OperaDelaware, Art Museum kick off entertaining February


It’s February, and many of us may be scrambling to find just the right sweet treat to delight our partners. What could be more suitable and singular than a tasty Arts experience? Here are some suggestions for all you artsy lovebirds out there…

Oenophiles & Operaphiles Converge
This month, OperaDelaware revisits its popular wine-and-song series, “Opera Uncorked,” pairing works with wine tastings by local shop Swigg in an up-close-and-personal studio setting.

This installment, titled Verdi, Verismo & Vino, features select pieces from La Traviata, Tosca, Carmen, Roméo et Juliette and more, performed by Amanda Palmeiro, soprano; Claudia Chapa, mezzo-soprano; Chris Carr, tenor; and Sidney Outlaw, baritone, accompanied by pianist Aurelien Eulert.

It’s the perfect event for newcomers to explore and aficionados to revel in the worlds of art and vino. Although the Feb. 3 performance has been long sold out, there are some seats remaining for the Friday, Feb. 1, performance. Tickets, available at operade.org, start at $29, with an optional wine tasting add-on for $10.

The Crossing at The Museum
The Delaware Art Museum’s audacious new Performance Series has introduced a range of diverse artists to patrons — from a gospel music and contemporary dance blend to jazz quartets to world fusion and multi-disciplinary works—while sharing potent messages of social justice and engaging new cultural experiences.

This month, the series showcases The Crossing—a Philadelphia-based, Grammy-winning chamber choir dedicated to the performance of new music, often addressing social issues. They appear in the museum’s Fusco Hall on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 8 p.m., performing the little match girl, by David Lang, as well as selections from the Jeff Quartets.

“The Crossing is known for their ability to interpret and execute challenging contemporary works at the highest level,” says Jonathan Whitney, the museum’s manager of Performance Programs & Community Engagement.

“During their stay, they’ll also work with members of the Wilmington Children’s Chorus, giving some of our most motivated young vocalists an experience with one of the top choral conductors in the nation [their conductor, Donald Nally].”

Tickets are $25 for college students or youth, $30 for museum members, and $35 for non-members. Visit delart.org to purchase. 

In Coppélia, the title character is a beautiful doll that seems to come alive. Photo Tisa Della-Volpe

Comedy & Dance Collide in Coppélia
First State Ballet Theatre starts the New Year with the family-friendly comedic ballet Coppélia, a work that originally premiered at the Théâtre Impérial l’Opéra in Paris in 1870.

Coppélia is a tale of Swanhilda, her fiancé Franz, the beautiful doll Coppélia, and eccentric toymaker Dr. Coppélius, who dreams of making his life-size doll come to life. The doll infatuates young Franz, who spurns Swanhilda for it. But the clever girl disguises herself as the doll to fool him and eventually saves Franz from the hands of the evil Dr. Coppélius. Ultimately, love triumphs over all in this light comedy of mistaken identity.

First State’s Rie Aoki will be dancing the role of Swanhilda; Zane Winders takes the role of Franz and Leonid Goykhman plays Dr. Coppélius.

Performances are at the baby grand on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. Tickets, $30-$50, are available at TheGandWilmington.org.

Pop into a New Year at The Delaware Contemporary
The Delaware Contemporary presents China Pop: Contemporary Year of the Pig, on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. It is the Contemporary’s second cultural celebration “happening” inspired by contemporary Chinese art.

Participating artists represent an eclectic genre mix: Jun Cen is an illustrator for The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe; Chang Liu is a mixed-media artist; Qingshan Wang, a photographer; Zhihui Xie and Chunmei Jia, ceramic artists; Chenxi Huang is a functional designer, and Chenlin Cai is a painter. The works have been curated by Willie Yao and Wenlu Bao.

Complementing the stunning visuals will be DJ Skinny White’s mix of house music and Chinese pop, a roasted pig courtesy of Fat Rick’s BBQ, and Chinese-inspired bites from Outlandish. A good-luck balloon drop-and-pop closes the night. Tickets are $35 in advance at decontemporary.org, or $40 at the door.

Plan to come dressed in a flourish of red (for good fortune) and celebrate peace and prosperity in the New Lunar Year.

From Delaware with Love…to Carnegie Hall
The University of Delaware’s Master Players Concert Series and Artistic Director Xiang Gao travel to The Big Apple on Valentine’s Day weekend to celebrate the series’ 15th anniversary in legendary Carnegie Hall. The performance, “6-WIRE and Friends,” on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m., will be led by the eclectic and vibrant music of 6-WIRE.

6-WIRE (Xiang Gao, violin & director; Cathy Yang, erhu; and Matthew Brower, piano) is Master Players’ Ensemble-in-Residence. Their unique signature sound mixes traditional and new chamber music with cutting-edge audio and video technology.

The ensemble will feature the New York premiere of Clearwater Rhapsody by renowned composer Bright Sheng, who also will perform on piano. They will present two World Premieres as well: Ealasaid for the ensemble and UD Chorale, composed by UD faculty member and composer Jennifer Margaret Barker, and Meridian Flux by Delaware composer Mark Hagerty. Rounding out the program are compositions and arrangements by Xiang Gao as well as a piece entitled 6th Sense, with UD faculty cellist Lawrence Stomberg, in memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

If you want to make the trip and celebrate with them, tickets are $45-55 at carnegiehall.org.

Saint Joan is at Delaware Theatre Company this month. Photo Ann Marley

Blessed by the Arrival of Saint Joan
This month at Delaware Theatre Company (DTC), Bud Martin plays the role of Director for a fierce version of George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, running Feb. 6-24.

This new adaptation by Chelsea Marcantel is a fiery feminist retelling of the classic, condensing the original and adding female presence, including, of course, more Joan. With inspiration from stories of female saints, Marcantel has rewritten this narrative with the goal of inspiring girls and women to be heroes.

The plot: A French girl is on trial for her life after rulers become threatened by her influence and popularity. With saintly visions stirring her to recapture France from English control, she pushes on to victory (and immortality).

DTC favorite Clare O’Malley (Hetty Feather, Something Wicked This Way Comes) stars in this epic story of one of history’s greatest heroines.

Martin is thrilled to present this classic in Marcantel’s vision. “Saint Joan is a powerful play with energy, movement and an impactful message,” he says. “[With Marcantel’s script], we have the ability to use medieval style but capture a modern look and feel.”

Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at DelawareTheatre.org or by calling 594-1100.

Pieces of a Dream’s Work Transcends
Wilmington’s modern dance troupe, Pieces of a Dream, Inc., presents its annual concert transcenDANCE on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 4 p.m. at the baby grand. In keeping with Pieces’ tradition of integrating socially-relevant topics, transcenDANCE presents a collection of works that are equally fun and thoughtful, entertaining and enlightening.

The production features a full-length performance of UPRISING: Remembrance, Resistance, Revival—a multidisciplinary production incorporating the artwork of Wilmington painter Terrance Vann with choreography by Ashley SK Davis. The work was developed as a commission by the Delaware Art Museum and is an expression of the events of 1968 Wilmington: the populist revolution and the National Guard occupation; the actions of the people and the government. It then flashes forward 50 years to consider the actions of both today and into the future.

The performance also includes two additional works. The piece Mindset, choreographed by Pamela Oppenheimer, examines mental health disorders and the stigma that often accompanies them. And, the premiere of Journeys, jointly choreographed by Ashlei G. Randolph and Adiah Simpson, contemplates a woman’s process of self-discovery.

Tickets for transcenDANCE, available at TheGrandWilmington.org, are $30.

Social Issues & Dance at The Queen
The Light Up the Queen (LUQ) Foundation and the Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education (DIAE) will jointly present SOLE Defined on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at The Queen.

SOLE Defined—an Artist in Residence troupe of the Washington, DC–based organization Dance Place—describes itself as the intersection of percussive dance, multimedia, storytelling and the African-American narrative throughout American history. The troupe aims to introduce students, teachers and the broader community to a high-quality percussive dance musical that uses art to address social and historical issues.

DIAE frequently works with LUQ, not only bringing guest performers but also providing professional teaching artists to lead local in-school workshops in music, visual art, drama and dance, and this production is no different.

Prior to the performance, students from First State Montessori Academy in Wilmington will participate in an immersive workshop facilitated by DIAE teaching artist Dee Faison. Faison will help students explore percussive dance styles such as tap and step. Dancers from SOLE Defined will visit the school to teach students a dance piece from the show.

Performance times are 1 p.m. for schools and 6 p.m. for the public. Tickets are a $10 suggested donation at LightUptheQueen.org.

Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald
Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald is the owner of arts publicity company Arts in Media and manager of the blog Delaware Arts Info. She is a self-described "cheerleader" for the arts and animal rescue, a die-hard Penn Stater and a doting dog mom. She's a big fan of The Beatles, Bon Jovi, strong java and red blends, and in a parallel universe, she's pretty sure she's a writer for Rolling Stone. She and hubby Scott Fitzgerald share their Wilmington home with lovable mutt Eli.