George Gershwin Month
Sept. 30, 2010, marked the 75th anniversary of the premiere of Porgy and Bess, a popular opera penned by American composer George Gershwin; it will be presented locally by the New Orleans Opera Association at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts Oct. 15 and 17. Filled with jazz and blues, Porgy and Bess has left a lasting impression over the years with its depiction of the black community during the 1920s in the South. Set in the fictional Catfish Row, a tenement in Charleston, S.C., the story is filled with humor, tragedy and memorable characters who triumph over adversity with faith, friendships and joie de vivre. For true Gershwin fans, the Opera Association also hosts a number of events this month that honor the late composer’s legacy:
• Oct. 6, trumpeter Irvin Mayfield offers his interpretation of Porgy and Bess music at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, along with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and professors from the UNO Jazz Studies Program.
• That same night, Opera on Tap takes place at the Rusty Nail. The casual 90-minute show features young opera stars singing a series of Gershwin’s most popular songs.
• Oct. 7, several cast members of Porgy and Bess perform at the Ogden Museum’s Ogden After Hours series and sit down for a Q&A session.
• Oct. 12, Le Chat Noir hosts entertainer Banu Gibson. Presented by WWNO, By George! Banu Gibson Sings the Songs of George Gershwin! is sure to be an entertaining, lighthearted evening in the cabaret-style
Oct. 22 and 23, the New Orleans Ballet Association will host the revolutionary dance company MOMIX at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. In a creative fantasy piece titled “Botanica,” dancers and illusionists will create a surreal, enchanting world with grand puppets, imaginative costumes and larger-than-life props. MOMIX is led by visionary choreographer Moses Pendleton – well known for putting together unforgettable multimedia experiences featuring athletic dancers and pure talent. His latest work inspires the imagination and leaves the audience amazed by talent and innovation. Information, www.nobadance.com.
Art for Arts’ Sake
Following in the wake of summer’s White Linen Night and Dirty Linen Night, the annual Art for Arts’ Sake offers a more temperate alternative on Oct. 2. More than 30,000 art lovers – connoisseurs and amateurs alike – will gather in the hundreds of galleries and shops on Julia Street, the Warehouse Arts District, and up and down Magazine Street. The yearly event is a celebratory kick-off to the city’s exciting arts season and will feature visual, audio and even culinary treats to tantalize the senses. Information, www.cacno.org.
You Do That Voodoo
The motto of the Voodoo Experience is “worship the music,” and the annual three-day festival has become an October ritual for thousands of music fans. Set in New Orleans City Park, Voodoo Fest (as it’s commonly called) combines the best elements of large-scale international music festivals with distinctly local flavor and even humor. (Last year, for example, there was a movement to break the world record for the highest number of zombies together in one place. Hundreds of attendees covered themselves in fake blood for this occasion.) Held Oct. 29-31, Voodoo Fest features three areas – Le Ritual, with two main stages; Le Flambeau’s two slightly smaller performance spots; and the introduction of Le Plur, a dance space rife with electronica. Headliners include Muse, Weezer, Ozzy Ozbourne, MGMT, Paul Oakenfold and My Morning Jacket; local musicians and performers will be abundant as well – mainstays include the Bingo! Show, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Fleur de Tease, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and numerous others. Voodoo Experience will partner again with the Gulf Restoration Network to raise funds and awareness about the BP oil disaster. Information, thevoodooexperience.com.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
At various venues around the city, the 2010 New Orleans Film Festival takes place Oct. 14-21, with the Renaissance Arts Hotel serving as the official headquarters and party area. Presented by the New Orleans Film Society, the weeklong showcase includes curated films, special screenings with an emphasis on Louisiana-made films and Competitive Division Films. Kicking off the event is the screening of Welcome to the Rileys, directed by Jake Scott with a star-studded cast that includes James Gandolfini of The Sopranos, Treme’s Melissa Leo and Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame. Movie buffs will certainly rejoice in this festival, which features a range of silver-screen delights – comedies, tragedies, short flicks and documentaries – with big stars and up-and-comers alike.
Blues and Barbecue
Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival celebrates its fifth year Oct. 16 and 17, taking place in Lafayette Square with two stages for nearly two dozen blues artists, including Taj Mahal and Barbara Lynn. Produced by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, it’s an appealing event for lovers of two of our greatest assets: food and music.
Abita is one of the sponsors, so there will be plenty of refreshing beverages on hand as well. Information, www.jazzandheritage.org/blues-fest.