian Shircliffe, bass-baritone Timothy Jones, and the UH Moores School of Music Concert Chorale under the baton of Betsy Weber.


Courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Image: Tato Baeza

Houston Grand Opera
April 11–26 Das Rheingold  Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen—better known as the Ring Cycle—is arguably the most ambitious work of art ever created. Written over the course of 26 years, from 1848 to 1874, the work (Wagner called it a “music drama”) is composed of four separate operas, each roughly four hours in length, that together tell the story of the downfall of the gods and the rise of men. The Houston Grand Opera’s first-ever production of the epic will begin in the spring with Das Rheingold, the first opera in the cycle, and continue until the unveiling of Götterdämmerung in spring 2017. “It’s the most gigantic work of art for our medium ever written,” says HGO music director Patrick Summers. “The Ring is the artistic Super Bowl.”


Dancers A. Gonzalex & Currey Duffy

Houston Ballet
March 6–16 Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra  Benjamin Britten wrote The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra in 1946 for an educational film. Much to the English composer’s surprise, the piece became one of his most famous works, initiating countless listeners into the joys of classical music. (It was even featured in Wes Anderson’s recent film Moonrise Kingdom.) Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch, who remembers listening to the piece as a child growing up in Australia, relished the opportunity to choreograph a dance to it. “It’s actually similar to how we structure a ballet, in that we also have groups, like woodwinds and brass and string and percussion. I love the idea that when you see the groups dance together, they’re like an orchestra.” 

Visual Art

Faisal Samra, Performance #13, Triptych #1 (detail), 2007

FotoFest 2014 Biennial
March 15–April 27 The 15th FotoFest Biennial’s theme is “Contemporary Arab Photographic Art” and will feature the work of 50 Arab photographers and video and multimedia artists. Founded in 1983 by documentary photographers Frederick Baldwin and Wendy Watriss and European gallery director Petra Benteler, the biennial is the oldest and longest-running photography festival in the country. As always, a catalogue featuring hundreds of images and essays by curators and art historians will accompany the exhibition.


Courtesy of Anne Carson

Image: Peter Smith

April 28 Anne Carson Anne Carson is a nonpareil in the Republic of Letters. A poet, essayist, translator, classicist, and scholar, Carson made her reputation in the 1990s with two volumes of achingly sharp verse: Plainwater and Glass, Irony, and God. Since then, she has published translations of Sappho, Euripides, and other ancient Greek poets, burnishing her reputation as one of the most erudite writers of her generation, as well as one of the most inventive—Carson enjoys breathing life into dead genres like the verse essay and the verse novel. She comes to Houston as part of Inprint’s Margarett Root Brown Reading Series.


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
March 28 & 30 L’Avventura  When Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s breakthrough film L’Avventura premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1960, it was both cheered and booed, and later received a Special Jury Prize “for seeking to create a new film language.” Set among the feckless Italian elite, like most of Antonioni’s films, the movie begins with a yachting trip that takes a mysterious turn when one of the passengers disappears. With minimal dialogue, the focus is squarely on Antonioni’s stunning black-and-white photography, which tells the story much more eloquently than the laconic characters. Presented in a restored 35mm print, this is definitely a movie to be seen on the big screen.


Image: Alyssa Orr

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
March 4–23  It may not technically qualify as art (although there is a school art auction), but when it comes to family events there’s nothing bigger than the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the world’s largest livestock show and the richest regular-season rodeo. In addition to the livestock competitions and the rodeo events, this year will feature 20 nights of marquee music performances (the full lineup will be announced on Jan 12 at 11:59pm). For a full preview of the event, including insiders’ tips and behind-the-scenes stories, pick up Houstonia’s February issue when it comes out later this month.

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