may have begun his composing career with a jazz-influenced
period, and ended it writing atonal works, but the bulk
of Aaron Copland’s creative life was dedicated to a straightforward
musical style that was one 20th-century idea of “American.”
This New York City-born kid developed an intense fascination
for the folk music of rural America; the farm and the West
were his muse.
A prime example of this is his 1950s opera The Tender
Land, being revived this weekend (in its chamber arrangement)
at Bard College. Set during the Depression, and inspired
by the words of James Agee and Walker Evens’ photographs,
The Tender Land is a portrait of farm life, and the
tensions between family tradition and the quintessential
American yearning to keep moving. Anne Jennifer Nash (pictured)
is Laurie, a young woman who wonders if loyalty to home
and hearth is more important than the lure of the great
Bard Summerscape will present The Tender Land beginning
tonight (Thursday, Aug. 4) at 8 PM in Theater Two (Bard
College, Annandale-on-Hudson). There will also be performances
Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 6-7) at 3 PM; Wednesday (Aug.
10) at 8 PM; and Aug. 11-12. Tickets are $35. For tickets
and info, call (845) 758-7900.
Midsummer Night’s Dream
what fools these mortals be.” Sure, the mischievous spirit
Puck gets a good laugh with this line, but Shakespeare does
an equally fine job of making comic sport of the denizens
of the spirit world, too, in the perennially enchanting
A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
This is a play in which all of the principal characters,
bemused by love, act like fools for our enjoyment (and empathy):
Helena loves Demetrius; Demetrius loves Hermia; and Hermia
loves Lysander. Meanwhile nature, personified by the king
and queen of the spirit world, is at war with itself, and
there’s a mortal so in love—with himself—that he happily
adjusts to being cursed with the head of an ass. (Shakespeare
must have enjoyed writing this very much.)
Not surprisingly, this play gets more, well, play in the
summer than winter, so don’t tarry; the Classic Theater
Guild is performing it this weekend and next at Albany’s
Classic Theater Guild will present A Midsummer Night’s
Dream at the Hilton Center for the Performing Arts (40
Russell Road, Albany) beginning tonight (Thursday, Aug.
4) at 8 PM, with a benefit performance for To Life!, a breast
cancer education and support group. Performances will continue
tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday (Aug. 5-6) at 8 PM, and there
will be a matinee Sunday (Aug. 7) at 2 PM. Additional performances
will be held Aug. 12-14. Tickets are $12, $10. For more
information, call 453-1048.
Phillips and the Rose Tatoo
Utah Phillips played the Old Songs Festival a few years
ago, he requested a stage setup that included a helicopter
landing pad, various wild beasts, a “shouter” for the visually
impaired, and couple dozen other oddities. The festival
organizers responded by printing his drawing in the program
and attempting to approximate the request while Utah laughed
himself silly in the audience.
kind of thing tends to crop up when Utah, an irrepressible
storyteller, collector of hobo and labor songs, proud Wobbly,
and all-around rabble rouser comes to town. Not surprising
for a guy who describes the men’s movement as a bunch of
guys “dragging their scrotums through the underbrush” and
has promised if elected president to “scratch my ass, play
pool, and not do a damn thing.” Unlike most curmudgeonly
singers of 1930s folk music, however, Utah has built up
a following in the younger generation thanks to a couple
CD collaborations and tours with his adoring fan Ani DiFranco.
Utah Phillips and the Rose Tattoo will perform at Caffe
Lena, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs on Tuesday (Aug. 9)
at 7 PM. Tickets are $25. Call for reservations, 583-0022,
or visit www.caffelena.com.