Ballet and opera take center stage in the region this coming weekend thanks to area organizations committed to maintaining and advancing the art forms.
The American Repertory Ballet (ARB) arrives at McCarter Theater on Friday, April 20, at 8 p.m., with the three-part program “Generations: Influences from the Modern Age.”
The program includes a performance of Joffrey Ballet co-founder Gerald Arpino’s “Sea Shadow,” a “neo-romantic tale of love” between a mortal and a sea sprite set to Maurice Ravel’s Concerto for Piano in G major. While the choreography is from another company, it connects with the company that has its roots with the Princeton Ballet: company artistic director Douglas Martin danced in the 1989 Joffrey production at New York’s City Center.
Martin as choreographer is also represented on the program with his interpretation of composer Igor Stravinsky’s acclaimed 1913 “Rite of Spring” score. Here the action is moved from the primitive Russian landscape to 1961 corporate America.
And rounding out the program is celebrated 20th-century choreographer Jose Limon’s “There is a Time,” reconstructed for ARB by Limon company dancer Sarah Stackhouse. Dance critic Robert Johnson, writing for U.S. 1, referred to it as a work “for connoisseurs of modern dance,” one “inspired by verses from Ecclesiastes and set to a Pulitzer Prize-winning score composed for the purpose by Norman Dello Joio, Limon’s creation depicts life as an eternal circle set awhirl by the force of opposites chasing each other. This polarity recalls the Chinese concept of yin and yang.”
Generations: Influences from the Modern Age, American Repertory Ballet, McCarter Theater, 91 University Place, Princeton. Friday, April 20, 8 p.m. $20 to 50. 609-258-2787 or www.mccarter.org
Boheme Opera of New Jersey is marking its 29th year of professional opera with “Cavalleria Rusticana” and “I Pagliacci” at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, Friday, April 20, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, April 22, at 5:30 p.m.
The two famed short operas are noted for their passionate portrayals of betrayed love.
Composer Petro Mascagni’s 1890 “Cavalleria Rusticana’s” title translates roughly as “rustic chivalry.” That’s the invisible code of honor that fuels revenge in ancient Sicily. Ruggero Leoncavallo’s 1892 “I Pagliacci,” the clown, follows a band of traveling entertainers and their amorous upheavals.
Boehme Opera started from both a Trenton street festival performance of “I Pagliacci” and a formal production of “La Traviata” in 1989.
The company’s principals are Joseph Pucciatti and pianist Sandra Milstein Pucciatti. “We believe in this,” Joseph Pucciatti says. “It’s something that needs to be done. I just have to do it.”
Boheme’s roots run deep in Trenton, where Pucciatti was born in 1953 to a family headed by a school custodian who insisted his children take music lessons.
The future conductor graduated from Trenton State College, now the College of New Jersey, and entered the Trenton School System, where for more than 30 years he has worked in all levels of choral and instrumental music instruction.
It was at Trenton State where he had two encounters that changed his life. One was the music by opera composer Giacomo Puccini, who transported him and inspired him to create opera. The other was Sandy, a Philadelphia pianist enrolled in the college’s masters program. The two have been married 40 years and have an adult daughter.
A longtime Trenton institution, Boheme had been anchored at the Trenton War Memorial. When rental costs threatened the company’s lean budget, performances were moved to the College of New Jersey in 2011.
Boheme’s home now is the Kendall Theater at TCNJ, which seats 830. “Kendall is small enough for the audiences to read the faces of performers,” Pucciatti says.
Asked about his hopes over the next several years, Pucciatti says, “We’re trying to bring opera into the 21st century with virtual sets and updating the period of operas while still satisfying mature audience members.”
“Cavalleria Rusticana” and “I Pagliacci,” Boheme Opera, Kendall Hall, College of New Jersey, Ewing. Friday, April 20, 8 p.m., and Sunday, April 22, 5:30 p.m. $15 to $65. www.bohemeopera.com
And the Westminster Opera Theater is presenting Johann Strauss Jr.’s 1874 comic opera “Die Fledermaus” (The Bat) on Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21, at 7:30 p.m. Highly romantic and farcical, the story is filled with disguises, flirtations, champagne, and lively and lyrical music.
Featuring Westminster Choir College students, the opera is under the direction of William Hobbs, who has conducted or coached for the Opera National de Paris, Salzburg Festival, San Francisco Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Seattle Opera, Washington Opera, and Opera de Monte-Carlo.
Die Fledermaus, Robert L. Annis Playhouse, Westminster Choir College, 101 Walnut Lane, Princeton. Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21, 7:30 p.m. $20 to $25. 609-921-2663 or www.rider.edu/events