Costa Rica in America
7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 21
UA Stevie Eller Dance Theatre
1713 E. University Blvd.
When we heard about the upcoming production of Costa Rican zarzuela Toyupán, we did a Google search—which didn't turn up anything.
That's because very few people have access to the manuscript. Luckily, UA ethnomusicology professor Dr. Janet Sturman is one of those people—and she brought the manuscript all the way from Costa Rica for the UA School of Music to produce. It will be Toyupán's first full production with an orchestra since its debut in 1938, and its first U.S. production ever.
A zarzuela is a unique form of Spanish theater born in the 17th century. Alternating between spoken and sung scenes, it incorporates dance and songs both operatic and popular.
This particular zarzuela follows Toyupán, an indigenous man in colonial Costa Rica, as he falls in love with the governor's daughter. It's a story of ill-fated love, but it's also full of comedy, excitement and Costa Rican folklore—like when a volcano erupts and a mythical beast appears.
The music is modeled after the romantic music common in Spanish musical drama and integrates lots of different rhythms and styles popular in Latin America, including the mazurka, bolero and habanera. This production will be conducted by Lucik Aprahamian and carried out by more than 30 performers.
"It's been very demanding for us to produce this," said Sturman, who's directing. "But it's been a labor of love. ... The audience will learn something about Costa Rican tradition and become acquainted with a new style of music and see the really magical work that young people have done putting this all together."
Part of the UA's Third International Symposium on Latin American Music, Toyupán will cost $9 for general admission; $7 for seniors, military members and UA employees; and $5 for students. —A.M.
The Power of Flame
Fire and Art
5 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 22
1441 E. 17th St.
An artist's muse has long been compared to a spark or fire. But for some artists, the fire involved is real.
We're talking, of course, about those who use fire to make art—like people who use forging to make ordinary metal into amazing sculptures. If you've never seen the forging process, you can, live, at an action-packed art show and fundraiser held by local artists' nonprofit Industria Studios.
Industria Studios, founded in Tucson in 2003 by sculptor Marc Leviton, offers local artists the space, tools and training they need to make sculpture and other art with metal, fire, ceramics and other media. At Industria, people can take classes, use studio space, collaborate and network with other artists, and—this Saturday—take part in an evening of demonstrations, music and other entertainment.
The event will appropriately feature a performance by pyromaniac dance troupe Flam Chen, as well as theatrical performances by Mat Bevel, the Parasol Project and Puppets by Hansel. Multiple stages will feature music by Still Life Telescope, A Son y Sol, Sara Walden and even Anarchestra, which lets you join in on the music-making. Proceeds from an art auction and sale will help Industria continue its programs. Of course, there will be live demonstrations of sculpture, casting, bronze-pouring, blacksmithing and more.
"Most people never get to see how forging is done or how a foundry is run," said Leviton. "The pouring of bronze is a very old art form, and the forging part is very physically raw work. There's a romance behind these two art forms. To pour a liquid into a form and make it a solid object, the taming of fire to produce objects—it's very magical."
Admission is $10; food and wine by Roma Imports will be for sale. —A.M.
Violet Tendencies with director Casper Andreas
7:30 p.m., next Thursday, Jan. 27
3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
What's a girl to do when she hits 40 and wants to settle down—but all the men she's surrounded herself with are gay? In the comedy Violet Tendencies, a high-fashion New York "fag hag" named Violet realizes that while her gay male friends and roommates are getting plenty of love, her own romantic life is a flop.
One roommate tells Violet to seek out her male counterpart: the mythical "fag stag" of her dreams. But a glamorous female acquaintance says she really needs to abandon her gay boys. Violet listens to the latter—and who can blame her, after she comes home one night to a gay-sex party in her bedroom?
Violet throws herself head-first into the quest for a man by vowing to change who she is. Of course, she comes to see that she has to be herself to find her soul mate—but not before her journey has produced plenty of hilarious consequences.
"If you can't find at least one thing to laugh about in this film, you might have a deep-seated aversion to comedy, and that would just be sad," said Jeff Yanc, program director for the Loft Cinema, via e-mail. "I very much enjoyed the witty and often pretty raunchy script."
The film's lead actress is Mindy Cohn, whom you may remember as Natalie on The Facts of Life. The director is Casper Andreas—the guy behind such films as Slutty Summer, A Four Letter Word and The Big Gay Musical. Andreas will be present at the screening to talk about the film as part of Reel Pride, the Loft's year-round celebration of LGBT cinema.
Admission is $9 for adults, with discounts. Some of the proceeds will go to the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation. —A.M.
Kahlo Meets O'Keeffe
3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 23
Berger Performing Arts Center
1200 W. Speedway Blvd.
Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keeffe are two of history's most iconic female painters. Twenty years apart in age and thousands of miles apart in geography, the women had starkly contrasting backgrounds, styles and even personalities.
Nevertheless, Kahlo and O'Keeffe met several times, and history suggests they were friends.
This was very intriguing to Harry Clark of Chamber Music PLUS, which puts on original productions combining theater, music and visual art. So Clark wrote Still Life, a work exploring how the relationship between O'Keeffe and Kahlo might have developed.
Through letters, recollections and dialogue, Still Life follows the lives of the artists through 25 years, from their first meeting in New York City to a retreat O'Keeffe is known to have taken at Kahlo's Mexico City property, Casa Azul. In letters, the women reveal themselves by sharing thoughts on their early childhoods, relationships with their famous husbands (Diego Rivera and Alfred Stieglitz) and, finally, art. Kahlo and O'Keeffe are played by actresses Zilah Mendoza and Beth Grant, and Still Life also showcases many of the artists' paintings, all framed by music played by Ismael Barajas on guitar (the instrument that Clark felt best represents Kahlo) and by Clark on cello (which represents O'Keeffe).
Still Life reveals much about each of the women. For example, while Kahlo was outwardly a fiery, volatile woman, she approached her art methodically and rationally. Similarly (but oppositely), the contained, cerebral O'Keeffe tapped into her emotional, passionate side when painting.
"I think people coming to the show who know about these artists will come away thinking slightly differently about them," said Clark.
Tickets are $36, or $15 for students. —A.M.