Wineke: It’s a Busy Week for Classical Music in Madison

Reginald Mobley

For those who enjoy classical music, this week is a bonanza at the Overture Center.

It began Sunday when the Madison Symphony Orchestra presented its annual “Beyond the Score” multi-media presentation featuring three American Players Theatre veterans and Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.”

On Tuesday, the MSO’s popular organ curator Greg Zelek will welcome countertenor Reginald Mobley to Overture Hall for a program ranging from baroque works to gospel spirituals.

Friday and next Sunday, Madison Opera’s winter opera, “She Loves Me,” will open in the Capitol Theater.

“Beyond the Score” is a concept developed in 2005 which now includes 30 different programs licensed by local symphonies. APT actors James DeVita, James Ridge, and Kelsey Brennan took the stage for the first half of Sunday’s presentation, reading parts of a play purporting to recreate planning by Stravinsky and his choreographer for the “Rite of Spring” while the orchestra plays snippets of the work. The second half of the program featured the orchestra playing the entire piece.

The idea is popular and the technical aspects of the presentation were done skillfully. The somewhat wooden script, however, really wasted the talent of three of Wisconsin’s finest actors.

It would seem to me, at least, that the dramatic part of the program should stand in counterpoint to the music rather than serve as sort of a boring tutorial.

Kyle Knox, associate director of the MSO and music director of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra, conducted and did a nice job. MSO conductor John DeMain was in the audience.

The midwinter opera in Madison tends to be more modern and adventuresome than the larger fall and spring productions.

“She Loves Me” is a romantic comedy with a somewhat familiar theme. It includes two clerks in a perfume shop who hate each other but who, unknown to one another, are loving penpals.

The theme is not too distant from Cyrano and pretty much the same story as the 1998 movie, “You’ve Got Mail” and the 1940 movie, “The Shop Around the Corner.” The opera version is, of course, a little more complicated.

Greg Zelek, all by himself, can sell out Overture Hall. He’s one of the city’s most popular musicians. But you owe it to yourself to Google Reginald Mobley just to get a sense of what a countertenor can do.

A countertenor is a male who can sing notes as high as those of a soprano but he does so with the force and range of a tenor or baritone. Mobley is one of the best around.