Arts and Culture

Eerie opera, "Cabaret," not-so-silent films and talented teens

A six-pack of can't-miss performances in March

University Opera’s “The Turn of the Screw”

Between the quality of University Opera’s recent productions, and the compelling attraction of their last offering this season, one would expect three full houses beginning this weekend.

Starting tonight, Friday, March 3, a matinee on Sunday, March 5, and another evening performance on Tuesday, March 7, Director David Ronis will weave some otherworldly magic with Benjamin Britten’s riveting adaptation of Henry James’ classic tale “The Turn of the Screw.” Kyle Knox returns to conduct the 13-member ensemble, with alternating casts performing in English—and, I’m happy to report, there will be supertitles to ensure that none of the crucial dialogue is missed.

The performances take place at the Music Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Bascom Mall. Tickets and more information can be found here.

Madison Symphony Orchestra “Peak Performance”

Madison Symphony Orchesta maestro John DeMain is conducting the Virginia Opera this month, so MSO welcomes the return of guest conductor Carl St. Clair to Overture Hall in the Overture Center for the Arts. St. Clair will pick up on DeMain’s penchant for sprawling post-Romantic works with Richard Strauss’ “Alpine Symphony.” Also featured that evening, the dazzling young Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth, who has become a Madison favorite. Catch one of the concerts on March 10, 11 or 12.

Oakwood Chamber Players “Looking Through the Lens”

There is more than one group in Madison that is too easily overlooked despite always bringing the highest creativity to their performances. Among them is the Oakwood Chamber Players, and this month they may outdo themselves.

On March 18 and 19 at the Oakwood Center for the Arts on Mineral Point Road, the OCP will pair rarely heard music with silent films nearly as rare. The highlights will include Charlie Chapman’s “The Fireman,” with music by Paul Bowles, Dr. Seuss’ “Gerald McBoing Boing” and three pieces by Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla.

Roundabout Theatre’s “Cabaret”

Classic Broadway also makes a return to Overture Hall for a short March 21-26 run of “Cabaret." The Roundabout Theatre Company production is part of their celebration of 50 years of great stagecraft.

Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra “Suite for Viola”

When the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra makes its return to the Capitol Theater on March 24, music director Andrew Sewell will bring former Madison violist Vicki Powell to solo in “Suite for Viola and Chamber Orchestra” by Vaughan Williams. Expect Sewell to also play to his American base with a full reading of Copland’s masterpiece “Appalachian Spring.”

“The Final Forte” at Overture Hall

March 29 marks the return of “The Final Forte," featuring first-place winner two years ago, Julian Rhee. Rhee won this last round of the Bolz Young Artist’s Competition at the age of fifteen by playing the first movement of the Brahms “Violin Concerto.” This year he tackles Tchaikovsky, competing against Michael Wu on piano, violinist Yaoyao Chen, and harpist Naomi Sutherland.

The event at Overture Hall is free, but tickets must be reserved. Attendees must be seated by 6:45 p.m., as the 7 p.m. event will be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio, and later aired on Wisconsin Public Television.

Greg Hettmansberger writes about classical music and opera for

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