Depending on whom you ask, Go West!, Chautauqua’s second annual inter-arts collaboration, came together in 500 years, seven months, 12 days or three hours.
North, South, East, West: All points of the compass have allure, but none stirs us from complacency as mercilessly as the last. As Chautauquans know, the theme last week was “The American West.” As we were reminded in the Amphitheater Saturday night, that theme has lost none of its power to lift our spirits and open our minds.
Did Saturday evening’s Go West! The Mythology of American Expansion production fully encompass the complete spectrum of the American West? That’s asking a lot from a mere two hours. But, at the end of the evening, we felt taken like companions on a journey full of bravery, discovery, ruthlessness, unreasonable hope and the pursuit of dreams.
Here is where the artist’s hand meets its surface, as where rubber meets the road.
Conductor Bruce Hangen made his Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra debut Thursday evening in the Amphitheater, leading the first of two season appearances.
If Douglas Moore is no longer a name to inspire even a flicker of recognition, then his signature work, The Ballad of Baby Doe, still has a place in the collective consciousness of opera buffs. After all, no less a soprano than Beverly Sills turned the piece into a star vehicle two years after its 1956 premiere, and no less a label than Deutsche Grammophon made a recording — back when making a recording meant something.
The pas de deux tradition at Chautauqua has become a highlight demo for the Charlotte Ballet, the long-time resident dance company here, and what a night — oh, what a night it was — with 10 sample experiences by eight choreographers for 12 dancers the Institution is privileged to call neighbors each summer.
This could have been designed as a sexy show. Well, at least provocative. Maybe PG-13.
This season, every concert represents a podium audition for Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra music director, a coveted position that has been vacant since 2011. The audience has been given a chance to vote in this democratic process, with some weight also given the musicians — who can tell in eight bars if a maestro has the real goods.
Molly Smith Metzler’s new comedy, The May Queen, currently running on the Bratton Theater stage, has echoes of “The Breakfast Club,” “Grease,” “Mean Girls,” “Carrie,” “Peggy Sue Got Married,” and every other story of high school wherein the girls are mean and the guys are shallow and selfish.