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Silicon Valley Winter Arts Guide

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WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD: Opera San Jose is breaking from its tradition of sticking to canonical operas by staging this new work.


San Jose Jazz Winter Fest

Various venues in downtown San Jose. Feb 27-March 7.

San Jose Jazz is best known for its Summer Fest, a weekend-long party that sprawls across downtown San Jose, in parks and clubs alike. But that festival has long had a cold-season counterpart, which, in the past handful of years has transformed from some Sunday jazz shows into its own special event that stretches over more than a week. This year's Winter Fest will be taking over about half a dozen downtown clubs with 20 concerts and jams. A partnership with Universal Grammar this year brings DJ and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest (March 5); jazzy, IDM producer Taylor McFerrin (Feb 27) and up-and-coming piano prodigy Kris Bowers to the Winter Fest.


Where Angels Fear to Tread

Opera San Jose. Feb 7-22. California Theatre

Author E.M. Forster's novels often tell of genteel characters, who, transformed by their travels to more permissive lands, come to reject the stifling ways of early 20th-century English society. As a professional company focused on honing up-and-coming talent, Opera San Jose thinks different, too. In fact, OSJ breaks one of its own conventions—sticking to the opera canon—in staging a brand-new work. The company presents the world premiere of Mark Lanz Weiser's new opera, Where Angels Fear to Tread, based on a Forster novel of the same name. The libretto, by, Roger Brunyate, adapts Forster's story of Lilia, an English widow who horrifies her family by marrying a young Italian man. The fools rushing in are Lilia's relatives—after she dies in childbirth, they swoop in to claim the baby. Too bad that the child's dad doesn't agree with the plan. Where Angels Fear to Tread is sung in English with English supertitles.

The Abduction From the Seraglio

West Bay Opera. Feb 13-22. Lucie Stern Theatre.

One of Mozart's early operas, The Abduction from the Seraglio played on 18th-century Europe's newly fashionable passion for the East in this tale of a Spanish noblewoman and her servants, captured by pirates and sold into a pasha's harem. When an attempted rescue by the lady's lover fails, the pasha magnanimously lets them all go anyway. West Bay Opera's production keeps the comic opera's original setting in an "exotic" Turkish court. Abduction is the work that spawned the apocryphal tale that Mozart's new patron, Austria's Emperor Joseph II, on hearing the opera, objected that it had "too many notes." Royal opinion notwithstanding, all those notes make for bright, lively, almost mischievous music—deceptively challenging to perform and so much fun to hear. Sung in German with English supertitles.



Ballet San Jose. Feb 20-22. San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.

Ballet San Jose's winter program explores the creations of a diverse trio of masters. "Fancy Free," a Jerome Robbins work making its company premiere, showcases Robbins' light, spirited style that draws on musical theater. The piece, which follows three sailors on shore leave, is set to music by Leonard Bernstein, with whom Robbins collaborated on Broadway shows like West Side Story. "Theme and Variations," set to the final movement of a Tchaikovsky suite, emphasizes the classical style of George Balanchine, a creator of works so technical that companies must earn his estate's permission to perform them. Ballet San Jose also revisits last season's well-received "In the Upper Room," by modern dance icon Twyla Tharp. Against a score by Philip Glass, this busy, multilayered piece highlights the ensemble's interconnectedness.

Smuin Ballet

"Untamed," March 19-22.


"On the Edge," Feb 13-14. Spring ChoreoProject Awards, Feb 27-28. SJSU Concert Hall, San Jose.

Intro | Visual | Jazz, Opera & Ballet | Classical | Stage