L’Amour de Loin from the Met at the Grand Auditorium in Ellsworth Maine

rscn3212_1254   Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho has transformed a poem into an opera inspired by the great troubadours of the twelfth century. Obsession and devotion are in question in a madcap race to fulfill the torment of searching for a woman who may not exist. Clemence walks a fine line between reality and illusion and underlines it with a loneliness that propels him into a journey that may cost him his very life. He longs for the pleasures of life, in search of a new love, and dares to dream of a fantasy as if he has seen it with his own eyes. In a strange and faraway land he must meet her as he impulsively seeks out her wiles and her admiration. He sets out to find love, yet, he is anguished with trepidation at the thought that he may not find her. Falling ill over the scenario, he finally arrives. Devastation looms like a lingering death and encircles the situation leaving us to ponder if he has made the right decision. This simple answer can be found at the Grand Auditorium on December 10th, 12:55 p.m. in Ellsworth Maine. Come and enjoy yet another masterpiece in the world of opera in the wonderful setting of the Grand.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

opera

The Gracie Theatre Presents “Coig” (in a celtic Christmas celebration)

coig   Thursday, December 8th, at seven p.m., a five piece east coast band of musical instrument slingers will take the stage at the beloved Gracie Theatre. Coig which means “five” in Gaelic has already taken on tradition within the name they don themselves with. Their Celtic folkloristic minstrels in the gallery ancient style comes shining through as they travel through time in a musical venture that incorporates sounds of generations past and their more recent audience shaking ones as well. A vast musical calliope of varied instruments from the stringed to the woodwind encircles the atmosphere and creates the very sound that is Coig. From the delicate ballads to the foot stomping super audience participation numbers, the Celtic theme will reign supreme and bring us together to enjoy the sounds of their heartland. Come join us as this celebration invites us one and all from the haunting and heartwarming relics to the contemporary to open the the season for us all.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photo by Susan D’Alessandro

The Gracie Theater Presents Aztec Two Step Live (in their 45th year anniversary)

azrec-interviewLiving on the edge of nostalgia is a world untouched by mainstream flashes of fame and flash. Many of our memories remain just memories. However, in a place just for us and others who discover the majesty of such a genre, enters those such as Aztec Two Step, a group unhampered by theatrics and depending heavily on the spirit in which their music rests upon. Rex Fowler and Neil Shulman have intercepted a wondrous combination of lyrical sincerity and fret board dancing as one of their trademarks. Fine acoustic lead guitar encompasses and engages together with heartfelt songs reaching those sublime areas of our being together with an almost alchemic formula of two part harmonies into the outer atmosphere. The tour will consist of their original songs along with some Everly Brothers and Simon and Garfunkel classics as well. We may even hear the return of “Velvet Elvis”, a whimsical little number about the great singer. So join us in an acoustical journey with Aztec Two Step at the great Gracie Theater on November nineteenth at seven thirty P.M.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photo by Susan D’Alessandro

The Penobscot Theatre Company Presents “Murder for Two” (a young readers guide to murder and fun)

rscn3049_1221 Can murder be fun? It can be if you went to the Penobscot Theatre Company’s gala presentation of “Murder for Two”. Last night’s performance was so stellar I believe several stars in the Orion  nebula were crying out of jealousy. In an old isolated mansion in New England  our story begins. For us anyway. A surprise party turns awry with calamity, lies, and of course…murder.

A shot rings out! There’s been a murder (there’s that word again. Pay attention it’ll come up again). As dialogue and song spills it guts (oh, sorry) throughout the evening, Marcus (a sometimes unsuspecting and yet always suspecting detective wannabee) played by the brilliant and most talented Jason Cohen, doles out scenario after scenario in high hopes of cracking the case wide open to impress his boss and make detective. Although there is a sense that he is inwardly doing it for himself as well and unwillingly looking for love again after a disheartening relationship leaves him saddened.

fscn3041_1219 On the other side of the piano (which both Jason and Danielle played beautifully) we have the ever present queen of the multiple split personality and voice characterizations, Danielle Erin Rhodes who without question made us question just how many people really were on the stage. Like a bird whose highly developed cerebral cortex allows them to make split second decisions in flight, Danielle’s second to second facial expressions and voice changes were a most superior triumph.

Jason gives us a variety of feelings to deal with. He’s a tough guy (with his cop attitude), a dismal failure when he believes he won’t solve the case, and yet, his heart floats about him ever so freely when encountered by a young lady. His masterful emotions are portrayed wonderfully and with a most convincing manner.

fscn3047_1227 As our story progresses, so does the incredulous comedic never ending banter interpolating the piano that danced and spoke as much as every character did with both simplicity and complexity in a marriage of extreme entertainment. Before I go I need to say the “Protocol Song” was hilarious and sprung up in a spray of sincerity in so many places. So, between dead husbands and stolen ice cream (you’ll see) this marvelous and endearing song and banter show is a fabulous must see. The wonderful story and music by Joe Kinosian and story and lyrics by Kellen Blair only go to show that a young readers guide to murder can be fun.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

 

Applebees (the place to be for a night out)

fscn3021_1214  Getting dressed up  and going out to a special place is always fun and sometimes exciting. There are those times when something comes up or just a casual special occasion may flow your way and you just want to slip out quietly and relax. With those thoughts in mind, Applebees fills the gap. They offer most everything the almighty menu can offer. Their appetizers are a meal in themselves. The classic one shells out a sample of everything right down to the artichoke dip with chips. The kids may not reach for the dip but the chips will vanish (more artichoke dip for you parents). Try the tender steaks cooked just the way you like them and there are always specials about. Sides are not a problem. Kids and adults alike will have an abundance to choose from without a problem. They are all so good and the atmosphere is nice. So if you are a tad tired, maybe even coming home from a long drive, or just want to have one of those free nights, stop in at Applebees in Bangor and have a night out.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photo by Susan D’Alessandro

 

The Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company (an expedition with the atlanticat)

fscn2562_1062 What some people call a boat ride or a day trip at sea may very well be called so, if that is what your intentions consist of out in the open waters. However if you take on the mighty ocean, braving the unsteady waters with the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company, well then, you’ve abandoned your little ride for an expedition. The Atlanticat searches the ocean with you as a participant and not merely a spectator. You will see the majesty of those majestic mammals of the sea in all their splendor.fscn2723_1125 The comfortable ship takes you thirty five miles out beyond the outer regions of the oceanic world where not too many have dared to tread. The expert speakers will fill you in on historical information pertaining to whales and other creatures your eyes may fall upon. rscn2765_1098They will tell you of the ships power, and other structural sights along the way such as the research facility next to a historic lighthouse in the middle of nowhere. All in all, the thrill of the journey amongst the great wide open will be a time you will not easily forget. Take a deep breath and take in the watery world you will venture upon with the Atlanticat, the brainchild of Zack Klyver, adventurer, naturalist, and sometimes angler.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

Don Giovanni from the Met at The Grand Auditorium In Ellsworth Maine

images   What do we expect from an opera? Well..everyone dies, no one lives happily ever after, and the fat lady sings at the end. Those misconstrued fallacies have no part in this wonderful story. Well…not all of it anyway. This one offers a bit of that old middle of the road attitude. Some funny, some tragic, some myth thrown in for good measure, but no matter how relentless the tale gets, the point of view is forever told in so many different variations depending on which character you listen to. One may take the lighthearted way and give themselves a break from the usual irony, but not here. We have that in full capacity. We’ve got duels (fatal ones at that, what’s a duel without a little fatality?) Close encounters with death, bouts with flickering humor, shreds of sentimentality, and the usual melancholy ending with the bad guy tossed into hell. And keep your eye on that outrageously funny sidekick Leporello for the constant comic relief he offers throughout. Yet, all in all a beautiful masterpiece overflowing with operatic goodness.