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Bard Summerscape

This two-month-long festival seems to get bigger—and artistically richer—every year. Through the end of August, Bard Summerscape will be presenting two operas (Marc Blitzstein’s Regina and Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land), a revival of an Odets play, a William Wyler film series, jazz concerts, a vintage Broadway musical (The Golden Apple), late-night cabaret shows and the Bard Music Festival (built around the works and life of Copland). And it all kicks off this weekend with three performances by the Martha Graham Dance Company.

This highly anticipated (because the company just emerged from a multiyear legal nightmare) series of shows will feature the company performing Cave of the Heart (music by Samuel Barber), Hérodiade (music by Paul Hindemith) and, of course, Appalachian Spring (Copland). Aaron Sherber will conduct the American Symphony Orchestra, and Bard alumna Blythe Danner will read from the Copland-Graham correspondence.

The Martha Graham Dance Company will perform tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday (July 8-9) at 8 PM, and Sunday (July 10) at 3 PM in the Sosnoff Theater (Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson). Tickets are $55, $40 and $25. For reservations and information, call (845) 758-7900.

South Pacific

Though it’d be a stretch to bill Albany as a tropical paradise, the recent humid snap has certainly given us an equatorial ambience; Park Playhouse’s production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, beginning Tuesday, seems the perfect choice for such a suddenly sultry clime.

Based on James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, this Pulitzer Prize-winning light opera tells of two love relationships that develop on a small island during the Second World War: that of an American nurse who falls for a wealthy French expatriate, and an American serviceman who becomes the objective of an island woman eager to marry off her young daughter. In some of the most famous songs of American musical theater (“There is Nothing Like a Dame,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “I’m Going to Wash That Man Right Out of my Hair,” and “Carefully Taught” among them) the story of cross-cultural romance unfolds against a backdrop of geopolitical strife, militaristic nationalism and the attendant xenophobia.

When the play debuted in 1949, Rodgers and Hammerstein were riding high on the recent successes of Oklahoma! and Carousel, but South Pacific just exploded. It was a phenomenal hit, both popularly and critically: Richard Watts Jr. called it a “thrilling and exultant musical play, an utterly captivating work of theatrical art.”

South Pacific will be staged at the Washington Park Lakehouse beginning Tuesday (July 12) and running through Aug. 14. Performances are at 8 PM, Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets for reserved seating are $12 and $10. All amphitheater seating is free. For more information, call 434-0776.

Bank of America Blues Festival

If there’s one generalization to be made about the Capital Region—and we’re sure we could think of a few others, if pressed—it’s that we love our blues. Which is why the annual two-day Blues Festival at the Empire State Plaza, now sponsored by the Bank of America, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

And why not? The plaza’s groovy in its weird modernist way, the vendors are varied and the artists are first-rate. The fun begins tomorrow (Friday) at 5 PM; the acts will include the Jim Weider Band and the Foy Brothers. On the main stage on Saturday, you’ll find the legendary Buddy Guy (pictured), Shemekia Copeland, Omar and the Howlers, Toni Lynn Washington and our own Ernie Williams. There are two more stages, too: the north stage and an acoustic stage. So get your damn blues on, already.

The Bank of America Blues Festival will be held tomorrow (Friday, July 8) beginning at 5 PM and Saturday (July 9) from noon to 8 PM at the Empire State Plaza (Albany). It’s free as the wind, but you’ll have to buy your own refreshments. For more info, call 474-3899.

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