The fall performance season in New Orleans has arrived with added oomph this year, thanks in part to the return of two cultural pillars – the Saenger Theatre and Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré.
The doors of the long-dark Saenger have opened to reveal the spectacular historic theatre dressed in the finery of a $50 million renovation. Its managers have booked an impressive array of Broadway shows and other performances to highlight this major comeback on Canal Street.
Le Petit, meanwhile, also has staged a return in renovated quarters. It is following up its season opener with a big-name musical and a new neighbor – the theater’s adjoining space now contains the restaurant Tableau, a new eatery from Dickie Brennan.
Speaking of returns, the not-at-all marginal New Orleans Fringe Festival will be back for its fifth festival starting Nov. 20. The five-day event has become an important access point for original work and fresh performances ranging from drama, dance and burlesque to comedy, poetry, puppetry and more. See www.nofringe.org for details.
Also in November, expect a storm of creative choreography as Tsunami Dance Company serves up its 10th anniversary performance Nov. 15-17. Led by Kettye Voltz, the modern dance company will present Voltz’s commissioned work, “Holding Chaos,” at the Contemporary Arts Center. The work will feature seven original dances, 10 local dancers, an original dance for film and music composed by Eric Laws. See www.tsunamidance.com for more.
From Beethoven to ‘Psycho’
The classical music season has begun echoing through the Mahalia Jackson Theater and other area venues as the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra presents a season of diverse performances under the direction of music director Carlos Miguel Prieto. Upcoming performances range from Beethoven and Britten to a multimedia presentation exploring Wagner’s opera “Tristan and Isolde.”
In between the LPO will offer such eclectic programs as “Psycho: A Symphonic Night at the Movies,” “Cirque de la Symphonie” and “Music of The Doors.” Families may want to reserve the date of Nov. 11, as the LPO offers a Veterans Day concert at the National World War II Museum..
Not zombies, but …
The ongoing popularity of the “undead” in modern media has infused classical performances as well, and the New Orleans Opera Association wants fans to know it’s not to late to “get bitten by opera” this season.
The association will present Marschner’s “The Vampire” Oct. 11 and 13. Based on a ghost story by Lord Byron, the masterpiece created a sensation at its 1828 premiere, according to Robert Lyall, general and artistic director of the New Orleans Opera.
“The (work) was a great influence on composers and writers of the Romantic era,” he says, “but our production will present this exhilarating supernatural tale in contemporary New Orleans, the setting for so much of the current fascination of stories vampiric.”
Baritone Nicholas Pallesen will sing the role of Lord Ruthven in this spooky and seductive work, with soprano Marjorie Owens as Malwina.
A celebration of Benjamin Britten is on tap for November when the opera presents the biblical story of “Noah’s Flood,” followed later by Massenet’s “Cinderella” and Puccini’s “La Bohème.”
Ballet shows an international bent
For another program placed in a truly perfect setting, it would be hard to beat the Scottish Ballet’s presentation of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in October. Theater and film director Nancy Meckler, a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company, teamed up with acclaimed choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa to create this full-length ballet set to a jazzy score. “Florid, poetic, and poisonously beautiful” is how the London Evening Standard described the work.
In November, local audiences will have a chance to see another highly innovative program when India’s foremost Kathak dance master Pandit Chitresh Das joins with Emmy award-winning tap star Jason Samuels Smith in a lively blend of classical Indian and American jazz performance, called India Jazz Suites.
Later in the season watch for the return of local favorites Diavolo Dance Theater, the Joffrey Ballet and Parsons Dance.
In the pages that follow, see many more details about the fall performance season on stages and in other settings throughout New Orleans. Check the websites of each performance company or organization to get updated details about individual schedules, then reserve your seat and prepare to be entertained.