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This Week

Culture worthy of your calendar

Josh Garrick

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Opera series opens with ‘Carmen’!

The Orlando Philharmonic has picked up the gauntlet left behind when the Orlando Opera ceased operations a year ago. But opera — with all its love, death and beautiful music is alive and well as the Orlando Philharmonic presents “Carmen”, the first opera in its Concert Opera series on Friday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. at the Bob Carr in downtown Orlando. Directed by Alan Bruun, the production features Kirstin Chavez as Carmen and Richard Troxell as Don José.

As this is a “concert version”, Music Director Christopher Wilkins describes the experience by saying, "The production will be visually stunning, including the way in which the orchestra is integrated into the whole spectacle. The musicians and I will be on-stage, but there really isn't a proper term for what we are doing. The music will be the focal point — putting Bizet's masterpiece front and center — but there will still be lighting, costumes, modest sets and actors as fully engaged as ever."

Executive Director David Schillhammer says, "Many donors, large and small, support our vision — a commitment to locally produced opera, which maintains jobs for Central Florida artists and stage personnel, and nurtures this community's passion for the art form. There is a Herculean effort taking place to ensure Central Florida maintains a local opera product." To purchase tickets, call 407-770-0071, or visit OrlandoPhil.org

‘Bach at Leipzig’ (It’s a play)

There are several small theater companies around Orlando of which one of the finest and most inventive (and therefore, most theatrical) is the Empty Spaces Theatre Company. That intrepid group will present the play “Bach at Leipzig”, which they are calling a “hysterical, historical story of Germany’s least remembered musicians and their master’s organ!” The time is 1722 in Germany, where Leipzig’s music director has given up the ghost over the famous Thomaskirche organ. There, in an 18th century version of “Survivor”, the Maestro’s former pupils fight it out to find out who will replace him. Based on a real time in-the-life-of Johann Sebastian Bach, the town council must replace their organist from this irreverent group, each of whom has varying ideas of how to “serve God” through their music. Farce, intrigues and witticisms ensue. Directed by Kevin Becker and Seth Kubersky, Bach at Leipzig will be performed from Feb. 26 to March 12 at the Shakespeare Center in Loch Haven Park. Purchase tickets at the door or reserve by calling 407-328-9005.

Pianist Yuja Wang with the Russian National Orchestra

The Festival of Orchestras has brought the world’s great orchestras to Central Florida for more than 25 years, and the concert set for Sunday, March 7 at 3 p.m. at the Bob Carr carries on that great tradition.

"Awe-inspiring … should human beings be able to play like this?" is what Gramophone magazine said of the Russian National Orchestra, which in 2008 was named one of the world's top orchestras. The guest pianist for the concert is a perfect counterpart to the orchestra’s estimable combination of discipline and spontaneity. Joining RNO is the 22-year-old pianist phenom Yuja Wang, whose command of the piano has been described as “astounding” and “superhuman.” Following her San Francisco debut, The Chronicle wrote, “To listen to her in action is to re-examine whatever assumptions you may have had about how well the piano can actually be played,” and The Washington Post called Ms. Wang’s Kennedy Center debut “jaw-dropping.” If Ms. Wang’s career continues its meteoric rise, this concert is one you will remember attending for the rest of your life. For tickets call 407-539-0245 or visit festivaloforchestras.org