It’s not officially spring for another month, but you won’t be able to convince the daffodils. They already have sprouted several inches. It seems that some of our arts organizations are following the same schedule. Vocal events in particular seem to be popping up all across the region this week. Don’t let our endless gray skies dissuade you; get out and let the folks below put a song in your heart.
Dayton Contemporary Dance Company: ‘Retro/Active’
Friday-Saturday, Feb. 20-21, 7:30 p.m. | Jarson-Kaplan Theater, Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
The eagle-eyes among you may have noticed that there isn’t much “Dayton” in this event’s venue. You are correct. The DCDC heads down I-75 to the Aronoff Center as the inaugural featured artists in Flow, a series celebrating African American arts across several genres. “Retro/Active” includes four works, including three from DCDC’s repertoire and a new work by Debbie Blunden-Diggs, the company’s chief artistic administrator and producing director.
cincinnatiarts.org or 513-621-2787 (ARTS)
‘A Star is Born’
Beginning Monday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m. | Esquire Theatre, 320 Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220
It’s the plot so good, they made it four times: The career of an unknown but talented actress or musician takes off with the help of a famous but alcoholic mentor whose career crumbles as hers grows. Depending on your generation, the fresh face was Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand or Lady Gaga. Surprisingly, they’re all very good films. Which is best? That’s for you to decide as the Esquire screens all four incarnations over the next two weeks. If you’re a glutton for emotional punishment, you can even watch all four back to back (in chronological order) on Feb. 29, starting at 1 p.m.
esquiretheatre.com or 513-281-8750
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m. | Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
The old cinema is closed, but the spirit of the Mini Microcinema is alive. Mini volunteers Lillian Currens and Michael Sweeny lead discussions in the next installment of the Adaptation Book Club. Part 1, on Tuesday, focuses on “Miss Lonelyhearts,” Nathanael West’s 1933 satiric novel of modern love – or lack of it – in Depression-era Manhattan. Part 2, on March 3, is a screening (also at the Merc) of the film adaptation it inspired, 1958’s “Lonelyhearts,” starring Montgomery Clift.
mercantilelibrary.com or 513-621-0717
CCJO: ‘We Gotta Shout’
Sunday, Feb. 23, 4 p.m. | Corinthian Baptist Church, 1920 Tennessee Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45237
Two of the great African American musical traditions meet this weekend when the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra joins forces with an all-star gospel choir led by A. Michael Cunningham. The Big Band Series @ The Redmoor goes on the road to Bond Hill for this special event that celebrates the music of “We Gotta Shout,” the 1963 crossover album by the Dukes of Dixieland and Clara Ward and her Gospel Singers.
Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 22-23 | First Lutheran Church, 1208 Race St., Cincinnati OH 45202
This one may have you scratching your head a little since Beethoven’s birthday is in fact in December. The folks at concert:nova are just getting a jump on the gun, though, because 2020 doesn’t mark just any Beethoven birthday, but Ludwig v’s 250th. That means you’ll be hearing a lot of Beethoven this year, which isn’t such a bad thing, is it? This weekend, concert:nova offers a marathon of all of LvB’s violin and cello sonatas – 15 in all – in three sets. The earliest sonatas are at 3 p.m. Saturday; the middle set at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and the late set at 3 p.m. Sunday. Performers include Stefani Matsuo, the Cincinnati Symphony’s new concertmaster, and her husband, CSO cellist Hiro Matsuo; fellow CSO violinists Mauricio Aguiar, Gabriel Pegis and Philip Marten; and fellow CSO cellists Ilya Finkelshteyn, Ted Nelson and Alan Rafferty. Doing yeoman’s share of the piano duty is Sandra Rivers, with help from Dror Biran, Michael Chertock and Matthew Umphreys.
KSO: ‘Mozart’s Denouement’
Sunday, Feb. 23, 3 p.m. | St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, 325 W. Eighth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
The Kentucky Symphony joins forces with the St. Peter in Chains Cathedral Choir for a performance of two great works in a great space. James Cassidy conducts the combined forces in Mozart’s final masterpiece, the “Requiem.” Counterbalancing it is Mozart’s last symphony, the “Jupiter,” which is less performed than one might think. Come hear it live and be sure to come say hello. I’ll be the violinist in black.
kyso.org or 859-431-6216
Late winter is usually not a hot time for opera in Greater Cincinnati, but three of the area’s universities are changing that this weekend.
Thursday, Feb. 20, through Sunday, Feb. 23 | Cohen Studio Theater, 290 CCM Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45221; 513-556-4183
In his day, Handel’s fame as a composer lay in large measure to his operas. That’s news to many these days, though, when performances of any Baroque operas are relatively rare. The College-Conservatory of Music is doing its part with four performances this weekend of Partenope (pron. par-TEN-o-pe), being billed as a Handelian rom-com. Well, fair enough: Four rival suitors must overcome mistaken identities, cross-dressing and declarations of war as they vie for Queen Partenope’s hand.
ccm.uc.edu or 513-556-4183
‘The Marriage of Figaro’
Thursday, Feb. 20, through Saturday, Feb. 22 | 119 Center for Performing Arts, Oxford, OH 45056
Miami University’s Opera Theater mounts its spring production (I know, technically a month early for that) this weekend – Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro.” There are three performances on tap in the Gates-Abegglen Theatre of MU’s Center for Performing Arts. “Dove sono?” You’re in Oxford, of course.
muopera.com or 513-529-3053
Opens Friday, Feb. 21 | Corbett Theatre, 100 Nunn Drive, Highland Heights, KY 41099
Gilbert and Sullivan were the height of hilarity for Edwardian England’s upper crust, and the dynamic opera-writing duo still has an ardent following. If you haven’t experienced a G&S show, Northern Kentucky University offers you a fine starter. The gentlemanly Captain Corcoran has a daughter, Josephine, who is in love with a lowly but gallant sailor named Ralph Rackstraw. Meanwhile, the Captain’s former nanny, Little Buttercup, falls in love with him, but he hesitates to reciprocate due to his higher social rank. Six performances through March 1.
nku.edu or 859-572-5464
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m. | Fifth Third Bank Theater, Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
The “angels” in Michael Oppenheim’s play are hospital personnel desperately trying to keep focus on patients and the healing process in the face of budget-slashing administrators who look upon the bodies of the sick as commodities, matters of profit and loss. The health heroes come across as latter-day “M*A*S*H” medics, battling overwork, fatigue and budgetary assault with humor and compassion. It’s the latest staged reading (i.e., not a full-fledged production) from the Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative.
cincyplaywrights.org or 513-621-2787 (ARTS)
CAC: Two new exhibitions
Open Friday, Feb. 21 | Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
The Contemporary Arts Center celebrates the opening this weekend of two new exhibitions:
First is “Haze” by Portuguese street artist Alexandre Farto, known as Vhils. He’s known best for using tools (hammers, chisels and pneumatic drills), acid and bleach on architectural surfaces, such as building walls, to narrate the history of a city, usually through the faces of anonymous residents. Runs through July 6.
“Ground water from screen Falls” was commissioned of Kahlil Robert Irving. He works with sculpture, textile and digital media to reflect upon black life in the Midwest. His new work asks viewers to reconsider their daily engagement with social media, civic community life and the urban landscape. The installation’s title recalls TLC’s 1995 Grammy-nominated hit “Waterfalls.” Runs through July 20.
An opening celebration for both exhibitions is Friday. Members reception starts at 6 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by a panel discussion and presentation with Vhils. Public reception starts at 8 p.m.
contemporaryartscenter.org or 513-345-8400
Opens Friday, Feb. 21 | Carl Solway Gallery, 424 Findlay St., Cincinnati, OH 45214
The latest arrivals at Carl Solway Gallery include a group exhibition of paintings, sculpture, prints and multiples featuring works from the estate of Cincinnati philanthropist and collector Lynne Myers Gordon, and a private collection from Los Angeles. Runs through April 4.
solwaygallery.com or 513-621-0069
Paul Kroner solo show
Opens Thursday, Feb. 20 | Dick Waller’s ArtPlace, 130 West Court St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
If the name Kroner rings a bell, it may be the family dry-cleaning business in town. Family scion Paul Kroner became an artist and moved to Boston for 40 years; he came home in 2017. The ArtPlace will feature Kroner’s bronzes, paintings, prints and animations, including new additions to his ongoing series of “Twoods.” Opening reception is 6 -9 p.m. Thursday with live music. Runs through April 20.
dickwaller.com or 513-405-2426
Last chance: Five Themes Project
Through Friday, Feb. 21 | Manifest Gallery, 2727 Woodburn Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45206
It’s the end of five (count ’em, five!) concurrent shows representing themes accumulated through a survey sent to more than 3,000 Manifest exhibition alumni. The five are “Mundane,” 20 works inspired by the “ordinary everyday”; “Peripheral,” nine works that explore the concepts of boundaries and edges; “Environmental,” a dozen works that address environmental activism; “Weathered,” 11 works that appreciate natural objects and processes as time wears all things; and “Chaos,” 10 works that reflect on personal life, patterns and effects of civilization and on existence.
manifestgallery.org or 513-861-3638